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 franchise 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 at the box office.
DC has until recently elected to stick with standalone properties, and it’s worked for them. Nolan’s Batman films alone have earned billions of dollars, while non-super hero films like Red and Red 2 both were box office successes. 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 is beginning 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.
Updated on April 28, 2014: New updates include a change to the format, as well as the addition of new TV shows including Scalped, and the inclusion of several new films rumored to be in production.
(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 in development
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 follow-up 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 on board to return as Superman, and Ben Affleck has been confirmed as Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film will not build off of the Christopher Nolan Batman films, and Batman will appear as an older, world-weary hero.
The title remains a 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, which will also introduce the character of Wonder Woman, 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.
- Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne, and Diane Lane are all confirmed for the 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]
- 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]
- The 2016 release date will pit the sequel directly against Captain America 3. [3/14/14]
- Holly Hunter, Callan Mulvey, and Tao Okamoto have all joined the cast in unspecified roles. [4/3/14]
- Shooting has begun in Detroit, Michigan. [4/21/14]
- Theater actor Ray Fisher has been cast as Cyborg, bringing the number of Justice League characters confirmed to appear in the film to four. [4/24/14]
Justice League (TBA)
As early as 2007, DC and WB confirmed development on a Justice League film to be directed by George Miller. The cast would 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.
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. With the success of Man of Steel, the project became a reality. DC and Warner Bros. have both said that a Justice League film is a priority, and after months of hinting, the film has been confirmed with Zack Snyder set to direct. So far the lineup appears to consist of Batman, Cyborg, Superman, and Wonder Woman, with more characters to be revealed later.
- Darkseid is rumored to 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. The film would bring together several DC characters, but also serve as a launching pad for others.
- 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]
- Warner Bros. and DC have confirmed that the film is in the works, with Snyder set to direct – which means the director won’t begin work on it until after the release of Man of Steel 2, putting the Justice League’s release date at 2018 at the earliest. [4/28/14]
- The lineup of the Justice League is still very much a mystery, but so far four of the seven characters that formed the New 52’s rebooted Justice League are heading to the big screen. The three that haven’t are Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman. [4/28/14]
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. Gadot’s contract locks her in to 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]
- Sue Kroll, Warner Bros. President of Worldwide Marketing, indicated that WB is hoping for a Wonder Woman solo film. “The world is ready for her,” she said, but it will depend on finding the right script. [4/28/14]
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. That’s partly 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, and possibly both star and direct a film adaptation of Sandman, with David Goyer producing. Warner Bros. is hot on the actor at the moment, and when DC Entertainment boss Diane Nelson was 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 one Hobbit film away from complete exhaustion, WB may be willing to take a chance on a new fantasy property.
Once the film has a script, the production 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 Jack Thorne has been hired to write the script.[2/27/14]
- Neil Gaiman has met with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The results of the meeting aren’t known, but Gaiman gave his approval to Thorne, who recently adapted Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane. [4/24/14]
Next Page: Films rumored to be in development
Films rumored to be in development
Each standalone story throughout the 100 issues of 100 Bullets begins with the enigmatic Agent Graves approaching a person that has been seriously wronged. He then gives them a gun, a dossier on the person that wronged them, and 1000 bullets that are untraceable. The series expanded to fill in the history of Graves and his agency, but at its core the series was about whether or not people would seek violent revenge if they had the means and could get away with it.
Brian Azzarello’s 100 Bullets was close to becoming an ongoing TV series at Showtime, with David Goyer attached as a executive producer, but the timing didn’t work out. Following a rash of mass shootings around the country, Showtime decided not to move forward. There hasn’t been much word since then, but according to a recent report discussing DC’s upcoming movie plans, 100 Bullets is one of nine films currently in development.
A big screen adaptation of Bill Willingham’s comic published under the Vertigo line, about characters from fables and fairy tales living among us while fighting a cold war against a brutal empire, may head into 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.
- Fables is said to be one of nine DC films currently in production. How far into development the film is wasn’t revealed, but DC appears to be moving ahead, at least to some degree. [4/28/14]
The Metal Men
The Metal Men may not be the most well known of DC characters, but they have been around since the early 60s. Since then, the characters have appeared in multiple comics, cartoons, and toy series, but recently the group has been mentioned as possibly heading to the big screen thanks in part to interest from director Barry Sonnenfeld. He is not officially attached, but in the recent article that claimed nine DC pictures were in development, The Metal Men was listed by name.
Shazam is one of the oldest characters currently active in DC comics, first appearing in 1939 in the pages of Fawcett Comics under the name Captain Marvel. Once he joined the DC pantheon in 1972 he retained the name, but trademark issues with Marvel Comics have since caused the character to change names. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the basic story. The character has the power to rival Superman, but beneath his muscular frame the real Shazam is a young boy named Billy Batson.
