It’s been more than a year since Harry Lennix stepped up to the Hall H podium at the San Francisco Comic Con and uttered the words that any comic enthusiast worth his dime would recognize instantly: “I want you to remember Clark, in all the years to come…in all your private moments, I want you to remember….my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Not a lot has changed, except for the small fact that DC released its plans to continue the DC Universe on the big screen, all the way upto 2020. Now with possibilities of parallel realities and adaptations of famous comic story-arcs, the DC Multiverse is under way.
For those who didn’t get the memo on the list, here’s the full slate:
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
“Suicide Squad” directed by David Ayer, with Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Will Smith (2016)
“Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot (2017)
“Justice League Part One” directed by Zack Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Amy Adams (2017)
“The Flash” starring Ezra Miller (2018)
“Aquaman” starring Jason Momoa (2018)
“Shazam” starring Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam (2019)
“Justice League Part Two” directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
“Cyborg” starring Ray Fisher (2020)
“Green Lantern” (2020)
That’s quite an ambitious list they’ve churned out and questions seem to be all about what stories they will choose, and how cohesive this universe will be. The rumour mills have been working overtime, and piecing together supposed leaks, insider information and such, we just might have the most possible direction Snyder will take this Multiverse. [A multiverse, to those unfamiliar with DC, is in reference to the infinite number of parallel earths or universes that co-exist in the DC storylines.]
So, it begins as it must with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice where the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader have it out with each other, under the manipulation of Lex Luthor, the primary antagonist. The rumour goes that Batman will be portrayed to be a much darker and broken version of the Dark Knight than previous adaptations.
This Batman suffers from schizophrenia, has trouble with the persona of Bruce Wayne who is a mask to the vigilante inside. Bruce Wayne died with his parents one fateful night in Crime Alley. All that remains now is Batman, an aggressive, paranoid and relentless assault on crime that will not stop till the very end. Very similar to the Batman in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. He uses a higher tone of voice for Bruce Wayne that is similar to Affleck’s usual tone, while Batman uses a voice modulator in his cowl with a voice more reminiscent of Kevin Conroy. There is also a shade of Hamlet in this adaptation of the millionaire – he is apparently seen to sometimes converse with his late father. This will undoubtedly be the most accurate-to-comic-lore Batman we have had yet, his detective skills and intelligence taking centre stage for the character. The circumstance in which we find him is also the same as Miller’s epic, he is in mourning of Jason Todd, his second Robin, who was killed presumably at the hands of the Joker himself. But we’ll get to that in a bit. Sources also say that easter eggs point toward Dick Grayson a.k.a Nightwing a.k.a Robin the 1st operating in Bludhaven.
It was rumoured at a point that Jena Malone will be filling the shoes of Carrie Kelly, the single-run female Robin who accompanies Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. Now that more reports have poured in, it seems that she has signed on for a much more sensible part, that of Barbara Gordon, daughter of Jim, who is the current Commissioner of the GCPD. Fans will know that this is the same Barbara who gets tortured and crippled by the Joker in The Killing Joke only to take the role of Oracle, providing intel and handling the control for the League. There have also been rumours that Jim Gordon is already dead in the Universe we will be stepping foot in. That may not be the case, as although in retirement and not seen in Dawn of Justice, Barbara seems to still refer to her father as though he is still out there.
No matter who else makes an appearance, Dawn of Justice is still very much a Superman movie, with the story still following the Son of Krypton and questions of public perception and the threat he is to the world. The screamers can stop now, as it turns out the controversy over how crowded the film is seems to be of little merit. Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman and the others are merely dignified cameos in this prime Superman story, setting the stage for future adventures. But don’t you worry; each character will get their deserved time in their own movies.
Of course, we cannot talk of heroes alone, and DC is rich in its reserve of super-villains. As you already know, Lex Luthor is the primary villain for the movie, and probably still the puppeteer throughout the escapades of the Justice League. Portrayed by the young Jesse Eisenberg, he is set to be fast-talking, motivated and all evil. Sources on set claim that this is not a generic Eisenberg role, as he uses a very different accent and tone of voice, which fit in perfectly with his character. Fans are also asked to picture the Luthor from Morrison’s All Star Superman arc. He is described as a mix of a megalomaniac Steve Jobs and Da Vinci. His primary objective in Dawn of Justice is to paint Superman wrong in the public eye, and this is where that one leaked set image of a funeral comes in. It seems that Lex has hired David Cain to assassinate the President of the United States so that he may pin the fault on Superman’s already burdened shoulders. But that’s not all the evil mastermind has under plan.
