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WW 2017 gadot.jpg

What The Hell Is Going On With DC Studios?

By Brian Richards | DC Movies | December 8, 2022 |

By Brian Richards | DC Movies | December 8, 2022 |


WW 2017 gadot.jpg

One of these days, it would be nice to write about what’s happening with the DC cinematic universe, and not feel as if what I’m writing about is a massive catastrof-ck that has nearly everyone on the Internet talking for all of the wrong reasons.

Unfortunately, today is not that day.

Yesterday, it was revealed by The Hollywood Reporter that Warner Bros. and DC Studios will not be moving forward on production for Wonder Woman 3, as the third film in the series directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot doesn’t fit into whatever it is the studio has planned for their upcoming lineup of comic book films and television shows.

From The Hollywood Reporter article:

Sources say that Jenkins recently submitted her treatment, co-written with Geoff Johns, and that Gunn and Safran, as well as Warner Bros. Pictures co-chairs and co-CEOs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, broke the news to the filmmaker, telling her the project — as it stood — did not fit in with the new (but still unfolding) plans. Jenkins directed and co-wrote the previous two movies, starring Gal Gadot and released in 2017 and 2020. No decision has been made about next steps.

And while costs are not a factor — insiders say that DC Studios will not have any overburdensome financial restrictions — the studio could end up saving tens of millions of dollars by not making the third installment. Gadot, according to sources, was on track for a $20 million payday for Wonder Woman 3 while Jenkins would have received $12 million. Those figures don’t include any possible backend bonuses. Warners had no comment.

It is unclear how any future Wonder Woman movie, and Gadot’s portrayal of the hero, would fit into the new DC plan. In a bit of head-scratching timing, Gadot tweeted out of the blue a thank-you to fans on Tuesday, saying she was grateful to be allowed to play the heroine and role model, adding, “Can’t wait to share her next chapter with you.” It was unclear whether or not the actress knew the project was being toe-tagged.

The response to this news had all of social media buzzing and with numerous people expressing how enthused they were that there wouldn’t be another Wonder Woman film with Jenkins and Gadot’s involvement. Despite how immensely popular and influential Wonder Woman was when it was released in June 2017, and how it was praised by both critics and audiences (especially since it was released one year after the critically savaged Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad), its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, was seen by some as a disappointment compared to what came before, and by others as a problematic and unwatchable train wreck which somehow proved that Jenkins and Gadot were without any talent, and that they have no business being involved in any other Wonder Woman films. (Steve Trevor returning to life in an innocent person’s body, as well as how the South Asian/MENA community was portrayed in Wonder Woman 1984? Definitely considered the film’s most unforgivable sins by most people who saw it.)

For Patty Jenkins, she became the target of a running “joke” on Twitter that it was actually Zack Snyder who directed and co-wrote Wonder Woman instead of her, and that he’s the real reason why the first film was as good as it was. For Gadot, her reputation took several hits starting with the negative response to Wonder Woman 1984. Her acting was heavily criticized, her involvement with the “Imagine” video during the beginning of the pandemic was seen as the biggest example of celebrities being spoiled and useless and how we all need to Eat The Rich, and her response to the Israel/Palestine conflict on Instagram resulted in a whole lot of people cursing her very existence (FYI: Rihanna got the very same treatment for her response on Instagram, and was threatened with a boycott of all Fenty merchandise by her fans, and you can guess for yourselves how long that lasted before they went back to giving her their money), calling her a Zionist for her political beliefs, and decrying her for serving in the Israeli Defense Forces. (No, they didn’t care that her service was mandatory for her and for all citizens of Israel, as they felt that if this Taylor Swift stan could serve jail time for refusing to serve, so could Gal. Though it sure would be nice to see the Internet be just as mad at Adam Driver for rushing to join the military after 9/11 as they continue to be at Gal for being a member of the IDF, even if her role was as a fitness instructor who didn’t even see combat. I know that will never happen, but…it sure would be nice.)

