Bruce: We have to stand together.The DC Extended Universe or DCEUnote is a film franchise and Shared Universe produced by DC Comics and distributed by Warner Bros. (and its subsidiary, New Line Cinema), the company that owns the rights to all DC franchises. Starting in 2013 with Man of Steel, it is DC and WB's equivalent to Marvel Comics' own Cinematic Universe.The series consists of films adapted from various DC Comics characters, with the main focus being the Justice League and its various members. Unlike Marvel's film franchise, DC TV shows airing concurrently on television (such as Gotham and the Arrowverse) don't share continuity with them and take place in their own Alternate Continuity, although this might change with Syfy's Krypton.Early plans for a shared DC Comics movie universe were evident in the 2011 Green Lantern movie, but a fresh start with Man of Steel proved to be a stronger base to branch from both critically and financially. Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder were responsible for most of the early development. After the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, a new DC Comics production studio was created by Warner Bros., with veteran comics writer Geoff Johns and veteran studio executive Jon Berg appointed as studio heads. Suicide Squad was the first released by DC Films.
Diana: A hundred years ago I walked away from mankind, from a century of horrors. Man made a world where standing together is impossible.
Bruce: Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another. But we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.
Diana: A hundred years ago I walked away from mankind, from a century of horrors. Man made a world where standing together is impossible.
Bruce: Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another. But we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.
open/close all folders
- Man of Steel (June 14, 2013)
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
- Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016)
- Wonder Woman (June 2, 2017)
- Shazam (April 5, 2019) - Production is set to start in February 2018.
- The Batman (2019) - Set to be directed by Matt Reeves (director of Cloverfield, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes most notably).
- The Flash (TBA) – A director has yet to be attached to the movie.
- Suicide Squad sequel - David Ayer set to direct, shooting will start in 2018.
- Black Adam (TBD) - Dwayne Johnson is set to play Black Adam.
- Gotham City Sirens - Margot Robbie is set to return as Harley Quinn, David Ayer is set to direct.
- Justice League sequel (June 14, 2019)
- Cyborg (April 3, 2020)
- Green Lantern Corps (July 24, 2020)
- Nightwing - Set to be directed by Chris McKay (of The LEGO Batman Movie fame).
- Dark Universe – An adaptation of Justice League Dark.
- Man of Steel sequel
- Batgirl - Joss Whedon is confirmed to direct.
- Wonder Woman sequel - Patty Jenkins is set to return as director.
- Booster Gold & Blue Beetle
Tie-In Comic Books
- Man of Steel Prequel
- From the World of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: A series of digital prequel comics focusing on, in order: Batman, Lois Lane, Senator Finch, Superman, and Lex Luthor. A sixth digital prequel comic was given as a Wal-Mart exclusive with the purchase of a Doritos "Family Fun Mix" multipack, which added more development to Batman's grudge against Superman and Lex Luthor's conspiracy.
- A four-issue comic series based on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released in specially marked boxes of assorted General Mills cereal. Although, their place in the canon is ambiguous.
- Suicide Blonde: A single-issue comic set before the events of Suicide Squad. It was sold for a limited time in select boxes of Splat hair dye.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Cross Fire: A novel in which a criminal, the devious Doctor Aesopnote , escapes from Arkham Asylum and uses the moral lessons found in Aesop's Fables as his modus operandi for his crimes. Batman and Superman begin investigating the case at the same time and a young boy is caught in the cross fire.
Tropes present across the franchise:
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Mercy Graves had brown hair in Superman: The Animated Series where she first appeared and blond hair in the comics. She is played by Tao Okamoto, who has black hair, in Batman v Superman.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Generally speaking in the comics all the major heroes got started with their superhero career around the same time. In the DCEU Wonder Woman was the first to start, secretly being involved with the events of World War 1. Batman had been operating in Gotham for around 20 years before Superman showed up in Man of Steel. No other superpowered individual is a known figure by the time of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which adapts The Death of Superman but taking place some time before the Justice League is formed, whereas in the comic the League members were special guests and pallbearers. Similarly, the comics Suicide Squad are made up of villains associated with the various heroes and intended as a precaution against the Justice League if need be, while the Suicide Squad film also takes place before the Justice League forms.
