The DC Extended Universe just got dealt two major back-to-back blows as Warner Bros Studios looks to recuperate after the critical failure of its most recent installment, Justice League.
On Wednesday, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Henry Cavill would be stepping down from his role as Superman in the DCEU. Cavill played Superman in three films; Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League. Yet with the success of Wonder Woman last summer, raking in a record-setting $412.5M domestic sales and $821.74 worldwide, and Justice League’s failure to gain positive critical reception, DC has decided to shift in a different direction. Part of that direction includes the recently announced Supergirl movie currently in the works. With DC’s new focus on Superman’s cousin, sources at Warner Bros have said that it would be several years before a new Superman film would begin production, making a Man of Steel 2 less likely in the future.
Another stated reason Cavill departed, according to THR, is a dispute over a cameo appearance in the upcoming Shazam movie. As reported by Screen Rant, the cameo would have been a brief appearance at the end of the film, possibly an end-credit scene, a feature that has gained popularity among superhero films.
One other reason THR reported for why Cavill would be departing the DCEU was due to a scheduling conflict. As THR notes, “Cavill recently signed on to star in the Netflix series The Witcher,” which would appear to confirm the scheduling conflict.
To make matters worse for DC, in light of Cavill’s exit, Wednesday, the New York Post reported that after months of rumors, Ben Affleck is finally hanging up the cowl and will be leaving the DCEU.
Affleck also played his role with DC for just three films; Batman vs. Superman, Justice League, and an appearance in Suicide Squad. For comparison, Robert Downey Jr. has played Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for ten years, while Chris Evans has played Captain America for seven years.
With both Affleck and Cavill leaving, Gadot remains the only lasting member of DC’s ‘Trinity’ with her reprising her role for the Wonder Woman sequel scheduled to be released November next year.
All this has left the DCEU in disarray, with one source telling THR that “there’s a recognition that some parts of the previous movies didn’t work,” and that the studio desperately wants to hit the reset button.
There’s no clear indication that the DCEU schedule has been thrown off significantly, with Shazam and Aquaman on track, as well as the Flash, moving forward. There is a definite course change coming. With Wonder Woman doing so well both at the box office and with critics, DC has shifted to what appears to be a winning formula: female-led films. This explains the sudden shift from Man of Steel 2 and a Suicide Squad sequel to a solo Harley Quinn film, both in addition to Wonder Woman 2.
The DCEU is clearly a mess and now in need of both a new Superman and a new Batman, two very tall orders. The future of the DCEU remains uncertain as there is now a scheduled Batman solo film without a Batman, and who knows what ramifications Cavill leaving will have on the future of a Man of Steel 2 or a second Justice League.
The DCEU did not go as planned for the studio with only one real smashing success. Beyond Wonder Woman, the DCEU, unlike its Marvel counterpart, is a series of critical failures and fleeing actors.