This was also the second time that an upcoming project that was to be helmed by Patty Jenkins ended up being shelved and sent to Development Hell, as her Star Wars film Rogue Squadron was postponed indefinitely by Disney and Lucasfilm. This decision wasn’t entirely because of Jenkins and the response to Wonder Woman 1984, as Disney and Lucasfilm are currently more focused on developing television shows in the Star Wars universe instead of films for theatrical release. Jenkins isn’t the first director to have her upcoming Star Wars project altered or postponed by the two studios, and something tells me that she won’t be the last.

But any happiness that was being expressed by DCU Twitter about the cancellation of Wonder Woman 3 was short-lived, as Borys Kit’s article had a lot more to say about the future of the cinematic universe.

The rest of the DC slate remains in flux, or at least being kept deep in a pocket of [James] Gunn’s own utility belt but there are several rumors and possible scenarios to consider ahead of next week’s meeting.

The first, which builds on the shuttering of Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 3, is the closing curtain of the Snyderverse, and the heroes cast by filmmaker Zack Snyder for his Justice League. This one sees the shutting down of Man of Steel 2, with a returning Henry Cavill, and having no more Aquaman, fronted by Jason Momoa. These characters are to cameo in The Flash, the highly-anticipated time travel adventure movie that is due to release June 16. Cavill shot his part of the cameo in September. But sources say there is a debate inside the studio as to whether or not to keep the cameo and if its inclusion promises something that studio would have no plans on delivering.

A Warners insider cautions that no plans have been finalized and that Flash remains an unlocked picture.

The Cavill situation is a more than a little thorny as the actor made a cameo in Black Adam, the DC-centric movie released in October. The Monday after the movie opened, Cavill posted a video on Instagram where he announced, “I wanted to make it official — I am back as Superman.”

At that time, he was not incorrect. Warner Bros. was indeed developing a sequel for 2013’s Man of Steel and actively meeting with writers. Andy Muschietti, who directed The Flash, even expressed interest in sitting behind the camera for something that would have brought a tone similar to the hopeful and heroic colors of the 1978 movie directed by Richard Donner, considered a benchmark in comic book movies. In fact, the current leadership team at Warner Bros. Pictures — Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy — did desire one more go-around of the Snyderverse heroes, possibly even having another Justice League movie with those actors.

But that was before Gunn and Safran began formulating their new (and still in flux) plan.

Also unlikely is a sequel to Black Adam. Despite the hype surrounding the movie of launching a new corner of DC, a lot of it led by star Dwayne Johnson, the movie has only grossed $385 million worldwide and insiders at the studio say the movie, which cost more than $190 million to produce (two sources peg the actual cost at $230 million, not including marketing), will be lucky to break even, even considering ancillary revenue. Even if the movie does eke out a minimal profit, any follow-up’s inherent rising costs dim the prospect of a sequel.

Johnson hoped to carve out his own piece of the DC pie, but multiple sources say his playing up of a returning Cavill and his own involvement with DC may not be endearing him to the new management. Johnson and Cavill are both managed by Dany Garcia, who is also Johnson’s producing partner. The perception of Black Adam turning a profit or not is a conflagration now being waged in public, with Johnson tweeting the movie would net over $50 million after a Variety story said the movie would lose over $50 million theatrically.

Momoa, meanwhile, could emerge as a pivotal figure in the new plans, according to several sources. In one scenario, the actor would wrap up his days as underwater hero Arthur Curry with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, due out Dec. 25, 2023, which would be the final movie released that was made by the previous regime. But it would not spell the end of the actor’s involvement with DC, with sources saying the actor would lead another movie or franchise. The character of Lobo, a foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping intergalactic bounty hunter, has been mentioned in connection with Momoa.

Whether or not Momoa does play everybody’s favorite bastich, Lobo emerging as a rising character early on in the conversation may point to the kinds of characters the Gunn-Safran team may be focusing on. The character is an outsider, an anti-hero, and is keeping in line with Gunn’s specialty of taking the off-beat and quirky and flipping it into crowd-pleasing fare.

