Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, especially ones that sound convincing enough to be true. Whether it’s about the government or a childhood tv show, people are curious about the possibilities. Fan theories regarding comic books and their film adaptations have taken the Internet by storm, fueling Reddit chatrooms and confusing die-hard fans trying to decide what is and isn’t canon. The DCEU is a shared universe establishing crossovers with different DC characters. Ranked seventeenth on the list of highest grossing film franchises, the films have been in production since 2011, resulting in the eager anticipation of Justice League.
While the franchise released a game plan of films set to be released between now and 2020, there’s uncertainty about the future success of the DCEU. Unconfirmed movies in various stages of production worry fans who are left wondering which of their favorite characters will earn their time on the big screen. Others are wondering how audiences are supposed to keep track of the various timelines. For instance: where do the events of Batman vs Superman take place in relation to Suicide Squad? Rumors and speculation have amounted to conspiracy theories regarding DCEU’s past and potential future. Below are some of the most well-known and highly plausible theories.
20. BATMAN’S VILLAINS ARE BRUCE’S MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES
Batman fans of a certain age remember growing up with the ’90s animated adventures series. Developed by Bruce Timm and produced by Warner Bros. Animations, the film-noir series modernized many of the iconic characters’ origin stories. Unlike previous superhero cartoons, the show was intentionally gritty and violent. Highly regarded as one of the best animated television series ever created, Batman: The Animated Series is undeniably one of the best Batman adaptations.
One theory suggests that the villains are figments of Bruce’s imagination and the show’s about him battling his inner demons. Mr. Freeze represents Bruce’s “cold-heart” and inability to keep relationships, Two-Face represents his clashing personas as billionaire playboy and secret vigilante, and Joker is the repressed trauma over his parents’ death acting out as insane intrusive thoughts. In the same vein, another theory suggests that Bruce is actually an Arkham inmate and the “villains” are the medical staff attempting to bring him back to sanity.
19. SUICIDE SQUAD’S JOKER IS JASON TODD
The most popular Batman theory is that Jared Leto’s Joker is none other than Jason Todd. Supporters quickly pointed out a series of tattoos that reference the dearly departed Robin, such as the dead bird on Joker’s right arm and a “J” on his cheek. The skull and jester hat suggest a representation of Jason’s “death” and “rebirth” into the crazed clown.
Further investigation points to messages Joker left for Bruce in BvS. Jason’s costume is tagged with “Joke’s on you Batman” and an article about Wayne Tower’s destruction has the words “You Let Your Family Die” written across it. Could ‘the joke” be that Batman’s greatest ally and adopted son has been resurrected as his worst enemy? A version of the storyline has been used before. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Tim Drake is brainwashed into becoming a reincarnated Joker. So far, David Ayer has dismissed the theory.
18. BRUCE WAYNE DIED AT THE END OF THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
One of the most heart-pounding scenes in The Dark Knight trilogy is when Batman, with only two minutes left and no autopilot, is forced to fly the bomb meant to destroy Gotham out of the city. After saying goodbye to Gordon and Selina, he takes off, flying out toward the bay and disappearing into a giant mushroom cloud. A private funeral is held and the audience is left believing this is the end of Batman.
But when all hope seems lost, Alfred sees a familiar face while vacationing in Italy. At a nearby table, he spots Bruce and Selina enjoying their date and the two share a reassuring nod. It’s believed that Bruce somehow found a way to fix the autopilot and escaped the blast. According to one theorist, this hope is absurd and strongly suggests that this scene is just a figment of Alfred’s guilty conscience.
17. BANE WAS #TEAMBATMAN IN THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
How could the guy who broke Batman’s back really be supportive of the hero? One theory suggests that Bane’s “torture” was actually meant to help Bruce realize how much of a symbol he needed to be for Gotham. By isolating the city and turning its citizens against Harvey Dent and the GCPD, Bane ensures chaos. His breaking of Bruce’s back and throwing him into the pit is meant to challenge Bruce to become more than just a man.
The reveal of Marion Cottilard’s character as Talia Al Ghul shifted the focus and had her be the main villain and Bane be a willing pawn. After her death, the final threat to Gotham- the League of Shadows- was put to rest. Remember, Bane first introduced himself not as being evil, but being a “necessary evil.” It was necessary for him to do what he had to so the Dark Knight could rise.
