The term “DC Extended Universe” implies so much more than just a collection of movies.
Until recently, DC fans referred to DC’s shared film universe as the DC Cinematic Universe, reflecting Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, or MCU. But just a few months ago, Empire revealed (in an interview with Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder) that the official name for the shared universe was the DC Extended Universe, or DCEU.
Of course, DC would certainly want to differentiate from Marvel, if only for marketing reasons, and to avoid confusion (remember most people probably don’t realize that Superman and Spider-Man are like Coke vs Pepsi). So the title makes sense from that perspective, but is that the only reason DC chose “extended” as the keyword in their film universe? Could DC perhaps allow themselves a bit more freedom by not restricting themselves to just the “cinematic.”
Marvel has, of course, branched out from just their cinematic films. They have streaming television shows on Netflix, traditional television with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, and even a few tie-in comics that usually prelude upcoming films. But that said, Marvel’s focus still remains mostly with the films. The comics, for example, don’t really tell an interesting story because they hinge so much on the film. There are also no books, ongoing comics, or video games in the MCU. With DC’s use of the term “extended universe,” they are leaving themselves open for extended possibilities that could set them apart. “Extended Universe” sounds a lot like “Expanded Universe,” a term used in Star Wars to refer to the many non-film Star Wars stories, and DC may be borrowing that branding.
The State of the Universe
So far, we have only one film in the DC Extended Universe timeline: Man of Steel. Starting next month with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, we know for sure that DC has the following films planned:
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
- Suicide Squad (2016)
- Wonder Woman (2017)
- Justice League, Part 1 (2017)
- The Flash (2018)
- Aquaman (2018)
- Shazam (2019)
- Justice League: Part 2 (2019)
- Cyborg (2020)
- Green Lantern Corps (2020)
In addition to this list, it is likely that we will see standalone films for Batman and Superman as well. A rumored Justice League Dark film may also be in the works. It makes sense that the primary staples of DC Entertainment (namely the Justice League and its primary members) would make up the main series of films. But, as any reader of DC Comics knows, there’s so much more than these few characters.
DC has an opportunity to reach into genres that Marvel has yet to touch. We’re already going to see that with Suicide Squad, a villain team-up film. But we recently heard a rumor that DC might also plan a Birds of Prey film with Black Canary. Birds of Prey is the name of a female-led superhero team, which would be a first in superhero cinema. Justice League Dark also provides a different approach with a mystical superhero team. In short, there are many possibilities among the films. And yet, there are so many more possibilities if DC decides to branch out to other mediums.
Current Tie-in Material
DC already has a few tie-ins to the DCEU. Man of Steel had a prequel comic that explained a new origin for Kara Zor-El (aka Supergirl). You may have heard the theory that Supergirl was on the ship discovered in the Arctic. There was an open pod in that ship, suggesting that someone escaped the frozen grave. This prequel comic confirms that theory.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will have a prequel junior novel, written by Michael Kogge (who also works on Star Wars junior novelizations). This is something that Marvel has yet to do: include books (either for adults or children) as part of their cinematic universe. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in the future from DC.
Last year, Man of Steel screenwriter David Goyer announced that he was developing a show called Krypton, which would air on SyFy. Recently he confirmed that the series was still in active development and that it would take place within the DCEU. Until now, DC has drawn a line between their cinematic and television universes, giving creators plenty of room to play around in the DCTV universe.
But it appears Krypton would take place several generations earlier than Krypton’s final moments in Man of Steel. This would allow creators to heavily build the mythology surrounding the DCEU, but wouldn’t tread directly on the toes of the films. Unlike Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which attempts to exist alongside the Marvel films, Krypton would have an untouched corner of the DCEU to play with, providing additional freedoms to the writers and directors.
DC has multiple outlets at their disposal. They could have potential video games, ongoing comics, books, television, you name it. They could all tie into the DCEU, and DC even has some experience doing this, with crossovers like the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us getting a popular comics run. Here are some possibilities (speculation on this author’s part) that DC could use as part of their Extended Universe.
- Batman History: We know Ben Affleck’s Batman already has 20 years of experience under his utility belt. What happened in all that time? We won’t likely see any films of that era, because Affleck isn’t getting any younger, and it would make little sense to cast a younger actor. An ongoing comic series, however, would be perfect to tell the 20-year story of Batman in the DCEU.
- Supergirl: Since it appears that Supergirl existed long before Man of Steel took place, an ongoing comic or book series might be a good place to tell her story. CBS already has a Supergirl television series, so I doubt we’ll see another TV show focusing on her.
- Greek Gods: Wonder Woman hits the screen in 2017, but her origin is saturated in Greek/Roman mythology. A TV show or an ongoing comic might be a great place to flesh out that complicated pantheon of Gods.
- Lobo: Lobo is an intergalactic bounty hunter with an attitude. His character would make a perfect base for a serialized TV show focusing on his exploits. His story is far enough removed so it wouldn’t step on the toes of any major films.
- Teen Titans: DC might decide to make the Teen Titans one of their films, but it would also work well as a live-action TV show. TNT reportedly has a Teen Titans show in development (most likely not part of the DCEU), but we haven’t heard much about it.
- Batman Beyond: Not all of the DCEU need take place in the past or present. Batman Beyond is the perfect opportunity to expand to untouched areas of the DCEU. It would probably work best as a film, but just think what a video game would be like!
- Harley Quinn: Harley is a fan favorite, and has already been cast in Suicide Squad (Margot Robbie). Robbie might be persuaded to star in a TV show about the character, something most fans would probably enjoy.
- Justice League 3001: Fast forward a long way into the future. Justice League 3001 focuses on the far future of the Justice League, with its own pantheon of characters. A TV show, series of books, or ongoing comic would all work well to tell the story of these characters within the context of the DC Extended Universe timeline.
Perhaps DC will just stick with their films for now, but they could do so much more. Ben Affleck, in a recent interview, stated that the plans for the DCEU were “huge.” Whatever those plans are, we can expect great things in the future.