- Age Lift: Normally Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are supposed to be about the same age and start their superhero career not too far apart. In the DCEU when Superman makes his first appearance Batman has had a long career and is a decade older, while Wonder Woman is an immortal thousands of years old and saw action during World War I. Conversely, Flash is even newer to heroics and a young adult by the time he meets the rest, while he is normally also the same age.
- Alternate Continuity:
- Superman Returns is ignored, and so is the continuity it was set in, that of the first and second Christopher Reeve movies.
- The Dark Knight Trilogy, 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 reality-grounded continuity would create. As such, Batman was recast. Christian Bale refused to play in a Justice League movie and indicated that he preferred to have a new actor playing Batman for the DCEU. However, it's been stated that the creators are assuming the audience is familiar with the old trilogy, and have implied that similar adventures have already happened to this Batman.
- 2011's Green Lantern was supposed to be the start of this film shared universe, 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.
- Art Evolution: Subtle changes are made to the costumes and overall visual design of the movies. Some of the changes is due to the reactions to the muted colors of the flagship movie Man of Steel, but it's also been due to allowing the films more creative flexibility. Suicide Squad utilizes some neon colors to reflect Joker and Harley Quinn. Wonder Woman leaned towards some really striking blues and reds for Wonder Woman's outfit.
- Bedlam House: As shown briefly in Suicide Squad, true to form, Arkham Asylum is a gothic mansion with darkened halls. As a sure sign of how much of a shithole it is, in the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman, Luthor goes from having a smug look on his face for having pulled off an Insanity Defense against criminal trials over his atrocities to "Oh, Crap!" once Batman reveals he's arranged for Luthor to be sent there.
- Continuity Overlap:
- The DCEU is not connected to any of DC's television shows (unlike Marvel's actions to cross their cinematic universe over with their ABC / Netflix shows).
- It is currently ambiguous if any of the film projects based on the Vertigo imprint will also take place in the setting, although Dark Universe makes this more likely.
- Another point of note is that this film series will defy the problem of legal trouble between franchises that Disney has had with Marvel Studios (with major franchises split between three major companiesnote ) - Warner Bros. owns all of the properties, giving them a potential edge over their competition. On the other side of the coin, this comes at a cost to the Arrowverse since characters like Harley Quinn and Blue Beetle which the shows had major plans for had to be scrapped and well-liked characters like Katana and Deadshot had to be written out of the shows. Curiously, this does not extend to The Flash, as both versions of the character are Barry Allen.
- Continuity Reboot: For every DC property included that has been filmed previously. This includes Superman after Superman Returns, Batman after the end of The Dark Knight Trilogy, 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.
- Crapsack World: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman gain a lot of angst mileage over these superhero characters existing in a world that is not ready to accept superheroes with open arms, and instead shows a lot of Humans Are Bastards as they do a lot of infighting and express paranoia at people like Superman who genuinely want to do good. Wonder Woman learned this a long time ago, which is explored in her own movie. Suicide Squad also highlighted the criminal underbelly. All that said, the paradigm slowly shifts as the world becomes accustomed to superheroes.
- Crisis Crossover: Justice League will be the first to feature a major crossover. Suicide Squad features a crossover between some 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. The films are not without humor or levity, but they are comparatively more grim and dour than the works of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Man of Steel ups the dramatic factor of the Origin Story significantly in order to provide a Decon-Recon Switch with the character later on.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ends up splitting the difference. There was a lot more overt humor in the story compared to Man of Steel, but at the same goes to extremely dark places. The ending is extremely bittersweet, with the hint that something bad is on the horizon, but at the same time there are specks of hope, optimism and even redemption, and Justice League will build on these a great deal.
- Suicide Squad is the third movie in the DCEU and doesn't focus on any of the major heroes, instead on outright villains and Anti Villains selected for a Suicide Mission by a shady government organization. The original comic itself is very dark, easily in the R-rated Mature Audience range.
