The modern era of the DC Comics movie universe launched in 2013 with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. From its very first entry, the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) made waves with bold decisions and dark choices.
With more controversial movies released within a two year period (Batman Vs Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League) than the MCU managed in a decade, the DCEU has had a hard time staying on course.
But there are signs that Warner Bros. is steadying the ship. Next year’s tenth anniversary of the DCEU will be marked by a franchise-wide reboot in the form of The Flash. And pretty much every film leading up to it looks like a relatively safe (and fun!) bet.
Read more: Every upcoming MCU movie and TV show
As for what comes after The Flash, it appears that new kid on the block JJ Abrams is currently focused on the small screen, with several HBO Max series in development.
So, there’s plenty of hope in the DC’s future. But is it enough to compete with Marvel?
Let’s examine every single entry scheduled for release — as well as some that are yet to secure a premiere date — to see if we can find an answer.
Black Adam (21 October, 2022)
Next up for DC in 2022, following Robert Pattinson’s emo adventures in non-DCEU entry The Batman, is Black Adam, which looks more in line with Captain America: Civil War than something like Batman V Superman.
It follows titular antihero Black Adam as he’s released from an ancient magical prison, imbued with the powers of Egyptian gods, seeking revenge against his enemies.
Watch: First look at Black Adam revealed
As with Civil War, Black Adam is a stealth team-up movie, with title star Dwayne Johnson joined by Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, and Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate, as the Justice Society of America gets its big screen debut.
With each of those characters deserving of their own solo project, this could turn out to be a key title in the future of the DCEU.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods (21 December, 2022)
The original Shazam! is arguably the most fun DCEU movie (though Aquaman will probably throw a trident at us if we say that to his face), with several critics comparing it tonally to the MCU. Thankfully, Warner Bros is sticking with the formula for the follow-up. Director David F. Sandberg will return, as will producer Peter Safran, and star Zachary Levi. Rachel Zegler, Helen Mirren, and Lucy Liu, are also set to appear.
Little is known about the film’s plot, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Black Adam pop up, as Dwayne Johnson did promise a cinematic face-off between Shazam and his nemesis way back in 2017.
Currently on the shelf after being lined up for a 2022 release direct to HBO Max, Batgirl is one of the more intriguing entries on the DCEU’s docket. Leslie Grace will star as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, alongside Zack Snyder’s choice for Commissioner Gordon, J. K. Simmons.
Michael Keaton was also set to appear as Bruce Wayne/Batman, though how this fits with The Flash’s timeline (which has been pushed back to 2023) is as yet unclear. Expect this one to move, but there’s been no official word yet.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (17 March, 2023)
James Wan will don his scuba gear once again (what do you mean the water’s all CGI?) to direct Jason Momoa’s brilliant Aquaman in the follow-up to his 2018 smash-hit original.
The bad dudes will also be back. Patrick Wilson’s Orm Marius / Ocean Master, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s David Kane / Black Manta are set to return, as will — presumably — Amber Heard’s Mera.
The plot’s currently buried in Davy Jones’ locker, but expect a trailer to surface around Christmas.
The Flash (23 June, 2023)
Oh, The Flash. Barry Allen’s solo movie has had so many false starts we’re surprised it hasn’t been disqualified from all competitions.
First developed way back in 2013, with everyone from Greg Berlanti, to Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, to Rick Famuyiwa (and more!) dropping out of the race to direct it, The Flash will finally hit screens next year (moved from its most recent release date of 3 June, 2022), helmed by IT director Andy Muschietti.
Read more: What is the multiverse?
Inspired by iconic comic series Flashpoint, the film will follow Allen as he attempts to travel through time to prevent his mother’s murder, opening up a multiverse in the process. Think No Way Home, but with more Michael Keaton.
Blue Beetle (2023)
Director Angel Manuel Soto will bring the Jaime Reyes incarnation of the (relatively obscure) Blue Beetle character to the big screen for the first time. Beetle is a superhero who utilises the power of a sacred scarab (which transforms into a magic suit for teenage Reyes) to fight crime.
Little is known about the plot of the movie, but we imagine it’ll be somewhere between Iron Man and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Xolo Maridueña (aka Miguel from Cobra Kai) will bring the character to life. Originally scheduled to go straight to HBO Max, Blue Beetle will also now hit theatres.
The Batman 2 (TBC)
After the rip-roaring success of Matt Reeves' Dark Knight reboot ($768m and counting) a sequel to The Batman was as inevitable as the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents.
It was announced at CinemaCon 2022 Robert Pattinson would don the cowl and cape again to return as the defender of Gotham, with Reeves also back to write and direct the sequel. No other cast members have been confirmed so far, but those expecting Barry Keoghan's Joker to turn up may be disappointed.
“It’s not an Easter egg scene,” Reeves told Variety after the release of the film. “It’s not one of those end credits Marvel or DC scenes where it’s going, like, ‘Hey, here’s the next movie!’ In fact, I have no idea when or if we would return to that character in the movies.”
