With Cavill and Affleck Possibly Out, the DCEU is falling apart (but don’t tell WB)
Warner Bros. DCEU is falling apart piece by piece as Henry Cavill leave the role of Superman – but that doesn’t mean an end to DC movies.
UPDATE 9/13/18: TMZ is reporting that the reports on Cavill are exaggerating the situation and that Cavill is still Superman. Sort of. Sources speaking to TMZ claim that Cavill will not appear in Shazam! due to a breakdown in negotiations (i.e. Cavill wanted more money and WB didn’t want to pay much), but after that, the future is unclear as there is no Superman project in the works. If/when a new project begins development, the director and studio will decide if Cavill is the right person for the role.
Given that he was signed for four films and there were reportedly plans for a third Superman film, our original points stands.
Since its first steps with the Man of Steel, Warner Bros.’ proposed DC Extended Universe has had issues. Zack Snyder’s first Superman film made a small boatload of money, but it split fans. Its sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, further divided them. In fact, the second film was met with so much derision that it caused a massive shakeup within WB.
The later follow-ups, Suicide Squad and Justice League, were both met with an equally lukewarm response. Wonder Woman was a rare success, but others like The Flash, have been left in limbo for years now. And yet still, WB continues on as if everything is fine.
A new pair of reports about two of the biggest DCEU stars isn’t going to help.
It began with a report that the DCEU’s current Superman, Henry Cavill, will not appear in the upcoming Shazam! in what was meant to be a cameo role. The actor was said to have scheduling conflicts, possibly due to his recent casting as the lead in the Netflix series The Witcher, but from there, things fell apart.
Cavill originally signed to play Superman in four films. He has currently appeared in three, and his team was apparently seeking a contract extension, which may have further exacerbated the situation.
WB is also looking to skip over a new Superman film in favor of a Supergirl origin movie, which means the next Superman film wouldn’t begin production for several years. That would put Cavill’s age into question, and his rising popularity would make it tough to plan for a film that doesn’t have a firm plan of any kind at this point. According to THR, one studio source claimed “Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors.”
It is worth noting that Cavill’s agent Dany Garcia has refuted these claims and said WB would follow with a statement later. It did, but the reply probably wasn’t what Garcia was hoping for.
“While no decisions have been made regarding any upcoming Superman films, we’ve always had great respect for and a great relationship with Henry Cavill, and that remains unchanged.”
One of those actors reportedly being considered as a Superman replacement is Michael B. Jordan, but that just raises more questions. It’s unclear if that would mean a reboot or just a recasting, although it might be nothing more than one of dozens of possibilities.
Along with Cavill’s departure, it appears that Ben Affleck is also officially out as Batman. There have been countless stories of Affleck staying and going, but things have looked increasingly doubtful ever since Affleck was removed as director after initially being hired to write, direct, and produce. With Affleck currently in rehab and Cavill leaving, THR is reporting that WB is slowly shifting toward a soft reset of the DCEU.
And that’s where things get really confusing.
Although Batman and Superman may be facing reboots and the planned Justice League sequel is indefinitely on hold, the studio still has high hopes for Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 1984, all of which are currently in production. The Flash is said to be looking for a 2019 start with Ezra Miller (in theory), and Matt Reeves is actively developing The Batman, even if it won’t involve Affleck.
Suicide Squad 2 and Birds of Prey, a spin-off starring Margot Robbie, are also in the works, and there has been talk of a new Green Lantern movie for years.
But then there are the multiple films featuring the Joker – possibly six of them, starring two actors, set in two universes. Maybe. There may also be a Black Adam movie with Dwayne Johnson still in the works, or not, and it looks like Joss Whedon’s Batgirl is dead – which may be a blessing in terms of continuity, since The Batman may be a prequel. Or a reboot, it’s not really clear.
It’s unfair and even a little annoying to constantly compare the DCEU to the MCU, but the two have so many similarities it’s impossible not to. The only place they really diverge is in success.
The MCU, whether you love the films or not, has a plan and a formula that continues to churn out successful franchise after franchise. Even relatively lesser known characters like Ant-Man and the Wasp are sitting on a billion-dollar franchise, and when properties start getting stale, they can always take the Thor route and reinvent the character without hurting the continuity.
Compare that to the DCEU, which is currently filming multiple films focused on the same character, just lost two of its biggest characters and may or may not replace them, and seems to have several films that could either go into development or limbo at the toss of a coin. It’s not a stable strategy, and it will continue to cause problems until WB admits it needs to rethink things and try something new.