For the past eight years, Warner Bros has consistently gotten the same question and has never had a suitable answer to “Who is the Kevin Feige of the DC universe?” For the past year it seemed as if Zack Snyder was positioned as heir to throne, as it was his movies that set the tone for DC Extended Universe. However, this past spring the highly anticipated superhero throwdown Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, became one of the more divisive movies in recent memory, while drastically underperforming at the box-office. Snyder became one of the more inflammatory figures on the WB lot, with many fanboys calling for the director’s dismissal from the currently shooting Justice League movie.
Well, there is a new sheriff in town… According to a detailed report from THR, DC Comics’ legend Geoff Johns will team with WB executive Jon Berg to spearhead the newly branded DC Films division, overseeing all DC related movies. This is part of an all-around restructuring on the Warner Bros lot. This is how the changes have been described.
Now, instead of a broad range of movies to oversee, executives will be charged with managing “genre streams” while reporting to Warner Bros. Pictures president Greg Silverman. In many cases, these streams formalize interests and specialties for specific executives. Courtenay Valenti, for example, will now oversee all Lego projects as well as the Harry Potter line that begins with November’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Senior production execs Jesse Ehrman and Niija Kuykendall will focus more on comedy/family and sci-fi/action, respectively, according to sources.
This restructuring makes sense on many levels, as franchise and episodic filmmaking has come to the forefront of the industry. This new model leans closer to what Disney does with their properties. Whether it’s Star Wars, Marvel, or Pixar films, each brand has an individual point person – Kathleen Kennedy, Kevin Feige, or John Lasseter – who is given autonomy to run their division. While Berg reports directly to the studio and will handle the business side, Johns will report directly to DC Entertainment and will handle the creative vision for the DC universe going forward. The hope is that the two can combine to form a vision that can match that of Kevin Feige, their counterpart at Marvel Studios. This plan isn’t just a signal for shareholders in the company, this is the rare type of corporate restructuring that speaks to the common fanboy. It is a show of faith by WB, that they are attempting to make authentic DC stories on screen.
The biggest question is if Johns has the cinematic vision to get the job done. His promotion has been largely credited to the work he did producing recent reshoots of the Suicide Squad. While he has a stellar track record in comics, there are some huge blemishes on his film resume, such as Green Lantern and a producer credit on Dawn of Justice. Which balances out the recent success that he has had shepherding The Flash, Supergirl, and Arrow, to small screen success.
News broke last week that Ben Affleck had gotten a promotion to executive producer for Justice League. Which led many to speculate whether he was angling to oversee the entire DCEU. Affleck’s ascension was clearly an olive branch by the studio, as he has now been given the opportunity to run the entire Batman franchise. He and Johns are already co-writing the script for the next Batman film together, so it would make sense that he would eventually settle into that role. Of course, much of that certainly depends on how well Justice League is received.
These changes are coming as a direct result of the fallout of Batman v Superman. These moves take away much of the power that was given to Snyder and signals that there will be a grander plan in store for the DC universe on film. There was the recent dismissal of first-time director Seth Grahame-Smith from The Flash, in favor of finding an experienced helmer with a distinct vision for the movie. It should be noted that while the oversight for DC Films has changed, WB is still standing by their filmmaker driven approach to movies. So once a director for a given project is chosen, they will still get the autonomy to make their own vision. It will be up to Johns to find a cohesive narrative to tie all of the superhero stories together. However, the DCEU is no longer a rudderless ship and this moment will certainly be looked back as a turning point.Suicide Squad opens on August 5th, 2016. Wonder Woman opens on June 2nd, 2017. Justice League opens November 17th, 2017.
What do you think of Johns taking over DC Films? Let us know below!