With the recent cancellation of Batgirl it appears that the DCEU series of films is headed in a new direction. What exactly that is however, is anyone’s guess at this stage.
The DCEU has been through many revamps, retools and soft reboots throughout its 9 year existence to the point where it has arguably tied itself up in knots in terms of both quality and continuity. Whether or not this latest soft reboot will finally be the one to get the DCEU on the right track, or be just another blind alley, like the lighter and softer Justice League is anyone’s guess.
Still since everyone and their dog is talking about what they’d like to see from the DCEU, I thought I’d chip in with my two cents.
Now this article will include spoilers for the upcoming Flash 2023 movie, so if you don’t want that ruined. Look away now. Granted these spoilers may turn out to be fake, but based on a lot of information that has come out, this seems to be the plot for the Flash, which is set to mark the beginning of a whole new era for the DCEU.
The Flash 2023
The Flash movie’s premise will see Barry Allen travel backwards in time to try and save his mother. Along the way however, Barry will end up accidentally creating and falling through a portal to another universe, where the Tim Burton Batman takes place. There he will meet the Michael Keaton Batman, Supergirl and his alternate counterpart and together they will take on that realities version of General Zod. Once Zod has been defeated, Barry will travel backwards to his own universe, having learned through his adventure with his alternate self that you can’t change history.
Unfortunately however when he arrives in the present, he will discover that the rip he created between realities caused both universes to flow into each other, unravel and eventually merge into one universe with elements of the histories of both. As a result now Michael Keaton’s Batman is the Batman of the merged universe, whilst Supergirl also exists in Barry’s timeline. Wonder Woman and Aquaman still exist as they were, but there are many other changes which will be explored in future movies. (Allowing the producers to recast and drop anyone they want to, such as Henry Cavill if the feud between Cavill and Warner Bros is not resolved.)
Now originally this movie was going to premier in 2022, but it was delayed due to COVID and also Ezra Miller, its stars increasingly demented behaviour.
It’s still on course for release in June 2023, despite the serious allegations levelled against Miller. However it is almost guaranteed that Miller will not be reprising the role of the Flash in any movies beyond this. Some have argued that the 2023 movie should not be released at all. I can understand the sentiment, but ultimately I think it is important to separate the art from the artist, and remember Miller was not the only person who worked on the film.
Still Miller absolutely should not be in any more movies going forward, which means that straight after rebooting the universe, DC will have to essentially retool the series again with a new Flash who was at the center of an already huge reboot, creating a myriad of problems for the next reboot before it can even get off the ground! The following is how I think they could resolve the situation and exploit some of DC’s other past successes on film and television in the process.
Have it that more than two universes merge into one.
The idea of several realities merging into one, is something that has been explored in DC comics before. In fact the main setting of DC comics from 1985-2011, New Earth was a universe made up of several different universes merged together.
With this in mind, the DCEU could perhaps follow suit and have it that the portal Barry creates, not only causes the DCEU’S universe and the Burton reality to merge, but several other universes that other DC adaptations have taken place in too, with the end result being a merged universe that contains elements and characters from several DC adaptations in its history, rather than just two. Now I realise this is unlikely to happen as A/ plenty of people do enjoy the DCEU versions of these characters and would like to see them get a better run and B/ a lot of the actors in the DC television series are not well known enough actors to lead a film. Still this is personally what I would like to see happen with the series going forward.
Have Grant Gustin play the Flash
Grant Gustin has played the Flash on television for 9 years now. I was a huge fan of the Flash tv show for its first couple of years. I think it maintained a decent level of quality until season 5. Sadly after that it became a shadow of its former self. It didn’t suffer as big a drop in quality as other series like Doctor Who, or Legends of Tomorrow, but it was essentially running on steam for the last few years. To be honest I was relieved when it was announced that it would be finishing soon, only because I didn’t want the show to produce more average or poor seasons than good ones.
Still throughout the series Grant Gustin’s performance as Barry Allen has been consistently praised. He’s captured the characters heart, sense of humour, vulnerability and charisma perfectly and proven to have a great range at playing different versions of Barry from the villainous Savitar, to the broken future Barry, to the nerdy, cowardly, but still heroic earth 2 version.
Added to that he is still young, has a built in fanbase and is now free from commitments to the tv show. Really he’d be perfect casting for the DCEU Flash. Of course I can understand if Grant doesn’t want to commit to the films, having played the role for so long on tv. At the same time however, given how long he has played the part, Grant clearly has a real love and devotion to the character, and with the opportunity to break into films. He may just be swayed.
