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DC Extended Universe

American superhero film franchise based on DC Comics

Top 10 DC Extended Universe related articles

DC Extended Universe
The official branding logo of all
DC Comics media
Created byDC Films
Original workMan of Steel (2013)
Owned byWarner Bros.
Print publications
Novel(s)List of novels
ComicsList of comics
Films and television
Film(s)List of films
Short film(s)List of short films
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by DC Comics

The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is an American media franchise and shared universe centered on a series of superhero films based on characters that appear in American comic books by DC Comics, produced by DC Films and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The franchise also includes comic books, short films, novels, and video games. The DCEU, much like the original DC Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters.

Warner Bros. had plans to bring various DC Comics superheroes together in films since 2002, when Wolfgang Petersen was set to direct a crossover of the Batman and Superman film franchises. After a planned Justice League film was put on hold and the success of The Dark Knight in 2008, Warner Bros. decided to focus on individual franchises but began to start building a shared universe to compete with Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011. The DCEU was originally planned to center around five films directed by Zack Snyder, but DC Films decided to de-emphasize the shared nature of the universe in 2017, to allow greater autonomy for the individual filmmakers.

The first DCEU film is Man of Steel (2013), a reboot of the Superman film series. Man of Steel was followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam! (2019), Birds of Prey (2020) and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). The franchise will continue with The Suicide Squad in 2021; The Flash and Aquaman 2 in 2022; and Shazam! Fury of the Gods in 2023. Future films are in varying stages of development. Additionally, the DCEU will expand to the streaming service HBO Max with Zack Snyder's Justice League, a director's cut of Justice League, in 2021, and the series Peacemaker in 2022, with Justice League Dark and Constantine in development.

The DCEU is the eleventh-highest-grossing film franchise of all time, having grossed over $5.6 billion at the global box office. Its highest-grossing film, Aquaman, earned over $1.15 billion worldwide and became the highest-grossing DC Comics-based film to date. The DCEU has received a generally mixed critical response.

DC Extended Universe Intro articles: 26


Upon announcement of the film series, the universe was commonly called the "DC Cinematic Universe" by fans and the media, in keeping with the naming convention of the already established Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).[1][2][3] Keith Staskiewicz, writing for Entertainment Weekly, jokingly coined the term "DC Extended Universe™" in an article about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on July 1, 2015.[4][5] This term and the abbreviation DCEU quickly spread among the press and fans thinking of it as the official name of the franchise over the following years.[6][7] According to Vulture writer Abraham Riesman, DC confirmed to him in September 2017 that the term was not used internally and they did not consider it official.[5] In 2016, as part of DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League, both Geoff Johns and Kevin Smith referred to the franchise's name as being the "Justice League Universe".[8] During the DC Films panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2018, a video banner displayed the words "Welcome to the Worlds of DC", after showcasing some upcoming films. As a result, some media outlets interpreted this as DC officially naming their shared film universe as the "Worlds of DC".[9][10] However, in March 2020, Jim Lee called the franchise, the DC Extended Universe at C2E2.[11] The franchise was officially titled DC Extended Universe when the WarnerMedia streaming service HBO Max launched the following May.[12]

DC Extended Universe Etymology articles: 6


In 2002, Wolfgang Petersen was set to direct a Batman vs. Superman film from a script by Akiva Goldsman.[13] Warner Bros. canceled development to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects after J. J. Abrams submitted another draft for Superman: Flyby.[14][15] In February 2007, Warner Bros. hired husband and wife duo Michele and Kieran Mulroney to write a script for a Justice League film.[16] Christian Bale, who starred as Batman in Batman Begins (2005), was not approached to reprise the role,[17] nor was Brandon Routh, who starred as Superman in Superman Returns (2006).[18] George Miller was hired to direct the film,[19] reportedly titled Justice League Mortal,[20] with Armie Hammer cast as Batman, D. J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as Flash, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Common as Green Lantern, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter and Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord.[21] The project was put on indefinite hold in January 2008, after failing to secure tax breaks for filming in Australia, as well as the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike preventing progress on the script.[22]

In 2013, a reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel, was set to lay the groundwork for future DC films.[23] The film contained references to other characters in the DC Universe, so if it were a success, it could launch a shared universe.[24][25] Days before Man of Steel's release in June, it was reported that director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer would be returning for a sequel, which was being fast-tracked by Warner Bros.[26] In July, at San Diego Comic-Con, it was revealed that the sequel would include Batman in a main role, establishing the shared universe.[27][28] In October 2014, Warner Bros. announced a slate of ten DC films.[29]

Geoff Johns has served in various positions in DC Films and the DCEU.

