What's Next for DC's Movie Universe?

'Batman v Superman' was just the beginning.

Warner Bros. has been hard at work building a cinematic superhero universe to rival that of Marvel, and the first major phase is complete now that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has arrived in theaters. This new movie didn't just offer the first live-action team-up between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, it also laid the groundwork for a host of superhero movies featuring the biggest icons in the DC Universe.

Join us as we look ahead and break down WB's ambitious road map for the next few years. These are the DC films to watch for between now and 2020, including new solo films for heroes like Wonder Woman, Flash and Aquaman and multiple Justice League adventures.

Suicide Squad cast
Warner Bros.

DC will be following up the release of Batman v Superman a few months later with Suicide Squad. In many ways, these two movies could scarcely be more different. Whereas BvS focused on some of the most recognizable heroes in the DCU, Suicide Squad revolves around a team of B and C-List villains. These rogues, including Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), are brought together by the shadowy government agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis). As members of Task Force X, these villains will earn reduced prison sentences, assuming they survive their incredibly dangerous missions. Hence the nickname "The Suicide Squad." 

Despite these differences, Suicide Squad will build on some of the foundation laid out by BvS as it sheds more light on Batman's career and feud with the Joker. Ben Affleck will reprise his role, while Jared Leto will become the latest actor to portray the Clown Prince of Crime. Whether or not Joker is actually the main antagonist in the film, expect a lot of focus on his twisted relationship with Harley, as the latter struggles to escape his looming shadow. More »

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

If Wonder Woman's all-too-brief role in Batman v Superman left you wanting more, you won't have too long to wait. Gal Gadot's heroine will take the spotlight in a solo movie (directed by Patty Jenkins) that builds on the seeds lain in BvS. The movie will unfold both during World War I (shedding light on the mysterious circa-1918 photograph Batman uncovered) and in the present, as Diana's origins and her relationship with the world of men are explored.

Gadot will be joined by Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (also seen in the mysterious photograph), Lucy Davis as Etta Candy and Connie Nielson as Queen Hippolyta. The villain is currently unknown, though the WWI setting Diana's reference to man's "century of horrors" in BvS suggest that Ares will fill the part. More »

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Justice League Part One (2017)

Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman ended with Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince vowing to track down the world's metahumans and build a team that can defend Earth from whatever shadowy threat Lex Luthor alluded to. Those seeds will pay off in late 2017 as director Zack Snyder unleashes Justice League Part One

In addition to Batman and Wonder Woman, look for the initial Justice League lineup to include the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). With the final shot in Batman v Superman all but confirming that the Man of Steel is still alive, we're expecting to see him join the team before this film is over. Justice League Part One will also introduce J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon and Amber Heard as Mera.

WB has yet to confirm the villain of Justice League Part One. The references to Darkseid and the New Gods in BvS point to him. However, it's also rumored that Brainiac will be the central villain of Part One, with Darkseid being saved for Part Two in 2019.

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The Flash (2018)

The Flash art by Francis Manapul
DC Comics

Barry Allen may be lighting up the small screen thanks to The CW's Flash series, but he'll also be making a big splash in theaters in the years to come. Batman v Superman offered a brief glimpse of Ezra Miller's Barry Allen. The character will play a larger role in 2017's Justice League Part One before branching out into his own solo movie in 2018. 

Little is known about the DC Extended Universe version of Barry Allen or how similar this movie will be to the wildly popular TV series. With some fans (even Arrow star Stephen Amell) criticizing WB for not simply bringing Grant Gustin's Barry Allen into the cinematic universe, perhaps the best approach is craft a Flash adventure very different from what fans are accustomed to. The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller delivered a story treatment for the film, and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies creator Seth Grahame-Smith expanded that treatment into a a full-length script. Grahame-Smith was also slated to direct, but has since dropped out of the project due to "creative differences."  

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Aquaman (2018)

Jason Mamoa as Aquaman
Warner Bros.

Aquaman will be joining fellow Justice Leaguer Flash in getting his own solo movie in 2018. Perhaps this film will finally do away with all of those "Aquaman is lame" jokes. It's clear from his brief appearance in Batman v Superman that Jason Mamoa's Aquaman is no pushover. Rather than the clean-cut, colorfully attired Aquaman of the comics, this version is regal, rugged and apparently none too fond of the surface world.

Aquaman will take place after the events of Justice League Part One and will also feature Amber Heard as Aquaman's wife/queen Mera. No other characters or actors have been confirmed, though it's a safe bet that Black Manta and/or Ocean Master will factor into the conflict. Furious 7 director James Wan has been tapped to direct.