Lex is also on a secret hunt for metahumans such as ‘a wonder woman who appears in photographs since the 1800s.’ Using his influence over politicians and most governments, he was also able to track down and use the Kryptonian ships and weapons left after the battle with Zod, from which he has gathered several treasures. One of these is the Vril Dox command key, which we will discuss when we talk about Brainiac. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that Lex manages to salvage a couple of the Kryptonian birth-pods from the ships which we saw in Man of Steel. The reason it is interesting is that sources tell us that Lex develops hybrids of both the beings, and while one grows up to be Kon-El or Superboy as he is better known in these circles; the other grows to be the twisted and deformed Bizarro – Kal-El’s evil twin in more common terms. In addition to this, Lex is also said to have procured a Kryptonian battle armour which could very well develop into the green suit that Lex dons in the New 52 comics.
While it did seem that Doomsday would be the secondary villain in Dawn of Justice, the majority of speculations now point toward Brainiac, an intelligent being of the Coluan race, who is imprisoned by Kryptonians as the cybernetic intelligence Vril Dox, to take up the reigns with Lex and lead us into the formation of the Justice League as well. His being excavated from the remains of the World Engine is further substantiated with this shot in Man of Steel which perfectly matched Brainiac’s insignia:
Whatever his origin be in this adaptation, it is speculated that Dox is controlled and weaponized by Luthor for most of the film, with him attaining physical form at the very end, to break free and pose a threat that no one hero can tackle alone, calling into need the formation of a certain League.
In the wake of all the political friction and clash of titans, the villains who have already been reprimanded (by Batman, possibly) form a special task force called the Suicide Squad. This movie is the one to set the tone for DC, unique in material and utilizing the gritty, villainous theme that runs throughout the Multiverse. In what is rumoured to be a classy and action-packed heist film, the limelight is shone on the romance of Harley Quinn and the Joker, the latter presumably locked up in Arkham for a major part of the film. Quinn would seem focused and locked in on the mission and her present teammates, though it will be probably she who betrays them all in the end for her ‘puddin’ the infamous clown to be played by Jared Leto – a worthy successor to the line, who is sure to bring his own wry and deranged style to the role. Suicide Squad will have Deadshot, Quinn, Boomerang, Enchantress and Flag team up under the command of Amanda Waller, and after a series of betrayals and twists, we will end up with a freed Joker united with his Quinn, leading up to the solo Batman film. This film is where the cinematic universe will again borrow from The Dark Knight Returns, particularly the third chapter where the Joker escapes and Batman meets his old nemesis in a battle of wits again. In terms of casting, Suicide Squad has been stellar, but with Tom Hardy now backing out of his role, there just might be trouble around the corner.
Probably the most important speculation of them all – DC plans to set the stage for multiple universes at the very beginning! The DC Multiverse functions on the theory of infinite Earths – the theory which states that for every choice made in the universe, a parallel universe is formed where the other choice is taken, and so with countless choices, there are infinite universes with parallel identities of each person residing in each one. DC Comics is most noted for utilizing this concept in its mega-event of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which just might be what the Cinematic Universe would also take us to, if all things go according to plan. So the running rumour is that Wonder Woman’s homeland of Themyscira is a bridge between two alternate universes – one of the old gods and the other of men. This also supports the theory that the Wonder Woman stand-alone features would be a story of a powerful woman in 1920s America, while also playing with Greek and Roman gods and Olympians. Wonder Woman (Diana) herself is set to be shown as a daughter of Zeus in this big-screen adaptation. It will be quite interesting to see a Wonder Woman movie about Diana dealing with the female-oppressive society of man as a deviation from hers, and battles of Olympian proportions would be the perfect addition.
