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Upcoming DC movies that are going to blow everyone away

The DC Extended Universe — or Worlds of DC, as the interconnected film franchise is now officially known — has struggled in the past to find consistent creative success, but the company's comics have been battling Marvel for market share for decades, and that didn't happen accidentally. These are seriously iconic characters with no shortage of stories just waiting to be adapted for the big screen, and there's a large audience eager to watch them being told. 

That's just one reason that despite the critical drubbing many DCEU movies have taken, this franchise is still making a lot of money — and Warner Bros. remains committed to establishing it further, with more than a dozen additional DC-derived releases in various stages of development right now. We've watched the Justice League come together, but that's only the beginning of Warners' plans for Worlds of DC domination. What do fans have to look forward to over the next half decade or so? Let's take a look at the upcoming DC movies that are going to blow everyone away.

Joker (October 4, 2019)

In July 2018, it was announced that Joaquin Phoenix had signed on to star in Joker, a standalone feature examining the origins of Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime from director Todd Phillips (The Hangover). The internet scratched its collective head, then voiced its collective skepticism — particularly after a short teaser surfaced showing Phoenix looking… well, much like he normally does, albeit with some rather simple, Pagliacci-inspired clown makeup. Phillips, a director known mostly for his comedy work, promised "a gritty character study" and a "cautionary tale," which seemed to only add to the skepticism; then, in April 2019, the first teaser trailer dropped, and suddenly, the skeptics fell silent — probably because their jaws were on the floor.

Indeed, Joker looks to be an insanely dark film anchored by a ferocious performance from Phoenix. It's also the first of Warner Brothers and DC's promised attempts to tell compelling, filmmaker-driven stories outside the continuity of their Extended Universe, and while speculation has run rampant that this will connect to Matt Reeves' forthcoming The Batman, Phillips has insisted that his Joker is strictly a one-shot. This is likely a good thing, as it seems Joker will occupy a singular space in the pantheon of comic book films. As Phillips told The Hollywood Reporter, "When the marketing department… asked me the other day to describe the movie, I said 'I can't.' They said at least tell us the genre, and I thought about it for a minute and said, 'It's a tragedy.'"

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn) (February 7, 2020)

Suicide Squad may have been a bit of a mess, but it was an occasionally fun outing which featured a solid take on fan favorite Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), the Joker's off-and-on main squeeze. There are multiple projects on tap for the character, but first up is Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), which has been described as an "R-rated girl gang film" in which Harley teams up with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). The trio will face off against Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) as he pursues young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who has come into possession of a diamond belonging to the infamous Gotham crime lord. Chris Messina (Sharp Objects) has also been cast as psychotic serial killer Victor Zsasz.

It sounds like pretty dark stuff, but Robbie has explained that the film's mouthful of a title was meant to reflect the fact that it'll be a bit lighter than it might appear. "It's not a very serious movie, so we thought the title should reflect that," she said during a Tonight Show interview. "Birds of Prey makes it sound really serious and that's kind of like Harley adding her, 'Don't worry, I'm in this too.'" It should also be noted that in the comics, Cain eventually takes up the mantle of Batgirl — although it remains to be seen if her film incarnation will follow suit.

Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5, 2020)

2017's Wonder Woman was the first DCEU effort to be widely embraced by fans and critics alike, and its sequel — the succinctly titled Wonder Woman 1984 — will see Diana taking on new challenges during the Era of Yuppies. Originally scheduled for a November 2019 release, the flick was pushed back to summer 2020, which will allow it to avoid competition with Joker and places it in the same frame in which the first film found blockbuster success. 

In addition to Gal Gadot reprising her role, the sequel has cast Kristen Wiig as frequent Wondy nemesis Cheetah, and Pedro Pascal (Narcos) in an as-yet unconfirmed role which insiders have said will be that of Maxwell Lord, who in the comics is a villainous telepath. Interestingly, Chris Pine is also set to return as Steve Trevor, despite his character meeting his end in the first film. Lord will reportedly be on the hunt for magical artifacts, one of which curses Wiig's character and causes her transformation into Cheetah; none too happy about this, Cheetah will set out to kill Lord, who enlists Diana's help in stopping her, using one of his artifacts' magic to resurrect Trevor in exchange for her assistance. Patty Jenkins will return to the director's chair, working from a screenplay she co-wrote with comics legend Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham, who will also be scripting Shang-Chi for rival Marvel Studios.

