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.
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. Warner Brothers has 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, as well as more stand-alone movies featuring members of the Justice League and new properties entirely. Dwayne Johnson has confirmed that Shazam will be getting a movie
, and later confirmed
that he is playing Black Adam. Gal Gadot is signed on for at least three films to play Wonder Woman
, leading to speculation that the character may be getting a film of her own. Two scripts for an 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. Warner Brothers has bought domain names for film versions of Justice League
, Wonder Woman
, and Aquaman
, providing additional proof that these stand-alone movies are going to be made.
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 the time being, 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.Released films in this setting:Films officially in-development:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016)
- Untitled DC film (August 5, 2016) - rumored to be Shazam
- Untitled DC film (June 23, 2017) - rumored to be Justice League
- Untitled DC film (November 17, 2017) - rumored to be Wonder Woman
- Untitled DC film (March 23, 2018) - rumored to be Aquaman
- Untitled DC film (July 27, 2018)
- Untitled DC film (April 5, 2019)
- Untitled DC film (June 14, 2019)
- Untitled DC film (April 3, 2020)
- Untitled DC film (June 19, 2020)
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. 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.
- 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).
- However, Shazam seems to be an interesting case - the movie does not seem to tie in with Justice League officially, but it's still a part of Warner Bros.'s planned 9 films. It has yet to be confirmed if it will share the universe that the other films are setting up.
- 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 that edge over their competition.
- Crisis Crossover: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League are two confirmed titles to feature a major crossover, with more Justice League sequels likely to come along the way.
- Darker and Edgier: More along the lines of "more serious and more grounded" than previous movies featuring these characters. There's even apparently a "no jokes" policy, even though Man Of Steel had some occasional bits of comic relief.note
- 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.
- Race Lift: Done in part for Ability over Appearance and to appeal to a wider audience.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Surprisingly averted. Batman, who has been known to appear prominently in most DC adaptations (often at the expense of other characters), has only been confirmed to appear in two movies so far, one of which he serves as a Deuteragonist, and the other of which where he is part of an ensemble of heroes. A standalone movie has yet to be announced, though there are rumors that there will be one... scheduled for a 2019 release, preceded by at least three other movies.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: On a meta level, these movies have been helpful to actors.
- 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 Literature/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. Rumors that she will star in a standalone film have also popped up since her presence in the film was confirmed.
- The Unmasqued World: The events of Man of Steel completely and utterly obliterated the Masquerade with the Battle of Metropolis - and as such, more superpowered individuals and vigilantes are making their presence more known as a result.