The future of the DCEU is standalone movies: Why things probably won’t change much

Last year before Justice League came out, DC presidents Geoff Johns and Diane Nelson told Vulture that the DCEU would be focusing on standalone stories going forward. The movies wouldn’t be building towards a bigger story in the way that Batman v Superman did. But the DCEU got a new boss in Walter Hamada earlier this year, and Johns and Nelson both left DC last month. So what’s the current plan?

According to scooper @DanielRPK, “The future is standalone, with very few crossovers.” So the plan put in place by Geoff Johns last year appears to be sticking with the new people in charge. But before fans get upset, I want to explain why things probably won’t change much at all when compared to the last five years of the DCEU.

It all started in 2013 when Man of Steel hit theaters. That movie was made in 2011, before Christopher Nolan even completed his Dark Knight Trilogy, and there were no plans for the DCEU that we have today. Man of Steel was a standalone movie. Suicide Squad was a standalone movie, with just a reference to Superman’s death from Batman v Superman to tie the stories together. Wonder Woman was a standalone movie, with just a reference to Bruce Wayne’s letter from Batman v Superman. Aquaman will be a standalone movie, with just a mention of the events from Justice League. And Shazam and Wonder Woman 1984 will be standalone movies when they hit theaters next year.

The only movie that was really made to set up a future movie or bigger overall story was Batman v Superman. That movie had references not only to Justice League but to Justice League 2 as well, according to director Zack Snyder. It’s a perfect example of why Warner Bros. shouldn’t “world build” too soon. Not only could it hurt the story that you’re trying to tell, but it could lead to a lot of dead ends like the “Knightmare Batman” scene did.

So going forward, we’re not going to see movies like Batman v Superman. There won’t be movies “about another movie”, as Geoff Johns put it. We may see little cameos like the one that Henry Cavill’s Superman is rumored to have in Shazam, to remind fans that these characters all exist in the same universe, but we’re not going to be building to a bigger story or team-up movie in the way that Batman v Superman did with Justice League, or the Marvel movies did with Avengers: Infinity War.

Is there potential for the future? Absolutely. If Aquaman, Shazam, The Batman, The Flash, and others connect with audiences and critics the way that Wonder Woman did last year, you can bet that Warner Bros. will want to capitalize by putting them all in a big movie together. For now, the future of the DCEU is standalone movies with little crossover.

Are you happy with this approach? Or do you wish there was a plan to build towards a bigger story like a Justice League 2? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.