Lanterns, Sirens, Rumors & Mer-Men: Looking at the Future of the DCEU

As we sit on the day of Justice aka the premiere day of Justice League, the LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG awaited DC film from Warner Brothers, it got me thinking about the future of DC on film.

In the past year, it seems like Warner Brothers and movie blog sites have done nothing but throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Everyday there’s a report about a new movie in development with 900 rumored directors and cast members being branded about. Will it be part of the DCEU? Will it not? This will. But this may not. Then we have this over here. You need an MIT degree to keep up with all this crap, for the love of White Lanterns!

As someone who loves DC characters, here’s the bottom-line: I just want to see great films. It’s that simple. As far as where all these puzzle pieces fit into the universe, I really don’t care.

This is an article I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and with Justice League finally here, what better time to do it then right now. I’m going to break down every rumored DC project on the horizon. All the ones that are confirmed, sort of confirmed, and even ones that may have been written on a napkin at a Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles that some waiter found and posted on Reddit.

Not only will I break down all the rumored cast members and directors, but I will give you my percentages of what the likelihood of all these movies actually happening is, along with my own personal excitement level.

I’d like to thank the all-knowing Wikipedia and IMDB for most of my research. Here we go. I’m about to enter the deep, dark abyss that is DC on film rumors.

See you on the other side…


AQUAMAN

Release Date: December 21st, 2018

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren

Director: James Wan (The Conjuring 2, Furious 7)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 100%

Excitement Level: 8 out of 10

Despite all the jokes about him, Aquaman is actually one of my favorite superheroes. The idea of a guy who walks around with a giant trident and can communicate with sharks is bad ass. While my confidence in the character has been shaken a little bit with his lame dialogue in the Justice League trailers, I’m much more optimistic about his solo outing.

I’m sad we didn’t get to see the comic-con footage, but by all accounts, it was Star Wars underwater. I’m in. While I’m not completely sold on the director, the cast is damn good. Dolph Lundgren as an underwater King can’t be a bad thing, right?

I want this movie to be AWESOME so badly.


SHAZAM!

Release Date: April 5th, 2019

Cast: Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong (rumored)

Director: David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 67%

Excitement Level: 3.5 out of 10

Shazam! is a decent concept, but it’s also rather silly. The idea of a kid who transforms into an adult and becomes one of the most powerful superheroes there is could work, but it can just as easily fall flat on its face. This movie needs a strong director. To be fair, I haven’t seen Sandberg’s horror movies, but this seems like a lofty endeavor to put on the shoulders of a still inexperienced director. The only reason this movie got traction was because Dwayne Johnson was thought to be in it as Black Adam, but we’ll get to that later.

At the end of the day, there are DC characters I’m far more interested in seeing before I dive into the world of Shazam. I know this movie has a release date and the title role has been cast, but I’m still not convinced it sees the light of day.

Is there really an audience for Shazam? I know the response will be, “How did Guardians of the Galaxy work out, Dan?” The difference is that movie already had the established confidence of the MCU, and the appeal of a talking tree and raccoon.

I’m sorry, but this is a real hard sell.


WONDER WOMAN 2

Release Date: December 13th, 2019

Cast: Gal Gadot

Director: Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 200%

Excitement Level: 8.5 out of 10

If Justice League makes $1 dollar at the box office, this movie would still happen. Outside of Batman, Wonder Woman is now DC’s most bankable character. The first movie was beloved up and down. The idea of making another flashback story set during the Cold War is the right call.

Don’t mess around with this character. I’m sure Warner Brothers offered Patty Jenkins enough money that she could buy her own island of Themyscira, so just let her make the damn movie. Don’t force any superhero cameos. Keep it a pure Wonder Woman film.

As a side note, look for the release date to change. One week before Star Wars: Episode IX? That’s not happening.


CYBORG

Release Date: April 3rd, 2020

Cast: Ray Fisher, Joe Morton

Director: TBD

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 33%

Excitement Level: 7 out of 10

I’m still not convinced Cyborg is actually in Justice League, but we’ll see. This is a character I actually think has a lot of potential, if done right. The idea of this hot shot kid who was a huge high school football star and is all of a sudden stripped of emotion and turned into a cold, calculating machine is interesting. Will Warner Brothers actually make the movie that this character deserves? I’m not convinced.