While the rival Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) includes television productions, DC's crossover series is a shared continuity for films. Several television series featuring DC characters and storylines have their own shared continuity, known as the Arrowverse.[30] DC's chief creative officer Geoff Johns explained DC's difference in approach to Marvel Studios and their cinematic universe, saying, "We look at it as the multiverse. We have our TV universe and our film universe, but they all co-exist. For us, creatively, it's about allowing everyone to make the best possible product, to tell the best story, to do the best world. Everyone has a vision and you really want to let the visions shine through ... It's just a different approach."[31] In June 2015, Warner Bros. president of creative development Greg Silverman expanded on DC's approach to their cinematic universe, saying, "We ... take these beloved characters and put them in the hands of master filmmakers and make sure they all coordinate with each other. You'll see the difference when you see ... the things that we are working on."[32]

In May 2016, following criticism of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. established a DC Films division with Geoff Johns and Warner Bros. executive vice president Jon Berg as its heads,[33] which oversees production to form a cohesive creative direction for the franchise.[34][35] DC Films would not be fully autonomous, as Johns reported to DC president Diane Nelson and Berg reported to Silverman.[34] Charles Roven was also moved from his day-by-day producer role on future DC films, which he had served since 2005's Batman Begins, to an administrative executive producer role.[36] In December, Silverman was ousted from his role in Warner Bros., and Toby Emmerich was promoted to president and chief content officer, in his place.[37] By January 2017, Johns and Berg reported to Emmerich.[38] Following the financial and critical success of Wonder Woman in June 2017, Johns stated that moving forward the films will focus on the heart, humor, hope, heroics, and optimism of the characters.[39] As a result of Justice League's underperformance at the box office, Berg was fired in January 2018 and became a production partner with Roy Lee.[40][41] DC also sought to deemphasize the shared nature of their films, with Diane Nelson stating, "Our intention, certainly, moving forward is using the continuity to help make sure nothing is diverging in a way that doesn't make sense, but there's no insistence upon an overall storyline or interconnectivity in that universe... Moving forward, you'll see the DC movie universe being a universe, but one that comes from the heart of the filmmaker who's creating them."[42]

In January 2018, Walter Hamada was appointed the President of DC Films and co-runner of the DCEU, replacing Berg.[41] The following month, Chantal Nong was named Vice President of DC Films.[43] The pair were hired to oversee the franchise with Johns, as the key production team managers.[41] However, Johns was fired from his executive roles at DC in June 2018. He created a production company, Mad Ghost Productions, to have a greater hands-on role in various DC media as a writer and producer.[44] After the financial success of Aquaman, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara said the upcoming slate of DC films would be focused on individual character stories instead of interconnectivity.[45]

DC Extended Universe Development articles: 31


Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Story by Producer(s)
Man of Steel June 14, 2013 (2013-06-14) Zack Snyder David S. Goyer David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan Charles Roven, Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice March 25, 2016 (2016-03-25) Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder
Suicide Squad August 5, 2016 (2016-08-05) David Ayer Charles Roven and Richard Suckle
Wonder Woman June 2, 2017 (2017-06-02) Patty Jenkins Allan Heinberg Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder and Richard Suckle
Justice League November 17, 2017 (2017-11-17) Joss Whedon[a] Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns
Aquaman December 21, 2018 (2018-12-21) James Wan David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall Geoff Johns & James Wan and Will Beall Peter Safran and Rob Cowan
Shazam! April 5, 2019 (2019-04-05) David F. Sandberg Henry Gayden Henry Gayden and Darren Lemke Peter Safran
Birds of Prey February 7, 2020 (2020-02-07) Cathy Yan Christina Hodson Margot Robbie, Bryan Unkeless and Sue Kroll
Wonder Woman 1984 December 25, 2020 (2020-12-25) Patty Jenkins Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns
and David Callaham[46]
Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns[46] Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot and Stephen Jones[47]
Zack Snyder's Justice League March 18, 2021 Zack Snyder Chris Terrio Chris Terrio & Zack Snyder and Will Beall Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder

