Warner Bros will officially announce a hugely ambitious slate of new comic-book movies, including Wonder Woman and Justice League films, at this year's Comic-Con event in San Diego, reports Nikkifinke.com.
The studio has long been planning to ape the success of Disney-owned rival Marvel by producing a series of movies based on the DC Comics heroes to which it owns the screen rights. Finke, the respected former Deadline editor who has now launched her own website, says seven films based on a variety of characters will be released in 2016-18. Several will feature multiple heroes, a trend that Marvel began with its hugely successful 2012 box office behemoth The Avengers.
The previously-announced Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will arrive in May 2016, with films based on Shazam and Sandman in July and December of the same year. Justice League, a followup to Dawn of Justice featuring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, arrives in May 2017, with a film starring Flash and the Green Lantern debuting the following Christmas. Man of Steel 2, a sequel to last year's Superman reboot, is pencilled for May 2018.
A source also told Finke that Batman v Superman was delayed to allow Warner to secure actors on multiple contracts, just as Marvel has done with stars such as Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Chris Evans (Captain America).
"Like Marvel's The Avengers, there will be cameos of superheroes for future instalments [in many of these movies]," the source told Finke. "The cameos will include the already known Cyborg and Flash. Green Lantern [not played by Ryan Reynolds, thank God] may be introduced. And Aquaman will be seen in the Justice League movie. Problem is, Warner Bros Pictures was still negotiating with the actors for those cameos and future roles, meaning major contracts for multiple JL/character films to follow. The studio didn't want to move forward until they had more of this secure, so they held off starting production for a few months. Seemingly simple reason, but the implications are pretty darn huge."
Pitching Green Lantern and The Flash in one movie allows Warner to present those superheroes in a fresh format that should help erase memories of Reynolds' poorly-received 2011 take on the former. And with the announcement of a solo Wonder Woman movie, the studio wins brownie points for delivering the first female-fronted comic-book movie of the new era ahead of Marvel.
Aquaman was the butt of numerous jokes as the subject of a fictional superhero movie in the Hollywood-themed comic TV series Entourage, but Warner will be hoping to present the ocean-dwelling King of Atlantis in more heroic form in Dawn of Justice. Finke suggests Warner at one point considered future films for relatively minor superhero/supervillain teams such as Metal Men and Suicide Squad, suggesting that the studio's plans for delving into the DC back catalogue are moving way beyond the venerable US comics publisher's headline acts.
• This year's Comic-Con runs from 24-27 July in San Diego, California.
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