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Warner Bros. Discovery nearly caused the internet equivalent of a volcanic eruption last week when news broke that ‘Batgirl’, a 90 million dollar project which has already finished filming, would not be released in theaters nor via streaming and would instead be shelved completely. There were also reports that many DC projects greenlit under the studio’s previous administration, such as a ‘Wonder Twins’ film and a potential ‘Strange Adventures’ streaming series, have also been axed. Other projects in development, such as HBO Max’s upcoming ‘Green Lantern’ series, are rumored to be on the chopping block as well. Fans were left to wonder what this means for the future of the DC brand.
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However, following the news of ‘Batgirl’ being canceled, an investor call took place last week with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav where he explained the decision to cancel the film as well as what their new approach to DC will be going forward. Many are still wondering what exactly Zaslav and the new heads at Warner Bros. Discovery have planned for the comic book powerhouse, but the future of DC on both the big and small screen may not be as bleak as fans might think.
The Cancellation of ‘Batgirl’
Many fans were in disarray last week when news broke that DC’s upcoming ‘Batgirl’ film was axed and would not be released via any medium entirely. Questions were immediately raised as to why the studio would trash a 90-million-dollar film that has already wrapped production and was set to be released directly to streaming. Reports initially came out that Warner Bros. Discovery had doubts about the overall quality of the film after a handful of negative test screenings and ultimately concluded that it would be more financially viable for them to simply ax the film and take a tax write-down on the project instead. During the investor call last week, CEO David Zaslav explained the decision behind the move, saying “We’re not going to launch a movie to make a quarter and we’re not going to put a movie out unless we believe in it.” In other words, Zaslav is essentially putting his foot down and stating that they are committed to prioritizing quality in their films but more broadly, protecting the image of the DC brand.
This led many fans to assume that surely the next film to hit the chopping block would be the upcoming film, ‘The Flash’, because if protecting the brand’s image is a priority, how could they release a film whose star, Ezra Miller, has been at the center of a number of scandals in recent months? While certainly a fair point worth bringing up, there are two important differences between the two films. One being that whereas ‘Batgirl’ cost roughly 90 million dollars to make, ‘The Flash’ has a budget of around 200 million dollars. In other words, a lot more money is riding on the latter film in the hopes for it to succeed. But the more important point is that despite the controversy surrounding its star, with the studio still committed to releasing this film in theaters, this may mean one thing: ‘The Flash’ is actually a pretty good movie. Zaslav even mentioned that the executives at Warner Bros. have seen the film along with ‘Black Adam’ and ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’, describing all three movies as “terrific”. Andy Muschietti has definitely shown strong directing prowess with his previous projects and there have been some reports that many at Warner Bros. view ‘The Flash’ as possibly one of the best DC movies ever. Of course, we can’t conclude such until the movie actually comes out, but it is certainly causing for optimism.
DC’s New “10 Year Plan”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the investor call last week was Zaslav stating that they are working on assembling a team specifically focused on the next ten years of DC with major tentpole theatrically released films being the center of focus. Zaslav also described some of DC’s biggest names like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman as central to that plan and to the company’s future overall. He explained the approach they are taking to DC as something similar to that of what Disney and Marvel Studios have created to nurture and grow the MCU. What this most likely means is that whereas Marvel has had its own studio for years, DC has not and this is something which Zaslav looks to change, starting with that team he described focused particularly on DC.
DC fans may not realize it now, as the ‘Batgirl’ cancellation is still fresh on everyone’s mind, but this type of approach is what fans have been asking for and frankly, exactly what DC needs right now. It may not always be fair to compare the two, but how can one not? Whereas Marvel has seen relatively stable and constant success, DC has seen a few hits here and there but mostly misses. Would fans prefer the studio to put out any DC film regardless of its quality, or would they rather see stories of suitable quality on a consistent basis? One interesting point to bring up here is with Zaslav alluding to DC’s biggest names as central to the company going forward and WB’s commitment to theatrical releases, the ‘Green Lantern’ series is worth bringing up again. While there is no official confirmation that the upcoming HBO Max series has indeed been axed, it probably should not come as a big surprise if it was as it’s hard to believe that Zaslav would let Green Lantern, one of DC’s top-tier characters, be confined to streaming and not be given the theatrical treatment.
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What To Expect Within the Next Few Years
There are two remaining DC films to be released this year, those being ‘Black Adam’ and ‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’. Next year will see the release of ‘Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom’, ‘The Flash’ , and ‘Blue Beetle’. After that, it is unknown what lies ahead in the immediate future for DC. The only films confirmed to be on the way are a sequel Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ film set for a Fall 2024 release and a sequel to Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’. Both films are set outside the continuity of the DCEU.
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As for the DCEU itself, it remains to be seen what Zaslav and the new leadership over at Warner Bros. Discovery have in store for the current shared universe of films. Are they planning a simple course correction to steer the DC ship in a clearer and more prosperous direction? Or are they planning to scrap and reboot the entire DC cinematic universe altogether and start from scratch with new actors? Only time will tell, but for now, DC fans can probably rest easy.
By Nader Chamas
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Nader Chamas is an aspiring television writer who seeks to fuse thought provoking progressive ideals into the films, shows, and stories that he loves. Having graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Screenwriting, Nader seeks to use his writing to advance causes that do not get enough attention or input across mainstream media. Like most, Nader has his own share of his favorite franchises and stories across pop culture. However, he seeks to contribute timely and relevant topics into these stories as well as in his own original material. This is why Nader’s analysis of popular films and tv shows matches The Hollywood Insider’s practice of discussing entertainment from a socially cognizant and critical perspective.