Man of Steel (2013)

Zack Snyder: the director of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and co-story writer/director of Justice League

Kal-El / Clark Kent, who arrived on Earth years ago as an infant from Krypton, struggles with why he was sent to Earth. Raised by his adoptive parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, Clark adopts the persona "Superman", and learns if his abilities are meant to maintain peace or conquer the world.[48]

During story discussions for The Dark Knight Rises, David S. Goyer told Christopher Nolan his idea regarding how to present Superman in a modern context.[49] Impressed with Goyer's concept, Nolan pitched the idea to the studio,[50] who hired Nolan to produce and Goyer to write based on the financial and critical success of The Dark Knight.[51][52] Zack Snyder was hired in October 2010 to direct the film.[53] In January 2011, Henry Cavill was cast as Clark Kent / Superman.[54] Other cast members included Amy Adams as Lois Lane,[55] Michael Shannon as the villain General Zod,[56] Diane Lane as Martha Kent,[57] Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent,[58] Russell Crowe as Jor-El,[59] and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White.[60] Principal photography began on August 1, 2011.[61] Man of Steel released in North America on June 14, 2013.[62]

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Gotham City-based vigilante Batman travels to Metropolis to preemptively combat Superman, fearing what would happen if the latter is kept unchecked, while another threat endangers humankind.[63]

In June 2013, it was reported that Snyder and Goyer would be returning for a sequel to Man of Steel, which was being fast-tracked by Warner Bros.[26] Nolan was involved in an advisory role as executive producer.[64] In July, at the San Diego Comic-Con, Warner Bros. announced that Superman and Batman would meet for the first time in a cinematic format in the film, which would be the follow-up to Man of Steel and a reboot of the Batman film series.[27][28] According to Snyder, the film took inspiration from the comic The Dark Knight Returns.[65] Cavill, Adams, Lane, and Fishburne reprised their roles.[66] In August, Ben Affleck was cast as Bruce Wayne / Batman.[67] In December, Gal Gadot was cast as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, marking the character's first appearance in a live-action theatrical film.[68] Later in the month, Chris Terrio was hired to rewrite Goyer's script.[69] In January 2014, the film was delayed from its July 17, 2015, release date to May 6, 2016, to give the filmmakers "time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story".[70] Later that month, Jesse Eisenberg and Jeremy Irons joined the cast as Lex Luthor and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively.[71] In May 2014, the film's title was revealed to be Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[72] Initial filming occurred on October 19, 2013, at East Los Angeles College,[73] before full principal photography began on May 21, 2014, in Detroit.[74] Production also took place in Illinois, New Mexico, Africa and the South Pacific.[74][75] After another date change, the film was released in North America on March 25, 2016.[76]

The film is set 18 months after the events of Man of Steel.[77] Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice introduced Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash,[78] Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman,[66] Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg,[79] and Joe Morton as Dr. Silas Stone.[80] The film also introduced Steppenwolf, who served as the main antagonist in Justice League, through a brief scene. The scene was not included in the film's theatrical release, but instead was revealed online by Warner Bros. on March 28,[81] before being included in the Ultimate Edition home video release.[82]

Suicide Squad (2016)

David Ayer: the writer/director of Suicide Squad

After the death of Superman, a secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions and rescue the world from a powerful threat, in exchange for clemency.[83]

In February 2009, prior to the development of the DCEU, Warner Bros. was developing a Suicide Squad film, with Dan Lin producing and Justin Marks writing the script.[84] In October 2014, Suicide Squad was announced by Warner Bros., with David Ayer confirmed as director.[29] In December, it was revealed that Ayer would also be writing the screenplay.[85] The main cast included Will Smith as Deadshot, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Jared Leto as the Joker, Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, Karen Fukuhara as Katana, Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, and Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag.[86] Tom Hardy was originally cast as Rick Flag, but dropped out due to scheduling issues with his film The Revenant.[87] Principal photography commenced April 13, 2015,[88] and took place in and around Toronto.[89] Filming concluded August 28, 2015.[90] Suicide Squad underwent reshoots to give the film a more lighthearted and comedic element akin to the trailers for the film, especially following the box office and critical failure of the more serious Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Suicide Squad was released in North America on August 5, 2016.[91]

