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With Wonder Woman 3 Canceled, the DC Extended Universe Could Be Very Different

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Earlier this week, the news of impending superhero-franchise doom ripped across Movie Twitter faster than a speeding bullet. Warner Bros. would not be moving forward with its planned third installment of Wonder Woman as part of a sweeping re-org that will in all likelihood have wide implications for movies across the studio’s DC Extended Universe. At issue: a new era of corporate belt tightening as the studio’s parent company WarnerMedia continues its creaky merger into the mega-debt-laden, mega-conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery, leaving a raft of projects given the go-ahead by a previous studio regime — the nearly completed, live-action version of Batgirl chief among them — canceled in its wake.

Now, not only will there seemingly be no closure to the five-year-old, Gal Gadot–led film franchise that once stood as the DCEU’s most popular offering and has taken in nearly $1 billion at the box office (at least in Wonder Woman 3’s “current incarnation” according to the article). The entire upcoming slate for Warners’ comics-driven division — specifically, the fate of DCEU architect Zack Snyder’s so-called Snyderverse — remains plunged into doubt, with a wholesale recasting of its most canonical roles and further franchise cancellations entirely on the table.

Ahead of a reported meeting next week between Warner Bros. Discovery’s earth-scorching chief executive David Zaslav and the filmmaker-producer tag team James Gunn and Peter Safran (hired in October to oversee DC’s film, television and animated efforts) to discuss a strategic vision for the DCEU’s “reset,” fan hand-wringing has begun in earnest. Will Henry Cavill return as Superman? Has the Jason Momoa iteration of Aquaman been deep-sixed? Will The Flash ever even come out?!

Nobody yet knows. But herewith, we provide you a character-by-character breakdown of what could happen:

Wonder Woman

According to multiple inside sources, director Patty Jenkins was set to earn $12 million and Gadot $20 million for their third turn with the magic lasso (not including backend bonuses). Those deals, however, were most likely deemed too rich at a time when Warner Bros. Discovery remains mired in more than $50 billion in debt with Zaslav committed to slashing both IP and thousands of jobs on his way toward the promised land of profitability.

While it remains debatable whether Gadot jinxed her place within the franchise with an inauspiciously timed tweet, an already in-the-works WW3 is definitely on ice. Another inside source tells Deadline: “Jenkins could very well hand in another take on the superhero, but it’s not evident that will happen.”

Black Adam

The news cycle surrounding whether Dwayne Johnson’s maiden outing in a super suit should or shouldn’t be considered a flop is one of the more ridiculous examples of the Hollywood spin in recent memory: Variety says Black Adam is on track to lose at least $50 million while the Rock himself says it will net more than that amount (when you factor in revenues from movie merch). What remains incontrovertible, though, is that the movie cost somewhere between $195 million and $230 million to produce and has taken in $385 million worldwide. Given its prints-and-advertising costs north of $150 million, conventional industry wisdom holds that the anti-hero origin story won’t likely break even let alone merit a sequel. Moreover, THR reports that Johnson did little to ingratiate himself to studio brass by campaigning to bring back Cavill as the Man of Steel despite what he publicly described as Warner Bros, “inexplicably and inexcusably” deciding against that move.

The Flash

Arguably Warner Bros.’ most embattled upcoming movie — due to the publicity liabilities surrounding a long string of troubling behavior by its star Ezra MillerThe Flash was nonetheless recently bumped up a week to arrive in theaters June 16 of next year. But perhaps more problematic, the film features cameos by no small number of Snyder’s 2017 Justice League: Ben Affleck’s Batman, Gadot’s Wonder Woman, Cavill’s Superman and Momoa’s Aquaman (more on the latter two in a minute). Never mind that none of them are guaranteed to ever appear in another DCEU title.

THR reports The Flash “remains an unlocked picture”: industry parlance indicating the time-travel adventure-thriller is still open to revision and the inclusion of those cameos is hardly a foregone conclusion. Further, a growing contingency of fans led by fanboy-activist-filmmaker Kevin Smith has been questioning how the $200 million film still merits a theatrical bow while Batgirl has been relinquished to the cinematic dustbin (in favor of a $90 million write-off to Warner Bros. Discovery’s taxable income). It all combines to compel an outlandish outside possibility: In what would amount to his most dramatic cost-cutting measure to date, could Zas extinguish The Flash?


Momoa’s 2018 turn as underwater hero Arthur Curry ranks as the DCEU’s lowest-maintenance hit. The Aquaman origin story grossed $1.148 billion, launching the Hawaiian actor as a major international movie star absent the din of dysfunction that has accompanied every Batfleck outing to date. Still, as Gunn and Safran take over stewardship of the Extended Universe from previous division head Walter Hamada, the Atlantean amphibian’s franchise future remains uncertain beyond Christmas 2023’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — which, in one scenario, “would be the final movie released that was made by the previous regime,” according to THR.


Outside of his brief Black Adam post-credits sequence, Cavill hadn’t appeared onscreen with an S on his chest since 2017. Around that film’s October release, Warner Bros. co-heads Mike DeLuca and Pam Abdy reportedly signed off on the British actor returning for another solo outing as Superman in upcoming years. With the Gunn-Safran ascendancy, however, that plan has been thrown into limbo.

Although Cavill took to Twitter to announce, “It’s official. I’m back as Superman,” and The Flash filmmaker Andy Muschietti expressed interest in helming the project, Man of Steel 2 has yet to be green lighted. Studio suits have reportedly dismissed one draft of an MS2 script and are soliciting others. Gunn, for his part, responded to the Reporter story on Twitter earlier this week, saying, “some of it is true, some of it is half-true, some of it is not true, & some of it we haven’t decided yet whether it’s true or not.”


The Caped Crusader gets a pass. Director Matt Reeves’s The Batman harvested $770.8 million at the global box office to effectively reboot the long-running franchise. With star Robert Pattinson returning to the cowl for a sequel announced at April’s Cinemacon, Reeves is currently overseeing the kickoff of two Bat-adjacent spinoffs — The Penguin and Arkham Asylum — in addition to films and series plotted around villains including Scarecrow, Clayface, and Professor Pyg.

The DC Extended Universe Could Be Very Different, Very Soon