I’m also not convinced it actually happens. While this was one of the first movies Warner Brothers announced when they went all in on the DCEU, you’ve heard absolutely no buzz about it whatsoever. With Green Lantern Corps, we’ve at least heard casting rumors. The only rumors we’ve heard with Cyborg is how he might be a supporting character in a Flash movie.

If this movie actually happens, I’m intrigued. We’ll have to see what the reaction to Cyborg is in Justice League, if any. Even if this movie does get made, I fear it will be severely watered down.


GREEN LANTERN CORPS

Release Date: July 24th, 2020

Rumored Cast Members Have Included: Ryan Reynolds, Tom Cruise, Jake Gyllenhaal, Armie Hammer, Joel McHale, Bradley Cooper, Tyrese Gibson

Director: TBD

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 58%

Excitement Level: 8.5 out of 10

Out of all the superhero characters in existence, none may be more rich in material than Green Lantern. It’s a damn shame. We’re talking about a guy who’s recruited by a galactic organization where he’s given a ring that can literally make anything, yet the best we’ve gotten is a movie that barely happened.

The Green Lantern mythology can support a cinematic universe on its own. This needs to be a movie, and it needs a BIG director (*cough* Denis Villeneuve *cough*). There is so much money to be made here, yet the studio is shell shocked after what happened in 2011, which is why he didn’t even make the cut in Justice League.

I’m confident this movie will happen though, and by all accounts, it’s been described as Lethal Weapon in space. Sounds good to me. Aside from a big director, this movie also needs a stellar cast. Out of all the names rumored, I’m good with all of them (including Ryan Reynolds), with the exception of two: Tyrese Gibson and Armie Hammer.

I appreciate Gibson’s passion for wanting to play John Stewart, but when you compare him to the caliber of those other names, he’s not in the same galaxy, no pun intended. David Oyelowo would be my pick for John Stewart.

As far as Armie Hammer goes, I just don’t get the love for this guy. He was good in a small role in The Social Network. That was seven years ago. Can someone please tell me what else this guy has done that’s been so great? I’m waiting. Let’s see, there was The Lone Ranger and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which three people saw.

Maybe I’ll change my tune after I see Call Me by Your Name, but again, compared to the likes of Tom Cruise and Bradley Cooper? Stop it.


BATGIRL

Release Date: TBD

Rumored Cast: Nothing substantial at this time

Director: Joss Whedon (The Avengers)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 19%

Excitement Level: 3 out of 10

No, thanks. This is mostly coming from a place of not being a Joss Whedon fan, but I have absolutely no interest in a Batgirl movie. I know I’ll take heat for this, but I find the character to be completely uninteresting. Even in the animated series where she was given a larger role, she offered very little.

I’m going to dig myself an even deeper hole here, but I find Barbara Gordon much more compelling as Oracle. I know many disagree with that sentiment.

Let me be very clear – I’m all for more female superheroes. I’m just not interested in this one. I’d much rather see a great Catwoman or Black Canary movie.

Check out Pop Break’s piece on casting Batgirl.


THE BATMAN

Release Date: TBD

Rumored Cast: Ben Affleck, Jeremy Irons, J.K. Simmons, Joe Manganiello

Director: Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 85%

Excitement Level: 7.5 out of 10

I have so many mixed feelings about this movie right now. First of all, even if this particular film doesn’t happen, we’ll obviously get another Batman movie in some form or fashion. This particular Batman movie has had so many twists and turns, it’s exhausting to talk about. Here’s what I will say – Ben Affleck won’t be in it. I firmly believe that. The tide just seems to be turning in that direction.

Matt Reeves as director is a good choice, but not a great one. His Apes movies are really, really, really good, but they fall short of being great. When we look at a Batman project, it has to be great, or the whole movie is a big fat failure. No superhero has more pressure on him than Batman. Not even a debate. I’m not sure Matt Reeves can make the Batman movie we all think he can make.

I also hope Deathstroke as a villain is no longer happening. Seriously? Deathstroke. You have so many great Batman villains to choose from, but the guy you want to go with is a bland dude in an eye-patch who’s good with swords played by the True Blood guy? I think we can do better.