The film is set after the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[92] Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman and Miller as Barry Allen / The Flash made appearances in the film.[92] In a mid-credits scene, Waller meets Wayne in a restaurant and hands him a dossier containing information on future members of the Justice League.[93]

Wonder Woman (2017)

Patty Jenkins: the director of Wonder Woman and the co-writer/director of Wonder Woman 1984

Diana of Themyscira, an Amazon warrior who also is the demigoddess daughter of the god Zeus, uses her talents and abilities in order to help humanity during World War I.

Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot was cast as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in December 2013 and signed a three-picture deal which included a solo film.[68][94] In October 2014, Wonder Woman was announced by Warner Bros.[29] In November, Michelle MacLaren was confirmed to direct the film from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs.[95][96] In April 2015, MacLaren left the project due to creative differences.[97] Later that month, Patty Jenkins was announced as the new director of the film.[98] In July, Chris Pine was cast as Steve Trevor.[99] Other cast members include Connie Nielsen as Queen Hippolyta, Robin Wright as General Antiope, Danny Huston as Erich Ludendorff, Elena Anaya as Doctor Poison, and David Thewlis as Ares.[100][101] Filming began in November 2015, and was shot in the United Kingdom, France and Italy.[102] Wonder Woman was released in North America on June 2, 2017.[91]

Justice League (2017)

Motivated by Superman's death at the hands of Doomsday, Batman and Wonder Woman assemble a team of metahumans to stop the threat of Steppenwolf, who is in search of three Mother Boxes scattered across Earth.[103]

In June 2013, it was reported that Goyer would be writing Justice League as part of a three-film deal he signed for Man of Steel.[26] In April 2014, it was announced that Snyder would return as director.[104] The film was announced in October as Justice League Part One.[29] In March 2016, it was confirmed that Chris Terrio had written the script, who said that the film would not be as tonally dark as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.[105] In June, Geoff Johns announced that the title had been changed to simply Justice League.[106] Affleck, Cavill, Gadot, Momoa, Miller, Fisher, Irons, Lane, Adams, Eisenberg, Nielsen, Wright, and Morton reprised their respective roles from previous films.[107][108][109] Ciarán Hinds provides the voice and performance capture for Steppenwolf.[110] Beginning on April 11, 2016, filming took place at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, in England, as well as locations around London and in Iceland.[111] Filming concluded in October 2016.[112] In May 2017, Snyder stepped down from his duties on the film due to his daughter's death; Joss Whedon filled his position on post-production, with additional scenes being written and directed by him.[113] Though Whedon was not officially credited for his role as post-production director, he completed enough additional work for a screenwriting credit on the film.[114] Justice League was released worldwide on November 17, 2017.[111]

Justice League introduced various characters, including J. K. Simmons as James Gordon,[115] Amber Heard as Mera,[116] and Billy Crudup as Henry Allen.[117] Additionally, Joe Manganiello as Slade Wilson / Deathstroke was also introduced in a post-credits scene, teasing an alliance between him, Lex Luthor,[118] and possibly the Legion of Doom. Kiersey Clemons as Iris West and Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko were to be introduced but their scenes were ultimately cut from the film.[119][120]

Aquaman (2018)

James Wan: the co-story writer/director of Aquaman, and director of Aquaman 2

Arthur Curry, a half-Atlantean assistant lighthouse keeper, sets out to lead the underwater kingdom of Atlantis against his half-brother, King Orm, who seeks to unite the seven underwater kingdoms against the surface world.

