It’s taken a few years for them to get their rear in gear, but Warner Bros. is now moving full-speed ahead on its slew of DC superhero movies. Man of Steel tested the waters, but starting with next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice we’ll be seeing the interconnected DC Universe in full swing. The big question everyone has on their minds, though, is how Warner Bros.’ approach to its A-List comic properties will differ from how Marvel Studios handles its material. Obviously Marvel has had a big head start (they’re already on Phase Three while WB’s universe hasn’t really been born yet), but Warners has the best toys of anyone on the playground, so now it comes down to how they’ll use them.
Speaking with THR, Warner Bros. executive Greg Silverman recently spoke a bit about the studio’s plans for its superhero universe, which—surprise—involves courting the best filmmakers in the business:
“We have a great strategy for the DC films, which is to take these beloved characters and put them in the hands of master filmmakers and make sure they all coordinate with each other. You’ll see the difference when you see Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League and all the things that we are working on.”
Indeed, WB has built up a stable of interesting filmmaker choices for its WB pics, setting Phil Lord and Chris Miller to craft the take (and hopefully direct) for The Flash movie and courting The Conjuring and Furious 7 helmer James Wan for Aquaman. “Varied yet talented” is a fantastic game plan as far as I’m concerned, and while we’ve only seen Zack Snyder’s take on the DC Universe thus far, I have a good feeling about David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy set a grounded and very serious precedent for how WB approaches its material, but Suicide Squad certainly looks much more “comic book-y” than anything we’ve seen from WB in a long time. Is there a nervousness that things might get too serious with WB’s slate in contrast to Marvel’s lineup?
“There is intensity and a seriousness of purpose to some of these characters. The filmmakers who are tackling these properties are making great movies about superheroes; they aren’t making superhero movies. And when you are trying to make a good movie, you tackle interesting philosophies and character development. There’s also humor, which is an important part.”
I think “great movies about superheroes” is a promising way to put it, and I’m eager to see how the slate fills out going forward. After Suicide Squad, we’ve got Wonder Woman, which will be the first female-led superhero movie of the current era. There was a directorial snafu in which Michelle MacLaren signed on and then dropped out over creative differences, but Silverman says MacLaren and current director Patty Jenkins were always at the top of their list:
“We had a very intensive process looking at everybody. Patty and Michelle were really the ones who came to the forefront the first go-round, so when things didn’t work out with Michelle, we all knew we had someone great who had expressed interest before. She came back and is doing a great job. But it was never about the best female director. She has demonstrated doing amazing work with female characters, such as in Monster.”
With regards to Wonder Woman, though, a curious piece of info leaked recently: Warner Bros. has numerous writers writing different versions of the script separate from each other, essentially competing to write the best Wonder Woman script with each other, without knowing what the other is doing. The aim is to pull the best pieces from each script and Frankenstein together the finished take, but many have taken issue with this approach that seems to devalue the screenwriter. Silverman addressed those reports:
“Every project is different. On some projects, we have multiple writers working together. In some cases, we put writers together who have never been a team together. And sometimes, there is only one writer whose voice is right. In the case of Wonder Woman, the right approach was to have writers pitching different scenes within the framework we created.”
Jenkins is certainly putting together an interesting cast, with Chris Pine recently entering negotiations to play Gal Gadot’s love interest in the pic, so here’s hoping WB really nails Wonder Woman. The world could use a great female superhero movie right now—though I’d argue Mad Max: Fury Road qualifies.