There’s also been an effort from Camp Reeves to make the point of letting everyone know this will be a true detective/noir movie. Okay, all that sounds really nice, but these are the kinds of declarations directors make to placate fanboys, which is always dangerous. People are always complaining that we haven’t seen a true Batman detective story. The fact that Batman is the world’s greatest detective was always one of the least interesting elements to the character for me personally. I fear they will go overboard with that stuff just to make internet critics happy.

I obviously have a built in excitement for this movie, as Batman is, and always will be my favorite superhero, but I have DEEP concerns about this film.


FLASHPOINT

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Ezra Miller, Kiersey Clemons, Billy Crudup, Gal Gadot (rumored), Ray Fisher (rumored)

Directors That Have Left: Phil Lord/Christopher Miller (never officially signed), Seth Grahame-Smith, Rick Famuyiwa

Rumored Directors: Robert Zemeckis, Marc Webb, Matthew Vaughn, Sam Raimi

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 52.38%

Excitement Level: 2.5 out of 10

After Justice League opens, the percentage of this movie happening will probably go up. The Flash definitely has a chance to be the breakout character of that film. There’s no beating around the bush here though – this movie has been an absolute mess. My biggest problem isn’t with all the directors that have left with the project, but with the title – Flashpoint.

Adapting a specific storyline from the comics is fine after you’re a few films into the franchise, which is why X-Men: Days of Future Past, and to a lesser extent, Captain America: Civil War work. The fact that the very first live action Flash movie ever made is already called Flashpoint raises a massive red flag.

Not only that, from what I know about Flashpoint, it involves a lot of crazy time traveling/retcon shenanigans. That is so infuriating. So instead of making a great Flash movie like they did with Wonder Woman, and what seems to be the case for Aquaman, they are more concerned with using Flash as a way to erase what fans didn’t like about Batman v Superman, and to even be a preemptive strike against Justice League? Is that what this is?

The movie could be great. There’s no doubt. But right now, this feels like a pathetic attempt to force a popular comic book story and over react to what fans don’t like about the current iteration of their film universe. It’s a complete disservice to the character.

As far as directors go, Robert Zemeckis would turn the tide for me on this project, but those other names? I’ll pass.


GOTHAM CITY SIRENS

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto (rumored)

Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 18%

Excitement Level: -900,000,000 out of 10

Here’s my simple reaction to this:

Are you kidding me? It’s not because I’m against the idea of a Gotham City Sirens movie. But you’re seriously going to bring back David Ayer to make this? Hasn’t he caused enough damage to Joker and Harley Quinn? Now you want him to mess up Catwoman and Poison Ivy?

I’m not saying this movie can’t work, but please, for the love of Axis Chemicals, get another director.


JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK

Release Date: TBD

Cast: No substantial rumors

Directors That Have Left: Guillermo del Toro, Doug Liman

Will This Movie Actually Happen? -1,000,000,000%

Excitement Level: 4 out of 10

I want to be very clear:

THIS MOVIE WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

The fact that Guillermo del Toro left the project helps somewhat, but it doesn’t change a thing. The show Constantine couldn’t even get to fifteen episodes. Deadman even had a rumored CW show, but it never came to fruition. With the exception of maybe Swamp Thing, nobody cares about these characters. Even someone who’s a DC fan, I’m barely interested in these H-level characters. Although, I wouldn’t mind an Animal Man movie.

Maybe if they made it for a $30 Million budget, but even then is it even worth it? For this movie to have an inkling of a chance, the DCEU would have to have ten great movies in a row, just as the MCU built up trust for Guardians of the Galaxy.

I don’t mean to be a Debby Downer, but nobody is interested in the Spectre or Etrigan the Demon.


NIGHTWING

Release Date: TBD

Cast: No substantial rumors

Director: Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 63%

Excitement Level: 7.5 out of 10

Out of all the Robins, Dick Grayson is the most interesting. I’ve always found his Haly Circus back story compelling. Dick Grayson always felt like the Robin who inherited all of Batman’s good qualities, but was always a more compassionate human being. You could definitely tell a good story about a guy desperate to get out of the Batman’s shadow. There’s a movie there.

