One of the most curious details to emerge from recent reports centered on the corporate fracas that took place at HBO Max and the rest of Warner Bros. Discovery was CEO David Zaslav’s announcement of an explicitly Marvel-esque, decade-long plan for the studio’s films based on DC’s comic books. Listening to Zaslav’s claim that this move is meant to “grow” and “protect the DC brand,” you might get the impression that Warner Bros. wasn’t already in the midst of a years-long effort to build out a cinematic. universe of superhero movies. One would have to somehow forget or block the DCEU, Warner Bros. to get that impression.” most recent constellation of loosely connected, live-action comic book adaptations that started with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel in 2013.

Look at what happened to batgirl, it’s pretty clear that after the merger, the new Warner Bros. Discovery wants to divest or at least keep some distance between itself and the current iteration of the DCEU (along with all the baggage that comes with the pursuit). will be an unenviable and nearly impossible task for a myriad of reasons ranging from: Black Adam‘s upcoming release this fall to the fact that the studio still seems very optimistic about the upcoming Flash feature film with actor Ezra Miller.

The DCEU often felt like it was racing to a crisis event that would make or break the franchise. While there was the possibility that that crisis was fictitious and an adaptation of one of DC’s capital C crisis storylines, what has become much clearer in recent weeks, is how tough the future of the DCEU is and how the studio may not be working with a solid game plan.

Ezra Miller as Barry Allen in Justice League.
Warner Bros.

The DCEU was plagued with a number of problems long before Warner Bros. Discovery took on its name, such as a general lack of cohesion, bad storytelling, and an association with a toxic fandom whose obsession eventually spilled over into campaigns of intimidation against studio executives. Looking back, Justice League as it was released in 2017 was a haphazard attempt to catch up to the MCU that placed far too much faith in the power of the general fame of people with characters like Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Aquaman not actually present in the DCEU on the time.

although Justice League made quite a bit of money, it was far from the financial success that Warner Bros. wanted and needed. In the wake of the box office’s underperformance, you could clearly see that Warner Bros. recalculated how it wanted to make the DCEU, opening up to the idea that the traditional DC Trinity — i.e. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman — might not have to be the pillars of the brand.

That idea and the unexpected success of projects like James Wan Aquarius and the first by David F. Sandberg Shazam! has a lot to do with why Black Adam, a magically muscular return to DC’s Bronze Age comics, will headline his own movie in front of so many other, much more famous characters. Sometimes it’s weird to think about Black Adam: a.) existing and b.) finally escape the development hell. But after the first from director Todd Phillips joker and Matt Reeves’ the battertwo Elseworlds-style stories purposefully placed outside the DCEU continuity, it seemed like Warner Bros. had decided to make big, bold, standalone films designed to win over viewers with their outspoken voices.

From a financial point of view, it is not surprising that both joker and the batter are slated to have sequels, but instead of leaning on those objective wins, Warner Bros. Discovery apparently plans to continue hunting an MCU-shaped white whale. It was quite interesting to learn that Warner Bros. Discovery recently tackled an all-new post-credits scene to Black Adam ahead of its October release, intended to establish its titular antihero as a more significant power player in the DCEU.

Dwayne Johnson on filming on the set of Black Adam.
Warner Bros.

To connect Black Adam going to the DCEU (presumably to fight its gang of child nemeses) would make a lot more sense if it was a thriving, vibrant place where massive crossovers were the omens of epic and awe-inspiring tales to come.

But just as Hollywood has reached its current addiction to multiverses, the DCEU’s fate may have been jeopardized by its reliance on Ezra Miller in The flasha universe-hopping epic that increasingly resembles DC’s answer to Spider-Man: No Way Home. While it often feels like Warner Bros. maybe just don’t like making comics is director Andy Muschietti’s possibility Flash feature the multiverse uses to tie together Warner Bros’ multitude of disparate comic adaptations is a tempting one. Besides echoing the beats of DCs flash point comic event, using The flash in that way, one could envision laying the groundwork for an entirely new direction for Warner Bros.’ superhero movies.

In addition to all those options, The flash has also been linked to the sexual assault and child-care allegations against Miller, who reportedly turned up for the film’s additional photography earlier this summer before being arrested in August. Warner Bros.’ reasons for not wanting to brake right away on a tentpole movie that’s years in the making—and just months before its intended release—are easy enough to understand to some extent. But with every other incident involving Miller since footage surfaced in 2020 of them choking someone in an Icelandic bar, it increasingly appeared that Warner Bros. would be willing to completely ignore the actor’s behavior in favor of The flash first.

Between Warner Bros. racking up Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s nearly completed $90 million batgirl movie, and Zaslav enthusiastically name checking The flash after phone calls from investors, it’s clear that the studio leadership thinks there’s too much on the film to handle it, despite the damage Miller could do to the brand. Ultimately, that may be the case, but that kind of strategy-first, substance-second approach to franchise building is exactly what Warner Bros. to this point in the first place, and it could easily cause poisoning regardless of the future Warner Bros. Discovery is planned.

at this late, leave stage in the superhero movie game where much of the novelty has come and gone, which Warner Bros. Discovery needs isn’t necessarily to make movies the way Marvel does, but to really commit to a cohesive vision for its DC projects, and then see that through to the end.