16. THE DARK KNIGHT’S JOKER IS A MILITARY VETERAN
Heath Ledger’s Joker will go down in history as one of his greatest performances in cinema, superhero or otherwise. Doubters and critics praised Ledger for his unique and off-putting embodiment of the deranged character. But what if Joker wasn’t all that he seemed? What if there was a more tragic story behind the infamous crazy clown?
Throughout the film, Joker teases the origin of his scars. One story is they’re a permanent reminder of an abusive father, while another tale suggests an attempt to sympathize with his wife’s disfigurement. A Reddit theory proposes the Joker is a war veteran. Despite claims of insanity, Joker’s plans are very precise, always steps ahead of everyone else. He’s also a gifted weapons expert, knowing how to handle everything from grenades to rocket launchers. When he infiltrates the honor guard for Commissioner Loeb’s ceremony, he knows specific protocol on how to handle his firearm and scatter after the shooting.
15. TIM BURTON’S BATMAN IS A SCHUMACHER MASCOT
Schumacher’s Batman films are regarded as the worst thing to happen to the Batman franchise. While some were entertained by the campiness and potty-humor, die-hard fans hated the mess that had been made of their beloved hero. One theory attempts to make sense of the confusion. It’s believed Tim Burton’s Batman (Michael Keaton) chose to expose his identity to the world and allow actors (George Clooney and Val Kilmer) to take on the role of Caped Crusader. Their versions become public icons in Gotham, appearing at charity auctions and flashing credit cards with the bat symbol.
Gotham’s “makeover” from dark and gritty to neon and goofy represents Batman’s impact on the city. His appearance as a spectacle draws in crowds, drawing business. The city becomes a thriving metropolis, addicted to wealth and gambling. Even the villains become comedic versions of their former selves, punching bags for Batman to toss around.
14. BRUCE WAYNE IS LIVING A TRUMAN SHOW FANTASY LIFE
For those not familiar with the Jim Carrey classic, the film is about a man who slowly comes to realize his entire life is a scripted television show. He is blissfully unaware of this fact until certain odd experiences take place that make him question how “real” his life truly is.
It’s been suggested that Bruce Wayne’s secret life as a vigilante was fabricated by Wayne Enterprises and Alfred Pennyworth as an attempt to help the struggling company’s influence over Gotham. Using Alfred as their spy, they begin to create fixed scenarios based on Bruce’s desire to become a crime fighter. All of the “villains” are hired actors paid to intentionally lose to the Dark Knight. Even the GCPD are in on the ruse, constructing the Bat Symbol to call upon their hero. Even Joker is cleverly designed to be the ultimate villain the Batman can’t get rid of.
13. BATMAN KILLS JOKER AT THE END OF THE KILLING JOKE
Regarded as one of the most controversial storylines in the DCEU, The Killing Joke comic (and its animated adaptation) not only traumatized its characters but also its audience. The plot centered around Barbara and Jim Gordon suffering unfathomable brutality at the hands of a sadistic Joker. What was more troubling was the ending which featured Batman, after witnessing traumatic horror befall on his closest friends, laughing alongside his greatest enemy.
But what if there was more to the joke? And what if it involved Batman breaking his number one rule? In an interview with Kevin Smith, Grant Morrison revealed, “That’s why it’s called The Killing Joke. The Joker tells [the joke] at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops.” In the last few panels, Batman appears to be bracing himself against the Joker, his laughter starting to fade, the streetlamp going out.
12. ROBIN’S PURPOSE IS TO KEEP BATMAN FROM TURNING EVIL
It’s well-known that Bruce has taken many under his wing and trained them to fight alongside him as Batman. Besides teaching his “sidekicks” how to be better versions of themselves, what if he had another plan all along? There have been many times when Batman’s almost gone over the edge, threatening to compromise his pursuit of justice. His “no-kill” rule has prevented him from ending the Joker’s chaotic reign many times.
What is stopping him from going full dark side? The Boy Wonder himself! Batman has trained various incarnations of Robin over the years and each one possesses a unique skill capable of taking down the Dark Knight: Nightwing’s agility, Jason Todd’s anger, Tim Drake’s superior detective skills, and Damien’s drive to be the best. Each one knows everything about Batman and are more than capable of taking out the big, bad bat should the time come.
