Apparently, finding “the next Kevin Feige” to oversee Warner Bros. Discovery’s DC Comics film and television adaptations is a bit like declaring that you only want to make hits. If only desire could do it!
Feige’s reign as chief creative officer of Marvel Studios – overseeing the unique Marvel Cinematic Universe for movies since 2006 and streaming TV since 2018 – has earned Disney over $ 25 billion in global box office receipts to date and helped bring Disney + to over 152 million subscribers worldwide. Of course, WBD CEO David Zaslav wants to emulate that success.
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Dan Lin, the producer of “The Lego Batman” has emerged as a possible DC boss, as has Emma Watts, an executive veteran with a stint at Paramount and 20th Century Fox. Both are highly respected with deep connections throughout Hollywood.
But Feige has charted a singular path to becoming the most successful creative executive in Hollywood that has given him the time, patience and great fortune to build the MCU more or less from scratch and on his own terms. Anyone who takes the equivalent of Feige’s job at DC, by contrast, will inherit a host of preconditions, entrenched systems and “Justice League” sized PR headaches as well as the stupendous task of building a list of movie and TV titles. which could match the MCU. Here are some of the challenges ahead.
Addressing the fallout of “Batgirl” cancellation.
Canceling “Batgirl” might have made sense from the point of view of dollars and cents. Zaslav is committed to making movies in streaming, at a price, and “Batgirl” with its $ 90 million budget was deemed too expensive to fit that mold perfectly. Also, according to sources, the film was not fit enough to justify the $ 50 million required to market and release it in theaters. So, now Zaslav gets a tax cancellation. The successful comic book universes, however, are not run by accountants. You need great directors, visionary writers and talented stars. This is a group that may not be so thrilled with everything Warner Bros. Discovery. To thrive, DC’s next boss will need to re-establish ties with talents who fear their next project may go the “Batgirl” path and be abruptly thrown away.
Newly minted Warner Bros. Pictures bosses Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy worked to improve the situation, perhaps finding a new project for “Batgirl” star Leslie Grace and film directors Bilall Fallah and Adil El. Arbi. However, trust with the broader talent community has been shattered. Repairing it will take much longer than breaking it.
Management of ongoing and unrelated film and television projects
Okay, take a deep breath.
The only DC film currently getting the green light after the merger is “Joker: Folie à Deux,” Todd Phillips’ follow-up to his $ 1 billion grossing Oscar-winning film starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga. . Matt Reeves, meanwhile, is currently working on a sequel to his 2022 blockbuster “The Batman” with Robert Pattinson (who hasn’t officially received the green light yet, but who are we kidding? It could be a dramatic glimpse of life on Bruce Il. Wayne’s trip to Gotham Home Goods and likely to be made) as well as a spin-off TV series focusing on Colin Farrell’s Penguin and written by Lauren LeFranc. Reeves is also developing another spin-off set in the world of “Arkham Asylum”, but it is further away. Then there’s the second season of “Peacemaker” from writer / director James Gunn, which Gunn says is still moving forward. The future of the animated series “Harley Quinn” and the live-action shows “Titans” and “Doom Patrol” – all new seasons premiering this year on HBO Max – are less clear, as is what will become of “Constantine” and “Madame”. Xanadu ”exhibition currently in development at JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot.
Some of these titles are related, but by design, none of them are part of a singular DC cinematic universe, most notably “Joker 2” and “The Batman 2,” which each exist in their own completely separate narrative realms.
Zaslav, however, made it clear that he wants his MCU for DC. Ironically, this was what DC’s current head of film unit Walter Hamada was attempting to accomplish, harnessing the vast possibilities of the multiverse in a film that was supposed to hit the reset button for big-screen storytelling. of the DC.
That movie, sadly, stars Ezra Miller.
Understanding what to do with “The Flash”
In WBD’s August 4 earnings claim, Zaslav indicated that he still intended to move forward with the theatrical release of “The Flash”, despite repeated and alarming headlines of allegedly abusive Miller behavior (which, to be clear , started in April 2020, months Before “The Flash” never started filming). Miller has since issued an apology for “my past behavior” and says they are seeking “ongoing treatments” for “complex mental health problems.” Although this statement temporarily calmed the storm surrounding the star, it is not certain that there are clear skies on the horizon. At the very least, it means Miller’s off-screen issues could mean he won’t be part of the promotional launch of “The Flash” and that the rest of the cast and creative team will have to answer tough questions about the star instead of, you know, hustling. the big, cheeky and evasive film about the scarlet speedster.
And that’s a problem, because “The Flash,” which any executive who has seen it will tell you is really good, is meant to clean up all the narrative threads left hanging by the DCU’s stop-and-start approach to construction of the cinematic universe. The film uses time travel and the multiverse to restore the DC timeline from what started with 2013’s “Man of Steel” and set it on a new course. If the movie comes out, however, will that plan hold up or will it be some kind of swan song before an even harder reset button is pushed?
Which should wait anyway, because “The Flash” is no longer the last film of the old DC regime currently on the WB list.
Understanding what to do after “The Flash” (and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”)
“The Flash” was supposed to usher in a whole new era for the DCU, but now “Aquaman 2”, originally intended to precede that film, will come later. There may be some “Aquaman 2” related concessions to cinematic timeline adjustments. But there may be some changes going on. Michael Keaton was originally supposed to appear as Batman at the end of “Aquaman 2”, after the character’s return in “The Flash”. But now that Ben Affleck is also expected to appear in the adventure set in Atlantis, he may be one Batman too many.
However, the new DC boss must find a new way to revive Superman. There are already several schools of thought there. One is to simply bring Henry Cavill back as the Man of Steel. Another would go ahead with a JJ Abrams-produced movie that was supposed to have a script by Ta-Nehisi Coates and reportedly would be the first to feature a black Superman. Option three is to start from scratch or proceed with the Abrams-Coates and Cavill versions of Supes at the same time.
Then there’s the desire to get a third Wonder Woman project going after the critically spitty second. Presumably this would result in Gal Gadot wielding the lasso of truth once again. Not to mention plans to get films with Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Martian Manhunter, and a host of other Justice Leaguers.
Navigate established fiefdoms at Warner Bros., HBO Max and WB TV
At Disney, Feige runs Marvel Studios as a completely separate unit from the rest of the company. By contrast, everything released under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner has traditionally passed through the studio head’s office, which was recently occupied by De Luca and Abdy, taking over from Toby Emmerich. Ditto for HBO and HBO Max (directed by Casey Bloys) and Warner Bros. Television (directed by Channing Dungey). This means that the new DC chief probably won’t have the kind of broad authority that Feige enjoys. Instead that person will need to be adept at navigating the egos and ambitions of other executives, whose interests may not always be aligned. This may require almost superhuman skill.
Win over the fans
Privately, insiders complained that “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” was never supposed to happen. Rather than silencing the relentless online campaign for #ReleasetheSnyderCut, HBO Max’s four-hour feature only further strengthened “Snyderverse’s vocal and extremely online fan base” as opposed to the studio’s leadership in general and DC in particular.
It might be hard to win over that group, but DC needs to do a better job of cultivating the kind of compelling franchises that will allow them to build the kind of passionate, committed, and excited fan base that can stifle haters. This requires patience, which has often been scarce in Washington, where corporate gentlemen have long ago made it clear that they want their internal rival at the MCU, but have failed to understand the kind of blood, sweat, and tears it may take to build that. type of colossus.
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