Marvel Studios, the film division of Marvel Comics, will be dominating the movie theaters for the next few years, with “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Iron Man 3,” “X-Men: First Class, “and the highly-anticipated “Avengers” movies all coming out before 2012. But what’s in store for DC Comics fans? The upcoming “Green Lantern” film has already generated plenty of buzz; can DC continue the good fight and take their place alongside the mighty Marvel movie machine?
For a short time, rumors abounded about possible “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League” movies, but neither came to pass. However, even though everything has been kept relatively quiet and low-key, DC Comics (itself a subsidiary of Warner Bros., which has produced most of the DC Comics’ film adaptations) does have a number of films currently in development with tentative release dates between 2011 and 2013. Some are almost definite, while others are already languishing in development hell. Nevertheless, there is plenty on the horizon for DC fans to be excited about.
Green Lantern (June 17, 2011)
First out of the gate will be the highly-anticipated “Green Lantern” film, which currently has a release date of June 17, 2011. Although the Green Lantern comic series never quite achieved the same level of popularity or recognition as Superman or Batman, it does have a very devoted fan base, and its popularity has risen recently with the “Blackest Night” story arc, which crossed over into a number of other DC titles. If the Green Lantern movie can capitalize on this trend, he could very well rise to the top spot of the DC pantheon.
“Green Lantern” stars Ryan Reynolds as the title character, aka Hal Jordan, a test pilot who is given a ring of almost unlimited power and the responsibility for maintaining peace and order in the galaxy. The film is directed by Martin Campbell, who is no stranger to action films; he previously directed two James Bond movies (“GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale”) as well as “The Mask of Zorro” and “The Legend of Zorro.” Filming for “Green Lantern” began on March 15, 2010 and wrapped up on August 6. The film is now in the lengthy post-production process. It should come as no surprise that an epic film involving aliens, superpowers, and intergalactic battles will be heavy on the special effects. It has also been confirmed that “Green Lantern” will be released in 3-D, and that the screenplay for the sequel is already being written.
Unnamed Batman sequel (July 20, 2012)
Director Christopher Nolan has confirmed that the third (and reportedly final) film in the Batman trilogy will begin production in April of 2011, and will aim for a release date of July 20, 2012. Details are scarce, but the filmmakers intend to wrap up the storyline from “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” rather than continue the film series indefinitely. All that is known so far is that Jonah Nolan is still working on the script, and the villain “won’t be Mr. Freeze.”
Superman: The Man of Steel (Christmas, 2012)
Disappointed with the performance of 2006’s big-budget “Superman Returns,” Warner Bros. has decided to reboot the Superman franchise again, this time using the same formula (and the same creative team) that successfully relaunched the Batman film franchise, shooting for a Christmas 2012 release. David S. Goyer, who was a co-writer on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” is currently writing the script, and Christopher Nolan is also on board to provide “guidance” of an unspecified nature. There has been no word yet on casting and no one has been attached to direct, but the future of the film seems bright, even as the tone is set to be darker than that of any previous Superman film. No plot details have been leaked yet, except that the story revolves around Lex Luthor and Brainiac, and will incorporate a lot of Kryptonian mythology.
The Flash (2013)
“The Fastest Man Alive” is off to a slow start, it seems. A film based on the Flash has been in the works since 2004, when David S. Goyer was hired to write, produce, and direct. However, by 2007, the project had completely stalled, with Goyer and Warner Bros. claiming “creative differences.” Interestingly, Goyer had intended for Ryan Reynolds to star as the Wally West version of the Flash.
(Let’s take a moment to recap: Reynolds is currently starring as DC’s Green Lantern and Marvel’s Deadpool, and previously appeared as Hannibal King in “Blade: Trinity,” based on the Marvel Comics character. Too much for one actor, do you think?)
After Goyer’s departure, the project was handed off to director Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum), who left shortly after to be replaced by director David Dobkin (“Shanghai Knights”). The film was projected to have a 2008 release date, but obviously, this never materialized. In June 2010 Warner Bros. announced that it had hired a team of writers, Greg Berlanti, Michael Green and Marc Guggenheim (all of whom worked on the “Green Lantern” screenplay) to write “The Flash.” No details have been released yet, except that they are going with the Barry Allen version of the character. The film has a tentative release date of 2013.
