Despite being the big payoff where all of DC’s main heroes finally join forces, JL continued the franchise’s trend of each entry having a lower-grossing opening weekend than the last. Time Warner, WB’s parent company, puts a lot of that blame on director Zack Snyder. Though it ended up turning a profit, Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was loathed by critics and fans, leaving TW frustrated when he was brought back on for the follow-up. Their concerns were proven valid when an early cut of the film “alarmed studio executives with its dark tone,” according to Variety. (Had they not watched Man of Steel or BvS?) Execs also had an issue with Snyder’s choice of a bland, CGI monstrosity, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), as the primary villain.
Unsurprisingly, there are no plans for Snyder to direct another DC movie, though he’ll still receive a producer or executive producer credit on films like the forthcoming Aquaman and Wonder Woman sequel. The bigger shake up, however, is the ousting of DC Films’ Co-President of Production, Jon Berg.
Berg will leave his job as head of DC Films in January. He’ll transition to a producer role alongside his partner Roy Lee, who worked on films such as The LEGO Movie and It. According to Warner Bros. Picture Group President Toby Emmerich, the decision to change jobs was actually Berg’s idea. “This is something that Jon approached me about six months ago, and he expressed his goal was to ultimately be a producer at the studio,” he said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that Jon is partnering with Roy and anticipate their company being a valuable source of movies for Warner Bros. and New Line.”
While it seems DC Entertainment’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns will remain involved in DC Films, Variety reports his role may become “more advisory in nature.” In fact, DC Films as an entity could end up being integrated into WB’s main studio branch, moving it from a separate facility to the same building. That’s how FOX and Sony handle their superhero wings, though Marvel Studios operates relatively independently from Disney.
The irony in all of this is that DC Films was established as a reaction to Snyder’s failure with BvS. Now that the latest attempt by the director has shown there’s no chance of the DC Extended Universe continuing in its current iteration, it seems WB is once again making a snap decision to restructure everything instead of fixing what’s broken.
Of course, the writing was already on the wall. While director James Wan’s Aquaman is moving steadily towards its December 2018 release date and Patty Jenkins resigned for Wonder Woman 2, the other DCEU movies are on shaky grounds. Ben Affleck is apparently set to reprise Batman in the potentially universe-altering Flash: Flashpoint (which, if you know the story of that subtitle, makes no sense), but Matt Reeves is said to be looking to recast the part for his solo Bat film. Then there’s the other Justice Leaguer, Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who, despite being far and a way one of the most interesting and well-acted characters in JL, has seen his own solo adventure stalled.