Today's not-remotely-shocking news is that Zack Snyder will officially direct "Justice League" for Warner Bros as soon as he's done with "Man Of Steel 2."
For the most part, all this does is clarify the situation. After all, since the moment the conversation about the sequel to "Man Of Steel" began, the question about Warner's entire game plan regarding the DC universe has been in play. Each new announcement about the film has added new characters to the mix. Ben Affleck's onboard as Batman. Gal Gadot is set to play Wonder Woman. Just last week, they hired Sam Fisher to play Cyborg. It seems obvious that they're seeding things for more movies down the road, and now they've called the shot.
Greg Silverman, president of worldwide production for the studio, made it official in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. There's a hilariously breathless quote midway through his story that pretty much explains why they were given the story. "The plans for three superhero movies in relatively quick succession show how intent Warner is on catching up with rival Walt Disney Co.'s Marvel Studios in building a cinematic superhero universe after years lagging behind."
Yeah, good luck with that. They don't mention a date for "Justice League," but if the "Man Of Steel" sequel comes out as planned in 2016 and Zack Snyder is directing both films, then the earliest we're going to see it is 2018. If they did decide to make "Justice League" back-to-back with the "Man Of Steel" sequel, then maybe they could get it into theaters by 2017. Even so, by that point, there will be what? Six new Marvel movies? More?
They can't worry about competing, honestly. No matter what they do, Warner just isn't committed to the sort of laser-focused production schedule that has made the Marvel movies such a force to contend with in the last few years. Warner tends to go gigantic when they make these films. I would be surprised if Marvel's made three films out of their whole run so far that are anywhere near as expensive as "Green Lantern" was, and I'm willing to bet that aside from "Avengers: Age Of Ultron," there's never been a Marvel movie that costs as much as "Man Of Steel" did. And that's fine. That's the way it should be, actually. Warner should just focus on doing the films they want to do, the way they want to do them, on the schedule that works for the movies. Unless they plan to start cranking out two a year, they're not really competing. Not in the way fanboys keep trying to make it sound. Yes, right now, "Man Of Steel 2" and "Captain America 3" are both set for the same date, but that won't end up happening, and besides, those films are going to be doing such radically different things in regards to their place in the larger narratives around them that comparing them because they are both based on comic books is ridiculous.
I found it interesting that they mentioned other films in development, including "Shazam," "Metal Men," "100 Bullets," and "Fables," especially since at least two of those have no overlap potential with "Man Of Steel" or "Justice League" at all. They also teased the possibility of making a "Wonder Woman" movie, but I'll believe that when I see it. I've read too many good drafts of relatively faithful "Wonder Woman" movies over the years to believe that they're any closer to actually making the film.
For now, "Justice League" is the prize that Warner Bros. has to focus on, and if they pull it off, then they open the door to at least try some other characters. This is still such an early moment that speculating about where they're going to go assumes that they'll pull this off. That is in no way a given. I'm on the record as being a big fan of "Man Of Steel," and I'm personally excited that they now appear to be doubling down on Snyder as the guy who is setting the palette for the larger world. But we'll see how the public responds, and how far they get with their "Justice League" plans before we start calling this a "universe."
"Man Of Steel 2" arrives in theaters May 6, 2016.