Flashpoint (2020)

While it's always seemed inevitable that DC would field a solo movie starring the Flash, the project has seen a troubled road to production, to say the least. Ezra Miller was introduced as the character briefly in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before taking on a larger role in Justice League. Since then, the Scarlet Speedster's standalone has seen a revolving door of behind-the-camera talent come and go. Attached at various points have been Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Robert Zemeckis (Welcome to Marwen), Sam Raimi (Spider-Man), and even Ben Affleck. Then, in early 2018, Warner Bros. landed on the duo of John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (screenwriters of Spider-Man: Homecoming) to direct the picture, which by that point had already been announced as an adaptation of the classic Flashpoint storyline.

Unfortunately, things hit another snag earlier this year. With Miller's WB contract expiring in May, the star took it upon himself to craft his own version of the Flashpoint script (along with legendary comics scribe Grant Morrison) in a bid to hang on to the role. Unfortunately, it's been reported that Warner's brass liked Miller's dark, gritty script — just not enough to reverse course on the lighter, funnier version that Daley and Goldstein are intent on delivering. This means that despite his best efforts (and obvious commitment to the role), Miller's time as Barry Allen is almost certainly done. Warner Bros. is likely to act fast in recasting the part, as Flashpoint is still thought to be on track for a 2020 release.

The Batman (June 25, 2021)

The fate of the standalone outing The Batman has been up in the air since the relative failure of Justice League at the box office. Ben Affleck was initially on board to reprise the role as well as direct, but after he relinquished the director's chair to Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), rumors started swirling that he was done with the cape and cowl. This has now been confirmed, as Reeves has gone public with a few details about his film, and Affleck subsequently took to Twitter to wish the director well.

Reeves will now look to fill the role with a younger version of the Dark Knight, and he's said that The Batman (which may eventually get a change of title) will be a noir-ish take on the character which will honor his comics legacy as the "World's Greatest Detective." Although the story will focus on Bruce Wayne's early years as a costumed crimefighter, Reeves has gone on record saying that it won't be an adaptation of Frank Miller's Year One comics storyline, as has long been speculated; he's also confirmed that the film will indeed share a connection to the rest of the DCEU, which may or may not have to do with Joker. The script has been completed, with inside sources claiming that the Penguin will be featured as the primary villain; production is slated to begin in November 2019, with a June 25, 2021 release date now set.

The Suicide Squad (August 6, 2021)

Marvel fans rejoiced when it was announced in March 2019 that James Gunn (who had been fired from the project the previous year) had been reinstated as director of Guardians of the Vol. Galaxy 3 by Disney — but they'll have to wait for him to finish up another little project first. That would be The Suicide Squad, which he was hired to write and direct in his brief Marvel exile. With the project firmly in Gunn's capable hands, this new Squad is shaping up to be not so much a sequel as a soft reboot, and as such, we'll be seeing quite a few new faces when the film drops in the summer of 2021.

Foremost among these: Idris Elba, who will be taking over the role of Deadshot from Will Smith. Gunn is said to be drawing heavily from the the antihero team's Deadshot-centric '80s comics run, with the mercenary serving as a sort of mentor figure to the assembled baddies (which may or may not include Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn, one of Suicide Squad's few bright spots). Among the characters rumored to be appearing: Ratcatcher, a former exterminator who commands armies of rodents; King Shark, a… well, humanoid shark; Polka Dot Man, who can use his wardrobe's spotty adornments as weapons; and Peacemaker, a vigilante so dedicated to peace that he'll straight-up murder anybody who isn't. Yep, this will indeed be a James Gunn joint, and that's a good thing.