11. WONDER WOMAN’S DR. POISON CREATED THE BANE SERUM
The female-led superhero movie dominated box offices, grossing over $400 million. Gal Gadot has been praised for inspiring women around the world. Critics have gone as far as to claim the film was the best of the DCEU franchise. But there’s one character whose influence stretches beyond the Wonder Woman realm.
A theory suggests Doctor Maru, aka Doctor Poison, a nefarious chemist, is also the inventor of the infamous Bane serum. While aiding General Ludendorff’s creation of a lethal gas, she also creates an inhaled substance that gives the user a brief supply of superhuman strength. This is eerily similar to the effects of Bane’s serum when injected into the body. What gives the theory credibility is the fact that when given the opportunity to kill her, Diana instead spares her life. Who’s to say the doctor didn’t continue experimenting, creating the villain who put an end to the Batman.
10. WONDER WOMAN’S CHIEF IS A DEMI-GOD
It appears there may have been a secret hiding in Wonder Woman that has now been revealed by one of its actors. According to Indian Country Today, the unnoticed detail makes its way into a conversation between Diana and Chief, who has been recruited by Steve Trevor. The two speak in the Blackfoot language, which coincidentally is the only language not given subtitles in the film. And there may have been an important reason why.
During the conversation, Chief refers to himself as Napi, a Blackfoot demigod. Some fans believed the snippet was a private joke between the two characters, but recently Eugene Brave Rock, who plays Chief, made it clear on Twitter that his character is indeed the cultural tribe hero. He even goes on to say that the brief reveal was an intended part of the script.
9. WONDER WOMAN AND AQUAMAN ARE KRYPTONIANS
There has been speculation that Wonder Woman and Aquaman are descendants of the legendary “last son of Krypton.” According to several sources, the theory suggests that the generations of Kryptonians who colonized Earth created different civilizations. Having the ability to control their genetics, these descendants altered their genes to better suit their new environments.
Those living in Atlantis developed the ability to breathe underwater and speak telepathically with sea creatures. In regards to Wonder Woman, the theory proposes that, similar to Greek mythology, the god-like Kryptonians had relations with humans creating a race of “demigods.” This would explain Wonder Woman’s superhuman strength and limited flying ability. A similar theory on a ComicVine forum goes on to suggest that Kryptonians created all of the “metahumans,” giving a select few one of Superman’s powers (example- Flash gets speed).
8. VANDAL SAVAGE WILL MAKE HIS DEBUT IN THE DCEU
While the character has made his presence known on the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, it was hinted in Batman vs Superman that the super villain could make a cinematic appearance. The teaser scene is when Bruce Wayne follows Diana Prince around the museum, noting her interest in a particular artifact on display. The artifact, “The Sword of Alexander,” is quickly pointed out as a fake by Wayne who says the real one is “hanging over the head of the Sultan of Hajar.”
Snyder is known for hiding “easter eggs” in his movies, triggering rumors to run rampant among fans. The subtle reference to one of Savage’s many aliases suggests perhaps the character will play a prominent role in later DCEU films. The character, an immortal with an enhanced intellect, was ranked by IGN as the 36th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
7. LEX LUTHOR UNITED THE JUSTICE LEAGUE
It’s well-known Eisenberg’s portrayal of the egotistical Lex Luthor wasn’t the most popular. His actions were too spastic, his need for attention a little too desperate. His plan to have Batman and Superman fight to the death ended up looking like a sad attempt to recreate childish battles he would play with his action figures. But what if his original intention wasn’t for the two to kill each other, but to unite them?
ScreenRant suggests that, in his own demented way, Luthor was trying to bring about the creation of The Justice League. He used Doomsday to lure in Superman, who he knew Batman already had a growing feud with, and forced the two to team up against a common enemy. His tracking of other meta-humans- the file stolen by Bruce Wayne- allowed for the recognition of Diana Prince who ends up joining the two caped crusaders in their fight.
6. LOIS LANE IS A METAHUMAN
It’s been suggested by eagle-eyed fans that Lois Lane is often conveniently at the right place at the right time. Their romantic connection can’t be the only reason Superman manages to always save her in the knick of time. Theories hint at the possibility that Lane might have some powers too.
General consensus has declared that Lois Lane is a telepath, able to mentally communicate with Superman and know the significance of certain situations. The first scene where this ability presents itself is when she’s taken at gunpoint by a terrorist. Common sense suggests with his enhanced hearing, Superman would be able to hear his lady love’s scream from miles away, yet she never makes a sound. Another instance is when she dives into the water to retrieve the kryptonite spear having no prior knowledge of its significance. When attempting to explain these odd coincidences, the theory does sound legit.