One character we do know will return is Colin Farrell's Penguin...
The Penguin series (TBA)
Matt Reeves will expand his vision of Gotham in a spin-off series based on Farrell's Penguin, which will chart his rise to power, inspired by Scarface and The Long Good Friday.
Reeves, who is exec producing, says we'll see this HBO Max spin-off series before we see The Batman 2.
Arkham Asylum series (TBA)
A procedural The Batman spin-off set in the Gotham City PD about a corrupt cop was announced in July 2022 for HBO Max, with Boardwalk Empire's Terence Winter set to write and act as showrunner.
Read more: Meet the new Joker
However, after the release of The Batman it was revealed that this had been canned in favour of a series about Arkham Asylum, based on an idea from Matt Reeves. "It’s like a horror movie or a haunted house that is Arkham,” Reeves told Variety about the series.
Joker: Folie a deux (4 October, 2024)
Existing in another DC universe entirely, Todd Phillips' Joker movie was a runaway hit for DC in 2019, so a sequel was guaranteed to follow.
Phillips and star Joaquin Phoenix insisted the movie had been intended as a standalone without links to The Batman or the wider DCEU, and its vague 1970s setting helped put some time and distance between other incarnations of the character. All that being said, a sequel was confirmed by Phillips in June, 2022.
Read more: Joker sequel confirmed
The director shared a picture of a script to Instagram, as well as another with star of the original, Joaquin Phoenix, reading it.
The screenplay is titled Joker: Folie a deux, the French referencing a medical term relating to a mental disorder which affects two or more people. Written by Phillips and Scott Silver, who also helped pen Joker, the script is dated May 18 2022.
Lady Gaga will also appear in the film.
Untitled Amanda Waller series (TBA)
Following directly from Peacemaker’s season one cliffhanger, James Gunn’s untitled Amanda Waller series is said to be a much more serious affair.
The already perfectly cast Viola Davis (who’ll also executive produce) will reprise her role from Suicide Squad and The Suicide Squad for the series.
Expect it in early 2023, with Peacemaker season 2 following soon after. Speaking of which…
Peacemaker season 2 (TBA)
HBO Max’s enormously successful Peacemaker series was renewed for a second season in February 2022, with James Gunn set to write and direct every single episode (he directed every episode of season one).
With the Amanda Waller series forming a bridge to Peacemaker’s second season, expect a significant crossover between the two The Suicide Squad spin-offs.
It should land in 2023, but nothing’s official yet.
Wonder Woman 3 (TBA)
Confirmed immediately after the release of Wonder Woman 1984, Wonder Woman 3 is currently still in pre-production. Director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot are both confirmed to return, alongside Lynda Carter as Asteria.
Jenkins has already written the script, so we’re basically waiting for Jenkins and Gadot’s schedules to line-up. Watch this space.
Sasha Calle is set to make her debut as Kara Zor-El/Supergirl in The Flash, and a Supergirl solo movie will eventually follow.
The project is currently in development at Warner Bros, with Oren Uziel drafting the script for an as-yet-unconfirmed female director.
Untitled Val-Zod series (TBA)
Originally developed as a feature starring Michael B Jordan, the Val-Zod Superman project is instead being developed as a limited series for HBO Max. In whatever final form it takes, the project will follow the DC multiverse’s African American Superman Val-Zod.
Darnell Metayer and Josh Peters are writing the scripts, with Michael B Jordan producing (he’ll also still star, if his schedule allows).
Untitled John Constantine series (TBA)
Executive produced by JJ Abrams and written by Guy Bolton, this new HBO Max series will see John Constantine make his DCEU debut, following the non-canon Keanu Reeves film, and the 2014 series, Constantine, starring Matt Ryan.
Abrams is reportedly keeping the lead casting very open, with a diverse range of actors being considered for the titular role. We can’t wait to see it.
Madame X (TBA)
Another upcoming JJ Abrams HBO Max series, Madame X will follow the adventures of Madame Xanadu, a magical mystic with ties to Arthurian legend. But why is Madame X getting her own show?
All will become clear momentarily, but first…
You wait for one JJ Abrams led project about a magical lady, and two come along at once. Zatanna will follow the titular superhero stage magician (who does actual magic), who has previously appeared in live action on the Smallville TV show (played by Serinda Swan).
Oscar-winner Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) is writing the script, and Abrams will produce.
It’s currently planned as a movie, but that might change, because it seems to fit in quite nicely with Abrams’ other upcoming small screen project…
Justice League Dark (TBA)
Okay, so this is where all of these weird JJ Abrams shows start to make sense.
Developed as a feature way back in 2013 by Guillermo del Toro, Justice League Dark has been retooled as an HBO Max series, which will also be overseen by Abrams.
The Justice League Dark is a superhero team led by John Constantine, that deals with magical threats to the universe. The original line-up also featured — you’ve guessed it — Madame X and Zatanna, as well as Deadman, and Shade: The Changing Man.
The plan appears to be to release several solo series on HBO Max before the team-up show, similar to what Netflix did with its Defenders property.