There was a time when DC characters ruled the box office – at least compared to their lowly Marvel competitors, whose films were often the stuff of made-for-TV bins. On one side you had Tim Burton’s Batman and Christopher Reeves’ Superman films; both eventually descended to the bowels of camp, but not before making a small, Scrooge McDuck-like vault of gold coins for Warner Bros. On the other side were films like The Trial of the Incredible Hulk, guest starring a sad looking ninja calling himself Daredevil, and another one with Thor. Both were gobbled up by fans, but both were fairly bad. And the less said about the 1990 Captain America film starring Revenge of the Nerds’ Matt Salinger, the better. Times, of course, have changed.
Marvel’s movie properties have gone on to receive the Charles Atlas treatment, going from skinny weaklings to muscular brutes. Marvel Studios has a coordinated plan that extends for years, and even the Marvel characters outside its control are doing well.
DC, on the other hand, has stuck with standalone properties. It has had a lot of success with this model – just look at Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the recent Man of Steel – but they don’t have the framework in place that can easily develop several other properties like Marvel does. DC also lacks the central oversight that a film with a difficult background to convey, like Thor, had. That creates the possibility of a movie like the reviled Green Lantern. DC and WB are trying though, and things are slowly beginning to change.
DC has a lot of firepower at its disposal, both with the well-known characters and those published by wholly owned imprints like Vertigo. It also looks like it is hoping to ape Marvel’s plans and create one connected universe. As with Marvel, which is owned by Disney, DC has a powerful backer in WB. It’s really just a matter of getting all the right pieces in place, and then we could see films like the Justice League dominate the box office, and could create a platform to launch countless connected properties.
We’ve compiled all the current rumors on DC characters heading to the big screen. Unlike Marvel, DC may still shift its schedule, so a film in development now may not be in a week, and vice versa. This article will be frequently updated as more news and rumors begin to circulate following these films, so check back often.
(This article was original published on July 23, 2013. Any updates or additional news will be posted with the date of the update next to them.)
Films confirmed in development starring DC characters
Man of Steel 2 (May 6, 2016)
A sequel was all but guaranteed following the success of Man of Steel, but not many predicted that the sequel would also star Batman. Zack Snyder stopped a few fans’ hearts at Comic-Con by announcing that the next Man of Steel would feature both Batman and Superman, and that it would take one step more on the path to creating a Justice League film.
Henry Cavill is confirmed to return as Superman, and Ben Affleck has been confirmed as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The question of continuity remains, and the casting of the 41-year old Affleck confirms the earlier rumors that the filmmakers want an older Batman.
The title is another big question. Traditionally in the comics when Superman and Batman team up, it is known as “World’s Finest.” That is the logical choice, but writer David Goyer claimed that it would be either “Superman vs. Batman,” or “Batman vs. Superman.” WB even purchased both of those domain names. The suggestion of a conflict between the two heroes adds a sensationalistic angle, but anyone that has read comics can probably guess how this will play out: the two will fight over a misunderstanding, then team up to defeat the baddie. The film will then act as a springboard for a Justice League film.
- Zack Snyder will return to direct. Christopher Nolan will be involved again, but to a much lesser extent.
- The villain could be any number of characters from Superman and Batman’s past, but one foe they have both fought repeatedly in the comics is Lex Luthor, who was confirmed to be a part of the Man of Steel universe already. At one point the LexCorp tower can be seen in the first film, and in another a truck the Luthor name on it is seen.
- Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Diane Lane are all confirmed for a sequel.
- Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara called the film Batman vs. Superman, but the official name has not yet been set. [9/16/13]
- The Batman will be portrayed as an older, more worn down character, and the bat suit will match. The design team is supposedly staying away from the hi-tech, atheltic suit Christian Bale wore, in favor of something that shows more wear and tear. [11/2/13]
- A new rumor suggests that the film will also feature Dick Grayson as Nightwing. If true, the former Robin will be a grown man, and the film will occur after Batman and Nightwing have had a falling out. [11/7/13]
- Gal Gadot, most recently from the last two Fast and Furious films, has been cast as Wonder Woman. [12/4/14]
- A new rumor suggests that Wonder Woman and the Amazons will be connected to the ancient Kryptonians. This rumor has since been mostly refuted. [1/14/14]
- The film may end on a massive cliffhanger, which leads directly into Justice League. If so, several superheroes may appear in a brief cameo at the end. [1/14/14]
- Man of Steel 2 and Justice League may be shot back-to-back. [1/14/14]
- The studio is said to be interested in Lost alumn Josh Holloway for an undisclosed role. His current schedule my not allow it though. [1/14/14]
- Jason Momoa was said to be in talks to appear, but the actor has since denied it. [1/17/14]
- The film has been delayed from July 17, 2015 to May 6, 2016. [1/17/14]
- Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland) has been cast as Lex Luthor. Jeremy Irons has been cast as Bruce Wayne’s butler and confidant, Alfred. [1/31/14]
- Principle photography will begin in April. [3/7/14]
Films rumored to be in development starring DC characters
Justice League (2017)
The long and complicated history of the Justice League movie may finally come to fruition, even though we may have to wait a few more years until it actually becomes reality. As early as 2007, DC and WB confirmed development on a Justice League film, to be directed by George Miller. The cast was to bring all new actors to the lead roles, and the budget was rumored to be around $220 million. Then the writer’s strike of 2007-2008 began. The project was never the same after that, and it quickly lost momentum. The budget was an issue as well. The cost of filming would make it almost impossible to cast A-list stars in the roles, which would in turn make it riskier in the eyes of WB.
Since then, the Justice League has remained in limbo. Following the success of The Avengers, DC and WB began to once again discuss the possibility of a film combining some of the most recognized characters in DC Comics, but with the success of Man of Steel, the project has an actual chance. The 2017 release date may slip once again, but it does seem like a Justice League film is in the works.
- The rumored line up of the Justice League will be: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern.
- Darkseid will be the primary villain.
- Batman and Superman will put the team together to defeat soldiers from Apokolips and Darkseid himself.
- Several other DC characters may appear, or at least be mentioned.
- Justice League may be filmed back-to-back with Man of Steel 2. [1/17/14]
- A new rumor has begun to spread that Dwayne Johnson will play John Stewart, the Green Lantern. This rumor stems from a tweet in which Johnson stated “#JohnStewartCanStillWhupSupermansAss.” That’s obviously far from conclusive evidence, but with Johnson having recently met WB execs, it does make sense. [2/7/14]
Wonder Woman (TBA)
People have been trying for years to get a Wonder Woman project to the big screen without luck. Joss Whedon gave it a go before moving on, and even TV heavyweight David E. Kelly couldn’t make it any further than an unaired pilot. A possible CW show based on Wonder Woman titled Amazon was also recently killed.
With the casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in Man of Steel 2, however, Wonder Woman’s fortunes seem to be on the upswing. The plan is to have Gadot appear in multiple DC films, and that includes a standalone, solo outing – although that has not yet been confirmed. Based on the rumored schedule, a Wonder Woman movie would likely appear after Justice League.
- Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tusjihara confirmed that Wonder Woman is a priority to develop as a TV show or film. [11/2/13]
- Paul Feig (The Heat, Bridesmaids) recently pitched a Wonder Woman film to WB. It was a light-hearted comedy that was turned down, but it does signify that WB is taking pitches for the property. [11/2/13]
- Gal Gadot has signed on to play the character in three films. [1/23/14]
DC and Warner Bros. have been trying to figure out a way to bring Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic series to either film or TV for several years now without luck. Partly that is due to the difficult nature of adapting the material itself, and partly it is due to all parties involved – including Gaiman – demanding high standards. Several scripts have been pitched, and so far all have been turned down. There is new hope though.
Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt has committed to produce, star, and direct a film adaptation of Sandman. Warner Bros. is hot on the actor at the moment, and when DC Entertainment boss Diane Nelson was recently asked what five characters she would like to see on screen, she answered “Sandman is right on top.” She went on to compare Neil Gaiman’s Sandman to the Harry Potter universe in terms of richness and depth.
Sandman is nowhere near as well-known as Harry Potter, but with WB having adapted all of the Harry Potter books, it does leave a gap. Dream of the Endless, the protagonist of the Sandman series, may have originated as a comic, but the stories also fill the fantasy void that Potter and the Lord of the Rings franchises will leave. With Potter’s final movie complete and The Lord of the Rings only two Hobbit films away from complete exhaustion, WB may be willing to take a chance on a new fantasy property.
Gordon-Levitt and Warner Bros. are currently looking for a screenwriter. Once they have their person, the film still has to undergo an arduous approval process that includes the blessing of author Neil Gaiman, who is – thankfully – protective of the material. The proverbial stars do seem to be aligning though, and everyone involved, from the author to the studio to the talent now attached seem motivated to make this happen.
- British TV screenwriter has been hired to write the script.[2/27/14]
Films in production, but stalled
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the big screen adaptation of Bill Willingham’s story published under the Vertigo line, about characters from fables and fairy tales living among us while fighting a cold war against a brutal empire, will head in to production later this year. The script is either done or nearly so, and a Danish director Nikolaj Arcel is attached.
The success of Man of Steel may be the final thing that WB has been waiting for in regards to giving this film the final go ahead. Ironically, it may also have been helped by the success of the ABC show Once Upon a Time, which many believe was itself inspired by Fables. ABC, which owns and produces Once, initially picked up the rights to Fables for the 2009-2010 season, then shelved it and debuted Once Upon a Time in 2011. Both Bill Willingham and Once’s creators have stated that the two projects are completely separate, and there is no bad blood between them. With a spin-off for Once recently debuting, the subject matter is hot.
Justice League Dark
One of the more unusual DC projects being discussed is Guillermo del Toro’s Justice League Dark, formerly known as Heaven Sent. The proposed film will star several of DC’s more obscure characters, and focus on the magical side of the DC universe. The rumored plot would focus on John Constantine, of the Hellblazer comics, recruiting a team that includes: The Demon Etrigan/Jason Blood, Deadman, and the Swamp Thing. The comic also features Zatanna and Madame Xanadu (as well as Frankenstein, which would be a tough sell to audiences, not to mention the complicated legalities).
Del Toro’s enthusiasm may or may not be enough. He recently said that he is ready to present the outline to WB, he has a screenwriter lined up, and he could begin work as soon as he completes his next project, Crimson Peak. Of course, he is also producing a TV show about vampire based on the The Strain book trilogy that Chuck Hogan co-wrote and he’s committed to writing both Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast. Hellboy 3 may also still happen, and del Toro is hoping to bring back his H.P. Lovecraft adaptation, At the Mountains of Madness. The international success of Pacific Rim has also generated talk of a sequel, and del Toro claims the script for that is nearly done.
It seems unlikely that WB would greenlight a spin-off of the Justice League before releasing the Justice League film itself, but it could still happen. Del Toro has said he would work the film into whatever existing continuity DC and WB would like.
Y the Last Man
As with Fables, the Y the Last Man series from Vertigo went through many iterations in Hollywood that threatened to kill the project, but it now to seems to be moving towards pre-production. Earlier this year Dan Trachtenberg was hired to direct, with David Goyer attached as a producer.
Although the news for Y seems to be positive at the moment, Y: The Last Man has not had an easy time getting to this point. The film rights were first purchased in 2007. Since then numerous people have been attached, several drafts of the screenplay have been turned in, and the property was also considered for adaptation into a TV series.
As of September 2012, writers Mason Novick and Jake Weiner turned in a screenplay that New Line Cinema (who is also owned by WB) was said to be happy with, and production could begin later this year.
