In 2014, Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment announced an ambitious series of movies based on DC Comics characters. The original schedule included a two-part Justice League project and at least two films a year through 2020. Things did not go according to plan with Justice League compressing its story into one film and projects like The Flash experiencing delays. Despite projects shifting around the slate – and the critical backlash against Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League – the original 2014 master plan has been executed for the most part, with only 2018 missing a second DC-derived film. And even as features like Aquaman and Shazam! went into production, the studio never stopped trying to get new projects off the ground utilizing the comic book characters and the universe initiated by 2013’s Man of Steel. The next 18 months will deliver a number of projects from that original slate and one surprise sequel in the form of Wonder Woman 2 — which we now know is titled Wonder Woman 1984. We also now know Chris Pine will be returning.
The DC masterplan is ever in flux, and the recent departures of DC Entertainment co-presidents Diane Nelson and Geoff Johns may cause further changes from the original 2014 schedule as an executive shakeup will lead to a re-examination of the films in development. The following represents everything we know about those projects and their place in the DC Films universe, as well as a few DC adaptations that will exist separate from the universe. (Want to see what the other camp has in store? Check out our breakdown of upcoming Marvel movies.)
There is a lot that is uncertain about which DC Comics characters are coming to the big screen, who’s bringing them there, and in what order — but nothing is uncertain about these first three movies. They’re in production, or in pre- or post-production, and we know exactly when they will be hitting theaters.
Release Date: December 21, 2018
What We Know: Jason Momoa reprises his Justice League role as Arthur Curry, friend of Icelandic villagers and reluctant superhero. But he has been keeping a secret from his associates: he has a claim to the throne of Atlantis. When his half-brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) seizes control of Atlantis, Mera (Amber Heard) comes to the surface to convince him to challenge Orm or witness an Atlantean invasion. Along the way, he encounters Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a potentially long-term threat should he successfully depose Orm. Another thing we know: according to Momoa himself, he’s “f–king awesome” in the movie.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Set after the events of Justice League, the film will largely explain Arthur’s existence and the particulars of Atlantean civilization. It will also establish Mera, the great love of his life. Directed by James Wan, the film promises to reveal new angles to Aquaman and maybe, finally, dispel the notion that he is the most useless member of the Justice League.
Release Date: April 5, 2019
What We Know: Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is a disadvantaged boy with an amazing secret. By saying the magic word “Shazam,” he becomes Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. Blessed with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, Billy transforms into a super-powered adult (Zachary Levi) despite still being a young boy underneath. And just as he starts to understand his powers and responsibilities, Sivana (Mark Strong) reveals the harm a failed version of Shazam can do with just a modicum of the power.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Shazam! represents the first planned breakaway from the look and feel of the earlier Justice League-related projects, but does take part “in the heart” of the DCEU. Director David F. Sandberg (Lights Out) took a great deal of inspiration from classic comics featuring the character when he was known as Captain Marvel, meaning the project will be consciously lighter and potentially funnier than the earlier films in the Justice League cycle.
Release Date: October 4, 2019
What We Know: Though not a part of the DC film continuity, Todd Phillips’ standalone Joker film is closer to reality than ever before. Warner Bros. gave the project – which stars Joaquin Phoenix as the nameless man who will become the Joker – the green light in early July. Production is expected to begin in the fall with Frances Conroy, Zazie Beetz, and Robert De Niro in talks to join the cast. Conroy will reportedly play the Joker’s mother while Beetz is set to play a single mom who becomes involved with the proto-Joker. De Niro is eyeing a talk-show host role which will, allegedly, tie directly into Phoenix’s character becoming the Clown Prince of Crime. GLOW’s Marc Maron will also appear as a member of De Niro’s staff. And based on recent Tweets from Alec Baldwin, Thomas Wayne may appear in the movie, but the 30 Rock vet will definitely not play him. The script, by Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver, will delve into the character’s backstory with Phoenix claiming the film is more of a character study than a summer action picture. Considering the project’s reported $50 million budget, we’re inclined to believe him.
Release Date: November 1, 2019
What We Know: Diana (Gal Gadot) returns in another tale of Wonder Woman’s past. This time, Diana’s adventures in the Cold War 1980s bring her into confrontation with the Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), whose plans for Wonder Woman – and the world – will no doubt go beyond the mere jealousy her Golden Age comics counterpart often felt. Chris Pine returns as Steve Trevor, though the nature of his return has not been revealed. Pedro Pascal will also play a pivotal, yet unnamed role.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Despite Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’s assertion that Diana went into seclusion after World War I, the sequel appears to be disregarding the plot point as director Patty Jenkins places Wonder Woman in another period adventure. Steve Trevor’s apparent return also signals a big change in continuity as his WWI death was mentioned in Justice League.
