You should look worried, Barry. You may just be the next casualty of Warner Bros.’ incompetence and mismanagement when it comes to the DC Extended Universe. In fact, as of today, your fate is looking bleak.
Variety reported Thursday that Warner Bros. announced that The Flash standalone film, slated for 2018, has just hired screenwriter Joby Harold (Edge of Tomorrow) to perform a page-one rewrite on the script. The release date has also been pushed back to 2019.
Now, rewrites are common in Hollywood and pushing back the release date because of it is a good idea to alleviate audience fears that they’ll rush the production, a move that usually results in a total mess of a final product.
But why I particularly feel this might be the time for anyone holding Warner Bros. stock to consider cashing out immediately is that this follows a pattern of ineptitude at Warner Bros. among many of their theatrical films but especially with regard to how they’ve handled all their non-Nolan-directed DCEU films for a long time.
First of all, this isn’t even the first problem with this particular film. The Flash has already burned through two directors over “creative differences,” and the job title is beginning to sound more and more like Spinal Tap drummer. Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) left the project in 2016, and his replacement, Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) bailed out of the sinking ship a few months after that.
But of course the biggest reason for concern is that Warner Bros. signed off on a massive slate of DCEU films to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Studios massive shared universe without proving they could achieve a single hit with audiences without Christopher Nolan at the helm. Green Lantern was such a train wreck that lead actor Ryan Reynolds worked in a joke mocking it in last year’s surprise hit, Deadpool.
Man of Steel, the film meant to kick off this DC shared universe, received a very mixed reaction from audiences, largely because of director Zach Snyder’s and screenwriter David S. Goyer’s decision to depict a darker, grittier Superman. Of course, DC didn’t wait to hear audience reaction as they green-lit a sequel days before the film’s release.
Then came last year’s double dose of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, both films receiving mixed to negative reviews. And it’s well known that the latter film received last-minute studio interference as they scrambled to re-cut the film to more closely match the style and tone of the film’s very popular trailers.
And it’s hard to forget the open letter published last year by an alleged former Warner Bros. employee that lambasted the company’s CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, for a series of incompetent missteps in his managing of the company.
All that being said, this year will bring us two more films in the DCEU, Wonder Woman and Justice League. And both look promising enough from the little we’ve seen in the trailers. But right now, all the pressure is on them to succeed where all the previous films in this shared universe have floundered. And Wonder Woman will arrive first, making it the proverbial canary in the coalmine. DC needs both 2017 entries to be a hit. If either fails to deliver, this DCEU experiment may be over and Warner Bros. may have to cut their enormous losses. But perhaps the saddest part is that, if Wonder Woman fails, it will be unfairly cited by executives for years to come as proof that a Wonder Woman film CAN’T be successful, allowing the character to be sidelined once more.
There is just no way to sugarcoat this. The Flash is in serious trouble, and both Wonder Woman and the entire Justice League may be his only hope.