Aquaman 2 (December 16, 2022)

It wasn't really supposed to happen like it did. Arthur Curry, a.k.a. Aquaman, had been the butt of pop culture jokes for decades, owing to his seemingly lame power set (although fans knew this to not exactly be the case); shots had been taken at him on everything from Family Guy to Entourage, in which the very idea of an Aquaman movie was played for laughs. Jason Momoa's first appearance as the character in 2017's Justice League was received well, if not rapturously, and the movie itself underperformed severely at the box office.

But then a funny thing happened: James Wan's Aquaman, featuring Momoa reprising the role, became a smash hit, raking in over a billion dollars worldwide and becoming the highest-grossing film in the DCEU by a comfortable margin. It didn't take long for Warner Bros. to determine that they had a hot property on their hands, and in February 2019, it was confirmed that a sequel is in the works. The first film's co-screenwriter David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick is already hard at work on the script, and Wan will be returning as a producer, although it's unclear if he will direct. As for Momoa, nothing is set in stone — but given his intensely charismatic performance and wholehearted commitment to the role, it's unlikely in the extreme that the project would be moving forward if he were not on board. Warner Bros. is apparently taking their time to make sure they get this one extra-right: Aquaman 2 splashes down in theaters on December 16, 2022.

Green Lantern Corps (TBD)

Warner Bros. may have run into a bit of a roadblock in meeting their announced July 2020 release date for Green Lantern Corps. Although no cast or director has been announced, the film was set to feature a script by David Goyer and Justin Rhodes. The script they'd prepared featured Hal Jordan and Jon Stewart as the primary Lanterns and had been described as "Lethal Weapon in space," which sounds pretty awesome; additionally, it was allegedly based on a comic book origin story. 

Unfortunately, that script has been scrapped. Acclaimed comics scribe Geoff Johns, who made his name writing the world of Green Lantern for several years, is now attached to rewrite the script from page one. He says it will be very much akin to what he recently did with DC's Rebirth initiative — that it's "going to celebrate the mythology and reinvent it in a different way." It looks like the film will also draw heavily from Johns' run on the Green Lantern comics. 

Dark Universe (TBD)

Justice League Dark has been in development since the early days of the DCEU, with the great Guillermo del Toro having spent years on the feature. He even completed a script, but exited the project in 2015; although it was never confirmed, del Toro's version was thought to feature the classic lineup of John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Etrigan, Spectre, Madam Xanadu, and Zatanna. Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow) was at one point attached to direct after del Toro's departure, but speaking with CinemaBlend, he indicated that dissatisfaction with the script caused his own eventual exit.

"You know, I develop more movies than I make," he said. "There's a weed-out process, and it's just that when you get to the comic book one, suddenly everybody hears about them. So, the script never got to a place that was special enough for me. Not for lack of trying." Jon Spaihts (Doctor Strange) is said to be reworking the script, but thus far, no other talent has been attached.

Justice League 2 (TBD)

Justice League was a resounding disappointment, but with the DCEU having found its footing with the critical and financial success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, this doesn't mean that another go-round isn't in the cards. Indeed, the sequel could be seen as an opportunity for Warners to correct that which they got wrong the first time, and the questionable status of both Henry Cavill's Superman and Ben Affleck's Batman could mean that a Justice League sequel would focus on those characters with which the DCEU has found its greatest success.

Some have speculated that Aquaman director James Wan would in fact be a perfect fit to take on a Justice League sequel, especially now that Zack Snyder — who co-directed the first picture and had detailed ideas, now scrapped, about where the second might go — is officially out of the picture. For his part, Aquaman star Jason Momoa loves the idea of a sequel, opining that Black Manta could assemble the Legion of Doom. "Seeing all the bad guys together and seeing us come in would be awesome," said the star in a Toronto Sun interview. "I'd definitely like to come riding in on a tidal wave to whoop some ass." Yes, Jason, we'd like to see that, too.

Man of Steel 2 (TBD)

Perhaps no piece of superhero news has rocked the world of cinema quite like the rumors that actor Henry Cavill will be stepping down as Superman. In September 2018, news leaked that negotiations between Cavill and Warner Bros. had broken down over a cameo in Shazam!, leading to the actor removing himself from the role. Since then, Warner Bros. and Cavill's own rep have insisted that Cavill is still employed, though the star himself has played it coy, with a bizarre Instagram video being his only public response the situation.

