When Warner Bros. began rethinking their superhero films in the wake of the box disappointment that was ‘Justice League’, only a few of the then-current slate seemed assured to see the light of day. The big ones, of course, were ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘ (as a sequel to the only surefire DC hit to date) and ‘Aquaman‘ (which had already wrapped filming and is due in theaters later this month). But while those two were (and still are) a sure thing, more than a few of the DC movies that Warner announced have seen their prospects dim considerably.
One of the most surprising films to fall into the latter category is ‘Flashpoint’, the Ezra Miller-starring Flash vehicle that was rumored to serve as a soft reboot of whatever we’re calling the shared universe of DC movies these days. Of course, while Warner has apparently remained steadfast in their interest in making ‘Flashpoint’ (indeed, it’s one of the few DC productions announced prior to ‘Justice League’ that hasn’t gone quiet), the movie has gone through directors they way Spinal Tap goes through drummers and faced several production delays. The latest of those delays – announced in October – saw the film’s start date pushed to late 2019 with a 2021 release target. This delay is reportedly due – at least in part – to Ezra Miller’s commitments to the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films (also under the Warner umbrella). Though Miller himself remains confident that ‘Flashpoint’ will come to fruition (telling Playboy that “Nothing is ever certain in this world, but as certain as things get, we’re making a fucking crazy-dope Flash movie.), but the studio’s priorities are clear. Indeed, despite ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald‘ supplanting ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’ as the lowest-grossing installment of the franchise (to say nothing of fan and critical response), the Wizarding World is still a more dependable moneymaker for Warner than the DC Universe.
And then there’s ‘Man of Steel 2’. Though it was never exactly clear how high a priority a direct sequel to Henry Cavill’s first outing as the Last Son of Krypton was (particularly after the initial follow up was revealed as ‘Batman v Superman’ – less a sequel than an exercise in world building), it was nonetheless something audiences and insiders alike assumed would happen sooner or later. Despite that, it’s now looking more and more likely that those fans who’ve spent the last five years waiting for the other shoe to fall are in for a disappointment. Even setting aside Cavill’s increasingly busy schedule and a rumored (though not yet confirmed) exit in September, Warner was never exactly in a rush to get this one off the ground, a situation that seems unlikely to change given their apparent shift in focus to projects like ‘Birds of Prey‘, ‘Batgirl‘, and ‘Supergirl‘. Which brings us back to Cavill himself. While it’s entirely possible that the rumors of his departure (which, recall, were kickstarted by his agent in a likely attempt to negotiate in the press), his situation increasingly seems to mirror that of Ben Affleck, who has been dogged for over a year by rumors of his own impending exit. And while Cavill’s exit is not more official than Affleck’s, the writing (in both cases) would seem to be on the wall. At the end of the day, even if Cavill is still on board, Warner doesn’t exactly seem to be in a hurry to do anything with him.
Even if it does turn out that we’ve seen the last of the Henry Cavill and Ezra Miller incarnations of these characters, it’s still Superman and the Flash that we’re talking about. In other words, two of DC’s most enduring and popular heroes. And in this superhero-dominated cultural landscape we find ourselves in, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which either character vanishes from the big screen for too long. The only real question is what form they’ll take when they inevitably return.