The Next Chapter Begins

The DC Universe Slate

After much promising while the fan-base waited with baited breath, DC Studios heads, James Gunn and Peter Safran have finally unleashed their slate of TV and movie projects that will fall under the DC Universe heading (replacing the old DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe. name. The results: well, it's a mixed bag, but it has potential:

So, what does this all mean? Well, for starters, the last vestiges of the DCEU may not really be dead. Some actors are out, some are in, but the slate of films and shows -- supplemented by the four upcoming features of Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March 17, 2023), The Flash (June 16, 2023), Blue Beetle (August 18, 2023), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 25, 2023) -- seems to continue at least parts of the DCEU continuity for some time to come.

This is, to be blunt, a curious choice. I don't think anyone out there was really craving more of the DCEU. Fans of DC ComicsOne of the two biggest comic publishing companies in the world (and, depending on what big events are going on, the number one company), DC Comics is the home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and just about every big superhero introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. (like myself) want to see versions of these heroes on the big screen, doing their thing as best they can, but the version of the universe presented in the DCEU just didn't work. It was muddled, at times it was boring, and it had a lot of failed film in its ranks. At this point it would seem like a full reboot of the entire continuity would have been in order, wipe the slate clean and start fresh in a few years. Instead we get... all of this.

So let's be clear, I liked >Shazam! and Aquaman and I thought Ezra Miller was one of the few bright spots in the hobbled Justice League. But Miller has had issues since then, many of the DC films since that point have bombed, and it's been so long since those other, good movies came out you have to wonder if anyone cares at this point. Shazam! came out six years ago, Aquaman seven. No one is really hankering for these movies.

Yes, Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. will take years between their individual superhero movies I can hear that argument already. The difference is that Marvel has their heroes cross over in various films in between their own movies. Thus, while it might have been six years between Doctor StrangeSometimes thought of as the magical version of Tony Stark, Doctor Strange is the "Sorcerer Supreme", a mystic who was once a brilliant neurosurgeon until an accident robbed him of the use of his hands. But he found a way, in Tibet, to gain back not only his hands, but so much more... films, he also appeared in enough other movies that you never forgot who he was. DC hasn't done any crossovers since Justice League (save tiny cameos at the end of Peacemaker). It just isn't the same.

I get that these films were in production for a while, some so far along they had to get released. That's an excuse for Shazam! and The Flash, but the others? Well, I doubt these had to come out. They could have been put in a can, along with Batgirl, and the continuity could have moved on. A new universe, a new set of characters, everyone gets something new to watch and enjoy without the taint of Zack Snyder and the old DCEU.

This is the key that confuses me about the upcoming slate: some of these are clear extensions of the DCEU, like Waller and Paradise Lost. Others are pitched as existing outside the main continuity (Gunn calls them Elseworlds despite being part of "Chapter 1" of his new slate of projects) which means more versions of these characters running around. That's a lot of legacy packed into what's supposed to be a new slate for a new 'verse.

And that leads to other questions. The Superman in Superman: Legacy isn't Henry Cavil. Is this an Elseworld or does it take place in the DCEU? Will this same Superman also show up in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow? I assume yes (and that's how I wrote it up) but maybe not. And which BatmanOne of the longest running, consistently in-print superheroes ever (matched only by Superman and Wonder Woman), Batman has been a force in entertainment for nearly as long as there's been an entertainment industry. It only makes sense, then that he is also the most regularly adapted, and consistently successful, superhero to grace the Silver Screen. will be in The Brave and the Bold? Presumably not Ban Affleck's version, but then would this film of Batman and Son appear in the DCEU or elsewhere?

See, this is the issue with grafting a new slate onto an old continuity. Without clearing the board you have to make do with what's already out there. It just doesn't really work, not well. I appreciate all that Gunn is plotting out as it is a different kind of continuity from Marvel (which was Gunn's stated goal), but it still feels muddied and muddled in ways that won't get audiences excited. This is risky and weird and it's hard to say it will just work. Not yet.

At the same time, though, we have both a Lanterns show (pointedly not using the word "Green" in the title, promising the other Skittles could show up) and a Creature Commandos series. I love the lanterns, and I love me some classic monsters, so I'm on board for those two shows if nothing else. Gunn apparently knew the way to my heart and I didn't even realize it. So yes, there are charming gems in this slate. I just have to wonder if this will work at all. My gut says "no" but we shall see.