Batman, Superman and the building of a DC Comics ‘extended universe’


Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) face off in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” CLAY ENOS/Warner Bros. Pictures

2016-01-05 sc-movieyearp3

2016-01-05 sc-movieyearp3

Ben Affleck stars as Batman in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” COURTESY/Warner Bros. Pictures



Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, aka the Merc with the Mouth in Marvel Comics’ first R-rated film, “Deadpool.” Joe Lederer/Twentieth Century Fox



Margot Robbie (left) as Harley Quinn, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Karen Fukuhara as Kitana, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flagg, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang and Will Smith as Deadshot star in “Suicide Squad.” Clay Enos/Warners Bros. Pictures

Upcoming DC Comics movies

“Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5)

The all-star, all-villain lineup beyond Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto includes characters played by Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnamon, Jai Courtney and Viola Davis for director David Ayer (“End of Watch,” “Fury”).

“Wonder Woman” (June 23, 2017)

Gal Gadot stars in the first superhero film led by a woman, and it’s directed by a woman in Patty Jenkins, who led Charlize Theron to an Oscar in “Monster.” Chris Pine has been cast as Steve Trevor, the U.S. pilot who finds the Amazon women when his plane crash-lands on Paradise Island.

“Justice League Part One” (Nov. 17, 2017)

All or most of the characters in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” return here, with new characters added (like J.K. Simmons as Batman buddy Commissioner Gordon) and reportedly Superman foe Brainiac as the villain.

“The Flash” (March 16, 2018)

Ezra Miller plays the fast-man in a film set to be the directing debut of Seth Grahame-Smith, the author of “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” who has also written Warner Bros.’ animated “Lego Batman” movie for 2017.

“Aquaman” (July 27, 2018)

Jason Momoa takes the lead for director James Wan, a good “get” seeing as how the filmmaker moved from horror hits (the “Saw” movies and “The Conjuring”) to making “Furious 7” such a smash that he had his choice of projects.

“Shazam!” (April 5, 2019)

About all that is known is that Dwayne Johnson has agreed to star — not in the hero role, but in the villain’s role as Black Adam.

“Justice League Part Two” (June 14, 2019)

Few details exist outside of it being an all-star reunion, but you can expect a more colorful title.

“Cyborg” (April 2020)

Ray Fisher, a young stage talent, is as unknown as the potential storyline.

“Green Lantern Corps” (June 2020)

The word is that we may have a Green Lantern sighting in the second Justice League movie. And that you will not see Ryan Reynolds in green.

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2016 11:00 am

Batman, Superman and the building of a DC Comics ‘extended universe’

World Scene Writer


It was a gamble to think beyond more than one movie in 2008.

It was an early May weekend, with the kids all still in school. A new Hollywood player, Marvel Studios, was releasing its first movie.

Its superhero, “Iron Man,” was no Spider-Man or Batman in terms of popularity. Its star was a middle-aged man just a few years removed from multiple drug arrests and rehab stints.

But then Robert Downey Jr. created an iconic character, and director Jon Favreau of “Elf” made Iron Man and science look cool. A new Hollywood universe was born, and later Iron Man met Captain America and Thor and formed “The Avengers,” with stories and characters crossing over into other films.

Eight years later, the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” is now run by Disney and a beloved franchise for fans of comic-book movies. It consists of 12 movies, with many more to come.

The result so far: a worldwide box-office of better than $9 billion.

Warner Bros., the home of Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” movies, in collaboration with DC Comics, the legendary home of Batman, Superman and more heroes, came to a conclusion: We need our own universe.

Following up on the success of 2013’s “Man of Steel,” the “DC Extended Universe” moves forward next week with “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” pitting DC’s two biggest stars against each other while introducing other superheroes in the comics canon.

Here’s a dozen things you need to know about one of the most-anticipated movies of 2016 — and the ambitious plan by Warner Bros. and DC Comics to release 10 movies in their own “universe” between now and 2020.

1. “Batman v Superman”: Are they fighting each other? What’s the story?

Think of it like this following the events of “Man of Steel”: After Superman’s building-leveling battle with Zod left much of Metropolis in ruins, Bruce Wayne/Batman considers (a) what this all-powerful alien’s intentions are, and (b) whether he would bring such destruction to Gotham City.

The film’s official synopsis: “Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.”