Wonder Woman (2013)
Once again, David S. Goyer’s name is being bandied about as the driving force behind an upcoming Wonder Woman movie (I wonder if Ryan Reynolds is in talks to play the title character?). Earlier this millennium, two writers for DC Comics TV series took turns at the Amazonian princess; Philip Levens (“Smallville”) was working on a screenplay, and was soon replaced by Laeta Kalogridis (“Birds of Prey”). Neither project came to pass, but fans found reason to rejoice in 2005 when it was announced that Joss Whedon (“Firefly,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) was taking the helm. Unfortunately, the elation was short-lived once again; Whedon was already working on “Serenity” and was unable to devote much attention to “Wonder Woman” until 2007, and turned in a treatment that, he said, “nobody liked.”
Soon after, Warner Bros. purchased a spec script by two relative unknowns. The story hearkened back to the original comic book roots and took place during World War II; however, studio executives revealed that they had no interest in making a period movie, and only purchased the script to get it off the market and avoid future liability and copyright issues. I know that setting this movie in the present will make it easier to integrate with the current Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern films, but it’s still kind of unfortunate; I think a WWII-era superhero epic would have been much more interesting to watch.
So, once again, “Wonder Woman” sank into the mire of development hell until Warner Bros. go-to guy, David S. Goyer, was handed the project; it is unknown if he will be writing, directing, or just supervising. No further information regarding this latest attempt has been released yet except that they are shooting for a 2013 release.
Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer has announced that an Aquaman film is in development. That is all the information they’ve released, but there is a rumor floating around that Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company, Appian Way Pictures, is also trying to get involved.
Aquaman has really struggled for respect in the last few years. He’s been the butt of jokes on a number of shows, including “Family Guy,” “Entourage,” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” They’ll have to pull something really special out of their hat in order to get this project taken seriously. I wonder if even David S. Goyer and Ryan Reynolds could make this one work…
Captain Marvel (?)
Any new adaptation based on DC’s Captain Marvel will automatically face a major obstacle: DC Comics doesn’t own that name. Marvel Comics beat them to the punch with a completely different character named Captain Marvel, which is why there has always been a certain amount of confusion. DC’s Captain Marvel is often mistakenly referred to as “Shazam” (which is the name of the wizard who gave him his powers, as well as the magic word he uses to activate them).
New Line Cinemas was working on a film adaptation some years ago, but the project was lost in the shuffle when New Line was absorbed into Warner Bros. However, the project is back in development with the tentative title “Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam.” Screenwriter John August was working on the screenplay, but later announced that the film “won’t be happening,” and that it doesn’t appear to be “on the studio’s radar at all.” Earlier this year, Warner Bros. hired a new writer, Bill Birch, to create a new screenplay that is more similar in style to “Batman Begins.” Peter Segal is attached to direct, and rumors that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will appear as the villain Black Adam are still circulating. A release date has not been announced, and it is uncertain if the new screenplay will come with a new title. Since the name “Captain Marvel” is out-of-bounds, I’d love to see them name it after the character’s other alias, “The Big Red Cheese.”
Justice League (?)
In 2007, with the successful release of “Batman Begins” and the respectable (if underwhelming) box-office performance of “Superman Returns,” a “Justice League” movie was just a matter of time. Writers Kieran and Michele Mulroney quickly turned in a script, casting choices were being made, and it seemed like the project was a done deal. Oddly enough, most of the actors chosen were relative unknowns; unlike Marvel’s strategy of creating individual character movies and then getting all of the stars of those movies together in a huge team-up movie, DC apparently intended for “Justice League” to be part of a whole new continuity. This corresponded with Chris Nolan’s desire to keep his visions of Batman and Superman in separate universes.
However, by 2008 the project was dead in the water. Warner Bros. had a number of vague reasons, including the need for script retooling, the lapsing of casting options, and not being able to get certain tax breaks. The Writer’s Guild strike also affected the production schedule, and the ambitious but unrealistic 2009 release date was scrapped. Currently, Warner Bros. is focusing entirely on individual DC characters, and the likelihood that fans will see the entire Justice League in a live-action film is now in serious doubt.
So, that’s the buzz. The next Batman movie is almost guaranteed to be a blockbuster, but a lot will be riding on the performance of “Green Lantern.” If it does well, then the next Superman attempt will be in a much stronger position, which will then give “The Flash” and “Wonder Woman” a much-needed boost.
But what I want to know is, are there any plans to give Ambush Bug his own movie?
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