A film version of Shazam was in development with Peter Segal (Grudge Match) attached, and Dwayne Johnson rumored to be considering the role of Shazam’s arch enemy, Black Adam. The success of the Man of Steel derailed the Shazam project though, according to the director. The characters of Shazam and Superman are too close together, prompting DC to rethink their strategy. Due to the popularity of Superman, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel took priority, and Segal’s project was put on the back-burner. The film may be back on though. According to the recent article claiming DC had nine films in development, Shazam was listed by name.
Next page: Films that have stalled
Films that have stalled
Despite a truly awful reception from fans and critics alike, the Ryan Reynolds-starring Green Lantern film from 2011 may not have killed the Green Lantern franchise. As recently as April 2013, WB was said to be looking for replacements for director Martin Campbell, although WB will likely opt to reboot the character. David S. Goyer has confirmed that Man of Steel is the first film in what will become a shared DC universe, and that effectively negates the story in Green Lantern.
- 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.
- David Goyer recently announced that he would “love to do Green Lantern.” [4/1/14]
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, Madame Xanadu, and Frankenstein.
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. It seemed to finally be moving towards pre-production after Dan Trachtenberg was hired to direct and David Goyer was attached as a producer, but the film seems to have stalled.
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 was supposed to begin later in 2013.
Next page: DC characters on TV
DC Characters on TV
The CW show focusing on Oliver Queen, known in the show as the vigilante 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. Rumors that Arrow star Stephen Amell would appear as Green Arrow in Man of Steel 2 were promptly shot down by the show’s star.
Arrow 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, with Amanda Waller leading 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.
- 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 in Man of Steel 2, and if Nightwing appears in the film, that would likely end the possibility of him appearing on the show. [7/25/13]
- The character of Roy Harper will eventually take on the role of DC superhero (and Green Arrow protege) Arsenal. [4/13/14]
NBC is currently developing a TV show based on the character of John Constantine from the Hellblazer series; Daniel Cerone (Dexter) will act as showrunner, and David S. Goyer (Man of Steel) is attached as an executive producer. 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]
- 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 story begins with Constantine in an asylum following an incident where a 9-year old girl was dragged to Hell. This follows the original comic, which saw a young Constantine spend time in the asylum Ravenscar. [4/24/14]
- Constantine won’t initially have his iconic trenchcoat, but he will eventually. [4/24/14]
The Flash (2014)
The possibility of a Flash movie has been volleyed around for years now, but it slowed down following the dismal showing of Green Lantern. There was plenty of discussion about the character receiving the big screen treatment, and that may still happen at some point, but for now the only thing confirmed is that there will be a CW television show featuring the Flash starring Glee’s Grant Gustin as Barry Allen. The show will be titled The Flash, and is expected to debut this fall.
Although The Flash 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 flavor. It’s likely that the two series will have future crossovers.
- The original plan was to introduce the Flash in Arrow, then bring him back in what would be a backdoor pilot. The character was received well enough in his first appearance that CW decided to go ahead and greenlight the show.
- The Flash 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]
- The comic character Captain David Singh, will appear as a recurring character. [3/7/14]
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, and Fox decided to order a full season even without seeing a pilot. 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).
- Donal Logue will 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 his 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. [4/13/14]
- Gordon will be married to Barbara Keen (played by Erin Richards), an ER doctor.
- Gordon’s boss will be Captain Sarah Essen (played by Abryna Guevara). In the comics Essen and Gordon have an affair, but the show is following its own storyline. [4/24/14]
Another CW production of a DC property, but this one comes from the Vertigo line. Writer Chris Roberson’s iZombie is being developed as a supernatural procedural show from Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars. A pilot has been ordered, with the series potentially airing in 2014. The TV show will divert from the source material, and feature a different main character named Liv, who will be played by The Lovely Bones’ Rose McIver. Liv will be portrayed as a med student-turned-zombie, who works in the coroner’s office to eat brains that sustain her. She also gains the memories of those she eats, which she then uses to help solve crimes.
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 Sam Catlin, who will act as showrunner, as well as Neal Moritz and Vivian Cannon, who will acts as executive producers for Original Films. That is by no means a guarantee that the series will make it to screen, but things are looking good.
- Ennis will have a role on the show as a consultant. [3/13/14]
- Rogen and Goldberg claim “the weirdness is in,” but the biggest restriction they are facing is from the language. [4/24/14]
- Ennis sent Rogen and Goldberg a document and told them that they said “You can f**k around with anything, just not the three main characters and their dynamic. That’s the story, It’s a character story.” [4/24/14]
- AMC wants the series to go on a “Walking Dead-type path.” [4/24/14]
- Arseface will appear in the show, and he will be represented on screen using physical makeup rather than CGI. [4/24/14]
Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s crime drama set on a modern-day Indian reservation is in development at WGN America. The comic ran as a Vertigo imprint for 60 issues, and focuses on the Oglala Lakota people that reside in the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The main character, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse, returns to the reservation after 15 years as an undercover FBI agent, and attempts to break up organized crime, drug rings, and more.
There is no word yet on when the show might air, but WGN America is looking to expand into original programming in a big way. The show will be be overseen by Banshee’s Doug Jung, who will also write the pilot.
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)
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