In light of the recent spate of sudden cancelations of completed films that Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has announced, much to the disappointment and emotional upset of cast and crew, it’s become apparent that the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery and their superhero property DC are not ready to go down against Disney and Marvel without a fight.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has raked in big bucks for The Walt Disney Company, with Kevin Feige at the helm of all things Marvel. Cleverly interweaving between different superhero projects, across big and small screens, Feige has helped resuscitate the “superhero movie” and turned the expectations of movie-goers and fans on their heads.
After over a decade of building up the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Robert Downey Jr. hit Iron Man (2008) where the star played “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” Tony Stark — the Marvel machine has continued on, non-stop. Huge cinematic events like the Avengers series of films brought superheroes from different nations, origins, timelines, and realities together (and millions of fans across the globe scrambling into movie theaters) all starting with Joss Whedon’s Avengers (2012) and culminating in the Russo brothers’ Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
The Marvel Cinematic Universe plows on today, with the “next big thing” on the multimedia superhero docket being the Multiverse Saga — already moving into Phase Five and Phase Six — announced just this year at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC).
Now, Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav wants to mirror Disney and Marvel Studios’ genre-changing success — badly.
At the Warner Bros. Discovery Q2 Earnings Call, Zaslav made it clear that he wants to center DC and their DC Extended Universe (DCEU) as the main priority for their company. He claims that as DC superheroes are “brands that are known everywhere in the world”; they have “done a reset” and “restructured the business where we’re going to focus”. Most importantly, he says that “there will be a team with a ten-year plan focusing just on DC”:
As we look at the opportunities that we have broadly, DC is at the top of the list for us. You look at Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, these are brands that are known everywhere in the world and the ability to drive those all over the world with great stories is a big opportunity for us. We have done a reset. We’ve restructured the business where we’re going to focus. There will be a team with a ten-year plan focusing just on DC. It’s very similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with Kevin Feige at Disney.
The structure that “Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together” is the implementation of Marvel Studios, which is helmed by Feige, and oversees all Marvel and Marvel Cinematic Universe-related properties and creative decisions. This is done in order to organize story threads to tell a cohesive tale that spans across the much-loved cinematic universe — that most importantly, fans can follow and get immersed in. Horn, who was the Walt Disney Company’s Chief Creative Officer, recently joined Warner Bros. Discovery in a consultant role, and that move is now becoming clear.
The sort of dogged dedication from Marvel fans that has naturally sprung up around the MCU essentially guarantees box office success — even if some films fail to hit as well as expected critically, like the recent Taika Waititi-directed Thor: Love and Thunder (2022).
A 10-year plan for DC will likely include the “brands known everywhere in the world” — Justice League icons Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman — but how WBD intends to tie any new films featuring these great heroes into the existing canon of the DC Extended Universe is a huge question mark, as Zack Snyder’s DC film Justice League has its own almost cult-like following, that once pressured the studio into releasing the massive, four-hour-long “Snyder Cut” of the film.
If they decide to fully eradicate or retcon the “Snyderverse” as things seem to be leaning towards, who knows what will happen to the mess that is the DC Extended Universe right now, or in the near future?
Hopefully, audiences won’t get too confused, as pulling off “an MCU” is going to take a lot of slow building up. It will take investment into individual superheroes and their standalone films to get fans attached, smart plots that interconnect across the films, and an “Avengers-level threat” worthy of a big cinematic get-together to vanquish the collective foe.
For now, Disney and the Marvel Cinematic Universe will remain happily, about a hundred steps ahead of Warner Bros. Discovery and DC. And if WBD is truly restructuring, they will be stuck taking those baby steps, giving the MCU even more time to develop as a mainstay of film and television for years to come.
What do you think of DC getting restructured to look more like Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
More on Marvel
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s dramatic ending to Phase Three, Avengers: Endgame directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, saying goodbye to Marvel heavyweights Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America. This led to the beginning of Phase Four with the Disney+ Original WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (Vision) back in 2021. Marvel went full steam ahead, releasing Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) starring Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) with Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire all as their own separate, Multiversal version of Peter Parker, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) with Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and most recently, Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) with Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson) and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster/Mighty Thor).
Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe wraps things up with Tatiana Maslany as the eponymous She-Hulk: Attorney at Law this August 17, 2022, and Chadwick Boseman as King T’Challa send-off Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, November 11, 2022 later this year.
The newly announced MCU Phase Five kicks off with Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania with Scott Lang as Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Janet van Dyne as the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) hitting theatres on February 17, 2023, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)-centric Secret Invasion in Spring that year, before May 5, 2023 brings us the final James Gunn-directed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 with Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), and July 28, 2023 takes us to new cosmic heights with The Marvels, a direct sequel to Captain Marvel (2019) starring Brie Larson as Carol Danvers and newcomer Iman Vellani (Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel).
We can expect the Disney+ Original Ironheart featuring Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne) Fall 2023, as well as the brand new Blade in November, with 2023 ending in Agatha: Coven of Chaos and 2024 starting with Daredevil: Born Again – both Disney+ exclusives.
Phase Six will surely break new records with Fantastic Four in November 8, 2024, and likely the biggest announcements to date – a return to an Avengers-level threat with the Multiverse Saga’s conclusion in May 2025’s Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and November’s Avengers: Secret Wars.
More on DC
Warner Bros. Discovery owns the wildly popular DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and the DC superhero film Justice League directed by Zack Snyder, which consists of Superman/Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman/Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), Aquaman/Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), The Flash/ (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher).