As DC and Warner Bros. prepare the huge push for Aquaman to hit theaters, it feels like a fresh start for a franchise that has had trouble finding its place. This isn’t a knock against the quality of the movies, though we must admit a few of them weren’t great. Whether you love DC or not, you have to admit the films have struggled to find footing with critics and fans. This summer at Comic-Con International: San Diego, the studio announced that its universe would now be called the Worlds of DC -- a definite upgrade from the DC Extended Universe.
Since Man of Steel debuted in 2013, the studios have built toward a shared universe of films. The movie contained small easter eggs and hints at what else could be going on around Clark Kent, but things really got moving with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Batman and Wonder Woman joined Superman, completing the trinity. Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman had quick cameos to set up Justice League, and a world was born. Over the years, we’ve seen several TV and movie projects announced that would introduce new stories of familiar characters and expand on the established franchise. Keep in mind that DC’s TV and movie universes are not connected, though it’s not like Marvel’s is either. Before we get too focused on Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984, Shazam and Titans, the projects that are already in production, we thought it was time to rank those in development based on how interested or excited we are about those that have been simply announced.
25 JOKER ORIGIN (JOAQUIN PHOENIX)
As Batman’s most consistent and well known enemy, The Joker is one of DC’s most popular villains. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the company wants to make him a big part of its new movie franchise.
However, instead of doing an origin for the current Joker played by Jared Leto, DC is developing a completely new and separate story starring Joaquin Phoenix. Even with Phoenix, Robert DeNiro and Zazie Beetz starring, and Martin Scorsese producing there is absolutely no need for this movie -- it will only confuse an already struggling franchise.
24 JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK
There’s currently a race between Justice League Dark and Gambit to see which superhero movie can go through more directors and delays, and after losing Guillermo Del Toro and Doug Liman, the project has seemingly stalled.
The idea of Del Toro putting his signature vision on a Justice League Dark movie had us jumping for joy. Though at this point we feel like we should just enjoy seeing Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow, because that’s the closest we’re going to get to this unicorn of a project.
23 JOKER SOLO MOVIE (JARED LETO)
When we heard the list of characters being included in Suicide Squad we never thought the least interesting one would be The Joker, and with Oscar winner Jared Leto putting his stamp on the role we were cautiously optimistic.
Things didn’t go the way fans were expecting, but that hasn’t stopped Warner Bros. from trying again with a Joker standalone movie. It’s hard to imagine what the draw of Joker without Batman or Harley Quinn is -- honestly, this is a character we just don’t need to spend more time with.
22 SUICIDE SQUAD 2
While Suicide Squad is by no means perfect, it did its job of introducing the lineup and purpose of Task Force X. The characters were established well enough and chemistry amongst the team worked. Plus, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller was perfect casting.
One of the fun things about the Suicide Squad is the lineup changes a lot, so that gives the studio the opportunity to bring in new actors and not let things get too settled. We just have to hope the story is a little more flushed out this time.
Reboots are not uncommon in comic books, so why not use a famous one to iron out the problems of its film franchise? In "Flashpoint", Barry Allen goes back in time to save his mother and ends up changing the entire timeline.
The long running rumor has been that The Flash solo movie would be based on "Flashpoint". It would be the perfect way for DC and Warner Bros. to fix what needs fixing. Frankly, The Flash movie has gone through so much behind the scenes drama we don’t know what to expect, but at least we know Ezra Miller will be great.
20 BLACK ADAM
When Shazam was announced as one of DC’s movies we assumed Black Adam would be involved. Things got even more interesting when Dwayne Johnson was cast in the villain role. However, during development it was decided the character needed his own movie. Seriously, why waste The Rock in a supporting part?
The superstar has had several meetings with DC and Geoff Johns over the years, maintaining that the project is still happening. Without anything else to go on, it’s Johnson’s involvement that keeps this one mildly interesting.
Some characters are so out there or visually unique, you never think you’ll see them on-screen. However, the success of Guardians of the Galaxy has changed everything, and now studios are willing to take a few risks on popular yet unconventional properties.
For years DC has been trying to figure out how to get a Lobo movie made, with talks heating up again recently as the studio tries to woo director Michael Bay to the film. If done as an R-rated action comedy, Lobo could be interesting, though, considering the movie’s long development process, we’re not holding our breath.
18 DOOM PATROL
Among the new series the company is launching on DC Universe is Doom Patrol. The show will follow the rag tag group of heroes as they fight weird, supernatural threats. This is an interesting choice for DC to use to brand their new service, and coupled with Swamp Thing, Titans and Stargirl, it seems DC Universe is taking a decidedly more adult approach than the Arrowverse.
Confirmed to be a part of the series is, April Bowlby as Elasti-Woman, Diane Guerrero as Crazy Jane and Joivan Wade as Cyborg. Niles Caulder, Negative Man and Robotman will also be on the team.
17 GREEN LANTERN CORPS
From the moment DC and Warner Bros. made it clear they were creating a shared universe, fans began clamoring for a new Green Lantern movie. So far, the closest we’ve come is a quick glimpse in Justice League.
As the studio fully committed to the Worlds of DC, we heard they were working on a Green Lantern Corps film. With Geoff Johns announced as writer/producer we’re slightly interested, but we’ve been burned by Green Lantern in the past so you understand our hesitation.
16 HARLEY QUINN & THE JOKER
As the breakout star of Suicide Squad, DC instantly made plans to put Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in as many projects as possible. Since you can’t have Harley without Mistah J (unfortunately), a movie focusing on the two starring Robbie and Jared Leto is planned.
Though the characters are generally always fun together, these particular versions don’t have the best chemistry. It’s obvious Harley is the real star, so it’s hard to get excited about seeing her forced to play second fiddle to a weaker character.
Fans have always been fascinated with the assassin Deathstroke. His appearances on the series Arrow have only served to make the character more popular. Perhaps sensing the audience’s need for something new, Slade Wilson was confirmed as the villain for Batman’s solo movie and Joe Manganiello was cast.
With The Batman suffering a ridiculous amount of delays, the studio decided to focus on his nemesis and give Wilson a solo film. Though, now it seems that has stalled as well while everything concerning The Batman is worked out.
14 SWAMP THING
Confirming its supernatural vibe, DC Universe chose Swamp Thing as another of its new series. The story of a scientist desperately searching for a cure to his new mutated body is heartbreaking, tragic and fascinating.
The last time we saw the character on screen it was in a cheesy ‘90s series with low budget effects. The show is set to be produced by James Wan, which makes us a little more confident, since, if anyone can get it right, it’s him. However, it’s hard to shake years of awful live-action incarnations.
13 MAN OF STEEL 2
Let’s just be honest and say that as a Superman origin movie Man of Steel doesn’t serve the character as well as it could. In fact, we didn’t really get to see the Clark we’re familiar with until the end of Justice League.
Now that he’s been re-established as the Superman we know and love, perhaps Man of Steel 2 will be the Superman movie we’ve been waiting for from the Worlds of DC. Like many others on this list, this film is a long ways off, so it’s difficult to muster any interest in it yet.
When Warner Bros. and DC first announced its planned projects for what was then the DCEU, Cyborg was scheduled for a 2020 release. Once we saw Ray Fisher’s captivatingly layered performance in Justice League, we were definitely interested to see more of his life in an increasingly all digital world.
Following the complete restructuring of DC’s movie division many films were put on hold or taken off the schedule, one of them being Cyborg. While we are still unsure of the movie’s status, we have our fingers crossed that it still happens.
11 THE BATMAN
Frankly, we need a whole new list to recount all the rumors and problems swirling around The Batman. The thing is, we’re still excited, because it’s Batman and he always has interesting stories to tell.
Since his debut in Batman v Superman, the plot of his standalone has been everything from a "Year One" origin to "Death in the Family" to him taking on Deathstroke. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll get or when we’ll get it, but we’re ready when it hits theaters because he’s Batman.
One recent announcement that really excited fans was Barbara Gordon/Batgirl written and directed by Joss Whedon. His work on The Avengers has made Whedon extremely popular with superhero movie fans.
Whedon said that he was probably going to use Barbara’s The New 52 story as source material, but then left the film after a year saying he couldn’t figure out a story. Since then there has been no information on the project. A Batgirl movie would be amazing, but there’s a small part of us that thinks she may be better suited for TV.