- James Wan utilized a quote from H.P. Lovecraft quote right to describe his take on Aquaman, right after he was announced as a director. While truer to the tone of some of the more modern stories involving the character, is a far cry from the Super Friends version that general audiences are familiar with.
- Decon-Recon Switch: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both deconstruct how superheroes, especially Superman, are portrayed in previous films. Whereas previous Superman films showed him going up against non-powered foes and having flawless victories, Man of Steel shows how disastrous it would be if Superman's enemies could challenge him. In Batman v Superman, we see the political instability that develops in a Physical God's presence and the kind of fear that would develop, regardless of his intentions, even among Badass Normals. Superheroes also... disagree on the appropriate methods to crime fighting. With all that said, it is still shown that we need superheroes to take on supervillains and that the heroes willing to learn from their mistakes and work with each other and ordinary people.
- Deconstruction: The movies take apart a number of tried and true comic book tropes, creating a wholly unique comic book movie world. In some instances it tries to reconstruct them, but often just pursues their own direction.
- Clark Kenting: In Man Of Steel Clark is shown taking on a number of different personas altogether, switching different styles of clothing and different levels of beard growth. Lois manages to find out who he is by tracking him through his previous jobs and good deeds, taking his actual appearance out of the equation. In Batman v Superman, Lex Luthor was also able to determine his identity, presumably through similar investigation and rationale. He was also able to identify Bruce Wayne as Batman, implying that these secret identities are not as ironclad as they normally are in the comics.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Neither Batman or Superman espouse such a philosophy directly, but the emotional implications are explored. At the end of Man of Steel Superman is forced to kill Zod and he is horrified for having to do so. During Batman v Superman Batman had become more callous and hardline on criminals, branding some of the worst with a bat symbol, and lethally neutralizing immediate threats. This is treated as a bad thing, evidence that he had crossed the Despair Event Horizon and at the end of the movie admits he needs to do better. Overall both are saying that personally taking a life is a thing to treat seriously, but just because you have taken a life doesn't mean you've crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
- The heroes that appear also get various aspects of their character deconstructed:
- Superman: The appearance of an alien Physical God is not met with hope and awe but paranoia and skepticism, especially in light of unprovoked hostilities from said alien's native race. Distrust of a figure with such power eventually leads to drastic action that threatens more than just the targeted threat.
- Batman: Batman is seen to be burned out and cynical as a result of waging his one man war on crime for years with nothing truly changing as a result. Having no meaningful victories and taking personal losses for years on end mean his morals have frayed to the point that he willingly takes actions that he knows will result in death for those he targets, being one step away from full blown murder and it only takes what he sees as his paranoia being validated to cross that line.
- Wonder Woman: Diana goes to man's world to try and save humanity during one of their darkest conflicts but her experiences cause her to turn away from them, believing that mankind has to resolve it's own troubles.
- Crapsack World: Clark feels alone and isolated because the world is not ready to accept someone like him. He still becomes Superman, doing good deeds, but his existence makes him a controversial figure and it's an uphill battle to prove he's not an invader. Batman has had to deal with 20 years of going nowhere in his mission to rid Gotham of crime, rendering him ultra-cynical and among those who don't trust Superman. Wonder Woman saw the brutality of World War 1 and learned that she can't just fight her way through all of humanity's problems. And these are all the heroes. The Suicide Squad strongly implies that they are just as much victims of the world they live in, but even they can show signs of heroics when the need arrives.
- Diesel Punk: While the films use generally modern technology, there is some elements of this in Batman's design scheme in particular. The Batmobile looks welded together and has manual switches while his grappling gun has a wooden handle.
- Foreshadowing: There's only the merest glimpse of him in Wonder Woman, but Poseidon's silhouette strongly resembles the depiction of Aquaman in this universe.
- Greater-Scope Villain: The "Knightmare" sequence in Batman v. Superman features Parademons and the Omega sigil — signs of Darkseid's presence in the DCEU. As per the trope, it points to a grand villain on the horizon that has little to do with the immediate Evil Plan.
