BY MATT TUCK
The DCEU could be setting the table for an ambitious crossover the likes of which have never been seen on movie screens, not even in the MCU: Final Crisis.
GETTING AHEAD OF MARVEL
In practically every way possible, Marvel Studios has set the pace for superhero movie making and shared-universe building. While DC forged new territory with Superman in 1978 then again with Tim Burton’s Batman franchise in 1989. At the same time, Time-Warner/DC essentially killed the superhero genre with Batman Forever and Batman and Robin until Fox’s X-Men in 2000. Then came Iron Man in 2008, which redefined the genre entirely.
Where DC failed to put its other iconic characters on the big screen and build a larger cinematic world, Marvel Studios soon became the trend setter and has since dominated the box office. Here we are 13 years later, and DC is still playing catch up.
After the Avengers franchise broke box office records, Time-Warner and DC attempted to put the Justice League on the fast track with Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice before their own JL team movie. Of course, Justice League was an utter disaster that nearly decapitated the entire DCEU. Fortunately it was rescued by the successes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam!. Yet, the DCEU is still well behind the MCU on the movie front.
But the dynamic could be on the verge of changing.
Even though Marvel has multiverse-expanding films on the way, DC has an opportunity to one-up the reigning champions of the cinematic universes with Final Crisis, an epic crossover event across decades of franchises, multiverses, and even television. And it appears the DCEU is putting the pieces on the board for just such a monumental move.
The news that J.J. Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates have an African-American Superman movie in the works sent shockwaves throughout the DC fandom. While no further details aside from a Man of Steel race swap have been announced, the general consensus is that the movie will star Grant Morrison’s Earth-23 Superman, Calvin Ellis.
Why would DC and Time-Warner do this? It may intertwine with another upcoming DCEU franchise that dates back to Justice League.
Despite the Superman reboot news, Henry Cavill has not officially left the role of Clark Kent/Superman, which suggests that there will be more than one Superman flying around the DCEU. Whether or not that is the plan remains to be seen, but it would make the most sense to merge the old with the new and get ahead of Marvel for a change.
THE MULTIVERSE AND THE FLASH
Superman may be getting the attention now, but it all started with The Flash.
Around the time that the rumor mill was churning out tales of Michael Keaton reprising his 1989 Batman role, Ezra Miller made a stunning cameo in CW’s The Flash. That shared moment between Miller and Grant Gustin’s versions of Barry Allen solidified that the Arrowverse and the Snyder-verse were connected, which opens up a multitude of possibilities.
Keep in mind, this occurred after the debacle that was the Joss Whedon edit of Justice League. Up until that point, the word on the internet was that JL’s box office bomb had put the DCEU on the brink of extinction. That included the proposed Flash solo film.
Not only did Miller’s CW cameo establish that Time-Warner may not be completely finished with Zack Snyder’s JL universe, but it gave us hope that Flashpoint was still in the works. Since then, WB announced that Flash would race through the multiverse and encounter Keaton and Ben Affleck, who would both be returning to the roles of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Following the Keaton and Affleck announcements, the rumors have been spreading like wildfire. One of the unconfirmed tidbits has been that Affleck will don the cape and cowl for other appearances besides The Flash.
Just last month, WB made another The Flash announcement that Latina actress Sasha Calle will portray an all-new Supergirl in the upcoming film. That gives us two live-action Supergirls in the current DCEU. Since Miller and Gustin met onscreen, it is no giant leap in logic to assume that Calle and Melissa Benoist’s Supergirls could meet in the DC multiverse.
DARKSEID: THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF CRISIS
The real linchpin to a full-fledged Final Crisis adaptation is Darkseid.
As anyone who has read Final Crisis knows, he is the central figure in the story. There’s just no way an adaptation can work without him. Lo and behold, he is set to make his long awaited DCEU premiere this month.
Famously, Darkseid was edited out of Whedon’s final version of Justice League, though he does get his share of allusions. In less than two weeks, the ruler of Apokolips will make his live-action debut in Zack Snyder’s highly-anticipated edition of JL.
It has been reported that WB has no intention of expanding the Snyder-verse, as it were, past JL. In fact, the initial word was that this would be the finale for all of Snyder’s shared universe. However, casting Affleck in Miller’s The Flash raises eyebrows. Could all the parts be coming together to bring Final Crisis to life on the grand stage?
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS AND EARTH-89
The kicker may be the 2019 CW crossover that made huge news, Crisis on Infinite Earths. In that Arrowverse event, several classic versions of famous characters appeared onscreen, including Michael Conroy as Bruce Wayne, Burt Ward as Robin, both Brandon Routh and Tom Welling as Superman/Clark Kent, as well as Ezra Miller’s Flash.
Even more interesting is that before Michael Keaton was cast for The Flash, Crisis on Infinite Earths connected Tim Burton’s Gotham City with the modern DCEU. Was this part of the grand scheme all along?
The DCEU is clearly merging all of its previous live-action franchises going back decades into one shared multiverse. Putting these famous faces together to battle a threat to the DCEU like Darkseid would be the making of a legendary and epic film the likes of which have never been seen on such a grand scale.
As a collector, what should be your next move?
This is all speculation on my part, but it would not be a bad idea to collect the entire set of Final Crisis. Granted, FC #7 has skyrocketed since that is Earth-23 Superman’s first appearance, but the rest of the series should still be reasonably priced, at least if you’re buying raw copies. Even if my Final Crisis prediction doesn’t come to fruition, you still get an entertaining and engaging series. If you are a cover collector, you can’t beat the impressive portraits for the J.G. Jones covers.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.