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This isn’t the first time Warner Bros. and DC have rethought their movie strategy. Since Christopher Nolan wrapped up his Dark Knight trilogy with “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012, DC movies have been on a twisty path over the past decade.

The Dark Knight Rises

“The Dark Knight Rises.”

Warner Bros.

2013: “Iron Man,” starring Henry Cavill as Superman, directed by Zack Snyder. After the success of Nolan’s Batman movie, it rebooted the character in a more edgy way.

iron man poster

Warner Bros.

The film was largely a failed critic, earning a 58% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. It earned $668 million worldwide from a production budget of $225 million.

March 2016: “Iron Man” is the starting point for a potential DC Cinematic Universe, similar to the MCU. Snyder’s follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, brings Cavill back and introduces Ben Affleck’s Batman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.

Batman v Superman

Warner Bros.

“Batman v Superman” grossed $873 million at the global box office, but was another project with a $250 million budget. It’s also a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a B on CinemaScore, which polls audiences on the film’s opening night (which is low for a superhero movie).

Overall, the film isn’t the global phenomenon Warner Bros. had hoped for, as it starred two of its flagship superheroes. In other words, it didn’t break $1 billion, unlike Captain America: Civil War later that year, which pitted Marvel’s Iron Man and Captain America heavyweights against each other.

August 2016: Suicide Squad also comes out. It was a modest box office success, grossing over $700 million worldwide, but a major flop.

Suicide Squad

Will Smith as Reaper in “Suicide Squad” and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.

Warner Bros.

“DC Extended Universe,” as it was dubbed online by fans and stuck, has been criticized for three straight games. Suicide Squad has a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

While these films did well at the global box office, they weren’t huge hits, especially given their bloated budgets. And, to make matters worse, they don’t quite reach the heights of Marvel movies.

June 2017: “Wonder Woman” has some hope.

Wonder Woman Chris Pine and Gal Gadot

“Wonder Woman.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this film is everything Warner Bros. has been looking for in its new DC movie.

It cost less to make than other films, and grossed $822 million worldwide, on par with Batman v Superman. Unlike other DCEU films, it was a hit with critics, earning a 93% critic score.

November 2017: The theatrical release of Justice League spells disaster. Should be DC’s answer to Marvel’s “Avengers” being a critical and financially dumb one.

Justice League

“Justice League”

Warner Bros.

It grossed just $657 million worldwide, a disappointing figure considering it was DC’s massive superhero co-op, and cost $300 million to make after numerous remakes ballooned the budget.

2017: “Justice League” underwent extensive reshoots ahead of its release after Snyder stepped down from the director due to a family tragedy and was replaced by “Avengers” director Joss Whedon. Poor theatrical response sparked the controversial “Release Snyder Cut” movement.

batman justice league

Warner Bros.

After Batman v Superman was criticized for being too dark and brooding, Warner Bros. opted to revamp the Justice League after the success of Wonder Woman.

Zack Snyder fans took to social media to try to convince Warner Bros. to release Snyder’s version of the movie as he intended, which they called the “Snyder Cut.” Snyder fans claim the theatrical cut is very different from what Snyder originally envisioned.

2017: The failure of the “DCEU” prompted Warner Bros. and DC to rethink their strategies. Vulture reported in an extensive July 2017 report that it would not be trying to replicate Marvel’s shared universe, but would instead focus on standalone stories.

wonder woman

Warner Bros.

vulture The feature landed on “Justice League” after the release of “Wonder Woman,” suggesting that the company has come to terms with the latter’s failure.

The former, however, is largely a stand-alone story, although Gadot reprised her role in “Batman v Superman” and will reappear in “Justice League.”

“Our intent, of course, going forward is to use continuity to help ensure that nothing diverges in a way that doesn’t make sense, but doesn’t stick to the overall storyline or interconnectedness in that universe,” Diane Nelson, former DC Entertainment The person in charge told Vulture.

2018: DC’s first test of the new strategy was Aquaman. While Jason Momoa reprised the lead role after Justice League, it was largely unconnected to any of the previous films. It also deviates considerably from the tone of the Snyder film. It grossed over $1 billion worldwide.



Warner Bros.

2019: The Joker, the standalone origin story of Batman’s famous foe, grossed over $1 billion and was nominated for 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. That same year, “Shazam!” grossed a much lower $366 million, but was well-received by critics.



Warner Bros.

2020: Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 struggle to maintain post-DC Justice League momentum on the big screen.


Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

Warner Bros.

Birds of Prey grossed just $205 million worldwide, but at $85 million, it cost far less than most superhero blockbusters. After its theatrical release, it found another life on HBO Max.

The sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, 1984 Wonder Woman, hits both the Max and theaters during the coronavirus pandemic. It grossed just $170 million worldwide but was hampered by the ongoing pandemic and online piracy.

The film isn’t quite the blockbuster of its predecessor, with a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes.

May 2020: Just when the DC movie seemed to be on track, HBO Max announced that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would be out the following year.

Zack Snyder's Justice League

“Zack Snyder’s Justice League”


Package It was reported later that year that the director’s cut would cost $70 million to complete, as it included additional footage, and would end up running for four hours.

While the “Release Snyder Cut” campaign won, the film still hangs over Warner Bros. head.

Rolling Stones Recent reports that fake Twitter accounts fueled the movement, Snyder himself hired a digital marketing firm to boost fan engagement following the release of Batman v Superman in 2016, contributed to the frenzy of his fans Follow (Snyder denies this).

August 2021: Suicide Squad is a soft reboot of the 2016 film. It was well-received by critics, earning a 90% review score on Rotten Tomatoes, but underperformed at the box office during the pandemic.

Suicide Squad

Warner Bros.

The film was released simultaneously on HBO Max and grossed $168 million worldwide.

DC and Warner Bros. poached ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ director James Gunn from Marvel after being briefly fired. Gunn followed the film with a Max TV spin-off called “Peacemaker” starring John Cena, which was a huge success. The second season is in production.

The future: Zaslav appeared to be bullish on several upcoming DC movies on Thursday’s investor call. In addition to this, the company intends to build a team dedicated to the world of DC movies, with a 10-year plan similar to that of Marvel.

Dwayne Johnson standing

Dwayne Johnson in Black Adam.

Warner Bros.

Upcoming DC releases include:

  • “Black Adam” – October 21, 2022
  • “Shazam! Wrath of the Gods” – December 21, 2022
  • “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” – March 17, 2023
  • “The Flash” – June 23, 2023

“Despite the controversy surrounding its star Ezra Miller, The Flash is moving forward.

“We’ve seen The Flash, Black Adam and Shazam 2,” Zaslav said Thursday. “We’re very excited about them. We’ve met them. We think they’re great and we think we can make them even better.”

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