Coming off the Disney Fantasy Epic A Wrinkle In Time, director Ava DuVernay is in final negotiations with Warner Brothers to bring the DC comic The New Gods to the big screen. Rumors say that the film may not be part of the overall DC Cinematic Universe, which is being called the DCEU. Instead the film would be part of WB/DC’s attempt to create films that stand on their own. Another example of this is the upcoming Joker film being directed by Todd Phillips and Produced by Martin Scorsese.
DuVernay being brought into the DC world is a huge step in the right direction. She is an amazing director, and fully capable of bringing a rich story to the big screen. It’s also exciting to see DC hiring a female director for what could be a very big and very important property. While the rumors say this movie won’t connect with the DCEU, the main conflict within the New Gods comics is between twin planets New Genesis and Apokolips and their rulers Highfather and Darkseid. Darkseid was referenced in Justice League and is essentially the Thanos of the DC universe. To say that a film that would surely fully introduce the character isn’t connected to the rest of the DC universe is ridiculous.
There may be a bigger plan at play here that DC doesn’t want to reveal yet. Justice League was panned by critics, many fans had difficulties with it, and overall it brought in the lowest amount at the box office among the DCEU films released thus far. The DCEU has had a very rough time starting off with tons of behind the scenes issues that caused their films to suffer in various ways. The one shining light in all of it has been Wonder Woman. A film directed by Patty Jenkins, with very little obstruction from the studio. If WB/DC want to find continued success they need to let the filmmakers do what they were hired to do, create the film themselves. It’s hard to imagine DuVernay signing onto a film with a studio that is going to micro manage her, so this feels like DC may be learning their lesson.
From a story standpoint, it also seems like WB/DC may be looking to soft reboot their film universe. The only films confirmed for release as of now are this year’s Aquaman, the upcoming sequel to Wonder Woman and a Flashpoint film. There’s technically a Batman film directed by Matt Reeves and starring Ben Affleck that’s in development as well, but that film has changed drastically in development. Most of the changes are a result of Affleck’s seeming uncertainty on continuing as Batman altogether. At this point DC is probably wanting to drop Affleck, but needs to do so without it looking bad or putting them into contractual issues with Affleck. The best way to do that and fix their overall issues within the DCEU is to use Flashpoint as a soft reboot.
The Flashpoint storyline features Barry Allen, The Flash, running back in time and stopping the death of his mother. That event essentially being the inciting incident in Barry’s life that would eventually lead to him becoming The Flash. By saving her life he changes the entire DC universe, and works with a gun toting Thomas Wayne/Batman to put things back the way they were. When Flashpoint ended, the DC universe went back to “normal,” but still had some changes. If DC is going to use this storyline in the Flashpoint film they could easily recast anyone they need to and restart the entire DCEU from the beginning post Flashpoint. Which brings us back to New Gods.
If DC wants to rebuild their Cinematic Universe in a way that is successful, but different from the Marvel method, this is it. You begin with a story that introduces the biggest bad in the Universe and grow from there. One of Marvel’s biggest flaws has always been that their villains aren’t memorable or significant. If DC starts over by giving fans strong villains, it gives them a lot more to work with. Films like Suicide Squad or Justice League have more meaning if you treat the villain with just as much importance as you do the heroes. Which is why the Marvel team keeps pointing out that Thanos is the main character in Infinity War.
Overall this is an exciting development no matter what. Whether the DCEU is rebooted with DuVernay taking the first step, or her film is just a one shot story, it’s going to be fantastic. We’ll keep an eye on the project and update you as more comes along.