A lot can change in five years. Relationships can falter, circumstances can shift and agreements that were once set in stone can crumble. Looking at the film industry, there's no better proof of this than the original plan for the DC Extended Universe.
With Zack Snyder at its head, the DCEU was poised to become a challenger to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But now, even just six years since the release of Man of Steel (the franchise's kickoff point), everything is different. Snyder has left the DCEU, his grand plan for the universe seemingly abandoned in favor of a more diverse and surprising slate of films. How did this happen? And what would the Zack Snyder version of the DC Universe look like today?
Man With A Plan
In 2014, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara revealed a massive, planned schedule of films based on the DC Universe. Set to be released over six years and directed by Snyder (despite the controversy surrounding the climax of Man of Steel, released the previous year,) Warner Bros. doubled down on this vision for the DCEU. The schedule included the previously announced Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and confirmed the then-rumored Suicide Squad.
2017 was set for the release of Wonder Woman and the first Justice League film, which was the first in a proposed trilogy. 2018 was slated to feature the release of the Jason Momoa-led Aquaman, as well as the Flash film, starring Ezra Miller. Shazam! was scheduled to hit the big screen in 2019, as was the second entry in the Justice League series. Cyborg, starring Ray Fisher, would have premiered in 2020 alongside a new Green Lantern film, all building to the climactic final entry in the Justice League trilogy.
It was an ambitious plan, but that was the whole idea behind recruiting someone like Snyder to herald it. The films would have been interconnected, telling a single, grand story about life and death, gods and humans and the ultimate battle between the Justice League and Darkseid. Everything in the cinematic universe would have been building towards that.
Unfortunately for Snyder, the real world got in the way. Man of Steel may have been controversial, but it had nothing on the release of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film was a critical bomb, and is still argued about to this day. Family issues, most notably the sudden loss of his daughter, led Snyder to leave Justice League midway through production. Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon as interim director to finish off the project, a decision which left Justice League (initially envisioned as a two-part film) with very contradictory tones and ideas throughout. At this point, the DCEU shifted gears.
Justice League 2 was scrapped. Whedon was set to tackle a Batgirl film as part of the expanding universe, but ultimately left the project (and the DCEU as a whole) following Justice League. After Suicide Squad was also released to lackluster reviews, other directors began leaving the DCEU.