9 BIRDS OF PREY
With Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn stealing the show in Suicide Squad, DC wants to use her to introduce other female characters into the movie universe, and one of those movies will be Birds of Prey. The comics feature Batgirl, The Huntress and Black Canary forming a awesome superhero team.
This film would introduce Batgirl before she gets her own solo movie. Unlike some of the other projects on this list it actually has a director and writer attached, so that’s good news. Though it seems to have priority over Robbie’s other projects, we’re hoping it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
8 GOTHAM CITY SIRENS
Gotham City Sirens features three of Batman’s most formidable female foes teaming up to take over the city. Margot Robbie is set to return as Harley Quinn, with the question being who will join her as Poison Ivy and Catwoman.
David Ayer was initially announced as the director, but he’s also set to work on Bright 2, so we honestly don’t know if he’s still doing this one. We’d love to see these three characters tangle on the big screen, but we haven’t heard anything about this in quite some time so we’re not very hopeful at this point.
DC’s most recent project put into development is centered around Supergirl. This is an interesting choice considering the popularity of The CW series. You would think that the company wouldn’t want to muddy the waters, however, word is they only have Henry Cavill for one more movie, so perhaps this is how they keep Kryptonian stories in the franchise.
The film is in development with Oren Uziel (The Cloverfield Paradox) writing the script. Tone will be extremely important here, as filmmakers will need to differentiate the movie from the much-loved TV show.
Since his days as Robin, Dick Grayson has always been popular with comics readers. Once he went his own way and became Nightwing, he gained even more fans. This Batman has been established as an older, war weary Bruce Wayne, which means Dick has long since left to be Nightwing.
Despite hiring director Chris McKay to put an action heavy stamp on the character, there has been little movement on the project. The hard truth is the delays on The Batman have affected the entire Bat family, though our excitement remains at a high level.
It’s not that we’re overly excited about a comic book movie focused on extraordinary WWII pilots. However, the fact that Steven Spielberg is producing and possibly directing creates and instant level of interest in anything.
We’ve seen Spielberg’s take on WWII before a few times and it’s always beautiful and fascinating. He continues to find new ways to tell a well known story, so we have to anticipate another captivating film with Blackhawk. Also, he’s a cinematic genius whose creations never disappoint and are always entertaining.
Despite all the Batman stories we’ve gotten on screen over the years, we’ve never really delved into the backstory of Alfred Pennyworth. As the trusted butler of the Wayne family, he raises Bruce following his parents’ demise and supports his life as Batman.
Recent incarnations played by Michael Caine, Sean Pertwee and Jeremy Irons have shown there’s more to everyone’s favorite butler, hinting at his past as a soldier or special operative. DC Universe will dig into his origin in Pennyworth and honestly we can’t wait to explore it.
With Arrow and Supergirl dropping hints about Bruce Wayne we knew it was only a matter of time before the Arrowverse expanded into Gotham City. With the announcement that this year’s crossover will introduce Batwoman, possibly leading into her own show, that expansion was made a reality.
Arrow has already taken a few liberties with some of Batman’s stories, so it will be interesting to see how Kate Kane will fit into the universe and what lore she brings with her. We’re ready for her interactions with Oliver, Barry, Kara and of course Cisco, who will no doubt freak out.
Fans of prolific writer/producer Geoff Johns know that he has wanted to make a Stargirl project for quite some time. With DC Universe needing new content to launch its service, he finally gets his chance.
The adventures of Courtney Whitmore will be developed into a 13-episode series. Given Johns’ personal attachment to the project, we know he’ll take care of the character. Johns is one of DC’s best writers, so it will be fun to see what he does with freedom to create a whole world.
1 NEW GODS
There are a few directors who we’ve been waiting to see get into the superhero world, but honestly, these stories aren’t for everyone. We finally got our wish about Ava DuVernay when she was confirmed as the director for New Gods.
New Gods is one of those weird comic stories that we never thought we’d see on-screen. Apparently, it just needed the right director with the right vision. DuVernay will put the story above the effects, which is the most important factor in an over the top project like this.