What’s Going on with the DC Extended Universe?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you are likely aware that the films that comprise the so-called DC Extended Universe (DCEU) have had a…well, rocky rollout. Now, under the tutelage of a Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) insider, the DCEU is making big changes—and cuts—along the way.

Some Background. From the tepid reception to Man of Steel (a film I thoroughly enjoyed), the perhaps bloated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, to the disjointed Justice League (and the “Synder Cut” of the same) to the day-and-date streaming release of the less-than-stellar Wonder Woman 1984 back in 2020—the DCEU films have often left fans scratching their heads. And that’s not to say the franchise is without its highs. The original Wonder Woman deservedly performed well with critics and at the box office in 2017. Shazam! was a surprisingly refreshing take on the superhero genre. And Aquaman is undeniably the most exciting of the lot. But the DCEU has, perhaps unfairly so, been compared to the MCU’s ability to parlay a shared universe into consistent box office success.

What’s Going on with the DCEU? As of yesterday, hopes of an improved, continuing shared universe of the existing DCEU were shattered. Henry Cavill, only weeks after announcing he would return as Kal-El, confirmed via instagram he is in fact is out as Superman. James Gunn, recently named Co-CEO of DC Studios (along with Peter Safran) is set to write a new Superman film that will focus on a much-younger man of steel.

And just the day before, Petty Jenkins broke her silence on the now-confirmed news that “Wonder Woman 3” is no longer moving forward. In her statement, when addressing rumors about why the third installment was scrapped, Jenkins stated: “I never walked away. I was open to considering anything asked of me. It was my understanding that there was nothing I could do to move anything forward at this time. DC is obviously buried in changes they are having to make, so I understand these decisions are difficult right now.”

This comes at a particularly interesting time for the DCEU, which again finds itself in a transitional phase. James Gunn, director of all three Guardians of the Galaxy films, the third of which arrives in theaters in May 2023, joined the DCEU in 2018 after an unceremonious firing by Disney over old tweets. Time has passed and Jame Gunn now finds himself putting the finishing touches on a major MCU film while co-piloting a new 10-year plan for the DCEU. All of these changes are taking place with an existing Zach Synder-era film slate on the 2023 calendar, including the The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

The fate of those films remains unclear, but suffice it to say that in light of the upheaval taking place at WarnerBros. Discovery–which includes canceling a completed Batgirl film and removing its own content (including Westworld, and most important to a father of two toddlers, Sesame Street episodes) from the HBO Max streaming service to save money–no film, show, or actor is safe. Not even The Rock–whose tweets about the so-called success of his recent, underwhelming Black Adam are now publicly disputed.

Stay tuned.

Photos: Henry Cavill (Clay Enos); Petty Jenkins (Getty Images); DC logo (Warner Bros. Discovery) Black Adam (Warner. Bros.).

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