Release Date: February 7, 2020
What We Know: Margot Robbie will star in and produce a Birds of Prey film to be directed by Dead Pigs’ Cathy Yan from a script by Christina Hodson, which will see Robbie’s Harley Quinn take an active role in the superhero team. Traditionally, Barbara Gordon (as Oracle) oversees a field team comprised of Black Canary and the Huntress. Since Barbara has never been established in the current film universe (more on that later) – and will not appear in the film – Harley may actually end up forming the team to reportedly face off against crime lord Roman Sionis – a.k.a. Black Mask. In late September, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were cast as Black Canary and Huntress, respectively. Other characters reportedly set for the film include another Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, and beloved Gotham City Police detective Renee Montoya.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: As one of the best features of Suicide Squad, Robbie has a certain cachet to develop her own corner of the DC film universe. Of course, Robbie and Harley are set to appear in a surprising number of DC projects, including a film directly tied to the character’s relationship with the Joker (to be directed and written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa). But as Birds of Prey will likely be the first to arrive in theaters, it will dictate her place in the universe going forward.
Beyond the release of the Wonder Woman’s sequel, the DC Films schedule gets hazy. Warner Bros. Pictures had announced two release dates for unnamed DC projects – February 14, 2020, and June 5, 2020 – in addition to provisional 2020 release dates for Green Lantern Corps and Cyborg. According to some reports, Warner Bros. intends to release four DC films in 2020, but it is still unclear if April and June are the new release dates for GLC and Cyborg or if they are additions to the schedule. It is also unclear which of many in-development films will take over these potential new release slots, but here is a look at the contenders.
Release Date: April 3, 2020 (provisionally)
What We Know: Ray Fisher has been set to star as Vic Stone in a 2020 Cyborg film since 2014, but no director or screenwriter have ever been announced. Many have doubted the film will ever materialize despite still being on the calendar.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: As Justice League explained how Vic ended up partly metal and partly real, a further Cyborg adventure would see him adjusting to life as a robotic superhero. Or, perhaps, meeting others like him and forming a supergroup of his own. This was even rumored at one point, but the arrival of a Titans television show (set to debut on the DC Universe streaming service) definitely makes this less likely.
Release Date: July 24, 2020 (provisionally)
What We Know: Announced back with Cyborg in the 2014 masterplan, Green Lantern Corps continues to slowly move forward. In June of 2018, former DC Entertainment president and chief creative officer Geoff Johns took over writing and producing the project through his production company, Mad Ghost Productions. According to the company website, the film will feature both the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan (played by Ryan Reynolds in the 2011 film), and John Stewart, the Green Lantern voiced by Phil LaMarr in various Justice League animated series. An earlier concept developed by Man of Steel’s David S. Goyer and Justin Rhodes was said to be a sort of “Lethal Weapon in space” – a description which may still hold true for Johns’ concept as he worked with Lethal Weapon director Richard Donner for a number of years.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Teased in a Justice League flashback, the lack of an Earthbound Green Lantern is part of the reason Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) chose the planet for conquest. But the film would presumably see the Corps correcting that mistake by revealing the brave humans involved in that organization. No doubt the fans of Jordan and Stewart – to say nothing of characters like Guy Gardner, Simon Baz, Jessica Cruz, and G’Nort, who could potentially appear in the film – will be excited to see them in an ensemble. Additionally, the film would provide a perfect platform with which to introduce DC’s space-faring characters to a larger audience.