- Humans Are Flawed: An important theme throughout the movies is that humanity is capable of doing horrendous things while being just as able to rise above committing such horrors because of traits such as love and hope.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played with. Humans in this universe are portrayed as more realistically than most superhero movies, meaning their flaws are more pronounced, to the point where Superman questions himself helping them, Batman losing faith in humanity, and Wonder Woman leaving them for a century. However, there are plenty of humans whom are good-hearted, and in the end, the heroes will always be there for them, regardless of humanity's mistakes.
- In Medias 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 started introducing characters first as a fully-realized DC Universe, only to show their origin in passing rather than being the story. Batman v. Superman showed characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman active as a hero in one form or another, albeit secretly, while flashbacks, prequels and/or solo movies like Wonder Woman may inform the details. Familiar villains like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and others are not only well-established, but have already been defeated and incarcerated.
- Lighter and Softer: The first two movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, were unusually dark compared to the comics. This is largely due to the style of director Zack Snyder, but Justice League was announced early in production as being less grim and more fun and heroic as a deliberate contrast. The other movies in the franchise vary from this due to having different creative teams, with Suicide Squad having a lot more vibrant and humorous personalities, and Wonder Woman more optimistic and earnest.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Averted. In this continuity Lois Lane, being an Intrepid Reporter, discovered Clark and his origins before he even became Superman and is a Secret Keeper from the start (in fact, this is treated as a core reason why they fall in love). This radically alters tradition, and instead Lois is shown being self-conscious about why Clark would love her.
- The Magic Goes Away: Happened during the events of Wonder Woman. Once Diana killed the last of the Olympians, the fantastic seemed to have disappeared from public consciousness and the existence of metahumans was kept under wraps by people like Amanda Waller. After Superman's death, a power vacuum was created, galvanising the likes of Enchantress, the New Gods and the Justice League.
- Meta Casting:
- Jesse Eisenberg is probably most famous as Insufferable Genius Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, along with a few similar "smartest guy in the room" roles. Snyder had said that Eisenberg was originally looked at to play Jimmy Olsen, but his analytical, detached mannerisms in a personal meeting was the inspiration to cast him as Luthor.
- Jason Momoa is a far cry from the traditional Aquaman appearance, but his strong physical presence playing Proud Warrior Race Guy characters along with his Polynesian background makes the casting choice seem surprisingly natural.
- As an Israeli national Gal Gadot served two years in the Israeli military, with a focus in personal training. Not many actresses have that kind of background.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black:
- Superman's reds, blues, and yellows are present, but darker in a similar vein to his Golden Age appearance, and his suit doesn't include red trunks.
- Batman is an aversion, as he wears a grey bodysuit as opposed to the usual black armor from previous films.
- Wonder Woman's outfit in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is technically red and gold, but so faded the colors are barely visible. Her outfit in Wonder Woman is much brighter, as she's more idealistic in her youth and her outfit is physically less worn down.
- Mera in Aquaman (2018) is an aversion, as her body-suit in the film is an emerald green with hexagon pattern detailing. as seen here.
- Mythology Gag: The Turkish Airline ad for Gotham City shows plenty of buildings with a double-spire design, making them look like Batman looming over the city, a common sight on most Batman comic-book covers.
- Diana's interest in classical art is a nod to her made-from-clay origins.
- Not Quite Flight: Gal Gadot has said that Wonder Woman can "jump really high and practically fly."
- 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 woman in the comics and Superman: The Animated Series, is played by Japanese actress Tao Okamoto. As of the New 52, this change is now canon with Mercy being Asian-American.
- Deadshot, a white guy in the comics, is played by Will Smith.
- Dr. Poison was Japanese in the comic, since she hails back to Wonder Woman's early World War Two adventures. Since the Wonder Woman film is instead set in World War One, she is played by Spaniard actress Elena Anaya.
- Iris West is a semi-example. She was originally a Caucasian, but was depicted as an African-American in The Flash (2014), making the casting of Kiersey Clemons not as jarring to some.