A few hours before the article by The Hollywood Reporter was published, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson shared this Deadline Hollywood article on his Twitter page to silence any naysayers who were stating that Black Adam was a box-office disappointment that would cause its studios to lose millions.

Some people saw this as Johnson shutting down misinformation about his film, and others saw it as an act of utter desperation to prove that his long-awaited pet project is actually a financial success that lived up to the hype.

The possibility of Warner Bros. giving the green light to a hard reboot of the entire DCU not only elicited anger from fans all over social media, but it also raised questions as to what will happen regarding the actors we know who are currently playing the characters we love. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jurnee Smollett as Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as The Crossbow Killer Huntress, Zachary Levi as Shazam, and even Ben Affleck, who was expected to return as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

As for Henry Cavill as Superman? The last time he was seen in movie theaters was in Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League in 2017, and his long-awaited return in the mid-credits scene of Black Adam was celebrated as a sign of things to come, and that Warner Bros. had finally pulled their heads out of their asses to make another Superman movie happen with Cavill in the role, just like fans have been begging for. And yet, despite all that, and the fact that Cavill walked away from his role as Geralt in the Netflix series The Witcher, it’s now a huge question mark as to whether there will even be another Superman movie in the near future, and if Cavill will even be playing the Man of Steel when that finally happens. Ezra Miller’s role as The Flash being recast? That should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, as most fans have been convinced for months that once The Flash is finally released in theaters next year, Miller will be recast and replaced with another actor who won’t appear in so many headlines that bring (even more) negative publicity to Warner Bros. and DC.

Say what you will about Zack Snyder (and sweet chocolate Christ, the Internet sure does say a lot about this man), but the casting choices that he has approved for the DCEU have been clever and unpredictable. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and casting two little-known theater actors named Ray Fisher and Wayne T. Carr to play both Cyborg and Green Lantern (even if Warner Bros. refused to let Snyder’s footage of Carr as Green Lantern ever see the light of day). And of all the blonde-haired, blue-eyed actors who could’ve been chosen to play Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Snyder and his casting director, Kristy Carlson, instead chose to go with Momoa, and even included the actor’s Polynesian heritage as a crucial part of his interpretation of the character. To think that a reboot of the DCU could possibly result in Momoa being replaced, and Aquaman going back to being played by a white actor, which would certainly make the f-ckboys and Pick-Mes of Get Woke-Go Broke Twitter happy? All so he can go the more familiar and predictable route of playing Lobo instead? I would need a lot more apple pie-flavored moonshine in my possession to help me cope with that unfortunate turn of events if it becomes a reality.

For a lot of fans in DCU Twitter, whatever enthusiasm they might have had about the future of this cinematic universe has largely been extinguished for good, and over the past year-and-a-half, it wasn’t even that high to begin with. When the teaser trailers for Zack Snyder’s Justice League and The Batman premiered at DC Fandome back in 2020, those fans were doing the Dance Of Joy at the thought of both Zack Snyder and Matt Reeves being able to share their incredible visions of the DC Universe with the rest of the world. And when Zack Snyder’s Justice League finally premiered on HBO Max in March 2021, the levels of happiness and excitement amongst fans were immeasurable. But with every statement and decision coming from The Powers That Be at Warner Bros. afterward, that happiness and excitement has turned into misery and outright contempt.

