Yesterday, Warner Bros. pushed back the release of Aquaman from October 2018 to a prime December 21, 2018 release date—the weekend that was previously eyed for Avatar 2 before James Cameron delayed that sequel for the 57th time. But as I noted in my writeup, while the December date is a smart box office move for Aquaman, Warner Bros. does not have any other DC movies scheduled for release in 2018, meaning the lag between Justice League and Aquaman will be over a year.
This is partly due to the fact that the studio had been hoping to get The Flash and/or The Batman ready in time for release in 2018, but neither is happening that quickly. The Flash lost its director Rick Famuyiwa last fall over creative differences, and with Ezra Miller due back to shoot Fantastic Beasts 2 this summer, Flash missed its window and likely can’t start production until 2018 now. As for The Batman, Ben Affleck has stressed for years that he won’t make the standalone until the script is ready, and with Affleck stepping out of the director’s chair and new director Matt Reeves tied up in post-production on War for the Planet of the Apes until June, prepping, shooting, and editing the film in time for release next summer or fall at this point would be impossible, foolish, or both.
But according to Variety reporter Justin Kroll, Warner Bros. is considering pushing a different DC film into production in 2017. He notes that with The Batman now delayed, the studio would like to get a different DC property ready for release in 2018. The ones they’re currently considering are the female-centric Gotham City Sirens, Green Lantern Corps, Justice League Dark, The Flash, and Suicide Squad 2. However, Kroll also notes that if the scripts aren’t ready to go, “the studio is content just shooting Aquaman this year” until those other films are ready.
So where do these projects stand right now and which is most likely to shoot this year? Let’s break it down.
Gotham City Sirens originated with Margot Robbie, who came up with the idea to do a female ensemble pic anchored by her Harley Quinn character after shooting Suicide Squad. Her Squad director David Ayer is onboard to direct this one, but Robbie’s dance card is pretty full-up so it’s unclear if that one could be ready in time.
Green Lantern Corps gained steam this January when Warner Bros. set Man of Steel scribe David S. Goyer and Justin Rhodes to pen the screenplay. That film is described as Lethal Weapon in space and will team up an older Hal Jordan with a younger John Stewart, with names like Tom Cruise, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Bradley Cooper topping WB’s wishlist.
Suicide Squad 2 recently got a boost by landing The Legend of Tarzan screenwriter Adam Cozad to pen the script. As of now it doesn’t look like David Ayer is too involved in this one and he definitely won’t direct, but Mel Gibson has surfaced as a possibility to take the helm. Cozad only just signed on, and this is a massive ensemble to bring back together on short notice, so schedule-wise this one’s a bit of a nightmare.
As for The Flash, this movie has gone through two directors already—Seth Grahame-Smith first, then Famuyiwa—and is currently without a captain. Miller is still set to play The Flash, and before Famuyiwa departed he had cast Kiersey Clemons in a key role and Billy Crudup as the Flash’s dad. Filming was supposed to begin early this year so presumably the script in hand is in a solid place, but the fact that Warner Bros. has yet to hire a new director may signal that they’re rewriting the screenplay, and as I mentioned before Miller’s schedule is going to be busy with Fantastic Beasts starting in August, so even if they could somehow get this ready to start production in November or December, finishing the film in time for release next year seems highly unlikely.
So if Warner Bros. does shoot another DC movie in 2017, which one of these choices is most likely? It would probably be Gotham City Sirens or Justice League Dark, since those have been in development the longest and aren’t tied up in scheduling messes. Ayer is currently in post-production on his Netflix film Bright, but has been teasing the Gotham City Sirens script since last fall. And while Robbie is currently filming I, Tonya and Peter Rabbit, and recently signed on to star in a Robin Hood redo Marian, there’s nothing huge for her on the horizon so she could likely fit this into her 2017 schedule. And with Justice League Dark, we haven’t heard a ton about it but Liman works pretty quickly and that could cast up nicely.
All that being said, I don’t think it would be wise for Warner Bros. to rush any DC movie into production until it’s in a place they’re happy with. Their desire to catch up with Marvel Studios resulted in a botched beginning to the DCEU, as they had little time to recalculate according to audience reaction after Batman v Superman—Justice League started filming weeks after BvS opened, and Suicide Squad went through significant post-production meddling to try and offer something a little lighter.
So yeah, Warner Bros. may or may not get another DC movie into production this year, and Aquaman may or may not be their sole superhero release in 2018. Everything’s up in the air at the moment, but the hiring of Reeves to direct The Batman and our recent report that Matthew Vaughn is being eyed to helm Man of Steel 2 signals that they want to do this right. So here’s hoping these aforementioned films are given the development time necessary to result in a worthwhile and engaging final product.