Release Date: 2021
What We Know: A Flash film will eventually be made starring Ezra Miller as the Barry Allen featured in Justice League and Kiersey Clemons as the big screen’s version of Iris West. But after losing two directors – Seth Grahame-Smith and Rick Famuyiwa – and a title change from The Flash to Flashpoint and back again, the nature of the film may be as malleable as its reported Back to the Future-esque premise. Perhaps Game Night directors John Francis Daley and Joshua Goldstein, currently attached to direct the film, can figure it out. Production was scheduled to begin in March, but Warner Bros. Pictures announced in October another production delay to accommodate Miller’s commitments to the third Fantastic Beasts film and further script revisions.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: In its Flashpoint incarnation – in which Barry’s attempt to save his mother wrecks the universe – the film would have reportedly featured Gadot as Wonder Woman and an appearance by Ben Affleck as the Batman. Other rumors also indicated the Flashpoint universe’s Batman, Thomas Wayne, would figure heavily in the story while creating an opportunity to recast Batman once Barry fixes his time traveling mistake.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: The Cloverfield Paradox’s Oren Uziel is reportedly writing a script based on the Girl of Steel. Like The Flash feature film, it will presumably ignore the successful television series on The CW and tell its own version of Kara Zor-El’s first few days as a superhero on Earth. With Man of Steel star Henry Cavill’s DC future in doubt, it is unlikely that Superman will show up and help greet the cinematic Kara. The producers of the 1984 Supergirl film also tried to get then-Superman Christopher Reeve to appear in the film, but his presence was limited to a poster on a dorm room wall.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: The film will presumably be set within the DC film continuity whether Cavill appears or not. The studio is interested in creating a cohesive whole with lower-profile characters thanks to the success of the first Wonder Woman picture. Supergirl also offers the opportunity to make a Superman-style movie without his baggage or distracting notoriety.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: While it is unclear if Blackhawk will be part of the DC film universe, it is a favorite comic book of director Steven Spielberg. He even tried to get a Blackhawk movie off the ground in the 1980s. The current version of the project will see him direct a film based on the golden-age Quality Comics concept later bought by DC in 1957 with The Lost World: Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp adapting the concept. The main character is the leader of the Blackhawks squadron, a famed air outfit of seven ace pilots during World War II. When DC incorporated them into a post-war context, they became mercenaries, battled James Bond-style supervillains, and even flirted with become superheroes themselves! It is unclear which version Spielberg and Koepp will adapt, but considering the director’s fascination with the Second World War and aviation of the period, the original Golden Age version seems the likely focus.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: At one time, The Accountant’s Gavin O’Connor was set to direct the Suicide Squad sequel, which was said to begin production in the Fall. But in October, Warner Bros. made the startling announcement that Guardians of the Galaxy, director James Gunn – who departed his post as director of that series’ Volume 3 – is working on a “fresh take” of Suicide Squad. At the moment, he is only signed to write a new script, but there is a possibility he will direct as well. It is unclear if any of the established members of Task Force X will return for another mission or if Gunn will assemble a new squad. We’re also betting the ongoing conflict between Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker (Jared Leto) will be saved for its own film.
How It Fits in the DC Film Universe: With Gunn taking over as screenwriter, Suicide Squad 2 becomes more of a wild card. Where the previous version of the sequel was likely a continuation of the first, this could go in any direction, from Deadshot (Will Smith) leading a new team to a prequel featuring an earlier Suicide Squad fighting weird monsters in the Pacific – a nod to the title’s Silver Age past.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: Originally intended as Joss Whedon’s writing and directing debut in the DC Extended Universe, the project is now being written by Hodson while the studio looks for a director. Presumably, the film will establish Barbara Gordon as the Batgirl of Gotham. Her relationship to the Birds of Prey will likely be established in a subsequent sequel to either film, if at all. But considering Hodson is writing both films, she probably has a plan for Babs.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Considering the project comes from developments outside of the original Justice League plan, it is difficult to guess how it will fit in. Perhaps Batgirl will be set sometime in the past or see Barbara taking up the cape and cowl after the Batman appears to quit. Considering Affleck’s ambiguous participation of late, any and all Batfamily projects may have to wait on him.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: War for the Planet of the Apes’ Matt Reeves took over directing duties on The Batman following the departure of Affleck, who intended to star, co-write, and direct. Creative differences saw his role reduced to star, and even that is in doubt on any given day. In August of 2018, Affleck’s personal problems overshadowed the ongoing question about his continued involvement. One subsequent rumor suggested Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s Oscar Isaac may be in talks to join the film, which led many to speculate he may be Affleck’s replacement.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: The projects ties to the established film continuity are as questionable as Affleck’s commitment to the role. Late last year, rumors began to emerge that Reeves’ vision for the film set it outside the Man of Steel universe as a “standalone” story, like Todd Phillips’ Joker with Joaquin Phoenix. The studio moved quickly to quash the reports, but the film may still end up having no connection to the established DC films universe. If it does remain in continuity, it may still have to introduce a new Batman should Affleck decisively walk away.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: According to recent reports, Jared Leto will star and serve as executive producer in his own solo Joker film – a deal which happens to be quite similar to Robbie’s involvement in Birds of Prey. Details are scarce, other than it will be a separate project from both the “Joker and Harley” concept and the standalone Joker. It will also spearhead a batch of films based on the characters featured in Suicide Squad, which means rumors of that Deadshot movie might be more than idle talk.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: The Leto Joker was not only featured in Suicide Squad, but is also the murderer of Batman’s second Robin, as implied in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. His relationship with Harley will no doubt be a topic in Suicide Squad 2, and that film will presumably set up the reason why they are headed into separate film series. If the “Joker and Harley” project is still happening, then it may serve as a capstone to the characters’ storylines across Suicide Squad 2, Birds of Prey, and Leto’s Joker. But it may also serve as a replacement for that film as Robbie’s Harley projects may preclude “Joker and Harley.”