Batgirl not being allowed to be seen in movie theaters or on HBO Max so that Warner Bros. Discovery could get a tax break; Robert Pattinson getting his own solo Batman movie instead of Ben Affleck, and Matt Reeves being allowed to create his own live-action Batman universe in movies and on HBO Max; Batman v. Superman losing a crucial half-hour of footage that was restored in the film’s Ultimate Edition on Blu-ray; Suicide Squad writer/director David Ayer being kicked out of the editing room by Warner Bros. during post-production so that a movie-trailer company could finish editing the final cut of the film that was seen in theaters; the rumors that the studio wanted the “No Man’s Land” scene removed from Wonder Woman; the hiring of Joss Whedon to complete production of Justice League after Zack Snyder stepped down due to a family tragedy, which only resulted in on-set abuse and the Whedon-made theatrical version of the film not only being an unwatchable mess that failed with both critics and audiences, but it wasn’t the savior of the DCEU that Warner Bros. was hoping for; Ray Fisher’s treatment by Warner Bros. after he attempted to speak out about the on-set abuse on the Justice League set, and how it was largely ignored and swept under the rug by The Powers That Be; Henry Cavill and Mission: Impossible - Fallout writer-director Christopher McQuarrie approaching Warner Bros. about the two of them working together on a Superman film, only to have that pitch rejected, despite the ongoing curiosity by fans as to when there will be other Superman films that feature Cavill as the Man of Steel; the cancellation of director Ava DuVernay’s New Gods, as well as the Aquaman spin-off The Trench, which was rumored to not actually be about the merciless creatures of The Trench, but was secretly going to be a spin-off centered around Aquaman’s arch-nemesis, Black Manta (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II); Ann Sarnoff informing the public via an interview with Variety that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be the completion of Snyder’s work in the DCEU, as well as Warner Bros. executives anonymously informing the New York Times that there would be no sequels or spin-offs following its release; and James Gunn being hired to run DC Studios in the first place, despite DCU fans not being fans of his work or of him as a person, hence why the #FireJamesGunn hashtag is now appearing on Twitter since this most recent DCU news became public.

And to learn that everything they love and enjoy about the DC cinematic universe could possibly be erased, and then replaced with another version of the DCU that (in their eyes, anyway) will be made to look, sound, and be more like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? The last time Warner Bros. panicked and changed course and made a whole lot of unnecessary changes to give people what they wanted, and silence their complaints about how grimdark and depressing the DCU was, it resulted in Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League. And we all remember how that film turned out.

As of this article’s publication, James Gunn hasn’t responded on Twitter yet to anything that The Hollywood Reporter wrote yesterday about Wonder Woman 3 and the rest of the DCU. If he really is paying attention to what fans on social media are saying when it comes to what they want to see and what they hope for, he’s probably going to notice that this recent news announcement has done more harm than good. Though we still don’t know what exactly he and Peter Safran have planned for DC Studios in order to win the approval of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, it may not be enough to win over the fanbase that has possibly reached its breaking point.

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I’ve said this more than once, and they really are hell-bent on giving me additional reasons to keep saying it:

There really is never a dull moment when it comes to the DCEU DCU.

P.S. To any and all Marvel stans who are laughing and talking sh-t because of this DCU news, need I remind you that your own cinematic universe, as successful as it is, has its own damn problems that are impossible to ignore: Phase 4 was considered to be incredibly weak by most fans; the most die-hard Marvel fans experiencing fatigue from the seemingly nonstop glut of content in both theaters and on Disney Plus; Thor: Love And Thunder didn’t really live up to expectations (and much like how Wonder Woman 1984 turned fans against Patty Jenkins, this Thor film turned fans against Taika Waititi, who are now treating him like he’s an untalented hack); the f-ckboys and Pick-Mes got mad at She-Hulk: Attorney At Law because of the twerking with Megan Thee Stallion, and Daredevil’s character being ruined because he…(checks notes)…cracked a few jokes, showed off the gymnastics skills that he was never allowed to show back when he was on Netflix , and was seen doing the Walk of Shame after knocking boots with a fellow superhero; so many fans who are still furious at Disney/Marvel Studios/Kevin Feige/Ryan Coogler for refusing to recast T’Challa with another actor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the visual-effects technicians that Disney and Marvel Studios hire for their movies and television shows are treated abysmally. (They’re not the only studios guilty of such bad behavior, but they are the biggest and worst example of it.)

So…yeah. Sweep your own porch first before gossiping about the dirt on anyone else’s.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods opens in theaters March 17, 2023; The Flash opens June 16, 2023, Blue Beetle opens August 18, 2023, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens December 25, 2023.