Crisis On Infinite DC Movie Plans

Is Warner Bros screwing up the DC Movieverse before it even starts?

We're still a year out from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice* but there's already rumblings about the future of the DC Movieverse it is supposed to spawn. Not good rumblings. The trailer for the film was released to mixed reaction, Michelle MacLaren jumped off Wonder Woman and the first look at The Joker from Suicide Squad was so disastrous that there is a contingent of fans who - I shit you not - think the photo is fake or a joke and that The Joker will not be all tatted up in the movie. Meanwhile, Warner Bros' approach to these movies has been bizarre - they hired five writers to compete on a Wonder Woman script, and three to compete on an Aquaman script. There's no vision directing the writers, and it's not working out behind the scenes. 

The Hollywood Reporter has done some digging into the situation at Warner Bros, and they've come back with some interesting stuff - including things that readers of this site would already know (like the fact that there's a power vacuum in the DC Movieverse, and that Zack Snyder is jostling with Geoff Johns for position at the top of the heap). 

Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio's strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warners commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio's direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision. "They just haven't been thorough about their whole world and how each character fits and how to get the most out of each writer's time by giving them direction," says a rep with knowledge of the process. "Obviously, Marvel's very good at that."

That seems crazy - they had a script they couldn't use because their vision for the universe just keeps changing. Warner Bros has learned the wrong lesson from Marvel's success - they're chasing a shared universe, but they don't have a Kevin Feige overseeing it all. That is vital; Marvel Studios is producer-driven, and it allows the films to work together and for the entire system to move like a machine. Speaking to THR a WB insider called the DC Movieverse plan 'filmmaker-driven,' which is clearly a dig at what many see as a samey quality to the Marvel films. That's a nice concept, but the reality is that the filmmakers all need a centralized person (or persons) to lean on when the universe is shared. 

Look at Star Wars - that's shaping up to be a 'filmmaker-driven' shared universe, but everybody answers to the Lucasfilm Story Group, who coordinate everything and make sure all the films fit together and work towards a common goal. This is what WB is missing. 

Is it too late? Can Warner Bros pull together its slate in a way that makes sense and is cohesive? I suspect that, when it all shakes out, Zack Snyder is the guy holding the reins. After all, he sort of already is - he is setting up the expanded universe in BvS, which will introduce most members of the Justice League. He's cast those roles with WB, he's created the tone into which they will be introduced, and his fingerprints will be all over their look. Hell, it's clear that Aquaman's design is prime Snyder. I don't think Snyder is a Kevin Feige, and he certainly won't have the time that Feige has to focus (after all, Snyder is directing Justice League next), but he seems like the only choice WB truly has. 

* a movie title decided upon by adults.

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