Furthermore with the merged universes idea, Grant could both reprise his role from the show, and take over as the DCEU Flash if that makes sense.
Much as Keaton’s Batman has taken the place of Affleck, then the Gustin Flash could easily take the place of Ezra’s. Now granted this might be difficult to do, given the ending of the 2023 Flash still establishes that Ezra is the main DCEU Flash. A way round it however would be to have it that the rip created by the Flash, leads to multiple realities including the Arrowverse merging into the DCEU universe, albeit over a longer period of time (explaining why it didn’t happen right away at the end of the Flash.) Given how unpopular the Arrowverse became, it would probably be wise not to include too much from it, but certainly Gustin’s Barry could easily become the merged DCEU’s Barry instead of Ezra.
I don’t think you could do a movie straight after the Flash to explain this however. You’d have Gustin show up as the Flash in Justice League 2, which would revolve around the League trying to close the rip Barry had created. The rip, which had grown larger was now in danger of consuming more universes to the point where the merged universe couldn’t handle them all and would collapse, taking billions more realities with it. This movie would explain, during the chaos as more realities are pulled together that even the original Barry had been replaced. The movie would then end with Barry and the League finding a way to close the rip, saving the universe in the process. However with the rip closed, there would now be no way to put everything back as it was, meaning that the merged DCEU would be the main DCEU timeline from now on, and Gustin would be its Flash.
If Gustin then did decide to retire at a later date, he could easily hand the baton onto Wally West.
Justice Leaue 2 would also have to explain that the people erased from the main DCEU timeline were not dead, just sent to another universe and timeline, so as not to make Barry a mass murderer! Essentially the rip in the vortex would have just caused time and space from other realities to bleed into each other, causing all universes, in infected to be jumbled up not just the DCEU. Therefore Ezra’s Flash is in another universe that we’d obviously never see, whilst Affleck would be in yet another reality we could revisit if he ever does agree to a solo film. Also for those of you who are Arrowverse fans and wouldn’t want Gustin’s Flash to be separated from all of his friends in that, well we could leave it open as to whether or not the DCEU Gustin Flash was the same one as the Arrowverse, or just another counterpart to him as the Arrowverse has already been established as having many counterparts.
Going forward with this, you could then include performances and characters from any prior DC adaptation you wanted in the main DCEU timeline that had been pulled from their respective universes. With this in mind, this is who I would like to see appear.
The original plan for the DCEU was that Michael Keaton would take over as the main Batman after the Flash. He was going to take over as a Nick Fury style mentor to lead the Justice League in future films, and make cameo appearances. Sadly however two of his other appearances have been scrapped. A cameo he filmed for Aquaman 2 was abandoned after the Flash was delayed and audiences found it confusing as to why Keaton was Batman instead of Affleck. Batgirl meanwhile in which he was to serve as a mentor to the main character was recently axed for monetary reasons.
Some have argued that Keaton’s future as the caped crusader is in doubt, but according to all official statements the Flash is still going ahead. Given the money that was spent on it, and how well it has tested with audiences and Ezra’s insane behaviour. It seems likely that Keaton will be the focal point for the movie in terms of publicity and promotion.
I personally hope they do keep Keaton on. I liked Affleck’s performance, but he has quit the role now. Contrary to popular belief he was not forced out. I also think that having an older Batman would be quite a new and interesting change of pace. There are actually many stories in both the comics and other media that deal with the characters old age, including Batman Beyond, a series that features an elderly Bruce Wayne training a successor, Terry McGuinness, and the Huntress comics which revolved around the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, becoming the titular hero with Batman similarly serving as a mentor to her.
Both of these stories could be adapted in later DCEU films.
Also having an older Batman in the DCEU would ensure that its caped crusader does not step on the toes of the Robert Pattison’s younger Batman. I liked the Pattison Batman film and I hope it doesn’t crossover with other superhero films. As much as I love a good shared universe, it is important that some superhero movies be allowed to stand on their own. We don’t want it to get to the point where films like The Dark Knight can never happen.
An older Batman in the crossover movies would I think be a good compromise. Even if Keaton did get his own solo movie it would be vastly different to anything with Pattison.
As for who could play the Joker in the DCEU, well that would be tricky. Jack Nicholson sadly could not reprise his role as he is too old, retired from acting and his version was indisputably killed off in the original. Jared Leto meanwhile appears to have quit, though many are still hoping for his return as they feel he was not given a proper chance.
