Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment aren’t exactly hiding their intentions when it comes to the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The studio wants to jump into its Justice League franchise to take on Marvel’s Avengers as quickly as possible.
According to Entertainment Weekly, WB is doing just that, with shooting scheduled to begin for Justice League on April 11, approximately two weeks after Batman v Superman‘s release. But if rumblings among movie bloggers were true, that decision wasn’t quite a sure thing even just a couple of weeks ago. Those concerns appear to be moot with this announcement. Either that, or the studio is trying to quiet lingering doubts and negative buzz before its big-time franchise hits theaters.
Maybe DC decided to make the jump too quickly. Marvel built slowly to its superhero team-up blockbuster with five standalone films over the course of five years. Meanwhile, if the original plan was to make another Superman film, a sequel to 2013’s Man of Steel, that was quickly scuttled for the opportunity to introduce a new version of Batman and kickstart an extended cinematic universe. We’ll find out in about four weeks whether or not that was a hasty decision or if ditching the foreplay results in the desired payoff.
That puts a lot of pressure on Batman v Superman. Not only does it need to be a success on its own merit, but it has to be enough of a hit to fuel the rest of DC Entertainment’s film slate. Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman are already being made. But the presumption is that we might not see the likes of The Flash, Aquaman and the rest of the Justice League on the big screen if BvS isn’t a global, billion-dollar blockbuster. Reaction to the trailers and marketing has been mixed, which might be making the studio very nervous.
Nearly two weeks ago, HitFix’s Drew McWeeny reported that Warner Brothers was beginning to get scared after showing the movie to some people and getting an uncertain response. (Maybe because the movie is two-and-a-half-hours long.) Will moviegoers and comic book fans respond to a darker film presumably geared more toward adults than kids? Is BvS the type of populist superhero product that will appeal to a broad audience, one that doesn’t care whether or not the film is faithful to any particular comic book storyline or interpretation? Apparently, WB had some doubts, which led to speculation that the studio might change up its DC superhero slate a bit.
“I would be surprised if Justice League starts shooting when they say it’s going to,” McWeeny told HitFix’s Roth Cornet. “I would be equally surprised if Zack Snyder directs it.”
Justice League was set to begin shooting this spring, aiming toward a November 2017 release. Snyder, who directed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, is viewed as sort of the “godfather” and guiding hand for the DC extended universe and slated for the director’s chair on Justice League. But if BvS failed to meet expectations — or even worse, flopped — it’s not difficult to imagine that WB might look elsewhere for a filmmaker whose work draws a more positive response from audiences.
McWeeny went on to speculate that if indeed BvS was a disappointment and Snyder was pulled off Justice League that Warner Brothers would go for more of a sure thing, moving a solo Batman film reportedly in development with Ben Affleck up to that November 2017 slot and pushing Justice League back. Not only is Batman popular with audiences, rumor has it that Affleck’s performance as the character is drawing raves among executives. (That’s probably why the third trailer for Batman v Superman emphasized its ass-kicking Batman much more.) Affleck has also given WB two major successes with The Town and 2013 Best Picture winner Argo. A Batman film directed by him would almost certainly be a hit.
But with Monday’s announcement that Justice League is ready to begin, such speculation will now die down. It’s still possible that WB will push up development on Affleck’s Batman film, though he has his adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night scheduled for 2017. Yet a new Batman movie is not currently scheduled on DC Entertainment’s slate, maybe because the studio is holding the movie for when it may truly be needed. Does WB need a sure thing between parts one and two of Justice League, scheduled for 2017 and 2019, respectively? (The Flash and Aquaman are set for 2018 right now.) We may soon find out.
In the meantime, poor Henry Cavill and his apparently overlooked/forgotten Superman is relegated to seeking affirmation from children, asking kids whether they prefer the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight. Give the guy some love, folks. He shouldn’t be left to argue the case for Superman to children. Even if Superman doesn’t have a cool car like Batman.