5. DISNEY PAID CRITICS TO GIVE BVS BAD REVIEWS
Riddled with controversy and malicious intent, this conspiracy theory had made its way through social media and back. Many die-hard fans of DC who were angered by the BvS backlash expressed beliefs that critics had been paid by Marvel‘s newest owner Disney to write scathing reviews of the film.
FilmSchoolRejects.com ran an article attempting to make sense of the slander. While recognizing passionate fans’ highlighting of the fact that a majority of Marvel‘s movie received rave reviews in comparison to DC, the author was quick to point out a rivalry has always been present between the two franchises. No evidence has ever been put forth that critics were bribed in any way but that hasn’t stopped fans, on either side, from sending threats according to Comicbook.com. In 2012, DC fans sent death threats to critics who negatively reviewed The Dark Knight while Marvel fans did the same for The Avengers.
4. DOCTOR MANHATTAN CREATED THE DC UNIVERSE
While the Watchmen have always remained separate from the DC universe, the new crossover Doomsday Clock, suggests one of its central characters may be toying with established DC history. Doctor Manhattan, known for his god-like powers, has the ability to alter the very fabric of reality. Many have speculated that events in “Rebirth #1” may have been the work of Doctor Manhattan.
MoviePilot.com revealed the character is responsible for the New 52 universe and murdered anyone who threatened his work, including team member Owlman. A Reddit theory takes it even further by proposing that Manhattan went so far as to create the entire DC multiverse, noting a panel in “Crisis on Infinite Earths #7” featuring a cluster of stars being held by what appears to be a giant blue hand. To go even further, it’s suggested that the film version of the character created the DC cinematic universe as well.
3. CW’S SUPERGIRL TEASING MULTIVERSE
In 2016, Comicbook.com released the script page of Supergirl‘s crossover episode entitled “Worlds Finest” which featured The Flash. The episode had the heroes fighting alongside each other and was jam-packed with references to the World’s Finest comics and other DC Universe easter eggs. Fans quickly realized potential for the launch of an even bigger crossover, uniting all of the DC characters.
The episode established travel between alternate universes is possible, thereby allowing the possibility for the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths to unfold. The CW is known for crossover episodes, featuring the ultimate team up of Arrow, Supergirl, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow in a multi-episode crossover entitled “Invasion!” Since then, the Internet has been abuzz with speculation about which DC characters will meet next. Rumors have recently been running rampant about the possibility of Batman appearing on Arrow, Stephen Amell even suggesting his cousin play the iconic character.
2. HENRY CAVILL IS THE NEXT VICTIM OF THE SUPERMAN CURSE
Many actors have dawned the red cape but very few have taken flight after taking the role of the iconic Man of Steel. Superstition has always followed the character leaving many to believe the role is a career killer, both literally and figuratively. (Just take Nicolas Cage’s train wreck for example.)
George Reeves was the first live-action incarnation of the hero, appearing in the 1951 Superman and the Mole Men. After the television series ran its course in 1958, Reeves was unable to be perceived as anything other than his character and died of a gunshot wound in 1959. Christopher Reeves received four films before suffering a tragic accident, leaving him paralyzed. Dean Cain, Brandon Routh, even Tom Welling were all unable to shake off the lasting impact of the character. As the Man of Steel, Cavill has so far managed to get his feet off the ground. For now.
1. THE FILMS ARE LEADING TO INJUSTICE
One of the most widely accepted theories is that all of the DC films are ultimately leading to Injustice. It’s been teased in Justice League that Superman will be returning as the film’s villain and scenes in Batman vs Superman such as Batman’s Knightmare and Flash’s warning hint that something terrible is on its way.
The Injustice storyline is kickstarted by Superman killing Lois Lane, triggering a bomb that destroys Metropolis. Becoming the world’s largest threat, Batman establishes a regime to end Superman’s tyrannical rule, leaving the Justice League at odds with one another. In regards to the films, Man of Steel introduced a darker version of Superman who was willing to kill while BvS showed a vengeful Bruce Wayne who had lost a beloved sidekick. Justice League is all about uniting the team, but will it end up being for a much darker purpose?
What other fan theories about the DCEU do you know? Share them in the comments!
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