Personally however I would like to see Cameron Monaghan play the Joker. For those of you unfamiliar with him, Monaghan played two versions of the Joker in the tv series Gotham.
Here he is in action.
Now that he is older, I think Monaghan should be given a chance to play a proper full version of the Joker. However having him go up against Keatons Batman might be somewhat awkward as he is so much younger, which would mean the Joker didn’t come into existence until late in Batman’s life.
A way round this would be to adopt a recent idea that has become quite popular, that the Joker is in fact a title passed down to several different psychopaths. This idea was actually first explored in Gotham ironically, which featured two Jokers, but has since become official DC canon.
With this in mind, the merged universe could still have Nicholson as being the original Joker, but another criminal, Leto assumed the mantel years later and fought Keaton’s Batman, alongside Harley Quinn for years. Leto’s Joker however could then decide to groom a successor and choose a vicious young murderer named Jerome Valeska (played by Monaghan) who he would then dump in a chemical bath, turning him into the new Joker.
Personally I would like to see three solo Keaton Batman movies, in addition to him appearing in the Justice League movies and the third and final Suicide Squad film. The first solo film I would like to feature Michelle Pfieffers Catwoman and the Huntress and be a direct sequel to the Burton movies which are still canon in the merged universe. The third and final Suicide Squad movie I would like to feature Leto’s Joker choosing his successor from a group of demented wanna be supervillains, which Jerome would be among. The Joker and this gang would be the main villains of the film, with the gang being similar to the Maniax gang from Gotham or the Jokerz gang from Batman Beyond. The movie would also feature Keaton working with the squad and explore his and Harley and the Jokers histories together and end with Leto and the Maniax’s death, except for Jerome. Monaghan would then take over as the main Joker from then on. The second solo Keaton movie I would like see him Keaton take on a classic Batman villain such as Clayface (who I always felt would go well with the Burton style.) The final Keaton movie would then feature Keaton and the Monaghan’s Joker fighting it out and both dying as a result.
The original Batman from the comics did in fact die. For those of you unfamiliar with DC comics history. In the early 60s they revealed that all of their comics from the mid 30s to the early 50s took place in another universe to those from the mid 50s to the then present. This allowed DC to actually finish the original versions of their characters stories in side issues, whilst the mainline still continued with the new universe versions.
The original Batman from the 30s-50s was shown to have retired, married Catwoman and had a daughter named Helena Wayne, who became the Huntress after her mother was killed. Batman meanwhile would later come out of retirement on a few occasions to help her and the Justice Society, before being killed in battle.
The foe who finally took down the Batman however was fairly lacklustre and obscure. To me having it be the Joker, or a version of the Joker would be more fitting.
Personally I think the fate of the original Batman could serve as a great way to finish Keaton, the original serious film Batman’s story. Obviously you would have to make some changes, beyond just having the Joker kill him. I wouldn’t want Michelle Pfieffers Catwoman to simply be killed off to inspire the Huntress either. I would want her to take a more active role in the film, perhaps fighting to influence her daughter to a life of crime. Still it could be quite an interesting new take on Batman, Catwoman and even the Joker, whilst bringing back some old favourites.
When it comes to Superman I am more than happy for Henry Cavill to keep playing the role. He is a great actor, looks the part and has a real love for the source material. However at this stage his future with Warner Bros is uncertain. I hope it all gets resolved soon, but if not, I would want another young Superman. As much as I have liked previous versions of the character played by Tom Welling and Dean Cain, I don’t think that having an older Superman alongside an older Batman would be such a good idea. It would take away from Keaton’s role as the mentor hero, and also I think Superman should get a chance to lead the DC movies like he does in the comics.
As for who would play Lex Luthor, well personally I would love to see Michael Rosenbaum reprise his role from Smallville. Rosenbaum was an excellent Lex Luthor. He brought a lot of humanity and menace to the character, yet at the same time he didn’t get a chance to play a classic, standard Lex who is Superman’s enemy. (As Smallville revolved around the early years of Superman’s life when they were friends for the most part.) Jesse Eisenberg is a great actor, but his version of Lex was not that successful and he appears to have quit the role anyway so it looks like a recast is in order regardless.
Brainiac meanwhile would be played by James Marsters, who played him brilliantly in Smallville and could serve as an antagonist in a potential Superman or Justice League film.
If there are more solo Superman films, then I definitely think they should feature classic Superman villains who have not been given a chance to shine in the movies, aside from just Luthor and Zod.
