Rounding up the rumors of DC expansion

When people talk about “superhero films,” they mean, for the most part, Marvel films. There have been DC heroes on the big screen in the past decade and a half, of course. Most notably there’s Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” version of Batman and Zack Snyder’s so-so Superman, though the likes of Green Lantern and Daredevil have also made lackluster appearances. Ultimately, however, the superhero genre in modern cinema has been utterly dominated by Marvel, from the beginnings of the X-Men franchise in 2000 to the recent sensation Guardians Of The Galaxy. Marvel seems to have so many heroes and teams on its hands that it can make $200 million at the box office with the click of a button. At this point, they could probably film two hours of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark playing badminton and they’d win the box office for a month.

But have no fear, ye of the DC persuasion. The DC film universe is about to explode, possibly even in a way that will rival Marvel.

By now, you’ve surely heard plenty about the upcoming Superman/Batman combo film, now officially titled Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and slated for a 2016 release. It will feature Ben Affleck as an aging, possibly retired take on Batman, and Henry Cavill back as Superman. It appears Zack Snyder could be attempting to capitalize on Nolan’s overwhelming Batman success in a way that can save his Superman franchise, which started out with a fizzle. Details of the new film has been slim so far. However, according to a new (and semi-unconfirmed) leak from an extra written up in Tech Times, the film’s ending will concern a confrontation between Batman and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and Batman attempts to steal Kryptonite, presumably to assist Superman. But, really, who knows.

Frankly, after Man Of Steel I’m not expecting a whole lot out of Snyder. He missed the mark entirely, opting for Michael Bay-esque, pointless building smashing rather than the rich characters, clever plots and brilliant atmosphere that made the Dark Knight franchise so irresistible. But where Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice gets interesting is in its introduction of characters who will presumably go on to expand the DC universe enormously.

Most notably, Gal Gadot has been cast in the role of Wonder Woman, fulfilling a rumour and desire that has stirred among fans for years. Easily the most well-known and popular female superhero in comic lore, Wonder Woman has been called for by many. Thankfully, she has quietly emerged in the past few years. USA Today recently wrote of some of the success of Wonder Woman in modern comic editions while her face has been popping up online in the gaming world. In fact, slot developer IGT put together a slot machine-stylized game based on the character. It’s one that has become popular on gaming platform InterCasino UK, where they tease that you can “see Wonder Woman’s power unleashed” in the animations used in the game. In the film world, this slow emergence is about to culminate in
a major new cinematic character. While few details are known as of now, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman will indeed be getting her own film down the line.

Also making headlines as an emerging character in Batman vs. Superman is Aquaman, who will be portrayed by Jason Momoa (better known as Khal Drogo from Game Of Thrones). Momoa is a perfect fit for a powerful mer-king-like superhero, and sure enough he too looks poised to have his own spin-off. Entertainment Weekly notes that Warner Bros. has apparently been working on the development of two different scripts for a stand-alone Aquaman film, which could obviously spark yet another hero franchise.

So even if you (like me) aren’t too excited for another Snyder production, there are reasons to be intrigued by Batman vs. Superman. However, DC’s expansion isn’t limited only to this film. Some of their characters are moving swiftly toward the big screen as a means of building hype for the confirmed Justice League movie that’s on the way.

In fact, according to Screen Rant, DC has a whopping eleven films in the works, though there is not a cohesive, all-unifying, Marvel-like approach being taken. The Sandman is one hero who seems all but confirmed for a stand-alone film, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt rumoured to be directing (but no significant casting rumors flying around just yet). A Green Lantern reboot has been hinted at as well (seeing as the Ryan Reynolds version crashed mightily), and there’s significant buzz out there that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may be in line to star as Shazam. The Flash is also on his way to the big screen, possibly as soon as 2016, and rumours of additional hero projects abound.

Long story short, the DC Universe is about to get much, much bigger. The expansion of Zack Snyder’s Superman franchise toward the Justice League film is an enormous undertaking in its own right. However, with all of these spin-offs and new projects in the works, DC finally looks to be fighting back against the unstoppable wave of Marvel success.