BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Marvel Studios has dominated the 2018 box office, raking in $3 billion from just two movies: Black Panthe and Avengers: Infinity War. And their success isn’t limited to the huge, highly anticipated movies with 200 superheroes shoved into them. People were even talking about B-List characters Ant-Man and The Wasp. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. Pictures’ DC Extended Universe is still fighting for relevance after Man of Steel (2013) launched the franchise with a whimper and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Suicide Squad (2016) transformed the franchise into meme fodder. Last year’s Justice League was another failure. But DC is still making their films and hopefully they figure out how to make good films besides Wonder Woman (2017).
Aquaman, starring Jason Momoa, will finally hit theaters December 21st, starring Jason Momoa as the film’s titular submersible superhero. Admittedly, the first Aquaman trailer does look promising. But the same was said for the dumpster fire of a film Suicide Squad (2016). DC has to earn the benefit of the doubt before I get fully excited for a film. The next few years will see Shazam! (2019), Wonder Woman 1984 (2019), Cyborg (2020), Green Lantern Corps (2020) release with The Batman, The Flash, and a Superman all being worked on. These are the safe choices. Most of these characters were in Justice League.
DC also has a ton of films in various stages of development that may never see the light of day (with a Supergirl movie announced earlier this month). But there are three big ones that I think can save the DC Extended Universe after Superman has failed to do so. Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker film (scheduled for October of 2019) should at the very least wash the taste of Jared Leto’s time as the clown prince of crime out of all our mouths. But that film might not even be officially part of the DC Extended Universe. The role of Joker is every actor’s dream job and Joaquin Phoenix rarely disappoints.
Warner Bros. is also making a New Gods film. Ava DuVernay is set to direct Jack Kirby’s fictional mythology. Most people might not know who the New Gods are (outside of Steppenwolf, the main villain in Justice League). The New Gods are a quirky group of fictional deities who fought alongside and against the Justice League for decades. This classic tale of good vs. evil is ripe for a feature length film. And I am glad they are giving them their own focus instead of shoehorning them into Justice League again.
Birds of Prey is the non-Marvel superhero film I am most looking forward to. This team of women superheroes is set to star Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn (last seen in Suicide Squad). While her last DC’s film was horrible, most of that was due to writing and editing issues more than the cast. And this film is unlikely to positively highlight Harley’s toxic relationship with Joker. Outside of Harley Quinn the film will star the sonic scream superhero Black Canary, the bloodthirsty, crossbow-wielding Huntress, mute martial artist who can beat Batman in a fight Cassandra Cain (one of DC’s many Batgirls), and Gotham detective Renee Montoya. The casting for these roles are unknown but Jodie Comer and Vanessa Kirby are reported to be the front runners for Black Canary while Alexandra Daddario might be Huntress.
Margot Robbie is also producing the film due to her passion for the characters. And this is why I think Birds of Prey will be a hit. DC’s recent films appear to lack passion for all the characters. Suicide Squad was a cash grab trying to make it the next Guardians of the Galaxy or Deadpool but ended up being the world’s longest meme. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice was Zack Snyder’s hastily scribbled love letter to the 80s’ darker Batman comics. And Justice League was just Superman saving the day while DC hoped the legendary team will draw Avengers level sales with a quarter of the effort.