- Reconstruction: The films started off with a very dim view of humanity and how the real world would respond to someone like Superman. Over time it's shown that his innate goodness did manage to get through to some people, especially Batman, and as greater threats arrive both the general public is more open to superheroes and upcoming heroes have someone to emulate.
- Signature Move:
- When up against powerful opponents Superman is typically outmatched in fighting skill, but he has expert control of his flying and will often just slam into them at Mach 3.
- Wonder Woman has developed a penchant for attacking low and knocking her foe's legs out from under them.
- Spiritual Antithesis: To the MCU. Instead of a heavily-centralized studio development between all their different projects, the DCEU is placing emphasis on the directors having more control over the individual films. While the solo movies still have to fit in the overall universe, it will only provide a foundation to Justice League (2017) rather than informing the story.
- 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's only confirmed to appear in four movies so far (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Justice League and his standalone film), where he mostly 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 over-familiarity 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 Justice League. He does have a Wolverine Publicity-type cameo in Suicide Squad, although it's justified by him giving greater context to Joker and Harley Quinn, and Deadshot.
- 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 gets 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 raccoon 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 (Captain Marvel).
- The story goes that Ben Affleck was vying to be Batman during the period between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, but because of the Development Hell he took on Daredevil as the closest thing. His career tanking from Gigli didn't help, either. Even after rebuilding his career by being both actor and director, he admitted to being surprised when he was approached to be Batman because he was getting older and couldn't play a 20-something or 30-something Batman, and was delighted to learn they were going in The Dark Knight Returns direction.
- Ultimate Universe: In many ways, the DCEU is closer to Ultimate Marvel than the MCU is:
- It's more or less an integrated Continuity Reboot Shared Universe which is Darker and Edgier than earlier film and comics versions. It's three main superheroes (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) are shown to kill enemies, steamrolling Thou Shalt Not Kill and their superhero activities unleash much collateral damage and sociopolitical turmoil.
- Like the Ultimate Marvel, the DCEU heavily emphasizes the role of the Military-Industrial Complex, with Superman's arrival on Earth treated as First Contact and Superman interacting entirely with the US Military whereas earlier Superman stories much like superhero movies before, had the hero's first interactions be with civilian institutions and civilian society.
- The movies also focus heavily on The War on Terror for its imagery and context (around the same time the Ultimate series first hit the stands) with the Metropolis battle between Zod and Superman drawing on 9/11 for imagery (especially the dust that covers civilians on ground), while Batman paraphrases VP Dick Cheney's 1% Doctrine to justify going against Superman.
- Wonder Woman's origin in her film is reminiscent of Ultimate Thor in that her stories about the Greek Gods are initially treated with bemusement by her human allies and she is identified as the last of the demigods of antiquity with the classic pantheon killed off by Ares, who is here identified as her half-brother, similar to Ultimate Thor and Ultimate Loki, the latter of whom wiped out the Norse pantheon in Ragnarok.
- The Unmasqued World: The events of Man Of Steel completely and utterly obliterated the Masquerade with the Battle of Metropolis; as such, more super-powered individuals and vigilantes are making their presence more known as a result.
- Urban Legend: What presumably applied to most superpowered characters who were active before Man Of Steel - particularly Wonder Woman and Aquaman, given that the Masquerade was apparently in effect. In Justice League, Cyborg finds out Batman is not just an urban legend.
- Used Future: While not set in the future, everything in the films has an extremely well worn look to it. Wonder Woman and Batman's outfits shown signs of wear and tear, the Batmobile shows signs of patch-work repair jobs. The locations are filled with graffiti and the paint is peeling off. Contrast this with Wonder Woman, which is set in the 1910s and has a more pristine aesthetic.
- 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 new characters and 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. Suicide Squad is noticeably different to Man of Steel in that it trades the realistic tone for a surrealist one and Wonder Woman revealed that the supernatural has always been present, it's just been lying dormant for the past century. The name "Superman" has also gone from sounding out-of-place to entering casual conversation, indicating that the zeitgeist is shifting in response to the rise of superhumans.
"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the Sun. Together, you will help them accomplish wonders."