Aquaman and Shazam Sequel Delays Suggest DCEU Won’t Completely Reboot
DC Films’ future is up in the air, and a new 10-year plan means WB could reboot the DCEU, but recent delays suggest that might not happen.
The future of the DCEU is up in the air, but recent changes to DC’s movie schedule suggest Warner Bros. Discovery plans to keep the DCEU’s current canon. The studio has yet to reveal its long-term plan for DC movies, but how they handle movies already in production could say a lot about where they want the DCEU to go.
DCEU has been rudderless since the Justice League debacle, leading to the effective cancellation of the plans Zack Snyder had for the characters, but a new plan was never fully put into place. Warner Bros. Discovery recently announced plans to introduce a “Kevin Feige”-style figurehead and a Marvel Cinematic Universe-style 10-Year Plan, though all further details on what that plan might be have been kept under wraps.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom and Shazam! Fury of the gods have seen a number of release date changes, most recently being pushed back even further. While the delay is frustrating for anyone anticipating these films, the release date changes could offer a behind-the-scenes look at what Warner Bros. Discovery wants DC Films.
The future canon of the DCEU is uncertain
One of the biggest questions following the 2017 theatrical release of Justice League was which canon the DCEU would follow. While many versions that followed managed to straddle a line that didn’t encompass much of Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League or the rest of Snyder’s DCEU movies, the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League made the matter even more uncertain, especially with Patty Jenkins claiming that other DC directors were sticking to Snyder’s canon instead of changes to Whedon’s theatrical cut.
With an uncertain canon and the future of many Justice League characters in question, particularly with Ben Affleck’s Batman and Henry Cavill’s Superman, according to reports the flash the movie would be used to reset some of the larger continuity so the franchise could move in a new direction. Thanks to more delays for the flash and Ben Affleck’s Batman Return and rumors swirling around Henry Cavill’s Superman Return, a reboot might not be necessary, but the many issues in getting various plans for this “OG” DCEU cast off the ground raise concerns about whether or not another attempt will survive as well.
Warner Bros. Discovery inherited a lot of DCEU baggage
In addition to concerns over cast and continuity, the DC fanbase is also divided between the different styles of DC movies WB has made over the years. Outside of building the “Snyderverse” up to a Final Crisis-inspired showdown between the Justice League and Darkseid, none of the DCEU movies have built anything particularly inspiring. Given all the drama and baggage of the DCEU at this point, it’s unclear what there is to salvage, and a contrived attempt to fix it all via a multiverse conceit might be more effort than its worth unless that there is a clear path to something bigger for all of these characters.
This thought is also not foreign to Warner Bros. Discovery, as evidenced by their willingness to completely cancel bat girl although the film is already fully shot. The will to ruthlessly cancel bat girl is a strong contrast to the long delays on Shazam! Fury of the gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Whereas bat girl had a connection to the previous DCEU canon, it featured Michael Keaton as Batman, likely as a product of the multi-versal events of the flash. bat girl was reportedly canceled for financial reasons, but continuity differences are difficult to rule out as a potential factor.
Delayed DC Movies Could Indicate WB’s Canon Preferences
The delay of Shazam! Fury of the gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is particularly interesting, it extends the franchise’s commitment to the current iteration of the DCEU. If Warner Bros. Discovery wanted to wipe the slate clean, meaning recast characters like Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, they wouldn’t delay its next appearance until December 2023 and add Ben Affleck’s Batman to the film. Of course, there was a very similar situation with X-Men: Dark Phoenix after Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, but in this situation Disney already had a thriving MCU and needed dark phoenix picks up to end the existing X-Men iteration without introducing more sequels or spinoffs or doing anything else that conflicts with MCU canon.
Although the delays suggest that Warner Bros. Discovery cannot choose to wipe the DCEU slate entirely, it does not indicate whether the plan will soft reboot or continue with any of the other incomplete plans, such as Zack Snyder’s Knightmare future and Darkseid showdown or Walter Hamada’s rumored Crisis on Infinite Earths plan. In all likelihood, it will be a new story that will build on the established characters and movies where necessary without adopting any particular blueprint.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that DC Films’ new head will come on board and choose to start the DCEU over from the ground up with a new cast and a new slate of movies, but the fact that they’re not just throwing the existing slate in theaters (or even streaming) as soon as possible, or canceling outright, could be a good sign. Shazam! Fury of the gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom may not be huge universe-defining stories, but their place in the current (and possibly future) DCEU canon cannot be ignored.