Warner Bros. Finally Sets Its Own Kevin Feige in Post-‘Batman v Superman’ Executive Shakeup

     May 17, 2016

The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice fallout isn’t over just yet, and Warner Bros. has made its biggest move thus far in course-correcting after the disappointing critical and commercial reception to the superhero smackdown. Per THR, the studio has set DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and WB executive vice-president Jon Berg to co-run DC Films, serving as the first executives specifically in charge of running the studio’s slate of DC Comics Adaptations.

Johns has been involved with all of the films since Man of Steel in one capacity or another, serving as a member of the DC Braintrust, but this move puts him at the head of the fray in an official capacity as a creative executive who can hopefully help spearhead the development and production of the films going forward. Berg, meanwhile, is also well-entrenched in the DC Extended Universe, having already worked on Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. Moreover, both men have a connection to Batman himself, Ben Affleck. Johns has been co-writing a standalone Batman movie with Affleck, and Berg worked with the filmmaker as a WB executive on Argo and Affleck’s upcoming Live by Night.


Image via Warner Bros.

This DC shakeup is part of a larger transition at Warner Bros., which is shifting its executives into being in charge of more specific “genre streams”—Johns and Berg will run DC Films, Courtenay Valenti will oversee the LEGO Movie franchise and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies, and Jesse Ehrman and Niija Kuykendall will spearhead comedy/family and action/sci-fi films for Warner Bros., respectively.

So what does this mean for the DC slate of films, exactly? Essentially, Warner Bros. just finally learned the right lesson from rival Marvel Studios. One of the reasons Marvel has succeeded is because it has an incredibly passionate creative in charge of the MCU in Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. He approaches the development and production of the various MCU movies as an expert on the source material and a consummate storyteller, and with a single voice he’s able to funnel the various ideas into the pipeline to either get them going or put them back into development.

Warner Bros. lacked a singular voice for its DC movies, with BvS filmmaker Zack Snyder somewhat falling into the head position by default as the director of BvS and Justice League, and as a result the approach to its various films has been muddled and a bit haphazard. By officially putting Johns and Berg in charge of DC Films, there’s now at least a semblance of order in terms of setting up and executing the slate going forward, so hopefully this is a step in the right direction.


Image via Warner Bros.

While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has grossed nearly $870 million worldwide since its late March release, that’s a far cry from the $1 billion WB was hoping to hit given that the film pits the two most iconic comic book characters of all time against one another for the first time in screen history. To add insult to injury, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War is about to hit $1 billion in just two weeks of release.

This executive shakeup isn’t the only measure WB has taken to enact some changes in the wake of BvS. Affleck was recently upped to executive producer on Justice League, making him an official creative voice in the superhero follow-up that began production just weeks after BvS opened. Additionally, the studio and The Flash director Seth Grahame-Smith parted ways, with THR noting that WB is now looking for a more seasoned filmmaker (The Flash would’ve been Grahame-Smith’s feature debut) who can not only handle a big budget, but can also put an authorial stamp on the movie—this is still the filmmaker-driven Warner Bros. after all.

And just this week we learned that WB is developing a Harley Quinn spinoff for Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad character, signaling that the studio’s initial slate of DC films up through 2020 might not be complete or final.


Image via Warner Bros.

Speaking of which, THR notes that this August’s promising Suicide Squad has been another point of post-BvS fallout, as Johns’ involvement in that film’s post-production directly led to the escalation of his role in the DC movies. The report adds that Suicide Squad underwent “major additional photography” to clear up some third act issues, and indeed director David Ayer previously hinted that the widely-reported reshoots involved a new action sequence.

Setting Johns and Berg as the heads of DC Films is certainly a solid step in the right direction, but THR cautions that further executive changes are anticipated, so this may not be the end of the Batman v Superman fallout just yet. The good news is the studio is acknowledging that they may need to change a few things, and the slate is pretty solid. Here’s hoping the DC Extended Universe can course-correct, because these movies—particularly Patty Jenkins‘ Wonder Woman and James Wan‘s Aquaman—have the potential to be terrific.


Image via Warner Bros.


Image via Warner Bros.


Image via Warner Bros.


Image via Warner Bros.

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