In June 2014, Jason Momoa was cast as Arthur Curry / Aquaman.[66] By August, Will Beall and Kurt Johnstad were writing competing scripts for the character's solo film.[121] Aquaman was announced in October.[29] In June 2015, James Wan was hired as director, as well as to oversee the screenplay by Johnstad.[122] In November 2015, David Leslie Johnson was hired to write a new script.[123] In July 2016, Beall returned to write the script, based on a story treatment by Wan and Geoff Johns.[124] Johnson worked on a rewrite of Beall's script with Wan and producer Peter Safran.[125] In December 2016, Patrick Wilson was cast as Orm / Ocean Master, the half-brother of Aquaman and the main antagonist of the film.[126][127] In January 2017, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast in the role of villain Black Manta.[128] Heard reprised her role as Mera from Justice League.[129] Other cast members include Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko,[130] Temuera Morrison as Aquaman's father Tom Curry,[129] Nicole Kidman as Aquaman's mother Queen Atlanna,[131] and Dolph Lundgren as King Nereus.[132] Principal photography began on May 2, 2017, in Queensland, Australia,[129] and wrapped on October 21, 2017.[133] Aquaman was released in North America on December 21, 2018.[134]

The film is set after the events of Justice League.[135]

Shazam! (2019)

David F. Sandberg: the director of Shazam! and its sequel

By speaking "Shazam", Billy Batson, a 14-year-old foster child, can turn into an adult superhero, courtesy of an ancient wizard. He attempts to master his powers and defeat the evil forces controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana.[136]

In August 2014, Dwayne Johnson announced his attachment to a project about the superhero Shazam, formerly known as Captain Marvel.[137] In September, Johnson was revealed to be portraying the antihero Black Adam, Shazam's nemesis in the film, with Darren Lemke set to write the script.[138] In October, Warner Bros. announced Shazam as a film in its upcoming slate.[29] By January 2017, Henry Gayden was working on the script.[139] In July, it was confirmed that David F. Sandberg would direct Shazam!,[140] and that Johnson would no longer appear, instead starring in a Black Adam solo film.[141] Pre-production began in August.[142] By October, Zachary Levi was cast as Shazam,[143] and in November, Asher Angel was cast as Shazam's child-age alter ego, Billy Batson.[144] The film's primary villain is Doctor Sivana, with Mark Strong in the role.[145][146] Other cast members include Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Jovan Armand, Ian Chen, and Faithe Herman as Batson's foster siblings,[147][148][149][150] Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans as Batson's foster parents,[151][152] and Djimon Hounsou as the wizard Shazam, who gives Batson his powers.[153] The film began principal photography in Toronto on January 29, 2018, and wrapped on May 11, 2018,[154][155][156] with most of the filming taking place at Pinewood Toronto Studios, among other locations around the city.[157] Shazam! was released in North America on April 5, 2019.[158]

The film is set after the events of Justice League.[159] The villain Mister Mind is introduced in a mid-credits scene.[160]

Birds of Prey (2020)

Since the events of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn has left the Joker. When Cassandra Cain, a young girl, comes across a diamond belonging to crime lord Black Mask, Harley joins forces with Black Canary, Huntress, and Renee Montoya to help protect her.[161][162]

By November 2016, Birds of Prey, based on the female superhero team of the same name, was in development with Christina Hodson signed on as screenwriter.[163] By April 2018, Warner Bros. selected Cathy Yan as director, with Margot Robbie, Sue Kroll, and Bryan Unkless serving as producers. Robbie reprised her role as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad.[164] The film is the first theatrical R-rated installment in the franchise and has a smaller budget than most of the other films.[165] In addition to Robbie's starring role, the team roster also includes Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, and Ella Jay Basco as Huntress, Black Canary, Renee Montoya, and Cassandra Cain, respectively.[166][167][168] Black Mask serves as the film's primary antagonist with Ewan McGregor portraying the character, and Chris Messina portraying Victor Zsasz.[169][170][171] The film began pre-production in late July 2018.[172] Principal photography commenced on January 15, 2019, in Los Angeles, and lasted until April 15, 2019.[173][174][175] In November 2018, Robbie revealed the full title of the film as Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).[176] Birds of Prey held its world premiere in London on January 29, 2020, and was released on February 7, 2020.[177] A week into its release, the title of the film was changed to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey to give "moviegoers a better understanding of what Birds of Prey is about."[178]

The film is set after the events of Suicide Squad.[179]

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Diana Prince comes into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s and finds two formidable foes in the form of the Cheetah and Maxwell Lord.[180]

