Jan 31, 2023
Batman’s New Bosses Look to Make DC Comics Heroes Super Again
(Bloomberg) -- Warner Bros Discovery Inc. aims to release two movies and two TV series a year tied to its DC Comics characters as it seeks to reinvigorate its superhero business under new management.
Peter Safran and James Gunn, who took over as co-chief executive officers of DC Studios in November, unveiled their plans for the company’s comic book franchises at a media event on Monday. Their lineup includes the animated show Creature Commandos, a new series for the HBO Max streaming platform, as well as Superman: Legacy, a picture that will be released in theaters in July 2025.
DC’s planned films between now and then include The Flash, Blue Beetle and sequels to Aquaman and Shazam!, which are all due to be released this year. They will help set up the Superman movie, Safran and Gunn said. A picture titled The Brave & The Bold will reintroduce Batman and Robin, while Supergirl will bring back that heroine. No dates were given for those projects.
The pair are looking to duplicate the phenomenal success of Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios, which turned its stable of characters into the most successful franchise in Hollywood history by weaving together interlocking stories. DC’s efforts historically have lacked that cohesion, Gunn and Safran said.
“The history of DC was pretty messed up,” Gunn said. “They were just giving away IP like they were party favors to any creators who smiled at them. We’re going to promise that everything from our first project forward is going to be unified.”
DC will still allow projects that fall outside of its superhero road map if they’re of exceptional quality or “blatantly adult,” Gunn and Safran said. They pointed to The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, and Joker, from Todd Phillips, as recent examples.
The reset comes after a period of tumult for DC. Ezra Miller, the lead actor in The Flash, pleaded guilty to unlawful trespassing in a Vermont burglary case earlier in January, while confusion over the future of the franchise grew after Dwayne Johnson, who played antihero Black Adam in an eponymous film released in October, sought to bring back Henry Cavill as Superman so that the two characters could duel in future films.
Safran and Gunn ultimately chose not to pursue sequels involving that storyline and cast. Gunn said there are no plans to recast Cavill in a superhero role.
Since the merger of WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc. closed last April, David Zaslav, the CEO of the combined company, has made elevating DC properties a priority, alongside cutting a pile of roughly $50 billion in debt. In August, he canceled the nearly finished Batgirl film, which had been made for HBO Max. Safran and Gunn, who produced or directed DC films including Aquaman and The Suicide Squad, report directly to Zaslav.
“We all know what kind of revenue successful films and television of this nature drives,” Safran said. “The stakes are massive for us and for Warner Bros Discovery.”
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