The idea of Chris McKay directing is a mixed bag. While he proved he has a complex understanding of the Batman mythos with The Lego Batman Movie, his hiring also suggests a potential Marvelization of the character. While Nightwing isn’t Batman, there’s still a lot of darkness in his world, especially as he establishes himself in Bludhaven, which in some ways is a more dangerous Gotham City.

Nevertheless, I’m all for this movie, and actually think there’s a good chance it happens.


SUICIDE SQUAD 2

Release Date: TBD

Rumored Cast: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman

Director: Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant, Warrior, Miracle)

Past Rumored Directors: Mel Gibson, Ruben Fleischer, Jonathan Levine, Daniel Espinosa

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 58%

Excitement Level: 4 out of 10

You could get Christopher Nolan to direct this movie, and it would still have the stink of the original hanging over it. Even though they got a good director in Gavin O’Connor, this is going to be a real tough sell for me. The memories of the first Suicide Squad have left permanent scars, in particular with regards to the Joker.

More than anything with the DCEU, they NEED to fix the Joker. This is a problem. I’m all for changing the look of a character and trying something different, but the next time we see the Joker should be without the tattoos and in his traditional purple suit. Dressing him up in something familiar won’t fix the problem, but it will help.

This movie will need a lot of help. It will need a great script. The silver lining I’ll look at here is with the Wolverine trilogy. Think of how poor that first Origins movie was, and look where we ended up. I could absolutely see a similar track with Suicide Squad.

Bottom-line: Suicide Squad needs a total tear down of the foundation.


BLACK ADAM

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Dwayne Johnson

Director: TBD

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 40%

Excitement Level: 2.5 out of 10

The only reason I have the percentage even that high is solely because of Dwayne Johnson. As we learned with Baywatch though, Dwayne Johnson isn’t a lock anymore to open movies. We’ll see what happens with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

I’m also just going to say it: With Dwayne Johnson, we’re looking at a mediocre movie here. Let’s face it. The Rock is a perfectly fine, charismatic actor, but I don’t see him headlining a great superhero movie. I just don’t.


DEADSHOT

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Will Smith

Director: TBD

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 20%

Excitement Level: 6.5 out of 10

Deadshot was never a character I was that invested in, but with Will Smith at the helm, I’d certainly give it a chance. And as much as I detest Suicide Squad, he was the single best element to that entire film. With a great script, this movie definitely has potential.

Even though you got Will Smith, Deadshot is such a low level character, I can’t imagine this movie will ever get real traction. Will Smith would really have to will (no pun intended) this into existence.


DEATHSTROKE

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Joe Manganiello

Rumored Director: Gareth Evans (The Raid 2, The Raid: Redemption)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 7%

Excitement Level: 2 out of 10

Seeing as how I don’t want to see Deathstroke as a Batman villain, an entire movie about Slade Wilson?

No, thanks.

Gareth Evans of the Raid fame intrigues me a little bit, but it’s not enough. Slade Wilson bores me. Maybe if he was played by Sylvester Stallone, I could get on board. Not Joe Manganiello.


THE HARLEY QUINN/JOKER MOVIE

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Jared Leto (rumored), Margot Robbie (rumored)

Director: Glenn Ficarra/John Requa (Focus, Crazy Stupid Love., I Love You Phillip Morris)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 31%

Excitement Level: 3 out of 10

Okay. I get it. I know. Everyone is fascinated by the Joker/Harley Quinn relationship. We all love Paul Dini’s “Mad Love.” Understood. This is my problem though. Between this, and the rumored Gotham City Sirens movie discussed earlier, Warner Brothers is trying so hard to force this movie into existence just to placate the comic-con crowd. Much like adapting Flashpoint too quickly, it’s making the movie for all the wrong reasons. I’m not saying I don’t want to see this story at some point, but there’s a few aspects that need to be ironed out before we can truly get a great Joker/Harley Quinn movie.

First and foremost, we need good characterizations, which we currently don’t have. Suicide Squad screwed this up, setting both characters back. I’ve talked ad nauseam about Jared Leto’s lame Joker, but Harley Quinn shouldn’t be left off the hook either.

