Since the critical and commercial mediocrity of Justice League, it's been rumored that Warner Bros. would likely be trying to figure out a way to reboot their film universe. With the exciting announcement that Ava DuVernay will be helming a New Gods movie for the studio, it looks like those rumors were true because New Gods will be unlike anything the DCEU has attempted before. The New Gods are a part of what's widely known as the Fourth World, first introduced in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen by Jack Kirby (you can learn all about them here). If you're a fan of Kirby's work then you'll know that his vibrant vision for the future is often intricate, otherworldly, and years ahead of his time. MCU fans got a glimpse of Kirby's intergalactic magic in Taika Waititi's Thor:Ragnarok, which was a love letter to the iconic creator's unique vision.
Not only is it radical that Ava will be the first African American director to helm a DC movie--after Rick Famuyiwa left The Flash--but it's also an intriguing story choice as it hints at a big move away from what's come to be known as the DCEU "Snyderverse." The main critiques of the current DC movies have focused on their grim aesthetics, real-world settings, and often depressing tone of the shared universe. The announcement of Ava DuVernay helming New Gods is a statement of intent from DC and WB, letting viewers know that going forward things will never be the same. But what does that actually mean for the DCEU?
Though it seems like DC has a huge amount of films on their upcoming slate, they actually only have five live-action films with set release dates between this year and July 24th 2020: Aquaman, Shazam, Wonder Woman 2, Cyborg, and Green Lantern Corps. Aquaman is in post-production, Shazam is filming, and Wonder Woman 2 is in the early stages of casting, so it would be pretty easy for DC to use New Gods to reset the timeline. For a while it seemed like Flashpoint would be the place where DC would turn the page on the DCEU, but for now that film is still in development hell. With June 14, 2019, and Feb 14, 2020 cemented as release dates for unconfirmed DC movies, it's possible we'll see New Gods fill that latter slot before we see Flashpoint come to life.
Tonally, the epic technicolor space adventure of New Gods couldn't be any more different than the bleak over saturated landscape of the current DC movies. Last year DuVernay teased her new project by tweeting that if she could make any superhero movie she'd make a Big Barda movie. One of the titular New Gods, Barda was born on Apokolips, one of the two planets at the center of the New Gods mythology. Apokolips might seem familiar to you even if you haven't read the comics, and that's because it's already been teased in the dream sequence from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and was also the homeworld of Justice League's big bad, Steppenwolf. The seeds of the New Gods have already been sewn, so it's the perfect time for someone new to take the reigns and give the DCEU some much needed direction.
The end of Justice League teased the second of the New Gods worlds, New Genesis, a lush utopian planet which was created alongside its dark counterpart Apokolips after the destruction of the world of the Old Gods. If Flashpoint does go ahead, it will likely introduce the idea of multiple timelines, which would be the perfect chance to introduce the New Gods. The story of Apokolips and New Genesis would be a great way to reinvigorate the DCEU's lineup with a fantastic array of characters like Big Barda's husband Scott Free a.k.a. Mister Miracle, Metron, Orion, and of course DC's ultimate big bad, Darkseid!
DuVernay is huge get for DC/WB as we know that she already turned down the chance to direct Black Panther at Disney, and has reportedly been approached about Star Wars. Plus, she's just helmed the spectacular A Wrinkle in Time, which boasted seriously surreal visuals and proved that Ava has an incredible vision for sci-fi. Teaming up a visionary director like Ava with the unique work of an iconic creator like Kirby is a match made in heaven, and one that makes a lot of sense for DC/WB. Though they've already used some of the concepts from the Fourth World in the DCEU, they've always struggled to find the cohesion of the MCU. But one of the threads that runs through the MCU and Fox's X-Men franchises is that they're based on a lot of characters and concepts by Kirby. Maybe New Gods is the chance for DC/WB to do the same?
There are a few routes the New Gods movie could take. We could see DC take a truly wild turn into full-on fantasy mode, introducing the New Gods, Apokolips, and New Genesis wholesale, changing tact completely and giving the main DCEU time to breathe by introducing an entirely different mythology. Or they could focus on the New Gods' most famous hero, Mister Miracle, dropping him on Earth after escaping Apokolips and using him as an introduction to the Fourth World. The most likely outcome, though, is we'll see a compromise, with DC slowly introducing the idea of the New Gods to build towards the Cosmic Odyssey arc by Jim Starlin--creator of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet storyline--in which Darkseid teams up with other New Gods and heroes from Earth to destroy the only thing more powerful than himself... a living entity embodying the Anti-Life Equation! Whichever route they go, this is an exhilarating step forward for the DCEU.
Do you have a favorite New Gods iteration? Just can't wait to see Ava do superheroes? Need more Kirby on the big screen? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Warner Bros., DC Comics
A few more tales from the Darkseid:
- A DC Comics primer on the New Gods.
- Wonder Woman vs. Darkseid!
- All you need to know about Steppenwolf in the comics.