By June 2017, Geoff Johns and Patty Jenkins had begun work on the story treatment for a Wonder Woman sequel.[181] By July, Johns was working on the script.[182] That same month, the sequel was officially announced at San Diego Comic-Con.[183] Gadot will reprise her role as Wonder Woman.[183] By September, Jenkins signed a deal to return as director,[184] and brought on David Callaham to pen the script with her and Johns.[46] The film takes place in the 1980s during the Cold War.[185][186][187] Jenkins said the film, like its predecessor, will be a love story, but with a new love interest.[188] Pre-production had begun by early December 2017.[189][190] In March 2018, Kristen Wiig was cast to portray the film's primary antagonist, Barbara Ann Minerva / Cheetah,[191][192] and Pedro Pascal was cast as Maxwell Lord.[193][194] Production began on June 13, 2018, around the District of Columbia and Northern Virginia.[47] Other filming locations include the Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in the United Kingdom and the islands of Tenerife and Fuerteventura in Spain.[195][196][197] Wonder Woman 1984 was released on December 25, 2020, after its release was delayed twice from an original June 5, 2020 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic[198] and it premiered on HBO Max and theaters simultaneously.

The Dreamstone—a gem associated with the characters Doctor Destiny and Dream of the Endless in the comics—plays a significant role in the film.[199][200]

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

The divisive reaction towards the final highlighted cut of Justice League, with Zack Snyder leaving directorial duties and the final cut of the film in the hands of Joss Whedon, has led to an argument comparing the situation to the one Richard Donner experienced with the film Superman II. Both Justice League and Superman II feature a director that was replaced, for different reasons, before completion of a film, which led to a second director coming in and making substantial changes to the tone of each film. Although the reasoning behind each director's departure differs, Richard Donner was able to complete his Superman II cut (Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut) in 2006.[201] In the belief that Snyder had shot enough material for a finished film, a campaign for a "Snyder Cut" was started to allow Snyder to receive a similar treatment to Donner. Arguments are made that Snyder's vision would be more cohesive to the previous films than the actual theatrical cut, which Snyder has refused to see. Warner Bros. initially remained silent regarding any intention of making a "Snyder Cut".[202]

In March 2019, Snyder confirmed his original cut does exist, and stated that it is up to Warner Bros. to release it.[203] Despite this, in November, Variety reported that Warner Bros. was unlikely to release Snyder's version of Justice League in theaters or on HBO Max, calling it a "pipe dream".[204] In December, however, Snyder posted a photo in his Vero account, which showed boxes with tapes labeled "Z.S. J.L Director's cut", and with the caption "Is it real? Does it exist? Of course it does."[205] On May 20, 2020, Snyder officially announced that HBO Max will be releasing his cut of Justice League on their service on March 18, 2021.[206][207] The cut will reportedly cost $70+ million to complete the special effects, musical score, and editing, and will be presented in aspect ratios of 1.33:1 on streaming & 1:43:1 for a limited iMAX theatrical release.[208][209][210] Snyder stated this version is intended to not affect the future of the DCEU continuity, but that it takes place in a slightly alternate universe.[211] Despite previous reports describing it as a mini-series, Snyder described his cut as being a four-hour movie to be viewed in "one shot."[212][213] Affleck, Miller, Fisher, Heard, and Manganiello returned to their respective roles for additional photography, in order to finish the project.[214][215] In January 2021, Snyder officially confirmed on his Vero account that work on the cut had been completed.[216] Actors from the DCEU who did not appear in the theatrical cut will appear in this version, such as Harry Lennix as Calvin Swanwick (revealed to be Martian Manhunter in disguise), Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, and Jared Leto as the Joker.[217] Characters who were intended to debut in Snyder's original version of the film before their scenes were cut will also appear, such as Darkseid (portrayed by Ray Porter), DeSaad (portrayed Peter Guinness), Iris West (portrayed by Kiersey Clemons), Ryan Choi (portrayed by Zheng Kai), several Green Lanterns, as well as Granny Goodness.[218][219][220][221] Sam Benjamin was part of an estimated 20–30 minutes military subplot that was cut from the 2017 theatrical release.[222]

DC Extended Universe Films articles: 205