As the restructuring of Warner Bros. Discovery continues, new details of company president David Zaslav’s plans DC point to hopes of mirroring Marvel’s cinematic success.
Marvel Studios’ success is undeniable. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s fanbase is one of the largest franchise fanbases in the world and the studio’s theatrical releases are regularly shattering box office records. But it wasn’t always like this. Marvel has steadily built up their brand and their characters’ marketability over the last 15 years, starting with the release of Iron Man and launch of the MCU back in 2008. Prior to that, DC had generally been considered the more commercial of the two major comic book companies.
Now, Warner Bros. Discovery president David Zaslav is hoping to see DC succeed on the same scale as Marvel with a major shakeup of DC Films. DC’s most recent films have generally been well received, but there is no denying that while DC produces the occasional one-off hit, they don’t have the sort of consistency and fan investment that the MCU has fostered. This all means the pressure is on in Zaslav’s current search for a new head of DC at Warner Bros. Discovery.
Much of Marvel Studios’ success can be attributed to the studio’s president, Kevin Feige. While the MCU feels like a franchise unto itself, it is in actuality a vast and interconnected web of smaller franchises – Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, etc. Each series comes with its own cast and crew. Feige has been the man at the top since day one, overseeing all of Marvel Studios’ output and crafting the overarching narrative threads that led the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame and beyond.
DC has generally lacked this same oversight. There have been attempts to find an equivalent to Marvel’s Kevin Feige in the past, but with limited success. Efforts to build an interconnected universe of the MCU’s ilk, starting with 2013’s Man of Steel and its 2016 sequel Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, floundered on the rocks of public opinion. While Zack Snyder’s DC entries certainly have their ardent fans, they have broadly failed to impress the general audience. Following Warner Bros.’ recent merger with Discovery, the new company is about ready to have another go at rebuilding DC, though finding someone to take the top spot is proving no mean feat for David Zaslav.
As Puck reports in their latest newsletter, Kevin Feige’s impressive track record and the inevitable DC/Marvel comparisons make leading DC one of “the most thankless high-profile gigs in entertainment.” The newsletter report notes that few are expecting Walter Hamada, the current president of DC Films, to be kept on by David Zaslav, who appears set on reshaping DC according to the Marvel Studios model. “DZ has decreed DC is Marvel, so it is!” said one producer.
While the desire to replicate the success of Marvel is understandable, DC is hardly in trouble right now. The Flash is testing incredibly well and recent DC films Joker and The Batman have been huge hits with audiences. The company appears to be on the right track and it is understood that David Zaslav is looking to get Joker director Todd Phillips more involved in future DC projects. Only time will tell whether Zaslav’s plans will result in a more consistently successful DC.
Here is the synopsis for DC’s The Batman:
“Two years of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City. With only a few trusted allies — Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis), Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) — amongst the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
When a killer targets Gotham’s elite with a series of sadistic machinations, a trail of cryptic clues sends the World’s Greatest Detective on an investigation into the underworld, where he encounters such characters as Selina Kyle/aka Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz), Oswald Cobblepot/aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell), Carmine Falcone (John Turturro), and Edward Nashton/aka the Riddler (Paul Dano). As the evidence begins to lead closer to home and the scale of the perpetrator’s plans becomes clear, Batman must forge new relationships, unmask the culprit, and bring justice to the abuse of power and corruption that has long plagued Gotham City.”
Directed by Matt Reeves, The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as the titular hero, Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson, Jayme Lawson as Bella Reál, with Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, Colin Farrell as the Penguin and Barry Keoghan as The Joker.
The film is now streaming exclusively on HBO Max. Stay tuned for the latest news regarding the future of DC Films, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more content!