The clear alien in the long slate of DC movies to be produced is Shazam – a story which dwells on magic and ancient curses, the titular hero being a boy named Billy Batson who is blessed with the gift to turn into a powerful being on utterance of the word ‘Shazam’. Dwayne Johnson plays his archenemy Black Adam, and is expected to be one of the most charismatic presences in the Multiverse. Well, a while ago, the producers had declared that Shazam would not take place in the same universe as the rest of the movies, and we may just have stumbled on their very clever inside-joke. The rumour is that Shazam is set in an alternate Earth, one where there is no Superman, allowing Shazam to take centre-stage.
The Green Lantern has been one of the most doubted and scrutinized properties of DC since Green Lantern back in 2011 with Ryan Reynolds. While DC wanted Jon Stewart to be the bearer in these movies, Snyder’s vision was different in that he wants Hal Jordan to exist as a worn-out Green Lantern, darker and older than Reynolds’, described as a broken soldier from hell: coming from a destroyed Oa (The Lantern’s planet). Jordan’s Lantern on his return to Earth is seen to be opposing the leadership of Superman, seeing Kal as a vigilante considering how the Green Lantern Corps are basically space cops. He is also speculated to arrive in Justice League: Part 1 with the warning of Darkseid – perhaps the most powerful of DC’s villains – the ruler of Apokolips. Jordan’s mantle will be taken over by Earth’s new Lantern Jon Stewart during the course of the Justice League itself, finally giving us Stewart’s solo movie in 2020’s Green Lantern. Add Idris Elba as Jon Stewart, and that would be a more than redeeming arc for Green Lantern with fans. There are also possibilities of the Green Lantern plot being taken to the ever-praised In Blackest Night.
The Flash and Cyborg are still characters we know almost nothing about, excepting the actors who will play them – Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher respectively. While the Flash will seemingly be introduced in Justice League: Part 1 to lead toward a solo-story in 2018, rumours hold that Miller will be playing Wally West, the third and snarkiest of the Flashes. DC will in all probability resort to the New 52 story for Cyborg, Victor Stone undergoing the accident in Dawn of Justice or Part 1 and joining the squad immediately.
There has been no more information about Aquaman starring Jason Mamoa, who has been perfectly cast for the role. There is still the strong possibility that his home of Atlantis is another alternate Earth raging with oceans and marine life, what with the treatment being afforded to Themyscira and Shazam’s Earth. This film reeks of immense potential for DC, for with Atlantis they can create a whole new world underwater, and develop the beings that reside within and internal conflicts possibly taking us closer to a big-screen adaptation of Throne of Atlantis.
While it is public that the talk about Justice League: Dark was all true, we still have no details of the story or characters to be expected in Guilermo Del Toro’s script. Presumably set in another alternate Earth, the squad would in all possibility include John Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, Spectre and Swamp Thing. It will also be interesting if Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress is further explored in this world, considering her ties to magic and the dark world of DC.
Marvel may have had a head start on its own Cinematic Universe, but what DC packs in its arsenal is its very own storytelling method – the Multiverse – which means we’re in for a whole different deal with DC. The plus of the Multiverse concept is that all adaptations of DC characters can be brought within its hood as alternate realities. Taking all of this into account, we can very well look forward to a brilliant line of adaptations of our favourite DC characters and plotlines. Sources from production have also hinted that most of the films will be in one way or another, adaptations of prominent story-arcs from the comics but set in the present world. With such a promise, we hope to see arcs such as In Blackest Night, all the Crises, Tower of Babel, The Killing Joke, Arkham Asylum, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow all being played out on screen over the next few decades. Moreover, with the concept of multiple universes left open at the very start, there will always be room for a crossover with the TV-universe, as well as acceptance of Nolan’s trilogy and the Animated Series as alternate realities in the same Multiverse. The possibilities are endless.
On a sidenote, DC’s television universe seems like it just might be the next big thing, what with Flash and Arrow already on the air and Supergirl and Vixen (animated) shows in the works. Melissa Benoist has just been cast as Kara Zor-El or Supergirl for the live action show, and other characters – like Ray Palmer’s A.T.O.M played by Brandon Routh, an ex-Man of Steel and Ronnie Raymond’s Firestorm played by Robbie Amell – are already working their way towards their own shows.