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Warner Bros. shelves 'New Gods' from Ava DuVernay and James Wan's Aquaman spinoff 'The Trench'

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Apr 1, 2021, 6:07 PM EDT (Updated)

Two high-profile DC Comics projects have just been put on the back burner at Warner Bros. as the studio's upcoming slate of superhero films takes sharper focus. As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, both the planned New Gods film from director Ava DuVernay and the Aquaman spinoff film The Trench will "not be moving forward" at this time, though the studio does leave the door open to consider the projects again the future. 

"As part of our DC slate, some legacy development titles including New Gods and The Trench will not be moving forward," Warner Bros. and DC said in a statement. "We thank our partners Ava DuVernay, Tom King, James Wan and Peter Safran for their time and collaboration during this process and look forward to our continued partnership with them on other DC stories. The projects will remain in their skillful hands if they were to move forward in the future."

First announced in 2018, DuVernay's New Gods project was set to bring several of the title characters, created by Jack Kirby as part of his Fourth World at DC in the 1970s, to the big screen for the first time. DuVernay was writing the project alongside comics creator Tom King (Mr. Miracle), and remains a key player at DC thanks to her ongoing work on the upcoming CW superhero series Naomi. 

The same is true of James Wan, who was developing The Trench — a horror-tinged project focused on the deep sea dwelling creatures from Aquaman — as a spinoff even as he continued to prep for Aquaman 2. That sequel, starring Jason Momoa in the title role once again, is still on the way. 

Both projects were put on hold for various reasons — including an apparent concern that Darkseid, New Gods' villain, shouldn't appear on the big screen again so soon after his appearance in Zack Snyder's Justice League — but neither is entirely dead. The projects could yet find new life further down the road in DC's development schedule, and there's even been some consideration about moving The Trench to streaming at a service like HBO Max, according to THR. 

The news arrives at a time when Warner Bros. is once again reshaping its approach to DC Comics material after a period of rather loosely connected films like Shazam! and Birds of Prey. With the exception of The Batman and its alternate universe approach, the studio is now doing its best to once again coalesce all of its films and streaming series into one universe. Andy Muschietti's upcoming The Flash is a linchpin within this plan thanks to its multiversal storytelling approach, which will also see the use of HBO Max as a streaming platform to continue ongoing stories through projects like The Suicide Squad spinoff Peacemaker and the untiled Gotham City series spinning off from The Batman

Among the other major upcoming DC projects set to hit the big screen in the next few years there's also the Shazam! sequel, Fury of the Gods, Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam, and developing projects focused on SupergirlZatannaStatic ShockGreen Lantern Corps, and more. It's a big universe, but it apparently doesn't have room for these two very ambitious films right now.