I know it’s easy to say Harley Quinn was one of the bright spots of Suicide Squad, but she was almost just as wasted as the Joker was. Can someone tell me what the big vintage Harley Quinn moment was from that movie? There isn’t one. It’s infuriating, because Margot Robbie is still the perfect choice for that character.

While the director choices here are interesting, this movie isn’t ready yet. We need to lock it away in a vault until we’ve built up a few good stories with these characters.


JUSTICE LEAGUE PART TWO

Release Date: TBD

Cast (all rumored): Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, J.K. Simmons

Director (rumored): Zack Snyder (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Man of Steel)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 20%

Excitement Level: 4 out of 10

The only way this movie happens is if Justice League makes a billion dollars and is beloved by all, both of which won’t happen.

I’m sure another Justice League movie will be made at some point, but it won’t be this one. Not with Zack Snyder directing, and not with Ben Affleck as Batman.


LOBO

Release Date: TBD

Cast: No substantial rumors

Director: Brad Peyton (Incarnate, San Andreas)

Previously Attached Director: Guy Ritchie

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 29%

Excitement Level: 7.5 out of 10

This one intrigues me. An intergalactic mercenary who rides around on a motorcycle and whips bad guys with chains on his arms. To quote Aquaman from the Justice League trailers: “I can dig it.” All indications point to this being Rated-R, so there’s that.

The reason I could see this happening more as opposed to something like Justice League Dark is that it’s a much easier sell, and you could do it for a minuscule budget. David Harbour would have been perfect for this if he wasn’t already the new Hellboy. Wait a minute, I just answered my own question. What about Ron Perlman for Lobo? Boom.

The only part to this that makes me shudder is the current director attached. The guy who helmed San Andreas, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

It could be worse though. We could have gotten the guy who directed King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Yup. I went there.


MAN OF STEEL 2

Release Date: TBD

Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams

Rumored Director: Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman, X-Men: First Class)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 70%

Excitement Level: 5 out of 10

If Matthew Vaughn wasn’t the front runner, my excitement would be a hell of a lot higher. I love this current iteration of Superman. I really do. The problem is this movie won’t be anywhere near the tone of Man of Steel. Even if Vaughn ultimately doesn’t take this, it’s pretty clear what direction the studio wants to go here. They want to make the boring, one note Superman everybody has been craving.

Yup. Let’s throw out the complex character development and give everybody the fun, watered down superhero we’ve seen a hundred times. To be fair, Matthew Vaughn did deliver one of the best X-Men movies with First Class, so he could definitely surprise me.

I’d love nothing more than to see a true Man of Steel sequel, but that ship sailed when the first film underwhelmed at the box office in 2013. I’m also going to guess Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor will be nowhere near this movie, which to me, is a damn shame.


THE JOKER ORIGIN MOVIE

Release Date: TBD

Rumored Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio

Director: Todd Phillips (War Dogs, The Hangover Trilogy)

Will This Movie Actually Happen? 70%

Excitement Level: 10 out of 10

We’ve reached the end of the DC rainbow, but I’ve saved the best for last. This is the one movie that isn’t connected at all to the DCEU, and it’s also the movie I’m most excited about.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

I love this idea of a complete one off film. The fact that you have Martin Scorsese attached to this project in some form or fashion infuses instant credibility. This is going to be the dark, depraved, not for kids, Rated-R villain movie that Suicide Squad was supposed to be.

I know it’s a long shot, but the idea of Leonardo DiCaprio even being rumored to play this part has me giddy. Please let this happen.

In regards to the director, I’m all for Todd Phillips. While nobody saw War Dogs, I can definitely see how that could translate to doing a Joker origin movie. War Dogs was the epitome of a dark comedy. Jonah Hill’s character, while funny, was an unhinged nut case. And even though The Hangover Part III was a horrific film, I could see inklings of Todd Phillips going to places that were outside his wheel house. That tone just didn’t work for a Hangover movie.

Bottom-line: I want to see this happen, and I want to see it do well financially. The idea of doing one off movies about comic book characters like a graphic novel where they aren’t bound by the rules of a shared universe could be a whole new ball of wax.

More than any other superhero movie DC is attached too, this has the most potential out of all of them.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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