The Future Of DC Superhero Movies: Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern...and J.J. Abrams?

In the wake of the box office disaster that was Justice League, the future of movies from DC Comics has been unclear. Despite the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman at the box office, Warner Bros. Pictures has been trying to distance themselves from the interconnected universe of superheroes created by director Zack Snyder. The success of Joker will only bolster that initiative, and it appears the future of DC Comics on screen will include the return of The Flash, a new movie for Green Lantern, potentially the involvement of J.J. Abrams, and development of projects at HBO Max. Here's what we know.

What's Officially on the Docket for DC Comics?

A number of new details about the future of DC comic book movies were revealed in a new report at Variety. But before we get to the uncertain future of DC Comics as detailed in that article, let's talk about what we do know so far.

First up, there's a Suicide Squad spin-off that will have Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) getting her own girl gang in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), and that movie is intended to be R-rated. While test screenings were apparently shaky the first time, and Variety says recent reshoots have dramatically turned things around, so hopefully the movie will sit well with fans when it arrives on February 7, 2020

Then we have Wonder Woman 1984 on the way, bringing Gal Gadot back as the Justice League heroine. Kristin Wiig is joining the mix as an adversary named Cheetah, and Pedro Pascal is playing the villainous mastermind Max Lord. Plus, somehow Chris Pine is back as well. Not much is known about the forthcoming sequel, but the first trailer will arrive in December at Brazil's Comic Con Experience. The movie will hit theaters on June 5, 2020.

Since Ben Affleck is no longer playing Batman, Warner Bros. is rebooting The Dark Knight yet again, this time with War for the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves at the helm of The Batman. Former Twilight star Robert Pattinson will be taking on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and there's an intriguing assembly of villains involved. Colin Farrell will play Penguin, Paul Dano is slated to be The Riddler, Zoe Kravitz has the role of Catwoman, and John Turturro was recently set as mobster Carmine Falcone. That's a lot of villains, but rumblings of the movie being mostly set in Arkham Asylum are not true. Only "a handful of scenes" will take place at the mental institution where most of Batman's most dangerous adversaries end up. The Batman is slated to arrive on June 25, 2021.

Speaking of Batman, since the origin story for his nemesis Joker was so well-received that there have been talks of a sequel coming together. But Todd Phillips recently debunked reports of deals being closed for him to return as director with Joaquin Phoenix reprising his role. That doesn't mean a follow-up won't happen, but it's far less of an immediate of a concern than it was made out to be.

Finally, since the first Aquaman was such a huge hit, there's a sequel with Jason Momoa on the way. That one is still in the early stages of development, but production is meant to start sometime early in 2021 in order to meet the December 16, 2022 release date set by the studio. On top of that, director/producer James Wan is also working on a more horror-centric spin-off called The Trench, focusing on the terrifying area of the ocean where deadly sea creatures reside.

That's all for the projects which are firmly in the works for the next few years. But what about beyond that?

Ezra Miller Returning as The Flash

The Flash is one of the many movies that was in the works when Zack Snyder was still shepherding the DC Extended Universe. And while Warner Bros. Pictures has been distancing themselves from those movies, they still want to work with Ezra Miller's version of The Flash. Though there have been some troubles behind the scenes with creative differences between several filmmakers who have boarded and left the project, the studio still has hope of making this one work.

Most recently, Warner Bros. tasked their IT director Andy Muschietti with tackling the property as director, and the script is coming from Bumblebee writer Christina Hodson (who is also supposed to be working on a Batgirl movie that is still in the nascent stages of development). However, this movie has been in the works for years now, and with filmmakers coming and going just as quickly, not to mention Miller's frequently full schedule thanks to the Fantastic Beasts franchise, we don't see this one getting off the ground anytime soon.