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: As of this past February, The LEGO Batman Movie’s Chris McKay was still developing a project centered on the first Robin, Dick Grayson. A final draft from screenwriter Bill Dubuque was due at the time, but there has been no movement since.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: As established in Justice League, the Robin costume in the Batcave is not Dick Grayson’s uniform, suggesting plans for Nightwing go all the way back to the 2014 masterplan. A solo film would presumably see the character living in Bludhaven (Grayson’s adopted city in the comics) and coming to grips with becoming his own hero.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: In September of 2017, X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn met with the studio in regards to a direct Man of Steel sequel. One year later, word of Cavill’s possible departure suggests a Man of Steel sequel is very far away. Of course, it could just the thing to tempt the star back into his tights.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Clark (Henry Cavill) has to reestablish himself at the Daily Planet at some point, right? Meanwhile, Superman could face any number of DCU villains from Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) to Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson), should the latter’s film occur first.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: After listening to fans when he was initially interested in Shazam!, Johnson signed on to star in a film featuring that character’s greatest nemesis, Black Adam. Adam Sztykiel was reportedly hired to write the script, but little official word has emerged since 2017. According to recent comments from Johnson, the film is set to begin production sometime next year. The film still lacks a director or screenwriter, but Johnson has been known to conjure up productions out of nothing. In July, Johnson said the script is “coming along” amidst the retooling of DC’s film universe plan.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Black Adam is the archenemy of Shazam. But he is also a fairly complicated anti-hero when dealing with anyone else. Heroic one moment and brutal the next, Adam could emerge as the powerful leader of his own country – an idea straight from the comic books.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: The Raid series’ Gareth Evans was in talks to write and direct a feature film based on Deathstroke, but no official announcement was ever made. Joe Manganiello, originally set to play the character in Affleck’s version of The Batman, said over the summer that plans are still “in the works” to bring the character back in some form, but could not confirm if the Evans version of the film is still in development. In October, Evans stated he would be working on a television show in the U.K. through 2020, after which he plans to make “a bunch of films in Wales.” He did not mention Deathstroke.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: As teased at the end of Justice League, Deathstroke is a player in the darker parts of the DC film universe and has already been recruited for Lex’s Injustice Gang. Whether or not the film will continue that plot remains to be seen.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: The Main Man, a Czarnian with various superpowers and healing factors, has always been of interest to Warner Bros. Attempts to make a Lobo movie date back to 2009 with Guy Ritchie and Brad Peyton circling the director’s chair. As of the past February, screenwriter Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) was completing a new draft. Michael Bay was linked to the project, but it is unclear if he ever really signed on.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: Lobo, like Green Lantern Corps, could introduce the cosmic elements of the DC Universe. The character’s irreverence and stark design also set him apart from the rest the DC characters audiences are familiar with. And considering the times his comic book counterpart and Superman have butted heads, he could become a worthy opponent for the Man of Steel in a subsequent film.
Release Date: TBD
What We Know: A Wrinkle In Time’s Ava DuVernay will direct a film version Jack Kirby’s New Gods for Warner Bros. with a script from Kario Salem. The film will, presumably, center on the war between New Genesis and Apokolips – a pair of alien worlds born out of the death of the Old Gods – and its newest battlefront: the planet Earth. Orion, the adopted son of New Genesis’ Highfather, fights an unending battle against the despot of Apokolips, Darkseid.
How It Fits in the DC Extended Universe: While it is unclear if DuVernay will follow up on this plot point, New Gods villain Darkseid is the central baddie at the core of all things. Justice League villain Steppenwolf is his uncle and commander of his armies. The alpha predator may even be the person Lex was referring to at the end of Batman v Superman when he told Batman “he’s coming,” and “he’s hungry.” Based on that, it seems Darkseid was always meant to make his mark upon the DC Film universe, but it remains to be seen if the Justice League will reunite to oppose him.