The DC Universe arrived at CinemaCon Tuesday, with Warner Bros. looks to the future even as it rolls out three films made by a previous regime. DC Studios co-head Peter Safran appeared in person, while is partner James Gunn sent in a video message (he is busy overseas promoting Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3).
DC is in a time of transition, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO tapping James Gunn and Peter Safran to take over as co-heads of DC Studios as of last November. But in the meantime, Warners is in the midst of putting out three new films in 2023 before the new slate begins. The Flash (June 16), Blue Beetle (Aug. 18) and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (Dec. 20) are all on the docket.
“Each of these films not only delivers a stunning cinematic experience that uniquely highlights our iconic DC heroes, they also blaze a trail forward into our DC universe that we are cracking with our next chapter,” said Safran.
The studio is particularly high on The Flash, which will screen in full later Tuesday for attendees. “It’s a very emotional movie,” said Zaslav The Flash. “To me, it’s the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen.”
Andy Muschietti directs The Flash, which stars Ezra Miller in the title role, with Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck playing different versions of Batman, and Sasha Calle starring as Supergirl. Michael Shannon reprises his role of General Zod from the 2013 feature Man of Steel.
Amid the panel, Warners released a new trailer for the feature.
Miller was arrested multiple times last year and subject to controversies, culminating in the actor issuing a statement Aug. 15 apologizing for their behavior and saying they would receive help for “complex mental health issues.”
Safran also shared a look Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which reveals Momoa’s hero has a baby boy. It reveals that Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) — using a Black trident that gives him grater powers — is threatening the surface world, with Aquaman needing to team up with his brother ORM (Patrick Wilson) to stop him.
James Wan once again directs Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, with Momoa leading a cast that also includes Amber Heard. It is due out Dec. 20. The first Aquaman defied the odds to become a $1 billion hit, making it the first DC film outside of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy to do so.
Blue Beetle also got the spotlight on Tuesday. Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña stars in Blue Beetle, DC’s first movie to center on a Latino superhero. In a move that pleased theater owners, Blue Beetle was upgraded to a theatrical release after initially being developed for streaming service HBO Max.
Angel Manuel Soto directs the feature from a script by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. Maridueña stars as recent college grad Jaime Reyes, who acquires superpowered armor after an encounter with an alien scarab. He must learn to harness his new powers while learning the reason the scarab traveled to Earth. One thing that makes this superhero story different, according to the filmmakers, is Jaimie’s family knows of his powers and his struggles.
“Good luck hiding something from your Latino mother,” Soto said to laughs, while Maridueña described his character as the only superhero who doesn’t seem to want his powers.
The feature also stars Adriana Barraza as Jaime’s grandmother, Nana, Damían Alcázar as his father, Elpidia Carrillo as his mother, Bruna Marquezine as Jenny Kord, Raoul Max Trujillo as Carapax, with Susan Sarandon as Victoria Kord, and George Lopez as Jaime’s Uncle Rudy. . The film also stars Belissa Escobedo as Jaime’s sister, Milagro, and Harvey Guillén as Dr. Sánchez.
Gunn and Safran have charted out a new slate that will revamp DC’s universe, with upcoming titles including Superman: Legacy and the Batman feature The Brave and the Bold. All of these will take place in a shared universe, while a few select films will stand on their own, such as The Batman Part Two and Joker: Folie a Deux.
Zaslav recalls speaking with Gunn while he was writing his script for Superman: Legacy. He spoke about these characters being his family growing up and Zaslav was struck by that notion, saying he would like to see these characters be like family to audiences globally.
Warner Bros.’ The DC slate comes at a challenging time for superhero movies. Its previous effort, March’s Shazam! Fury of the Godsearned just $132.9 million globally, while rival Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Underwhelmed upon release a month earlier. Still, Warners is bullish on its next release, June 16’s The Flashhaving so much confidence in it that the film will screen nearly two months early at CinemaCon Tuesday.
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