According to Mashable and a host of other sources, controversial director Zack Snyder will no longer be the “architect” of the DC Extended Universe, with The Avengers director Joss Whedon and veteran DC comics creator Geoff Johns assuming creative control over the shared universe franchise.
This follows on from Snyder stepping down from directing Justice League following the death of his daughter, with Whedon taking up the reins to finish production. Snyder’s wife, producer Deborah Snyder, who has partnered with him on all of his projects, also left the production at that time.
Warners have stated that the Snyders are not being shut out of the creative process entirely and, indeed, will retain credits on Justice League and, no doubt, future DC projects such as Batgirl, Aquaman, and The Flash: Flashpoint. “The Snyders remain an important part of the Warner Bros. family and are actively involved in several upcoming DC pictures, including their continued creative input on Justice League. We are excited about our partnership and look forward to our continued collaboration.”
So, what does this mean for the DCEU going forward? Expect a perhaps not-so-subtle step away from the grim and bombastic tone that defined Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Although both performed well commercially, as did David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, they took a critical drubbing that a proud movie house like Warners found hard to endure. Wonder Woman, however, managed to collar both critical and commercial acclaim, and lacked Snyder’s sturm und drang. With that film as a touchstone and Whedon, a long time proponent of both strong female characters and hopeful narratives (even his darkest stuff is heroic in nature, The Cabin in the Woods notwithstanding) the DCEU of the future, while almost certainly not adopting the four-colour, four-quadrant tone of their Marvel rivals, is certainly going to be a less monotone place.
Couple this with the recent news that a) director Matt Reeves has turfed Ben Affleck’s Batman script and is starting from the ground up, b) the Flash solo movie will be based on the alternative-world comics storyline, Flashpoint, and c) as-yet-unconfirmed (and heavily denied) rumours that Ben Affleck might be jettisoning the Batman cowl, and you get the idea that we’ll be looking at a whole new big screen DC Universe before long.
Which might well be a good thing – dumb DC/Marvel clannishness aside, we all just want good superhero movies, right? And DC’s reactionary posture and desperation has hurt them way more than it’s helped them – lord knows what kind of movie Suicide Squad was going to be before they panicked. Hopefully things have settled down a bit now, and all concerned can get back to the business of making epic superhero flicks.