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5 Huge Changes to the DCEU Since "Justice League"

Warner Bros is feeling a lot like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. Variety is reporting that the studio is sick of Justice League tanking and is making major changes...again.

Warner Bros.' corporate leaders at Time Warner support the moves and are said to be unhappy with the financial performance of "Justice League." The film was intended to be DC’s answer to Marvel’s "Avengers," uniting the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman under the banner of a team of world-saving superheroes. With a budget reported to be as high as $300 million, it represents an expensive bet. After three weeks of release, it has managed to gross $570.3 million worldwide. In contrast, the first "Avengers" film racked up $1.5 billion. The studio did have a number of successes this year with "Wonder Woman," "Dunkirk," and "It," which has helped offset the disappointment of "Justice League."

So, what's changing?

Zack Snyder is Out

Justice League (2017) - Zack Snyder directing Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)

Zack Snyder has been there from the beginning and set the tone for the universe. Not only did he direct the first DCEU (DC Extended Universe) movie Man of Steel, but he also executive produces and directed a scene for Suicide Squad. It's been revealed that, after the disappointing early response to Batman v Superman, there were talks about replacing him for Justice League.

That never happened but it seems that the colossal truth bomb is known as Justice League finally kicked him out. He's the one steering the movies. So, like a bus driver found sending selfies of his ham sandwich at the wheel, he's not driving the DC bus anymore. Zack Snyder is responsible and Zack Snyder is out. Sort of.

There are no immediate plans for Snyder to direct another DC movie, though he is producing or executive producing several, including "Wonder Woman 2" and "Aquaman." Warner Bros. continues to have a production deal with Snyder, so it’s possible he could direct additional films for the studio. Time Warner is said to be frustrated that Warner Bros. leaders continue to bring the director back, especially after "Batman v Superman" was excoriated by critics even though it made money. They are also upset that each new DC film seems to be making less money than its predecessor. Only "Wonder Woman," with its optimistic heroine, managed to be both a critical and commercial success.

While it's unclear which movies are being made it was assumed he would return for Man of Steel 2. That's about as likely as an Aquaman musical. He's not fired, but there's no way he's going to be directing another DCEU movie till the studio feels they have a good handle on the tone of the movies.

The DC Movie's Dark Tone is Out

Man of Steel Behind-the-Scenes Superman (Henry Cavill)
One of the defining traits of the DCEU is a dark and brooding tone. Superman is full of angst and regret. Batman is a murderous thug. Wonder Woman is hateful and angry at the world. All that changed with the production of Justice League

An early version, directed by Zack Snyder, alarmed studio executives with its dark tone. That had been the knock on Snyder’s two previous DC films, "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." After his daughter committed suicide, Snyder eventually left the production before it underwent costly re-shoots. Joss Whedon, who had been brought on the punch up the dialogue, took over directing, but studio brass recognized that so much footage had been shot already that there were limits to what could be done to improve the picture.

Even the actors realized the dark tone wasn't working. Gal Gadot said that the idea that Wonder Woman's man-hating style is "not necessarily the right decision". Patty Jenkins' solo movie established that she has a deep love for mankind. Henry Cavill said that the dark tone of Emo Superman is gone. He's playing Superman as a "character of hope and optimism, inspiration and example" Ben Affleck said that Batman is no longer an angry loner. He's learned to "open up and play well with others because he knows he needs them".

Now that Justice League bombed...I mean "underperformed"... the movies are getting a massive shift in tone into the light. The movies are being pulled into the sunlight. That could either kill the whole thing like a vampire or make them stronger like Superman.

Ben Affleck's Batman is Out

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - Batman (Ben Affleck)

There have been rumors surrounding Ben Affleck ever since the horrible reviews of Batman v Superman that he's sickened to be in another failed superhero franchise. He still has to apologize for Daredevil. Now, he has to apologize for Batman. After months of rumors and conflicting reports, it looks like Affleck is officially stepping down.

While Ben Affleck is expected to appear as Batman in a standalone Flash movie, it is highly unlikely he will don the cape and cowl in Matt Reeves’ planned standalone Batman movie. The director is said to want to cast the role with fresh talent, according to sources.

He's not going to be in Matt Reeves' The Batman solo movie but he could fulfill his multi-movie contract by appearing in the Flash solo movie Flashpoint. After that, he's done. It's a shame really because all the reviews said he was the best part of Batman v Superman. My only problem is Snyder made him into something Batman isn't. Another actor can give the character a fresh new take and move it forward.

The Head of the Comic Book Division is Out

Jon Berg

Jon Berg, the head of Warner Bros comic book film production division is being demoted...I mean...shifted to a production partner. It's kind of like being the Vice President and being made a mailman. This is actually the second time the role has been recast at the studio. After the fallout from Batman v Superman in 2016 Berg took over the job from Warner Bros. Pictures president Greg Silverman.

Jon Berg will be leaving his current job running the comic book’s film production division, according to several sources with knowledge of the studio’s plans. A search is underway for his replacement. Berg will instead become a production partner with Roy Lee, the producer of “The Lego Movie” and “It,” who has a deal on the lot.

Warners is expected to name a new person to run point on DC’s films. Geoff Johns, who has partnered with Berg on much of the creative direction of the movies, is expected to continue serving as DC Entertainment’s chief creative officer. Johns, who reports to DC president Diane Nelson, works in areas such as television (and has written various episodes for DC-inspired shows), publishing, and consumer products, in addition to his contributions to the films. Going forward, his work on the films may evolve, and could be more advisory in nature.

Geoff Johns has a proven track record with the DC shows like The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl, so it's not his fault. Expect the next person to take the movies in a whole new direction.

DC Movies Are All In

Marvel Studios films operate their comic book film division separate from the main movie studio of Disney. Warner Bros tried to emulate that model, but it looks like that creative control is gone.

[Sources] say that [Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby] Emmerich is weighing the idea of further integrating DC’s film operations into the studio’s main movie arm. That would entail putting the divisions under the same roof rather than having DC remain in a separate building on the lot, sources say.

Other studios like Fox and Sony produce their superhero films under the studio's banner. So, it's actually putting the comic book movies where they normally are. Back under direct studio control.

Marvel Studios has over 20 movies and almost 10 years of experience making a shared movie universe. Warner Bros thought they could skip all that and jump into Marvel's big shoes in two years. They were wrong and the growing pains of those shoes are cutting circulation to the toes. But, after getting rid of Snyder, giving the movies a little light and recasting some of the lead actors the studio has the chance to get it right.

There's nothing wrong with the DC Universe itself. Everyone loves the characters and way more people know and love Batman than Ant-Man. There's no reason the DC superhero movies shouldn't be as popular as Marvel. Maybe more. They just need to make some changes.

What do you think of the changes to the DC Extended Universe? How do you feel about the movies so far?

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