Of all the details in my story this spring about Marvel Studios (DIS), the part that generated the most interest was a statement by the studio president, Kevin Feige, that revealed he had a list of future movies stretching all the way to 2028. That’s the way people at Marvel operate.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports that Warner Bros. (TWX) has similar plans for its DC Comics characters, with a schedule that calls for two movies a year starting in 2016 and reaching to 2020. First up: the previously announced Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as a Suicide Squad movie.
You can see how DC is closely following Marvel’s strategy. Batman vs. Superman will also feature Wonder Woman and guest appearances by other characters from DC’s cosmos of costumed heroes, allowing the company to begin interweaving story lines among its movies just as Marvel has done. In 2017, DC plans to release a Wonder Woman film and a Justice League vehicle, which will feature an Avengers-like team that includes Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and others yet to be revealed.
The Journal report discusses plans for a Flash movie and an Aquaman film in 2018, followed by a Justice League sequel and a film entitled Shazam featuring Dwayne Johnson as the villain Black Adam. The list ends with a Cyborg vehicle in 2020 and the return of the Green Lantern, whose first movie was a box office failure in 2011.
It will be interesting to see what kind of superhero universe Warner Bros. conjures with these films. The Marvel movies have their own semi-serious gestalt echoing that of the classic Silver Age comics written by Stan Lee in the 1960s. The recent Superman and Batman movies from Warner Bros. have been more grim.
Warner Bros. is also investing heavily in Zack Snyder, the director of last year’s Man of Steel, which performed respectably at the box office but didn’t inspire an outpouring of fan love. Snyder will helm Batman vs. Superman and the two Justice League films, all of which will be crucial to the success of this slate.
Then again, there are already changes under way in the DC canon. Ben Affleck will play Batman, not Christian Bale of the Dark Knight series. Some fans of the Caped Crusader chuckled at the idea of Affleck in a Batman costume. Maybe that was the point?