While a script for Man of Steel 2 was confirmed as being in the works a while back, there's no telling how this potentially massive shakeup will affect the film's progress. Finding the perfect Superman is no small feat and it's hard to imagine the studio moving forward with this one until they have a replacement for Cavill (if Cavill really needs replacing at all, that is).

Untitled Nightwing film (TBD)

This long-mooted project may have been headed off at the pass by DC Universe. The streamer premiered Titans, featuring Dick Grayson/Robin (Brenton Thwaites) in a lead role, in 2018. Of course, the comics incarnation of Grayson eventually goes on to take up the mantle of Nightwing, giving him an identity independent of Batman, and it's this version of the character which has long been rumored to be getting the feature film treatment.

The project was first announced in early 2017, with The Lego Batman Movie director Chris McKay slated to helm from a script by Bill Dubuque (The Accountant), but since then, there has been complete radio silence from Warners. McKay offered a glimmer of hope for Nightwing in late 2018, when he was asked directly whether the feature was dead on Twitter. "No. You're going to have to wait tho," he said. "Keep hope alive. To paraphrase Dick Grayson: Nightwing lives. Always." We'll be waiting with bated breath to see whether Dick Grayson's solo vehicle actually makes it to production.

Untitled Batgirl film (TBD)

The saga of the standalone Batgirl may comprise the most visible shift in course of the post-Justice League DCEU. Avengers director Joss Whedon was announced to be in talks to write and direct the picture in 2017 based on the Barbara Gordon version of the character, but stepped down when he realized he "didn't really have a story." The film appeared to be on the far back burner until Birds of Prey emerged, leading to speculation that one of the potential spinoff characters that film could be introducing might be the Cassandra Cain version of Batgirl — a notion which gained more credence when Warner Bros. tapped Birds scribe Christina Hodson to resurrect the project.

Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Hodson seemed to promise a distinctly Dark Knight-ish take on the character. "I'm really excited — because she's Batgirl! She's all the things I love about Batman," Hodson said. "I've always been more interested in humans than supernatural things and monsters. People are capable of profound good, but also profound evil. The things that people will do when you back them into a corner are amazing, terrifying, and wonderful at the same time, and it draws out these primal things in us — good and bad."

Lobo (TBD)

The idea of a feature film based on the near-unstoppable alien bounty hunter Lobo has been kicking around even before the DCEU's inception, with a Guy Ritchie-directed version (which was subsequently scrapped) discussed as far back as 2009. The project was revived as part of the DCEU slate in 2016, with San Andreas and Rampage director Brad Peyton set to helm from a script by Jason Fuchs, who contributed to the screenplay for Wonder Woman and has also been tapped to pen the Minecraft video game adaptation. It was rumored in early 2018 that none other than Michael Bay was being eyed to take the reins, and Fuchs was still reported to be working on the script.

As is becoming a theme with the DCEU, however, the television side of things has threatened to intervene. The second season of the Syfy series Krypton features Irish actor Emmett J. Scanlan taking on the role of Lobo, leading some observers to speculate that the character's feature film prospects had dimmed — but there's been no official word from Warners, so a starring vehicle for the ultra-violent baddie could still be in the cards. Once again, the name of the game is "wait and see," but if there's one thing we know about Lobo, it's that he never quits.

Black Adam (TBD)

Another project around which there have seemingly been discussions forever, a solo feature centering on longtime Shazam nemesis Black Adam remains a distinct possibility. Back in 2014, Dwayne Johnson was handed the role during the first round of casting for Shazam!, but his involvement was scrapped when the filmmakers decided on a more lighthearted approach. As producer Hiram Garcia explained to Collider, it was also determined that Black Adam was compelling enough to support a feature of his own.