Green Lantern Reboot
Despite a truly awful reception from fans and critics alike, the Ryan Reynolds-starring Green Lantern film from 2011 did earn back its budget – barely. As recently as April 2013, WB was said to be looking for replacements for director Martin Campbell, and Oblivion‘s Joseph Kosinski’s name was mentioned.
One thing in favor of a sequel is that the character of the Green Lantern is all but confirmed to be in Justice League. David S. Goyer has confirmed that Man of Steel is the first film in what will become a shared DC universe. That effectively negates the story in Green Lantern, and any future films would be a reboot.
- Dwayne Johnson may appear as the green Lantern John Stewart in either Justice League or Man of Steel 2. That doesn’t necessarily mean he will be the star of a Green Lantern film, but if true, Stewart would be part of the universe already.
DC Characters on TV
The CW show focusing on Oliver Queen, known in the show as the vigilante the Arrow, has just been confirmed for a third season, scheduled to air in Fall of 2014. The show exists in its own universe that is shared by the Flash, and the network is owned by Warner Bros. The shows could exist in the same universe as Man of Steel, but there has been no confirmation of that. Even though it is all under the same umbrella, the creative teams are not connected. Some rumors suggested that Arrow star Stephen Amell would appear as Green Arrow in Man of Steel 2 were promptly shot down by the show’s star.
The show has introduced several well known DC characters besides the Flash. The character of Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke (played by Manu Bennett) is a series regular. Black Cannary is a recurring guest star, although the character behind the mask is the sister of Dinah Lance, who is Black Canary in the comics. The Suicide Squad has been introduced, and is made up of the DC characters Bronze Tiger, Deadshot, and Shrapnel. Amanda Waller will lead the team. Ra’s al Ghul has also been mentioned, and his daughter Nyssa Raatko (not to be confused by Talia al’Ghul) has been introduced. If the film universe incorporates this show and Flash, it will also need to incorporate the growing world the show is creating.
- This news created some collateral damage to the CW TV show Arrow. The showrunners have been trying to get Nightwing and other Batman-centric characters to appear in the TV show, but they faced several legal hurdles. Those hurdles just increased exponentially with Batman returning to the big screen earlier than expected. [7/25/13]
NBC is currently developing a TV show based on the character of John Constantine from the Hellblazer series. Daniel Cerone (Dexter) and David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) are attached as executive producers. The show will take place in America, but Constantine (played by Welsh actor Matt Ryan), will remain a blonde haired Brit.
- NBC has officially ordered a pilot for the proposed Constantine TV show. 1/17/14]
- Cerone will act as the showrunner. The show will take place in the U.S., but the character will still be both British and blonde. [2/7/14]
- The main antagonist of the first season (at least) will be Papa Midnite, a voudun shaman and businessman. In the comics Papa Midnite and Constantine have a long, strange relationship. They have been both allies and enemies, as the situation dictates. [3/7/14]
- The cast is rounded out by the character Liv (Lucy Griffiths), a young lady with the ability to see the supernatural world, which makes her a target for demons. Charles Halford will play Chas, Constantine’s frequently frustrated pal. In the comics the character is often unwittingly in the crosshairs because of his friendship with Constantine, but the TV show describes him as being known for his survival skills, which may go beyond human abilities. Finally, Lost’s Harold Perrineau has been cast as Manny, an angel responsible for watching over Constantine, who has the ability to posses others. [3/7/14]
The possibility of a Flash movie has been volleyed around for years now, but DC slowed down following the dismal showing of Green Lantern. There was plenty of discussion about the character being the next up to receive the big screen treatment, and that may still happen, but for now the only thing confirmed is that there will be a CW television show starring the Flash starring Glee’s Grant Gustin as Barry Allen. An official title for the show has not yet been announced.
Although the Flash show exists in the same universe as Arrow, the properties will have a different feel. Arrow has been described as having a “crime bent,” while the Flash show will have more of a sci-fi feel. It’s very likely that the two series will have future crossovers.
- The team behind the TV show Arrow is bringing The Flash to the small screen. The original plan was to introduce the character once in Arrow, then bring him back in what would be a backdoor pilot. The character was received well enough though, that CW decided to go ahead and greenlight the show, debuting in the fall.
