The DC Cinematic Universe is a combined setting produced by DC Comics
(as the unofficial name suggests). It is distributed by Warner Bros.
, the company that owns the rights to all DC franchises. As you might have guessed from the name, this setting was created as a way for DC to compete against Marvel
's own shared movie universe
The 2011 movie Green Lantern
, starring Ryan Reynolds
and directed by Martin Campbell
, was supposed to be the start of the franchise, but this plan was cancelled once the film got mostly negative reviews from both critics and audiences and bombed at the box office
. The franchise truly began in 2013 with Man of Steel
, a Continuity Reboot
of the Superman
film series, starring Henry Cavill
and directed by Zack Snyder
. It became one of the most successful movies of the year, and it still got more positive reviews than Green Lantern
in spite of receiving an odd mixture of both a Broken Base
and Critical Dissonance
. During post-production of Man of Steel
, Warner Bros. took note of the success of The Avengers
and began to work toward creating a shared universe over the course of several films (which was already set in motion by alluding to LexCorp and Wayne Industries in the form of Easter Eggs).
Thus, Zack Snyder was signed on to direct both the quasi-sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
(originally slated for a 2015 release), and later Justice League
(originally slated for a 2018 release). Ben Affleck
was cast as Batman
, and later Gal Gadot
was cast as Wonder Woman
. Batman v. Superman
's release date was then moved up to May 6, 2016, the same date as Captain America 3
, and then down to March 25 of the same year. Warner Brothers had also announced plans
films for release between 2016 and early 2020, including Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
and Justice League
somewhere along the line. There are also rumors of several Justice League
sequels after Part One and Part Two, as well as more stand-alone movies featuring members of the Justice League and new properties entirely.
So far, Zack Snyder seems to be the leading creative force behind the universe, having been assigned to four movies in total. Suicide Squad
is being helmed by David Ayer, fresh off of Fury
. Wonder Woman
will be directed by Breaking Bad
director Michelle MacLaren, which (like having a female-led superhero film) would be an exception to most of the superhero movies currently on the market. A hypothetical sequel to this film is rumored to be in discussion. Two scripts for the Aquaman
movie are being written
by Will Beall and Kurt Johnstad, with the better one being utilized and the lesser one having some degree of an impact on the other script. Standalone movies starring Batman and Superman are also on the way, with currently unknown placement at this time.
Before the multi-film announcement in August 2014 and the subsequent bits of news regarding Shazam
, Wonder Woman
, and Aquaman
, a June 2014 leak revealed that Warner Bros. was planning films would not just feature Superman
characters, but characters from the Shazamnote
, The Sandmannote
, Justice Leaguenote
, Wonder Womannote
, Green Lantern
, and The Flash
. The rumor also stated that Superman would be getting another standalone movie in 2018, and that Batman would get his first standalone title in this series in 2019. Though the three-films-per-year format has been abandoned for what appears to be a more modest two-films-per-year schedule, and that some projects seem to have been shelved in favor of others (for the time being), the rumor did provide some insight on what's on the horizon for the setting.note
The possibility of creating a movie based on The Sandman
seems to be much more likely after years of Development Hell
, and the project currently has Joseph Gordon-Levitt
attached. A number of other Vertigo works are also in discussion to make potential films, including Metal Men
. Guillermo del Toro has also said
he's developing a film tentatively titled Dark Universe
, featuring Justice League Dark
characters such as John Constantine
, The Spectre
, Swamp Thing
the Demon, and Deadman
. The news broke months before Man of Steel
even premiered, and it's likely that it will be part of the same setting once officially announced by Warner Bros.note
As of 2014 Del Toro has said Dark Universe
will not conflict with the upcoming Constantine
TV series on NBC
, and he's open to sharing continuity with it or at least using the same lead actor.Geoff Johns has confirmed that
the influx of DC shows that are airing on television will take place in their own Alternate Continuity
, but he also mentioned the possibility of eventual crossovers between the shows and films. Nonetheless
, a prequel series to Man Of Steel
is slated to air on SyFy
, indicating that television is still an option for this continuity.Neil Gaiman also confirmed
that any movies based on works published by Vertigo Comics
are being treated as their own thing, although the possibility of a Justice League Dark
movie could lead to some sort of crossover.Released films in this setting:Films officially in-development:
Television series set in this universe:Properties being discussed for potential adaptations:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
- Suicide Squad (August 5th, 2016)
- Wonder Woman (June 23rd, 2017)
- The Justice League Part One (November 17th, 2017)
- The Flash (March 23rd, 2018)
- Aquaman (July 27th, 2018)
- Shazam (April 5th, 2019)
- The Justice League Part Two (June 14th, 2019)
- Cyborg (April 3rd, 2020)
- Green Lantern (June 19th, 2020)
- Superman (TBA)
- The Batman (TBA)
- Dark Universe note (TBA)
Tropes present across the various movies:
- Alternate Continuity:
- The Dark Knight Saga, although critically-acclaimed and financially successful, is not a part of this franchise - in part due to the glaring continuity problems that introducing fantastic elements into a largely-grounded continuity would create. As such, Batman was recast. Christian Bale has indicated that he prefers to have a new actor playing Batman for the DCCU.
