Commissioner Gordon is turning off the Bat-Signal, Superman is folding his red pants, and Cyborg is shutting down his circuits as the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) we’ve come to know is seemingly at an end.
Unfortunately, Zack Snyder’s ambitious plans to be the Kevin Feige of Warner Bros.’ DC output started to unravel with Batman vs. Superman, then derailed with Justice League as he shared directorial duties with Joss Whedon.
With the 2017 ensemble losing Warner Bros. an estimated $60 million, Snyder’s hopes of making five more DCEU movies were tossed out the window like Selina Kyle in Batman Returns.
There are uncertain times ahead in regards to which of the DCEU’s A-list cast will and won’t return, but as a final hurrah, all eyes are on Andy Muschietti’s The Flash.
Ezra Miller is lacing up his shoes as the Scarlet Speedster in this long-awaited adaptation of Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert’s Flashpoint miniseries.
With a Flash standalone first being announced in 2014, some thought we’d never see this day.
As it stands, The Flash is tipped to be the end of the DCEU in its current form. That isn’t to say we’ll never see the likes of Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa play Wonder Woman and Aquaman again (quite the opposite).
Instead, Muschietti’s movie is poised to see a number of big names bow out, while also serving as a springboard for the rebranded Worlds Of DC.
DC Films president Walter Hamada has already promised The New York Times that there will be six DC movies a year, with each being scrutinised on whether it could get a spin-off for HBO Max.
Interestingly, most of these ideas have nothing to do with Snyder or the DCEU his movies set up.
The first non-DCEU movie set to explode onto the scene in 2021 is James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Much like David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, Gunn’s outing is expected to have the odd reference to the wider DCEU and maybe even a returning favourite or two.
Ben Affleck famously suited up as Batman in Suicide Squad, while Miller also popped in for a cameo. The jury was out on whether this helped or hindered Ayer’s movie, so let’s hope The Flash doesn’t go down the same route with its smorgasbord of rumoured cast additions.
Namely, Muschietti’s movie is supposed to be a who’s who of Batman alumni.
The Flash has officially signed up Affleck to reprise his role as Bruce Wayne, but in an altogether more shocking twist, it’s scheduled to bring back Michael Keaton from way back when Tim Burton was the man behind the Batcave.
Flashpoint famously featured Barry Allen entering an alternate timeline where Bruce died and Thomas Wayne had become a bloody version of the Batman.
Cleverly, The Flash is taking this idea down a different route and it looks like Miller’s Flash will find an altered timeline where Keaton’s aged Batman never put down the cape and cowl.
Others claim that Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale have also been approached, however, at least Clooney has debunked his appearance when he told Empire (via Digital Spy): “It’s funny – you’ll notice they didn’t call me! Somehow I didn’t get that call. They did not ask for my nipples”.
Wild rumours swirled that the Worlds Of DC would move forward with two separate Batman franchises, with one excitingly putting Keaton as its leading man. This was quickly shut down by The New York Times’ Brooks Barnes – who inadvertently sparked the story – confirming Keaton’s return for The Flash is a one-off deal.
Rightly, it doesn’t appear that Robert Pattinson’s upcoming version of the Caped Crusader will be stopping by for a visit. Much like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy being a more grounded affair, Matt Reeves is charting his own course away from the DCEU with The Batman.
So, what’s next for the Worlds Of DC in a post-Snyder world? Let’s remember the plethora of other projects that have been announced over the years but slowly slipped under the radar.
Recent announcements include a HBO Max Peacemaker spin-off for John Cena’s muscular mercenary, as well as a tie-in to Reeves’ The Batman that will focus on the GCPD.
Elsewhere, Patty Jenkins is supposed to oversee a movie based on Thymescira’s Amazons as executive producer, there’s an Aquaman spin-off in the form of The Trench, and Ava DuVernay’s New Gods which could expand Darkseid’s backstory.
All of this is before we get to a Batgirl, Booster Gold, a female-centric Plastic Man, and all the rest.
The problem is, there’s a vortex of both movies and interviews that are giving a serious case of ‘too many cooks’.
Joe Manganiello claimed there are several Deathstroke-centric projects in the works with Snyder’s involvement, which seems to be a direct contradiction of the new direction the Worlds Of DC is moving in.
Jared Leto also set tongues wagging when he teased an upcoming collaboration with Snyder via the Variety Awards Circuit podcast.
Fans know one of the new scenes filmed for the Snyder Cut brings Leto’s Clown Prince Of Crime into the fray, while Harry Lennix told Collider another finally sees him play potential Justice League member, Martian Manhunter.
Although Snyder will get to fully realise his vision (of sorts) with the upcoming release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, The Flash will be the true end of his era.
The Snyder Cut is coming to HBO Max this year, however, the man himself told ComicBook Debate he has “no plan to” continue making more DC movies.
The studio has thrown another $70 million Snyder’s way to finish his work, showing that there’s at least some confidence there’s a story to tell.
Even though The Flash can be the jumping-off point for any number of projects, it’s pitched as more of a swansong for those who won’t be returning.
Last year, Henry Cavill entered discussions to reprise his role as the Metropolis Marvel in the DCEU, however, it’s apparently not for a long-awaited Man Of Steel sequel.
He’s already said he won’t cameo in the Dwayne Johnson-led Black Adam, teasing that he could drop into The Flash to say goodbye to his ol’ pal Bruce.
Elsewhere, Ray Fisher’s behind-the-scenes struggles with Warner Bros. means he’s officially left the role of Cyborg behind. Instead of recasting, the character (who was once central to the story) has been cut.
Mainly though, The Flash can finally put an end to the DCEU of old, and power ahead with a less cohesive future.
Even if the studio doesn’t want to admit it, not all shared cinematic universe can have the success of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
By the looks of it, The Flash’s proposed 2022 release could be the last time we see any number of DCEU favourites, but seeing the positives, at least they get a chance to say goodbye.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens next, but here’s hoping a more hopeful Worlds Of DC rising from the ashes of the DCEU isn’t just a ‘flash’ in the pan.