Green Lantern Revival

After the box office failure of Green Lantern in 2011, which arrived before Zack Snyder started playing with DC Comics characters in 2013's Man of Steel, this cosmic superhero has been left out in the wind. However, Warner Bros. still has hopes to bring the character back into the fray with a reboot of the property. Geoff Johns is working on a script for Green Lantern Corps. that is supposed to be finished by the end of the year. The arrival of this project is far more uncertain until the script arrives, but the studio knows they want to do something with the character.

Don't forget, there's an HBO Max series focusing on Green Lantern that Arrowverse producer Greg Berlanti will be working on, and that might even result in him being involved with an eventual movie too. But since we have no idea what either project will be like, all we can do is wonder what's in store for the superhero.

The Future of Superman

Even more uncertain is the future of Superman. While Henry Cavill recently said that he's not done playing the Man of Steel, it seems like the studio may not be quite as keen to bring him back. There has been no movement on a new Superman movie with Henry Cavill since the failure of Justice League, and the studio was testing the waters for a possible revival with Creed star Michael B. Jordan putting on the cape with a pitch of his own for the character. There hasn't been any development on that front either.

Honestly, it might be time to let Superman have a rest while some other superheroes step up to the plate instead. Filmmakers seems to have a hard time figuring out how to handle the character on the big screen, and since there's plenty of Superman on television right now thanks to Supergirl, the upcoming spin-off Superman & Lois, and the forthcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover among the Arrowverse shows (which brings back big screen Superman actor Brandon Routh in an alternate future version of the hero), that might be all fans need right now to keep their appetites satiated.

Bad Robot Playing with DC Comics?

One thing that might help Warner Bros. Pictures figures out how to play with some of their superheroes is the arrival of J.J. Abrams. The studio just set up a huge first-look deal with his production banner Bad Robot, and there's speculation that they might let him take a look at Green Lantern once the script is done. However, Abrams might be more keen on playing with Superman since he once was nearly lined up for a movie called Superman: Flyby in the early 2000s, though it never came to fruition. Warner Bros. has reportedly already had discussions with J.J. Abrams about Superman, so it's certainly in the cards.

HBO Max Will Host Superheroes Too

While Warner Bros. Pictures certainly wants to keep DC Comics movies on the big screen going strong, they will also look to streaming for certain superhero properties as well. HBO Max is set to launch in the spring, and along with the aforementioned Green Lantern series,the studio intends to have some lower budget DC Comics properties debut there. These projects won't have huge A-list stars in them and will be made for somewhere under $65 million. As for what those projects might be, there aren't any details, but DC Comics has many characters who have yet to make their screen debut.

The Snyder Cut of Justice League is a Pipe Dream

Finally, for anyone hoping that Warner Bros. Pictures' foray into the future includes a dip into the past with the release of Zack Snyder's cut of Justice League, you're not going to get the Christmas present you really want this year.

Despite the active social media campaigns by fans and the support of the cast members themselves, Warner Bros. Pictures still has no plans to released the alternate cut of the movie in theaters or on HBO Max. One insider flat out told Variety, "That's a pipe dream. There's no way it's ever happening."

Clearly, the studio has their eyes on the future and don't want to dig back into Zack Snyder's vision of DC Comics superheroes. There's no upside to releasing the Snyder Cut of Justice League other than goodwill with a small, vocal sect of the fanbase. It's not as if any interest in it will have them changing their plans for the superheroes involved in the DC Comics team. Plus, Zack Snyder's Justice League was intended to lead into a sequel, and after the poor box office performance of the initial assembly of DC Comics superheroes, they're certainly not going to follow through on those original plans, so it will just end up disappointing fans all over again anyway.


All-in-all, it seems like former New Line executive Walter Hamada, the new president of DC Films, and Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich have given a little more focus to DC Comics properties at the studio. It may not be a focus on an interconnected universe of films like Marvel Studios, but perhaps the studio has realized that their success is the exception rather than the rule. They appear to be letting filmmakers guide where these characters go instead of trying to fit them into a universe they're hastily trying to build. There doesn't appear to be any rush to "catch up" with Marvel anymore, and after the success of Joker, we just might see them be a little more bold in the kind of superhero movies they try to make.