Last night, Warner Bros. and DC Comics brought to us their first ever online event in DC Fandome, a virtual convention that brought us all the new DC movie announcements and trailers. There were also panels for comic books, a couple of TV shows and some exciting new gameplay footage. Here, we take a look at the highlights of DC Fandome and examine what we have in store for the near future.
Wonder Woman 1984
To kick the Fandome off was Wonder Woman 1984, the much long-awaited and long-delayed sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman. Set in the 1980’s, the sequel sees Steve Trevor suddenly returning from the dead and coming back into Diana Prince’s life. The duo will go up against two antagonists in businessman Maxwell Lord and Barbara Minerva, who becomes Wonder Woman’s archnemesis Cheetah. Just like the previous trailers, the new one presented here looks amazing, showcasing Wonder Woman’s badass Golden Eagle armour and our first official look at Cheetah, who looks absolutely amazing and puts those CG feline abominations in Cats 2019 to shame. The panel itself was decent enough with director Patty Jenkins and stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal with some fun banter and excitement going on between them, plus original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter making in a surprise appearance herself. Despite COVID-19 pushing the releases date back, the film still has a planned October release with Patty Jenkins herself saying, “We believe in putting it in the cinema. I can’t wait for it to come out soon!”.
WB Games Montreal (the company behind Batman: Arkham Origins) gave us our first look at Gotham Knights, which features Batman’s trusted allies – Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and Red Hood – stepping up to the challenge of becoming the new protectors of Gotham’s following their mentor’s mysterious death. This game is a complete reboot of the franchise and completely disconnected from the Batman: Arkham series, which is a bold thing to accomplish, and the developers showed off 8 minutes of pre-alpha gameplay footage, which sees Batgirl attempting to stop Mr. Freeze with the help of Robin. The Court of Owls is also expecting to appear as the game’s main antagonists, and players can go through the entire game either solo or with two-player co-op, plus the second player can choose to drop in and out of the game at any time they want without affecting the other player.
While the game is expected to heavily borrow gameplay elements from the Arkham series like combat and stealth, the game will also feature RPG elements similar to the forthcoming Avengers game released next month. It’s also revealed that as players level up their characters, enemies will also automatically level up too. Plenty driveable vehicles are confirmed, including Batgirl’s Batcycle. The game certainly looks impressive, looking and feeling different enough to the Arkham series that it can stand on its own, and while the idea of completely rebooting Batman for video games is a bit of a concern for this avid fan, the game delivered just enough that it’ll make it exciting to experience once it arrives in 2021. The game is expected to be released on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4 and PS5.
We then had a small panel for the upcoming Flash movie, which has seen many delays with many screenwriters and directors coming and going. Now, it seems like it’s finally happening. On the panel, we have director Andy Muschietti, producer Barbara Muschietti, writer Christina Hodson and the Flash himself Ezra Miller. We got some little tidbits about what kind of story we should expect from The Flash, taking elements from the iconic Flashpoint storyline, which sees the Flash changing the timeline in order to save his mother from murder. It’s through his actions that apparently lead to the creation of the Multiverse, and we’re expected to see some crazy time-travelling action involved. We also got some cool new concept art which sees Miller’s Flash in a new streamlined costume that looks more organic looking, as well as an image of him teaming up with Michael Keaton’s Batman. It was also announced recently that Ben Affleck’s Batman is also expected to make an appearance. The film is now currently expected to be released in 2022.
The Suicide Squad
If the first Suicide Squad film got hampered by studio interference, its rest assured the same situation won’t happen here with James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. The man behind the Guardians of the Galaxy films opened up the panel, explaining what drew him to the project, how much was heavily inspired by both The Dirty Dozen and John Ostrander’s original Suicide Squad comic series and how he wanted to create a film that felt like a spiritual successor to those comics while also borrowing a lot of the comics’ aesthetics in addition to adding new characters into the line-up.
