Justice League has arrived and so far it is looking like it will not be the massive hit that WB were looking for. We reported that estimates are projecting that the film could end up losing $50-100M by the time the theater run comes to an end. It’s possible that things could pick up, but the analysis of these things by cleverer people than I are rarely that wrong.
What does this all mean for the future of the DCEU?
We know that without a shadow of a doubt WB are pushing ahead with Aquaman (Unless WB gets REAL cold feet here) which is already through principal photography. We know that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot are both keen on a sequel to Wonder Woman, which is so far WB most critically lauded and financial successful DCEU movie to date. But anything else including Flashpoint, Justice League Dark, and even Shazam are surely up for the chop if WB feels like they need to push into a new direction. It seems unlikely that WB will not push ahead with Matt Reeves planned Batman trilogy. After all, Batman usually makes money, with or without Ben Affleck. The Batman actor remains the focus of many (legitimate) rumors that he wants to leave the role. Whether WB are in agreement with this, or the rumors are just that, we can’t say for certainty, though there is usually no smoke without fire, and we have heard from very legitimate sources that Affleck is pretty much done.
Let’s say WB does address the poor performance of Justice League. What direction will they go? By the way, I should point out that this will not be a reflection of the quality of the movie itself, but rather the impact it had on the box office. After all, what I personally think of the movie is going to have no effect on its performance or WB’s thoughts on the franchise as whole?. So what are the options for putting this mega franchise back on track?
It is possible that after Aquaman, with nothing else currently filming, that they scrap the whole Universe and start again. It certainly seems likely they’d want to cash in on the good name of Wonder Woman for Patty Jenkins sequel, but the rest could be scrapped before they even get started, including Matt Reeves Batman trilogy. Alternatively, they could use the aforementioned Batman movies to hard reboot the Universe, thus allowing them to replace Affleck with a different actor. Or… they could just put everything on hold for a few years while they refocus and plan things out a bit more methodically. Make no mistake though, this would be a tough (and costly) call for WB, with so much already in development and it could just confuse the fans to the point where they turn away from the DCEU in even greater numbers.
Furthermore, we have to ask whether or not it would be worth it for them to scrap a franchise with countless redeeming elements. Would they really want to give up on Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Superman — all of whom were praised by critics in the past movie? Can they afford to lose Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, especially after we’ll be seeing Aquaman very soon in his own film? Additionally, would WB be willing to actually let a year or two pass and reboot again from scratch? At this point I feel personally that this is the least likely option for WB to take and the most drastic.
Soft Reboot – Flashpoint
WB could use Flashpoint as a jump off point for a soft reboot, with Barry Allen’s time travel meddling, it would be the narrative best suited to rebooting many aspects of the Universe. They can use both Aquaman and Wonder Woman in the story itself, which ties it in directly with the comic story it would be based on. Batman in Flashpoint could be Thomas Wayne aka Jeffrey Dean Morgan, for example. By the time the movie has finished, it could essentially reset any aspect of the DCEU which was not working. If they have to change their Batman due to Affleck wanting out, it would be easier to take by having the new guy show up at the end so that Barry knows he has got things back to kind of the way they were.
This could enable them to keep Miller, Gadot, Momoa and Cavill going forward. Now, don’t get me wrong I am not saying that they need to change Affleck at all, it’s hardly his fault as an actor at this point, but the reality is he’s been inching towards the exit for the past year. So I am just trying to look at it from WB point of view.
Flashpoint could then be followed up by a new slower approach towards Justice League. We will already have had Aquaman, two Wonder Woman movies, a Flashpoint reset and potentially then a new trilogy for Batman and a Man of Steel 2 (Jimmy Olsen could even come back with this approach)to get things heading in the right direction with the characters. By the time they look at making another Justice League movie with Darkseid or any number of other foes, the audience could be far more engaged in the characters, If all their solo movies work well.
One other important aspect for this to work is for them to only spend $150M max on each film. No more of these over-priced movies that can always make or break the franchise. They should put in a reasonable budget and adjust the stakes accordingly. Not every film needs to be world-altering to be impactful. This would also help in the character development department.
Option #3 & Conclusion
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