With the dust of the great DC Entertainment purge of 2018 finally starting to settle, we find one man left standing–DC Films president Walter Hamada. Warner Brothers has entrusted the future of the DC Extended Universe to Hamada, but the question remains as to what Hamada will do now that he has sole control over the direction of the DCEU. Luckily, The Hollywood Reporter gives us some hints.
Hamada comes from Warners’ lower-budget, genre film friendly New Line Cinema arm, and it appears that his thrifty ways are already being applied to the DC Films slate. The much discussed Todd Phillips take on The Joker has a budget of just $55 million according to the article. That is a paltry sum for a comic book movie, but right in line with where a gritty, urban take on the character that film is rumored to be should be.
If there is one thing the DCEU films could use, is a little bit of belt tightening in the budget area. The reason why Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League were disappointments and Wonder Woman and Suicide Squad were successes even though they all grossed between $650 and $875 million is because the first two cost $300 million or more to make and the last two were in the $150-$175 million range. It’s simple economics, the less something costs to manufacture, the more profits you get in return.
The article also gives us two potential names for the alternate line of DC films Phillips’ Joker film will be the first of–“DC Dark” or “DC Black”. Neither are set in stone nor might be the final winner, but the name will be something along the lines of those two.
This shingle of DC Films was explained as being the place where “big-time filmmakers” can be set loose on DC character without having to be beholden to DCEU continuity. From that description, you’d expect the label to be “DC Signature” or “DC Premiere” or some other ritzy sounding name. Unless, of course, it won’t be boutique shingle like they said, at lease not entirely.
The article says that Hamada is planning to take the DCEU in a lighter, less grimdark direction. However, there are people at Warners who still believe for a comic book film needs to be gritty and depressing to be successful, even though that path hasn’t been all that successful and has literally opened the DCEU up to abject ridicule.
Perhaps this new shingle is a way for Hamada to placate the doom and gloom fans at Warners while he lightens up the main DCEU. “DC Dark” and “DC Black” do seem like companies where grimdark films could find a home, and a street-level Joker origin film seems like it would fit the grim and gritty style to a T. Just a theory.
By the way, the article says Phillips will be shooting his Joker film, with Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker, by fall.
An example of Hamada’s moving away from the is the upcoming stand-alone Flash film. Last month, reports got out that they were moving away from the previously announced Flashpoint storyline for the film. The Hollywood Reporter article states that the hiring of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, two men commonly associated writing and directing comedies, to direct the film was the first step of lightening the tone. The article states that Warners is looking towards Back to the Future as a “touchstone” for the new direction for the film. Production on the film will begin in early 2019. The article also gives Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn projects and the Batgirl film as more examples of the DCEUs kinder and gentler direction.
I’m slightly concern about this change of direction. Warners seems to not realize that every DC character is the same and they all do not fit easily into one category. Making a light and breezy comedy with Harley Quinn is just as bad as making a dark and brooding drama out of Superman. Let’s not forget that Harley is a funny serial killer who is in lover with a more prolific and funnier serial killer. The grimdark suits her. You can put her in a comedy, but you’d better make it a dark comedy. I don’t trust Warners to be able to pick up on that distinction.
And then there’s Batman. If all those websites that ran stories about the Batman reboot just waited a day, they’d have a little more meat to put in their stories. This article states that Matt Reeves has provide the first act for The Batman to Warners over the Memorial Day weekend, and his script reportedly focuses on a younger caped crusader, and as such, Ben Affleck will probably not be back. But other than that, there was no other new information given. Will Reeves’ Batman be part of the already established DCEU? If so, will his story be profiling the early days of Ben Affleck’s Batman or will it be a brand-new incarnation? If it’s the latter, how do you reconcile the new Batman’s place in the already established DCEU? So many questions.
Finally, the article states that Hamada will take a slow but steady approach to the DCEU. No writers’ room to plot out the course of the shared universe, and no setting up release dates until the project is definitely ready to go. It appears that the DCEU will still be a shared universe, just one that is plotted one film at a time.
We will have to watch this situation as it develops. Some of Hamada’s changes sound good on paper, but let’s see how the look when put into practice.