- As mentioned above, 2011's Green Lantern was supposed to be the start of this film series, but has since been thrown into Canon Discontinuity by its own financial and critical disappointment.
- The TV shows Arrow and The Flash do take place in the same continuity as each other, but it has been confirmed to be in a separate continuity to the films by DC's Geoff Johns. However, since Johns used the term "multiverse" to describe the TV shows and the films, it has been speculated that they will eventually cross over.
- Big Bad: Man of Steel had Zod. Dawn of Justice will have Lex Luthor. Justice League is rumored to have Brainiac take this role.
- Continuity Overlap:
- Initially, it was said that Warner Bros. executives hadn't decided if all of the movies they have planned will fit into the same continuity, though it's likely that they will to generate interest through Crossovers. Nonetheless, it is highly likely that films featuring key members of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and others) will take place in the same universe that Man of Steel is set in. It now appears that all of the movies will share a continuity, though it will not be connected to any of DC's television shows (unlike Marvel's recent actions to cross their cinematic universe over with their TV/Netflix shows).
- Another point of note is that this film series will defy the problem of legal trouble between franchises that Marvel has had (with major franchises split between three major companies) - Warner Bros. owns all of the properties, giving them a potential edge over their competition.
- Continuity Reboot: For every DC property included that has been filmed previously. Notably, this includes Batman, whose last film was made four years before his debut, and Green Lantern, who will get another shot at a standalone film nearly a decade after the first movie he appeared in failed at the box office.
- Crisis Crossover: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, both parts of Justice League, and Dark Universe are four confirmed titles to feature a major crossover, while Suicide Squad features a crossover between the villains of the franchises (and a couple not necessarily tied to specific characters).
- Darker and Edgier: More along the lines of "more serious and more grounded" than previous movies featuring these characters.
- Follow the Leader:
- As mentioned above, this is DC's Alternate Company Equivalent to the MCU. Part of the reason the Justice League movie even got off the ground was due to the massive success of The Avengers.
- Part of the reason the Suicide Squad movie, got off the ground was due to the success of Guardians of the Galaxy; like the aforementioned movie, it's a lesser-known property about a ragtag group of anti-heroes forced to work for the good guys. The movie is even planned to release on the same month that Guardians did.
- In Media Res: Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is a sense that this universe will largely avoid origin stories. While Man of Steel was an origin story for Superman, subsequent films will begin with a fully realized DC Universe, where characters like Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have long been active (albeit secretly), and familiar villains like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and others are not only well-established, but have already been defeated and incarcerated.
- Movie Multipack: The Justice League is slated to have at least two parts that tell an overarching story with the characters.
- Period Piece: The Wonder Woman movie is rumored to be set in the 1920s, and a rumored follow-up would take place in the 1940s.
- Race Lift: Done in part for Ability Over Appearance and to appeal to a wider audience.
- In the comics, Perry White is, well, White. Starting with Man of Steel, he's played by Black actor Laurence Fishburne.
- In the comics, Aquaman is White. In these movies, he's played by Jason Momoa, a person of Pacific Islander and Native American descent (with some White heritage on his mother's side).
- Mercy Graves, a white blonde woman in the comics and Superman: The Animated Series, is played by Japanese actress Tao Okamoto.
- Deadshot, a white guy in the comics, is played by Will Smith.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Surprisingly averted with Batman, who has been known to appear prominently in most DC adaptations (often at the expense of other characters). He has only been confirmed to appear in three movies so far (Dawn of Justice and both parts of the Justice League duology), where he serves as a Deuteragonist and a part of an ensemble of heroes respectively. This may be part of an effort to try and phase out the public's overfamilarity with the Nolan movies before truly establishing anything standalone with the character. A solo movie with the character is planned for an unspecified time, but it will most likely come out after the release of The Justice League Part One.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: On a meta level, these movies have been helpful to actors and characters.
- Henry Cavill was infamous from getting snubbed on getting major roles from various studios in favor of other actors, most notably by Robert Pattinson for the role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight film series (which even surprised series creator Stephenie Meyer, who initially thought that Cavill fit the bill better). That all changed when Zack Snyder hired him to play Superman.
- Wonder Woman finally getting to appear in a live-action film after years of the movie project going nowhere - especially considering that Warner Bros. executives were on the fence about letting her have a movie, leading to the now infamous Tweet from Brett White about how DC didn't want to do Wonder Woman because it was too confusing, while Marvel was working on Guardians of the Galaxy, which has a racoon using machine guns. Taken even further once it was confirmed that she would be getting a standalone film before Marvel could release a female-led movie.note
- The Unmasqued World: The events of Man of Steel completely and utterly obliterated the Masquerade with the Battle of Metropolis - and as such, more super-powered individuals and vigilantes are making their presence more known as a result.
- Urban Legend: What Batman apparently is in this continuity, at least before the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This could potentially apply to other characters, particularly Wonder Woman and Aquaman, given that the Masquerade was apparently in effect.
- World Building: While Man Of Steel almost exclusively focused on developing Superman as a character with occasional nods to other characters through Easter Eggs, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad both seem to come with loads of Mythology Gags that they border on Continuity Porn for readers of the comics - all to set up the Justice League series and other standalone movies.