- The show will be helmed by two out of the three Arrow creators – Andrew Kreisberg and Greg Berlanti – with writing from DC comics’ own Geoff Johns.
- Rick Cosnett has been cast as Detective Eddie Thawn. The role is almost certainly connected to that of Flash’s greatest enemy, the time-traveler known as both the Reverse Flash and Professor Zoom, whose real name was Eobard Thawne. [2/7/14]
- Danielle Panabaker has been cast as a woman that will become the super villain Killer Frost. [2/7/14]
- Smash and Law & Order’s Jesse L. Martin has been cast as Allen’s mentor and best friend, Detective West. [2/7/14]
- The role of Iris West, Barry Allen’s future wife, has been filled by newcomer Candice Patton. [2/7/14]
- S.T.A.R. Labs will play a major role in the show. [2/9/14]
- Even if the show doesn’t succeed, the showrunners have claimed that Gustin will remain a part of the universe that began with Arrow. [2/9/14]
- John Wesley Shipp, the actor who played the Flash in the short lived 90′s TV show of the same name, will appear in the new show in an unknown role. [2/11/14]
- A first, brief look at part of the costume has been revealed (right) [2/28/14]
- The comic character Captain David Singh, will appear as a recurring character. [3/7/14]
Gotham (2014-2015 Season)
Warner Bros. and Fox are teaming up to create Gotham, following a bidding war over the property. The show has been in development for over a year. Gotham will follow rookie homicide detective James Gordon as he investigates crime in the city. The show will not focus on Bruce Wayne, Batman, or any specific Batman villain, but it will show some of them at early points in their careers. Gotham will begin shortly after Bruce Wayne’s family dies; it will end with Wayne putting on the cowl for the first time. The showrunner will be Bruno Heller (Rome, The Mentalist). Fox decided to order a full season even without seeing a pilot.
- Donal Logue was rumored to be in the running for the role of Gordon, but that proved to be incorrect. Instead, Logue was approached to play Detective Bullock, who in a departure from the comics will be Gordon’s mentor. [2/8/14]
- The show will feature characters like The Riddler and Penguin, but they won’t appear in costume. [2/8/14]
- Ben McKenzie (The O.C., Southland) has been cast in the lead role as James Gordon. Gordon will be a former college football player and a war veteran, and still be at an early point in hsi career. [2/8/14]
- Sean Pertwee will play Bruce Wayne’s butler and future accomplice, Alfred Pennyworth. The character is described as ”a tough-as-nails ex-marine from East London, Alfred has loyally served the Waynes and now, in the wake of their tragic deaths, he’s fiercely protective of the young Bruce.” [2/11/14]
- 14-year old David Mazouz (Touch) will play a solitary, pre-teen Bruce Wayne. Newcomer Camren Bicondova will play Selina Kyle, a teenage orphan. [3/7/14]
- Jada Pinkett Smith will play Fish Mooney, a gangster and club owner. Robin Lord Taylor will appear as Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin, an employee of Mooney.
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion’s dark and twisted Vertigo comic series was briefly considered for the big screen treatment, but it soon came to rest in the halls of TV … and then TV limbo. The property has bounced around several development studios, including a lengthy stay at HBO, where it seemed close to being greenlit. That went away though, and so did the TV show.
There is new life in the project though, and things seem to be moving ahead quickly. No doubt bolstered by its success with The Walking Dead, AMC is developing Preacher thanks to Seth Rogen and Adam Goldberg, who are coming off of writing, and in Goldberg’s case directing, the hit comedy This is the End. Joining them is Breaking Bad executive producer showrunner Sam Catlin, who will act as showrunner, as well as Neal Moritz and Vivian Cannon, exec producing for Original Films.
That is by no means a guarantee that the series will make it to screen, but things are looking good.
Check out our rundown of all the Marvel films in development, and rumored.
(Did we miss something? Is our info out of date? Let us know in the comments below)