Then they finally unveiled the cast of the film and what characters they’ll be playing. Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Joel Kinnaman and Viola Davis will be reprising their roles as Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flagg and Amanda Waller from the first film. The new cast were also shown off, including Idris Elba as Bloodsport, John Cena as Peacemaker, Nathan Filion as T.D.K., Peter Capaldi as Thinker, David Dastmalchian as Polka Dot Man, Pete Davidson as Blackguard, Daniela Melchior as Ratcatcher II, Michael Rooker as Savant, Flula Borg as Javelin, Mayling Ng as Mongal, Sean Gunn as Weasel, Alice Braga as Sol Soria, Storm Reid as Tyla (Bloodsport’s daughter), Joaquín Cosío as Major General Mateo Suarez, Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt and Juan Diego Botto as El Presidente Luna. King Shark is also part of the roster with the on-set motion capture provided by Steve Agee and the vocal performance provided by Taika Waititi.
After a lighthearted trivia game, the panel concluded with an awesome-looking behind-the-scenes look at the film that also showcased some cool new footage from the film. It’s been described as “a gritty 1970’s war movie combined with the brilliance of James Gunn’s characters and comedy”. James Gunn himself said that the film was “by far the biggest one he has ever made” and that making the film has been truly “the greatest, most exciting journey” of his life. Even though the film is still in post-production, the film is still on track to be released next year.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
Justice League was a film beset with problems from the get-go. It faced multiple production problems and constant meddling from the Warner Brothers producers at the time, some of which are being investigated now thanks to star Ray Fisher’s recent comments about the reshoots. The film we got in 2017 clearly wasn’t Zack Snyder’s film and now, after so many fan demands, “the Snyder Cut” is finally being released next year. The panel kicked off with Snyder himself taking questions from some of the film’s cast (Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher), from Patty Jenkins and from some of the fans that started and led the Snyder Cut movement. Snyder revealed that Cyborg is the beating heart of his Justice League film and that we should expect new and creative things with the Flash, including the emotional arc he’ll be going on.
Snyder also confirmed that when his cut of the film arrives next year, it will initially be released in four parts with each part being one-hour long and then ultimately put together as one full-length, four-hour movie afterwards. It will be released on HBO Max in the US, and Snyder reassured international fans that he is working on a worldwide distribution deal. He then concluded the panel by showing off his first full trailer for the Snyder Cut set to the tune of ‘Hallelujah’ and… HOLY CRAP! It looks like a completely different film altogether and already MILES better than the Frankensteinian abomination we got in 2017, showing off brand new scenes, black-suited Superman, redesigned Steppenwolf, and both Darkseid and Desaad in all their glory. While this particular viewer wasn’t a huge fan of both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this is still one of the most anticipated movie releases of next year and hopefully Snyder delivers on that. The road may have been extremely bumpy, but now Snyder has gotten the chance to finish the movie he set out to make, and the wait will surely be worth it.
While still in pre-production, we learnt more about Black Adam, a film set within the world of Shazam. The panel opens up with a short film explaining the origin of Black Adam, accompanied by artwork from Boss Logic and narration by Black Adam himself Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. We learn that Black Adam was once a normal man that lived within the ancient nation of Kahndaq, but became enslaved along with the rest of his people. Eventually, The Wizard granted him the powers of Shazam to liberate his people, but then imprisoned him after he went too far with his power. Now, he’s free and is ready to exact his own extreme brand of justice on the rest of the world. They also revealed some concept artwork for the film that shows of Johnson as Black Adam, sticking very closely to his iconic comic book counterpart, while also revealing that the JSA (Justice Society of America) will be involved, including Hawkman, Cyclone, Dr. Fate and the Atom Smasher (the latter being played by Noah Centineo, who made a surprise panel appearance). Johnson promised that “the world will never be the same” and that “the balance of power in the DC Universe is about to change”. The film is still currently slated for a December 2021 release.
Shazam!: Fury of the Gods
Shazam! was one of the surprise hits of last year, as well as being this writer’s favourite DCEU movie, so there was always the question of a sequel happening. Well, now there is, and it has an official title: Shazam!: Fury of the Gods. Joining the panel was director David F. Sandberg along with stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, Adam Brody, Faithe Herman and Meagan Good. Also making a surprise appearance was comedian Sinbad, who is now confirmed to be appearing in the sequel. Apart from being a very jokey panel, not much is known about the film or whether or not adversaries like the Monster Society of Evil or even Black Adam could be making an appearance. Regardless, it should be a fun sequel to check out once it arrives in 2022.
