In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Warner Bros. Pictures Group President Jeff Robinov indicated the studio intends to explore the darker side of superheroes in future films based on DC Comics properties, also owned by Time Warner. Prompted by the success of Christopher Nolan's Batman sequel "The Dark Knight," which he credits to the profoundly grim tone of the film, Robinov told WSJ's Lauren A.E. Schucker, "We're going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it. That goes for the company's Superman franchise as well."
The creative direction is one part of a new overall strategy WB is pursuing with respect to their tent-pole releases, which also includes making slightly fewer films every year and taking better advantage of the marketing opportunities the DC Comics characters provide. According to WSJ, Robinov plans for at least two of the six-to-eight major releases between now and 2011 to be based on DC material. "Films with our DC properties have the opportunity to support other divisions in the company in a way that our other movies don't, he said, referring to promotional tie-ins with consumer products such as video games.
Regarding the presently nebulous state of the Superman film franchise, Robinov said, ['Superman Returns]' didn't quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to. It didn't position the character the way he needed to be positioned. Had 'Superman' worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009. But now the plan is just to reintroduce Superman without regard to a Batman and Superman movie at all.
Robinov was referring to the "Batman vs. Superman" project, which like "Justice League of America" has been scuttled in what WSJ calls a quiet adoption of Marvel Studios' strategy of introducing a single comic book character in each film with an eye towards an eventual multi-character epic. "Along those lines, we have been developing every DC character that we own, Robinov said.
WSJ reports that movies featuring Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman are all in active development, as well as a third Batman film and a new feature to reintroduce Superman.