On December 15, 2022, actor Henry Cavill posted on Instagram. It stated that he has bid adieu to his role as DC’s live-action Superman. On October 24, 2022, barely two months ago, he had put up an Instagram post stating that he was back as DC’s Superman after cameoing in Dwayne Johnson’s “Black Adam” and teased that there was more to come with Superman. So, what changed in just two months?
On October 25, 2022, just a day after Henry Cavill announced his return, Deadline reported that James Gunn and Peter Safran got hired as co-CEOs and co-chairmen of DC Studios. The outlet said that the duo was in charge of overseeing the direction of DC across TV, film, and animation. So, everything was going to be under one banner. Regarding Henry Cavill’s departure, James Gunn tweeted that he had chosen to let the actor go because he was writing a new Superman movie. He also stated that the film would feature a young Superman. So that was the real reason why Cavill got booted after being brought back. This lone incident sent shockwaves throughout the DC fandom and Hollywood. Slowly, rumors began to spread that James Gunn wanted to fully reboot the DC universe or DCU. But is it true? What projects are part of it? Let us decode it.
Is DC Really Headed For A Hard Reboot?
Henry Cavill isn’t the only actor to depart the DC universe. Dwayne Johnson announced on December 21 in a Twitter post that he was leaving too since the sequel to his “Black Adam” movie wasn’t moving forward. That’s not all. The Hollywood Reporter reported that Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman 3” was shelved too. The director then took Twitter a couple of days after THR broke the story to vaguely assert that she was ready to rework on the script of her movie and work together with the new DC regime. But the new DC bosses were the ones who weren’t willing to have that conversation. Soon, rumors began to spread that Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman, was unofficially out of DC too. The same THR article also reported that Jason Momoa, who plays Aquaman, was departing from his role too. The outlet said he was instead going to play a new character in the new DC Universe. Fans theorized that Gadot and Momoa hadn’t announced their official departures like Cavill, and Johnson did because, reportedly, Wonder Woman has a cameo appearance in the upcoming 2023 DC movies “Shazam: The Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash.” Also, Momoa too has a new DC movie coming out in 2023 titled “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.”
Speaking of “Shazam: The Fury of the Gods,” lead actor Zachary Levi took to Instagram to say that he doesn’t know if he will play the role in future. His words seemed to imply that neither James Gunn nor Peter Safran had reached out to him to clarify his position in the DC Universe. All this news spread the current rumor that James Gunn and Peter Safran were hard rebooting the DC universe and starting afresh. What gives more credence to this speculation is an observation. Many observed that even though Gunn is quick to dismiss any rumors on Twitter and frequently responds to fan questions, he did not answer any questions outright asking him if he’s hard rebooting DC. The current theory behind his ignoring this question outright is that four DC movies will be released in 2023. All of them were filmed before Gunn and Safran came to power.
These four movies are “The Flash,” “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” and “Blue Beetle.” So, if he announces that DC is undergoing a reboot, this will mean that the storylines and characters of these 4 movies won’t be further explored in future projects. As such, people might not show up to watch these films. As a result, Warner Bros. Discovery (the parent company) will lose money. But not everyone believes in the hard reboot theory. Many think that some actors will remain. Specifically, the names of Margot Robbie, who plays Harley Quinn, and John Cena, who plays Peacemaker, have come up during such conversations. After all, James Gunn has directed these two actors in his 2021 DC movie, “The Suicide Squad.”
While some fans are angry at Gunn for supposedly playing favorites, it should be mentioned here that “The Suicide Squad” was almost a reboot of the 2016 DC movie titled “Suicide Squad” directed by David Ayer. There, Cena’s Peacemaker was a newly introduced character, and Robbie’s Harley Quinn seemed to have gotten a backstory reboot too. So, it remains to be seen if Gunn and Safran will polish the entire plate and start again or if they will pick and choose what to keep. But either way, a single question remains: what will the new DCU slate be?
What Have James Gunn And Peter Safran Planned For The New DCU?
James Gunn has stated on the social media site Mastodon that he is striving for better synergy with DC’s comics division regarding the characters they will bring to the general public. This will hopefully ensure better publicity for the characters they introduce. Along with this, through various tweets, he has stated that he is actively developing projects that aren’t set in the mainline DC Universe. Now, this could refer to the two projects that already aren’t part of the main DC universe. These movies are “The Batman,” starring Robert Pattinson and directed by Matt Reeves, and “The Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Todd Phillips. But chances are that Gunn is planning on expanding this slate.
What About The New Live-Action Movie Slate Of The Mainline DCU?
Rumors are going around in DC subreddits that Gunn’s first five movies in the new DCU will feature Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Zatanna, and the Titans. Now, Reddit rumors should always be considered with a pinch of salt, but the first three projects on this list make sense. After all, it’s important to introduce the DC Trinity first before bringing about any other character. After all, almost every other hero in the DC universe is directly or indirectly linked to them.
The Box-Office Magic Question
The question of rebooting the entire DC slate isn’t new. Previous DC regimes have toyed with the idea of a full reboot as well. The first-time rumors of a hard reboot began to circulate was after “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016) got critically slammed and failed to make the amount of money producers had hoped for at the box office. Then came the “Justice League” in 2017. It flopped harder, both critically and commercially, more than “Batman vs. Superman.” But there was one project that stopped the then-DC bosses from rebooting. It was the 2017 movie “Wonder Woman.” Made on a reported budget of $120 to $150 million, the film broke all expectations and grossed more than $820 million at the box office. If DC had rebooted, this movie wouldn’t have expanded into a franchise. Also, with that, any goodwill DC had left with the general public would have vanished too.
The 2018 success of “Aquaman,” which grossed more than $1.1 billion, further discouraged any conversations about a full reboot. One has to wonder if James Gunn will have to deal with a similar question. If any of the upcoming 2023 DC movies do bonkers in the box office business, will he still go through with the rumored hard reboot? It will be interesting to see how the new DC boss deals with this. James Gunn has stated on Twitter that he will announce a few new projects that will be a part of the main slate in the new year. So right now, let’s wait and watch.
See more: Decoding The Marvel Fatigue: Is It Real? Or A Creation Of The Internet Echo Chamber?