DC Films floats potential names for alt-universe banner

DC Films may be starting its own Dark Universe.

Big changes are in store for the future of DC Comics characters on the big screen, as news about Warner Bros.' upcoming alternate universe film banner slowly begins to crystallize. 

In particular, we may finally have an idea of what the companies want to name this new endeavor — and the front-runners for the title are not what we were expecting.

According to a writeup from the The Hollywood Reporter regarding DC Entertainment's recent executive-level shakeups, Warner Bros. is exploring the possibility of branding its new, Elseworlds-style film label with a name like "DC Dark" or "DC Black". 

The new label is set to launch with a solo movie for the Joker that takes place outside of any continuity established by the character's last appearance, played by Jared Leto in Suicide Squad. That movie, currently untitled, will star Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker with Todd Phillips directing.

That movie is not to be confused with the solo movie for Jared Leto's Joker, which is also untitled.

According to the THR breakdown, the "dark" Joker movie from Phillips is expected to begin shooting this fall with a budget in the neighborhood of $55 million, a significantly smaller budget than has become typical for superhero tentpoles. 

The THR report also confirms what many observers have come around to notice on the consumer side, which is that the DC brand is a bit of a mess when it comes to its big screen outings. One insider in the article describes the state of affairs in recent months as "a s–tshow", with this new alternate universe banner being an effort to course-correct.

The question that hangs over all of this is: Why not just call the new brand "Elseworlds"? After all, that established, recognizable publication imprint, owned by DC Comics, was designed for the specific purpose of telling stories outside of DC's established canon. 

Since telling stories outside the canon of the DC Extended Universe is exactly what the new movie banner is being designed for, the imposition of a "DC After Dark" kind of name seems a little misguided, from the outside looking in. As Deadpool 2 pointed out, isn't the regular series kind of dark enough already?

The next movie in the DC Extended Universe, Aquaman, will be out in theaters on December 21. The first movie in the untitled "DC After Dark" series, Todd Phillips' Joker origin story, does not yet have a release date.