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David Zaslav's Grand Plan To Get DC Films Back On Track Is To Copy Kevin Feige And Marvel Because Of Course It Is

This is a textbook case of noncreative people with too much power making unilateral creative decisions. A cold, calculating, wealth-hoarding businessman like Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav doesn't know his ass from his elbow when it comes to plotting out an interconnected superhero movie universe. All he sees are the killer profits and impeccably well-oiled, one-of-one machine Kevin Feige has operated at Marvel Studios. Zaslav doesn't grasp why DC movies can't just do...you know...THAT.

Giphy Images.

In an otherwise corporate snoozer of an earnings call for Warner Bros. Discovery on Thursday, the supposed 10-year plan for DC Films is another reminder of how many lightyears ahead Disney/Marvel is of WB on this front. 

Yes, it was also revealed that HBO Max and Discovery+ would combine into one giant streamer launching in Summer 2023 in the U.S. All this is tied together. If WBD can crack the code on how to consistently put out quality movies under big-name, preexisting IP, that'll go along way toward bolstering their already-strong standing in the Streaming Wars.

No coincidence: Lady Gaga shared a teaser earlier today for Joker: Folie à Deux, which apparently will have cameras rolling in December yet won't come out until Fall 2024.

Joker made over $1 billion at the box office because WB had the stomach to give director Todd Phillips the ball, get the hell out of his way, and let him tell a grounded, character-driven story about the Clown Prince of Crime. A similar situation unfolded when Matt Reeves rightfully earned creative control over The Batman, and proceeded to give us the best iteration of The World's Greatest Detective side of the Caped Crusader we've ever seen on film to critical and commercial acclaim.

These movies succeeded because they were extremely different from Marvel. And while Zaslav spoke about quality over quantity when it comes to Warner Bros.' superhero fare, one of the best and most reliable entertainment reporters out there, Collider's Steven Weintraub, reports that oh no…Zaslav wants everythinggggg connected a la the MCU.

I mean with graphics like these, it's crystal clear that WBD and Zaslav are locked the fuck IN on precisely what their audience wants and don't try to oversimplify ANYTHING whatsoever and…

Oh. Oh no. Oh nonononononono.

WBD and David Zaslav, I know you want a box office behemoth like Spider-Man: No Way Home or Avengers: Endgame but you gotta realize Marvel took north of 20 individual movies to build all that up. If you truly are going for quality over quantity, it's gonna be a looooong wait before you have something that interconnected with a medley of magnificent crossovers.

DC Films should embrace their superheroes' vastly different mythology from that of Marvel. The whole genesis of the MCU came from Iron Man being a surprise hit. Throughout that production, the script was being written on the fly, mercurial star Robert Downey Jr. was improvising many of his lines and there was no thought of connecting the movie to some larger, multi-film story.

Flash star Ezra Miller (they/them) are having some sort of Crisis on Infinite Earths-style meltdown in their personal life, which complicates the entire future of DC Films. The Flash is due out in June and is meant to [soft] reboot the main DC Extended Universe, or so it's rumored. Recasting certain roles on the fly and trying to fast-track a more fleshed-out DCEU seems like a mistake, especially with Miller unlikely to return to his role. Black Adam, headlined by action giant Dwayne Johnson, is dropping in October, and sequels for Aquaman and Shazam are coming soon as well.

And damn I almost forgot, James Gunn's The Suicide Squad and its excellent spin-off show Peacemaker! Sheesh is that a lot to keep track of.

Shoehorning all those characters, along with Joaquin Phoenix's Joker or Robert Pattinson's Batman into the DCEU would go against the entire premise Phillips and Reeves agreed to upon initially signing on. It'd be a tonal cacophony and put DC Films back to square one. Oh by the way, The Flash already has Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck as Batmen in the cast. 

It'd take some multiversal narrative gymnastics to figure out how to connect all those disparate parts. Funny enough, Marvel is working on its very own multiverse saga, culminating in 2025 with a pair of Avengers movies. By then, DC Films will be lucky to have a decent path forward for a coherent cinematic universe. To say Marvel DUNKED on DC at San Diego Comic-Con doesn't quite do the slate they presented justice.

The thing is, it doesn't have to be this way, or this lopsided. It will continue to be if DC merely tries to copy the impossible-to-replicate template that Feige has fine-tuned at Marvel.

As is evident in HBO Max's enthusiastic reception — and the near-universal befuddlement as to why WBD is making such radical changes to said streaming service — Warner Bros. is a hell of a movie studio. I swear I'm not saying that ONLY to save face on the off chance my perpetually-on-life-support acting dreams come true. They've produced a number of the best original movies ever made. Hell, they've revolutionized comic book cinema more than once with Christopher Reeve's Superman, Keaton's OG 1989 Batman starring Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy! Marvel used to be a joke compared to them once upon a time.

So bottom line, what should WBD and Zaslav do? Well for one, maybe don't put yourself in a situation where you cancel $90 million movies like Batgirl that are already in the can. 

Secondly, another obvious directive: Let Todd Phillips and Matt Reeves cook with their Joker and Batman stories. 

Beyond that? The quickest way to a connected film series is to bring back Zack Snyder for two more Justice League flicks and #RestoreTheSnyderVerse. Doesn't seem likely at this point, however — especially with the Ezra Miller Capital "S" Situation.

I believe DC Films' biggest X-factor/ace in the hole is a successful Superman reboot. Get that damn character right in one or two solo movies, restore faith in the brand by deftly handling Kal-El/Clark Kent, and you're off to the races. Down the road, Supes can be campy enough to cross over with Shazam or The Rock's Black Adam (how austere can that truly be?). He can also portray the necessary gravitas to anchor a recasted, revamped Justice League that leads to a carefully constructed, moving and epic story. But start with Superman! No shortcuts! Just. Don't. Force it.

My first choice for New Superman would be Adam Driver, because he's the best actor on the planet in my humble opinion. Take his character from Tracks and crank up the physical comedy? Boom, there's your Clark Kent. Then we know the guy is a massive human with charisma to burn, so he fits the bill as Superman. If you're a real nerd, you know Adam Driver was nearly cast as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman. What a performance THAT would have been. But he opted for Star Wars instead. Good call.

I could give more opinions but this post is running very long as is. DC Films has multiple years to figure shit out. All I know is that attempting to copy Marvel and trying to do so too quickly is what plunged them into this mess to begin with. Best not do that again.

Giphy Images.

Twitter @MattFitz_gerald, and for the record, Ben Affleck's Batman is awesome