Zack Snyder needs a break from DC Comics superheroes after he finishes the first Justice League film.
According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Borys Kit, Warner Brothers will push back Justice League 2 to accommodate director Zack Snyder’s plans to work on another pet project of his. That might be exactly what the DC Films franchise needs. Changing creative direction can be a refreshing reset for any artist, whether it’s a filmmaker, musician, writer or chef.
As Kit reports, Snyder’s next project won’t be the sequel to Warner Bros.’ epic superhero team-up, but a much smaller project that the director has been nursing for roughly the past 10 years. The movie is titled The Last Photograph and follows a war correspondent who’s the only survivor of an attack on Americans in Afghanistan. A special-ops soldier searching for a lost family member asks for his help and the two partner up. Back in 2011, Christian Bale and Sean Penn were attached to the film, but the project stalled out and Snyder is working to revive it.
Apparently, Warner Bros. is lighting up the Bat-signal, looking for Affleck’s Batman film to step in for Justice League 2 on the studio’s production schedule. Justice League 2 was set for a June 14, 2019 release date with an untitled DC Films project scheduled for later that year, on Nov. 1. If WB wants to stick with its current calendar, The Batman could take that June spot, with JL2 moving to November. But with The Flash probably also needing to be pushed back, maybe that goes in June 2019 with Affleck’s Batman rolling out in November?
Justice League could go a long way toward righting DC Films’ creative direction, while tilting public perception in a positive light. If director Zack Snyder makes the epic blockbuster everyone is hoping for, complaints about Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and the dark direction he’s taken the DC Extended Universe will be hushed down. The studio will have the springboard it needs to launch spinoffs like The Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern Corps. (Wonder Woman will hit theaters next June, five months before Justice League‘s Nov. 17, 2017 release.)
Based on the sizzle reels that Snyder showed at San Diego Comic-Con and online when filming in the UK finished up, Snyder might finally be making the crowd-pleaser that can compete Marvel’s Avengers franchise and give DC’s signature properties the movie they deserve. But getting away from epic, fantastical superhero mythology for a more true-to-life story with echoes of current events might cleanse Snyder’s creative palate, similar to Christopher Nolan making The Prestige and Inception between his Batman films. (Commence shaking your fist at comparing Snyder to Nolan.)
Normally, any news of Warner Bros. delaying production on one of its DC Comics superhero films would be cause for concern. Above all, the studio doesn’t have a strong track record compared to rival Marvel. Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad were all considered disappointments in one form or another. But development and production on DC Films has been troubled, as Warner Bros. tries to compete with Marvel and make franchises out of its iconic properties.
— Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) October 7, 2016
Wonder Woman is fully on track now, but had to replace director Michelle MacLaren with Patty Jenkins. The Flash has gone through two directors — Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa — and is currently looking for a new helmer. And the studio would love Ben Affleck to get on with directing his solo Batman movie. He’s trying to get the script right, while also juggling other projects he’s interested in. But if the script is ready, and Affleck has already cast Joe Manganiello as the movie’s bad guy, shooting is set to begin in 2017.
Other possibilities include moving up James Wan’s Aquaman from October 2018, flip-flopping with The Flash. Another project to consider is Shazam — starring Dwayne Johnson as the story’s villain, Black Adam — which has an April 5, 2019 release date, but that is surely wishful thinking, considering pre-production on that film hasn’t even begun. If it finally gets rolling, maybe that gets pushed to June or November that year.
This entire shell game is probably an indictment of studios prioritizing scheduling and release dates over making sure a movie is properly developed. That probably isn’t changing any time soon. However, this probably is the right direction for Warner Bros. and DC Films. If Snyder is feeling burned out after six years in the DC Universe, Justice League 2 will benefit from him taking a break. And if we get Affleck’s Batman sooner because of it, everyone seemingly wins by getting a hotly anticipated movie earlier than expected.