"We were just realizing that both characters are so special that we didn't want to compromise either of them by cramming them both into the same movie," Garcia said. He went on to affirm that the project is "definitely happening," adding, "We're actually very deep into a script on it right now, which is coming along really well… For the longest time, you know you kind of have this living superhero in Dwayne Johnson, so I was always trying to figure out what's the perfect character that will kind of fit him and… his kind of edge and the attitude he's got."

In an Instagram post in April 2019, Dwayne Johnson confirmed that — due in large part to the success of Shazam! — production on the flick is expected to finally begin in 2020.

The New Gods (TBD)

Oscar nominee Ava DuVernay is set to blow everyone away with DC's The New Gods. DuVernay, who became the first African-American woman to direct a movie with a budget over $100 million when she made Disney's A Wrinkle in Time, will direct the film, based on the comics from legendary creator Jack Kirby as part of his "Fourth World Saga," which he created after leaving Marvel for DC in the early 1970s.

The New Gods tells the story of a war between two alien planets — the picturesque New Genesis and the ghastly Apokolips. The war spills over to the earth when Darkseid, who rules Apokolips, learns that humans are the key to solving the Anti-Life Equation, which would allow him to control every living thing in the universe. It's unclear which characters will be included, although DuVernay has previously said that Big Barda, who plays a key role in the comics, is her favorite superhero of all time for "many reasons." 

Blackhawk (TBD)

DC nabbed an Oscar winner for their planned Blackhawk film. Steven Spielberg, who has taken home three Academy Awards over his expansive career, will produce and likely direct a film based on Blackhawk, the enigmatic leader of a international squadron of heroic pilots who take on the Nazis during World War II. The Blackhawk character debuted in 1941's Military Comics No. 1 and was originally published by Quality Comics before DC acquired it in 1956. 

The character, who was co-created by Will Eisner, Bob Powell, and Chuck Cuidera, headlined a number of best-selling comics in the 1940s. His World War II background makes him a great fit for Spielberg, who earned an Oscar and a number of other accolades for his work directing the World War II-based drama Saving Private Ryan. He's bringing on Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull and Jurassic Park writer David Koepp to pen the script.

Supergirl (TBD)

The DCEU's version of the Man of Steel may be a bit up in the air (no pun intended), but one project that Warners is reportedly high on is a starring cinematic vehicle for his cousin Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Supergirl. The character is enjoying a high profile thanks to the success of her TV series set within the CW's Arrowverse, and with the MCU's Captain Marvel arriving in 2019, the time seems right for the DCEU to introduce its own awesomely-powered female lead.

Little is known about the in-development project other than its screenwriter: Oren Uziel, who penned 22 Jump Street as well as The Cloverfield Paradox. The rumor mill has suggested that the project could be set in the '70s, in an alternate timeline which sees Kara arrive on Earth before her cousin, in order to set the film version of the character apart from her TV incarnation. Uziel has been at work on the script since August 2018, so more details are sure to surface sooner rather than later.

The Trench (TBD)

Director James Wan may be known as a horror maestro — he's the driving force behind the Conjuring Universe, not to mention the Saw and Insidious series. But he acquitted himself nicely in his first attempt at a big-budget tentpole, delivering the DCEU's first billion-dollar success with 2018's Aquaman. One scene in that otherwise relatively lighthearted film betrayed Wan's horror roots: Arthur and Mera's detour through the Kingdom of the Trench, where they came under attack by carnivorous beasties straight out of one of the director's blood-soaked fright flicks. Interestingly, the terrifying world depicted in this scene will be expanded to feature length in The Trench, a spin-off being scripted by freshman screenwriters Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald.

Wan will executive produce the film with Peter Safran, who revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he had designs on getting the flick greenlit even before Aquaman's blockbuster performance. "We always, even from the early concept art days, loved the idea of a Trench movie," the producer said. "Then, when audiences embraced it in the movie itself the way they did, particularly that ant farm shot where the camera follows the Trench [creatures] following Arthur and Mera down into the deep, we just knew that we had something very special there and we knew what that movie should be. And consequently, I suspect that that's one that will come out significantly before Aquaman 2." If you like a little blood-curdling terror with your comic book adaptations, this is one flick to keep your eye on.