With all the big reveals and announcements happening, the Aquaman panel kinda felt like the underdog amongst the crows. What we got was director James Wan and Orm/Ocean Master himself Patrick Wilson trading stories about working on the first film. They discussed the hard work in bringing the underwater sequences to life, how Wan found out he would be directing the film whilst working on The Conjuring 2 and immediately wanting Wilson to portray Ocean Master. Wan also touched upon how he felt he inherited Jason Momoa’s Aquaman from Zack Snyder and how Wan reworked aspects of the script to accommodate Momoa’s portrayal of the character. Touching upon the forthcoming sequel, Wan said that it would be “more serious and relevant to the modern world” than the first film was, as well as confirming the return of Wilson’s Ocean Master. The film is still expected to be released in 2022.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
For five years we’ve been speculating and pondering as to what Rocksteady Studios’ next game going to be following the completion of their well-acclaimed and iconic Batman: Arkham trilogy. Now we know that it’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. The story apparently involves Brainiac invading Earth and taking control over the entire Justice League, so now it’s up to the Suicide Squad – including Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark – to take down Braniac, his forces and even the Justice League themselves. The game is confirmed to be taking place within the same continuity as the Batman: Arkham series and apparently taking place after the events of Rocksteady’s trilogy, so expect story threads from those games come to fruition here. Creative director and co-founder Sefton Hill said that the game would be ale to “combine that core DNA with some really great, unique innovations and create a totally original gameplay experience”. Rocksteady also confirmed you would be roaming an open-world Metropolis, and that you can play the game either solo with the ability to switch between characters at will or take part in a four-player co-op multiplayer mode. The game is expected to be released in 2022 on PC, Xbox Series X and PS5.
They had to show the best for last, didn’t they? At the end of DC Fandome, director and co-writer Matt Reeves revealed a lot about The Batman, a new take on the character set within its own self-contained universe similar to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and Todd Phillips’ Joker. During the panel, Reeves revealed that the story won’t necessarily be an origin story for the character, but it does cover Batman’s second year of emergence, his “Year Two” where we will see Batman and several other iconic characters in their early stages of development, including Catwoman, the Penguin and the Riddler with the latter being the principal main antagonist of the film. In exploring the corruption that dwells within the heart of the city and in its police force, Batman also starts to uncover a much larger story of corruption within the city, and how it all may or may not connect right back to the vastly wealthy and powerful Wayne family and their extensive family history. Reeves described the film as a detective story but also a personal one as well, taking heavy influence from Darwyn Cooke’s Batman: Ego storyline. The film began production in January of this year, but soon got suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the film is expected to resume in early September. Reeves confirmed that he has shot “just 25-30%” of the film so far, and that the delay pushed the release date from June to October 2021.
Reeves would also go on to talk about his forthcoming tie-in TV series about the Gotham City Police Department, which he is co-developing with Terence Winter. He confirmed that the series would go back to “Year One” and further examine the corruption within Gotham and its police department. He explains that the Gotham PD series would explore Batman’s emergence in Gotham and how that starts to unsettle Gotham and its corrupt police department, telling the story from their point of view. The series’ main character is one particular corrupt cop and his story is described by Reeves as “a battle for his soul”. At the end of the panel, Reeves showed off a new trailer, which looks absolutely incredible, looking like a cross between the Daredevil Netflix show and David Fincher’s Se7en or Zodiac, which is just everything this particular Batman fanboy could ask for. With this film and the Gotham PD TV series underway, it’s entirely possible that Matt Reeves’ portrayal of Batman and his world could become the best to have been portrayed in live-action.
Obviously, because of the current pandemic, DC/Warner couldn’t host their panels live at Comic-Con, which in turn ended up getting cancelled and turned into an online streaming program. However, much like the recent Comic-Con At Home, it was inevitable that what they would host would pale in comparison to hosting panels and making announcements live at Comic Con itself. Yet, what was announced for DC on film and video games was very exciting, and makes their future brighter than ever. The highlights are probably James Gunn’s Suicide Squad, Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Matt Reeves’ Batman, probably shooting up the list as some of the most hotly anticipated films to be released next year. It is a shame that DC Fandome had to split up their event by two days with the latter half being pushed back until mid-September, which will no doubt harm the momentum DC Fandome built in its first half, but hopefully the content shown and announced then will be worth the extra wait. Taking it all around, this was not a bad attempt by DC/Warner Bros., but here’s hoping the proper Comic Con experience will resume sooner rather than later.