Furthermore I also think that if they do focus on Lex, then he should be portrayed as the outlaw Lex. In the comics there have been two main portrayals of Lex Luthor. The mad scientist, desperate to take over the world, who creates time machines, giant monsters, power suits, death rays and who fights Superman directly, and the scheming business man who is more of a local, personal threat to Superman, and prefers not to get his hands dirty.
The films have so far preferred the latter portrayal as it is easier to mesh with a more realistic world. Personally though I’d like to see the mad professor, outlaw get some love. The DCAU version in the Justice League animated series, shows that this version can have a lot of dramatic weight and be more than just a one dimensional villain.
As for who could play Lionel Luthor, well personally I would love Clancy Brown, a highly respected character who provided the voice for Lex Luthor in Superman the animated series and Justice League. He’s sadly too old to play the role in live action, so I think having him as Lex’s father would be quite a good shoutout to the animated series.
Personally I would want the next Superman movie to feature Lex Luthor and Brainiac as the main villains. It could begin with Superman hunting the outlaw Lex, who teams up with Brainiac. At the end of the movie they could morph into a single entity to fight Superman, just like in the cartoons.
The next movie meanwhile I would like to see use Mr Mxylptlik, a famous rogue of Superman who has been somewhat overlooked. The final film would be Superman vs Darkseid and adapt the story of Darkseid brainwashing Superman and sending him to attack the earth from the animated series.
This could then lead onto the final Justice League movie which would wrap up the DCEU.
I realise that this will probably never happen. It seems doubtful that we will even get the idea of Michael Keaton as the mainline Batman anymore. I think it depends on whether or not Affleck wants to return at this stage.
Still this would be my ideal template for the DCEU for the next ten or so years.
Wonder Woman 3, Flash, Black Adam, Aquaman 2, Shazam 2.
Solo Keaton movie, which features Catwoman and introduces the Huntress.
Superman 2, hopefully with Cavill fighting Rosenbaum and Marsters Brainiac.
Any other adaptation or sequel they have planned. (I wouldn’t say no to a Supergirl movie, if it were done right. Perhaps this movie could introduce Lionel Luthor?)
Justice League 2, which would introduce Gustin’s Flash to the DCEU, explain some of the other discrepancies and feature an expanded league saving the universe from being torn apart by the rip.
Third Suicide Squad which features the end of Leto’s Joker. Not only would Leto create the new Joker, but he would discover Batman’s identity and give that knowledge to the new Joker.
Second solo Keaton movie featuring just him and the Huntress battling Clayface.
Second solo Superman movie.
Any other adaptations or sequels. I think another Flash movie with Gustin would be great. I’d make it a gothic horror movie where he takes on The Shade, a major Flash villain who was given no exposure virtually in the Flash tv series.
Justice League 3. Now this would be an adaptation of the famous Justice League Tower of Babel story from the comics. I think this story would go well with the Keaton Batman who is already more ruthless, paranoid and vicious than other versions. I would have Lex take the place of Ra’s Al Ghul, as Ghul’s motive for world domination would fit this version of Luthor. Lex would be told Batman’s secret identity by the Joker, and he would assemble the Injustice League to battle the League. It be a great way to give Monaghan more to do and have him opposite Rosenbaum’s Lex, finally giving us that infamous partnership. This would also most likely see the end of Lex’s time in the DCEU.
Fourth and final slate
Last Keaton movie where he and Monaghan kill each other.
Last solo Superman movie where he becomes Darkseid’s pawn and devastates the earth.
Other movies they have planned, though by this stage, any sequels would have to wrap up their stories.
Justice League 4. Final battle with Darkseid who plans to open the rip between universes and harness it for his own ends to remake all of reality in his own image. The League would battle his minions, with Superman finally defeating him, though it would only be with the aid of a weapon that Keaton’s Batman had designed. In order to complete the weapon, Barry would have to travel to the universe Affleck had been sent to and bring him here (which he could do after Darkseid re-opened the hole in reality.) Affleck, who would hopefully be convinced to sign up for the role one last time, and his Batman would finish the weapon and provide vital help in destroying Darkseid once and for all, bringing an end to the DCEU saga.
After this, give the DC universe a rest for a few years, then reboot it and get it right from the start this time. IE give each hero a movie to establish themselves in first, before going onto Justice League. Also leave any alternate universes out of it for a long time. Do NOT have any more merged universe. Not until there have been at least another 30 or so years of iconic DC films and television series.
Again not likely, but that’s what I’d like to see from the DC extended universe going forward. You may have other ideas though? Let me hear them.