There is an almost constant – some would say inevitable – comparison between the incredibly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe and the fledgling DC Extended Universe. Granted, they both involve the adaptation of beloved comic book source material, but many have long suspected that this is where the similarities end – and Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice producer Charles Roven has essentially just confirmed that in conversation with Collider.
Roven has a lot on his plate, thanks to the imminent commencement of the DC universe on cinema screens. The creative partnership between DC and Warner Bros has assembled a ‘brain trust’ consisting of Roven, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Geoff Johns (DC Comics Chief Creative Officer) and John Berg (Executive Vice President of Warner Bros), and this group are overseeing no less than seven comic book movies between now and the planned Justice League Part Two in 2019.
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That’s not very different from Marvel – but what sets DC apart is its affiliation with Warner Bros, which is historically a studio driven by the specific vision of its filmmakers. Charles Roven explained why this is an aspect of the endeavour about which he is particularly excited.
“The other thing I really love about what we’re doing is we’re also bringing in really talented other filmmakers and having them come in and create – I call it the sandbox. We’ve got this sandbox of the Justice League DC characters, and we are hoping to create – this series of movies we’ve announced are somewhat interlinked. The characters move at a throughline that will hopefully take us all the way to Justice League 2, but they also can interact in the other films as well in some way.”
A current criticism of Marvel franchises is that they are all just too packed with superheroes – making even the standalone films seems like Avengers movies. In that respect, Roven’s comments about characters popping up in other movies might be cause for alarm. But, he expands on the point by explaining that the flexible approach the studio is taking means that the movies themselves will not necessarily be linear in release.
“If, for example, The Flash movie or the Aquaman film is gonna come out after Justice League 1, it’s not gonna be a completely different character; that character will have evolved from Justice League 1. Wonder Woman, when we see her in Justice League 1, will have evolved from Batman V Superman. Unless we decide that in one of these stories we’re gonna do something that happened in the past and have it be more of an origination story, in which case you’ll realise how that character became what they are in the movie [in which] they were first introduced.”
So, what we learn here is that the DC road map is not set in stone. This leaves the studio free to mix up current and future stories with origin tales, if they decide that is what works best. The reason this is important, is that the characters and their development remain paramount, rather than some elaborate story arc that dominates all output. The key to that, explains Roven, is flexibility in considering the ideas of your filmmakers.
“[It’s] really challenging and interesting, and you lay out a road map. But when you bring somebody else in they kinda go, ‘Well, you’re going to San Francisco by Route 5. What if you took the 101?’ [And you go] ‘Well, that’s interesting. Maybe we should go Route 101. What if we did?’ And so that changes the whole thing and all of a sudden, you realise you can actually get to where you need to get to by a whole different methodology than what you originally planned. Or you might decide to blend the routes. And by doing that, it’s very fresh. You’ve got very fresh ideas, very interesting ideas. It’s just really a lot of fun if you’ve got really great collaborative minds working together to try to make things better, more interesting, more fun, more provocative.”
So, there we have it – the DC road map, according to producer Charles Roven. It is a historic journey through uncharted terrain with iconic characters – heading from Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, to Justice League Part Two and beyond – and we can all climb aboard for the ride when Zack Snyder’s epic showdown arrives in cinemas on March 25th 2016.