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Shazam (2019)

Black Adam art by Alex Ross
DC Comics

Shazam is the X-factor in the DC Extended Universe lineup. It's the only one of these films not to spring directly out of the events of Batman v Superman, and it's not entirely clear whether it'll be set in the same universe as the rest of the DC movies. Whatever the case, it's currently slated to be the last solo DC movie before Justice League Part Two.

Interestingly, while WB hasn't yet revealed who will be playing Earth's Mightiest Mortal, they have confirmed that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will be playing his nemesis, Black Adam. This seems to suggest that Shazam will place more emphasis on its antagonist than most superhero films, with Adam being portrayed as more of a tragic anti-hero than a true villain. 

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Justice League Part Two (2019)

Justice League #1 cover by Jim Lee
DC Comics

Roughly 18 months after Justice League Part One introduces moviegoers to DC's premiere superhero, WB will follow up with the second half of this epic tale. We're expecting Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to return, and probably a few extra recruits to bolster the ranks (perhaps Shazam and a Green Lantern or two?).

Most likely, Justice League Part Two will feature Darkseid as its main villain and serve as the culmination of all the story threads introduced in Batman v Superman and continued in Justice League Part One. Zack Snyder will again return to direct.

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Cyborg (2020)

Cyborg Rebirth #1 cover
DC Comics

Cyborg will be the next Justice Leaguer to receive his own solo movie in the aftermath of Justice League Part Two. Ray Fisher will reprise his role as Vic Stone/Cyborg, but other than that little is known about this project. It's not clear whether Cyborg will explore Vic's origin (some of which was glimpsed during Batman v Superman) or if the film will focus entirely on the aftermath of Justice League Part Two.

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Green Lantern Corps (2020)

Green Lantern Corps art by Doug Mahnke
DC Comics

WB will be rebooting the Green Lantern franchise after the disappointing 2011 film, though they don't appear to be in any great hurry to do so. It's possible that the new Green Lantern will appear in 2019's Justice League Part Two, but he won't have a movie of his own until the following year.

As with Cyborg, the 2020 release date means we don't know much about the film or what characters will be featured. However, the fact that it's titled Green Lantern Corps emphasizes the fact that the film will have more of an ensemble focus than the previous Green Lantern film. Look for characters like John Stewart and Guy Gardener to appear alongside Hal Jordan.

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Untitled Batman Movie

Ben Affleck as Batman
Warner Bros.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that WB is planning a new series of solo Batman films. Ben Affleck will reprise his role for the next Batman film, which will be released at some point between 2016 and 2020 and is expected to focus on an aging Caped Crusader and his allies dealing with new threats to Gotham City. Affleck is also believed to be directing the film, as well as co-writing the screenplay alongside DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns.

Rumors suggest that the movie will draw inspiration from the comic book storyline "Under the Red Hood," in which murdered Robin Jason Todd returns to life and seeks revenge against both Batman and the Joker. If this is true, expect this movie to elaborate on the defaced Robin costume seen in Batman v Superman and the general history between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime.

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Man of Steel 2

Henry Cavill as Superman
Warner Bros.

Man of Steel birthed the DC Extended Universe. It's believed that WB will eventually follow up with another Superman-centric movie, but for now it doesn't appear to be a top priority for the studio. Like the solo Batman movie, Man of Steel 2 is expected to be released at some point between 2016 and 2020.

Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller (who was also slated to direct Justice League: Mortal before that project was shelved) was rumored to direct. However, Miller later said the rumors are "probably not true."

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Dark Universe

Justice League Dark cover by Ryan Sook
DC Comics

In 2013, word first broke of director Guillermo Del Toro tackling a supernatural-flavored DC movie featuring some of DC's darker characters like Swamp Thing, Zatanna, John Constantine and Deadman. Dubbed, Dark Universe, the film is inspired by DC's Justice League Dark comic.  However, the project has suffered a rocky history since then, with Del Toro eventually dropping out in 2015. It was rumored that Dark Universe would be headed to New Line Cinema, which has become the home for DC's Vertigo properties like Sandman. However, as of June 2015, Dark Universe is confirmed to still be in development at WB. When the project will actually see the light of day is another matter.

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Your Citation
Schedeen, Jesse. "What's Next for DC's Movie Universe?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 30, 2016, thoughtco.com/whats-next-for-dcs-movie-universe-4017870. Schedeen, Jesse. (2016, April 30). What's Next for DC's Movie Universe? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/whats-next-for-dcs-movie-universe-4017870 Schedeen, Jesse. "What's Next for DC's Movie Universe?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/whats-next-for-dcs-movie-universe-4017870 (accessed November 19, 2017).