2. This movie is not a “Man of Steel” sequel.

A sequel, no, but this film’s story follows the events of “Man of Steel.” It should have a similar look and feel, too, with the same director (Zack Snyder of “300” and “Watchmen”) returning and a story again penned by David S. Goyer, but this time with a re-write by Oscar-winner Chris Terrio of “Argo.”

3. Superman is not the only character from “Man of Steel” in this movie.

Among the “Man of Steel” characters returning are: Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams); Superman’s mom, Martha Kent (Diane Lane); Daily Planet editor Perry White (Laurence Fishburne); and supervillain General Zod (Michael Shannon).

4. Ben Affleck is the new Batman.

When Affleck accepted the role as the new Bruce Wayne/Batman, it surprised many: He was now an Oscar-winning filmmaker, reinventing himself with films like “The Town” and his Oscar-winning Best Picture “Argo.” But while he proved his less-respected acting chops with the hit “Gone Girl,” he can now prove that he can do it all, and in any genre. Maybe the best news: He is supposedly signed to make a stand-alone Batman film with him writing and directing.

5. What other DC Comics superheroes/supervillains have major roles in “Batman v Superman”?

The film features the first theatrical appearance of Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, the Amazon immortal, and she’s played by Gal Gadot, best-known for playing weapons expert Giselle in multiple “Fast and Furious” films. Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) portrays the latest incarnation of mastermind villain Lex Luthor, with a full head of hair as seen in trailers. There’s also a motion-capture performance of Doomsday, a Krypton-created monster best known for killing Superman in the comics.

6. Look for other DC heroes in cameos.

The extent of their appearances is not clear, but look for three other DC featured players to show up: Barry Allen, the speedster known as the Flash (played by Ezra Miller of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”); water-wonder Aquaman (Jason Momoa of “Conan the Barbarian”); and Cyborg, played by young stage actor Ray Fisher. The plan is for each to star in their own individual films in the coming years.

7. When is DC’s “Avengers”-style movie?

Consider these titles to be as tentative as “Avengers 2” once was, but “Justice League Part One” is set for November 2017, and “Justice League Part Two” for June 2019, with Zack Snyder directing both films and no doubt new characters not yet identified being added.

8. What’s the next movie in the DC Extended Universe?

“Suicide Squad” is set for an Aug. 5 release, with a secret government agency unleashing supervillains like Joker (Jared Leto), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Deadshot (Will Smith) upon the world in exchange for a deal: Carry out our black ops “suicide” mission and survive, and clemency awaits. After “Deadpool,” many are asking: Will this be the next R-rated comic-book movie?

9. The box-office for “Batman v Superman” should be huge.

The initial tracking reports show the new movie on target for about $140 million for the opening U.S./domestic weekend, but that seems small; “Man of Steel” opened to $116 million, “The Dark Knight Rises” to $160 million, and now the DC stars are together? The target here should be to better the March record of $152.5 million made by “The Hunger Games” in 2012. Bigger news: Tracking is running as high as $340 million worldwide for the first week, as the movie opens everywhere at the same time.

10. Ryan Reynolds will never return as DC Comics’ Green Lantern.

The “Deadpool” star gambled with the first R-rated Marvel Comics movie, a passion project he staked his reputation on, and he won big with a movie so beloved by fans that they will forgive his starring in the abomination that was DC’s 2011 “Green Lantern.” That was another case of Warner Bros. saying “We’re already planning on sequels…” before audiences had seen the bomb and said, “Please, no sequels, we loathe this movie.”

11. In the decade since Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment first teamed up with Christopher Nolan for his “Dark Knight” trilogy, they’ve made other movies featuring DC characters — and failed.

“Superman Returns” received such a lukewarm response in 2006, both in the hearts of fans and at the box-office, that the companies started over. Zack Snyder made the R-rated “Watchmen” in 2009, adapting a legendary graphic novel into a less-than-classic film. Both “Jonah Hex” in 2010 and “Green Lantern” in 2011 were big bombs.

12. How high are the stakes for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” to be a success, and how much of a success?

With a medocre track record for making movies that fans embrace, and of course the hundreds of millions of dollars committed, and the plan for this film to kick off a giant series of movies, there’s never been a bigger financial gamble in Hollywood history — unless things go so badly that Warner Bros. and DC scrap all those future films. Remember the opening weekend figure for “Deadpool” in February of $132 million? Anything smaller than that number will be considered a failure, and it could kill both Superman and Batman. For a while.

Michael Smith 918-581-8479


Thursday, March 17, 2016 11:00 am.

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