Amid the aftermath of a historic media acquisition, the future of the DCEU is hanging in limbo now. Discovery recently closed a deal to merge with WarnerMedia to the tune of $43 billion. Under the new moniker of Warner Bros. Discovery, the new media organization aims to "[offer] the most differentiated and complete portfolio of content across film, television, and streaming," per WBD CEO David Zaslav. According to recent news, the content may just include a reset of the DCEU.
The DC Extended Universe encompasses several film adaptations (and at least one TV show) of the popular and beloved heroes and villains of DC Comics. The franchise includes films for Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman, Harley Quinn, and Shazam that all ostensibly take place within the same canon. The film series as a whole has received mixed reception, with critics and fans divided over its quality. With the creation of Warner Bros. Discovery, the DCEU as we know it could change drastically.
Is the DCEU over? The future doesn't look bright for the franchise.
Variety reported that the new owners of Warner Bros. materials were considering an overhaul of DC Entertainment. David Zaslav posited the idea of finding a person to helm creative direction of DC film and TV adaptations, similar to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has in Kevin Feige. Variety cites Discovery insiders who claim that the franchise lacks a coherent brand strategy. Officials also pointed to the success of films like The Batman and Joker as models for how to move forward.
This could be the shot in the arm that the franchise needs. The DCEU initially began with the 2013 Superman film Man of Steel, which received mixed reception and fan reaction upon its release. Film reception for proceeding films would receive similarly divisive reaction among fans and critics, generating a discourse that hung over the franchise that often overshadowed any positive word of mouth.
But the potential for an overhaul couldn't come at a more interesting time than now. Two major DCEU films that were initially scheduled for release in 2022 were suddenly delayed to 2023. The star of one of those films, Ezra Miller, is in hot water with Warner Bros. after their recent criminal offense in Hawaii. Conversely, the critically acclaimed DCEU series Peacemaker is currently working to produce a second season.
All this to say that the DCEU is poised to continue in its current form. Despite the troubled waters that the franchise has yet to escape, there are still multiple films in post-production set to come out. Could this major film franchise, divisive as it is, really garner a hard reset with so much slated to continue it? If talks between Discovery and Warner Bros. move forward, it's reasonable to think that the production on these films and the future of the DCEU could be severely impacted.
While the future of the DCEU is in question, fans are similarly divided over the news. Some fans have expressed enthusiasm over the overhaul, hoping that the revitalization effort could allow characters like Superman and Green Lantern to flourish once more on the big screen. Other fans want the DCEU to continue, commenting their desire for sequels to Man of Steel.
It'd be a tall order to completely scrap nine years of a cinematic universe, especially with projects still in the pipeline. If films like The Flash can stick to their current release dates, we'll know for sure where the future of the DCEU lies.