If Kevin Smith is right, we might have been thinking about the Warner Bros. approach to building a superhero universe all wrong.
Smith, who's known just as much for his time as a professional comic-book writer and fan (he has an entire podcast devoted to his love of Batman) as for his filmmaking, hasn't been shy about sharing whatever knowledge he can about the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Smith has publicly interviewed the director, Zack Snyder, and is good friends with one of the film's stars, Ben Affleck, so it makes sense that he'd have certain impressions about the film that we don't.
In the past, Smith has given his impressions of the Batman costume design and other such tidbits from the making of the film, and on a recent episode of his Hollywood Babble-on podcast, he opened up a bit about his understanding of where Warner Bros. is hoping to go with its superhero stories following Man of Steel. We already know that Dawn of Justice is set to feature Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Lex Luthor, though we don't yet know how much each of those characters (particularly the characters whose names aren't in the title) will be involved. We also know that Justice League is reportedly the title of the Dawn of Justice followup film that Snyder's already set to direct. Beyond that, we still don't know exactly how the League will come together, how many members it will have or who'll they'll end up facing. If Smith knows those things, he's not telling, but he is saying that Warner Bros. is thinking of its Justice League story not as a single epic film preceded by some buildup movies, but as one long story spread out across several films.
“But look, they’re obviously beginning something, and there’s a stretch of these flicks,” Smith said. “And so this is the beginning of the Justice League, as we all suspected as they were announcing that cast. We were like, ‘This is the beginning of a Justice League movie.’ From what I understand now, it’s no longer like, ‘This is Superman 2.’ They’re not doing these things. They’re doing like, ‘Here’s Man of Steel. Here’s Batman/Superman: Dawn of Justice.’ The next one is not like a sequel to one of the characters. They’re just going to keep building their universe for about five or six movies.”
“But all of them…it’s supposed to tell one massive story, which is all Justice League oriented."
Ever since word started to spread at last year's San Diego Comic-Con that the Man of Steel followup would be a Batman/Superman movie, and that Justice League would likely follow it, many fans have been disheartened by Warner Bros.' approach, deeming it inferior to Marvel's decision to tell several single-hero stories in the lead-up to a big ensemble piece. If Smith is right, though, Warner Bros. could be up to something else. We could be set for half a dozen films that all tell the story of a coalescing and then active Justice League, with all the bumps and internal conflicts that might entail along the way. That's still not the same as giving us solo films for Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the like (though, for all we know, those could be coming too), but it is less simplistic than what many were expecting from Warner Bros. Of course, what we see onscreen could be something entirely different from what Smith is describing here, but we can call it food for thought.
Oh, and also, Smith isn't wild about that title either.
“It’s a bit of a mouthful. And also, I don’t know why Batman V. Superman. Why not just throw the “s” in there? Or spell it or something like that,” he said. “Or honestly, every comic book fan on the planet, who is a DC comic book fan, I think we all wanted to see Batman/Superman: World’s Finest.”
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters May 6, 2016.