The Upcoming Writer's Strike Could Spell Impending Doom For DCEU
With all the political turmoil and upheaval facing the world today I think it’s time to look at perhaps the most pressing issue of all; the writers’ strike is coming.
Today, the Writers Guild of America will vote on whether to authorize a strike. If an agreement is not reached by May 1, then the picket line will commence.
Those of us who lived through the last one remember the pain and suffering that was wrought. The calamity and destruction that the dreaded writers’ strike of 2007 brought upon us seemed all but a distant memory. Shortened seasons of shows. Cancelled shows. And worst of all, Terminator Salvation.
We all remember the casualties of war. Lost, Heroes, The Office. I still look mournfully at my DVD copy of Quantum of Solace and wonder what might have been.
So hold on to your precious memories of Stranger Things or Game of Thrones while you can. Because just like the currently terrible Terminator franchise, the writers’ strike will be back.
Of course writers have to eat too. But what about the lowly common man in all this?
Think of your uncle that watches Blue Bloods. He doesn’t know anything about the Writer’s Guild. All he knows is that when he comes home from a long day of work the only thing that gives him comfort is an hour-long hypnotic stare into Tom Selleck’s mustache hairs.
Do you really want to deprive him of that? I certainly don’t. The effects could be far-reaching. A whole generation of 40-50 year-old men without their only solace in life. Who knows what could happen?
Productions will certainly rush to meet the all-important May 1 deadline because if scripts are not finished by that time, it will be considered illegal to revise any scripts while the writers are on strike.
So what we will see is either scripts rushed to meet the deadline or unfinished scripts leaving directors in the lurch trying to piece together what they can.
Having said that, I think it’s a good time to examine the potential effects of the looming writers’ strike on the DC Extended Universe film slate.
As presently constructed, there are approximately 14,000 films planned on the DC slate. Actually there are about 16 according to my calculations but feel free to correct me. I wasn’t a math major.
In contrast with the Marvel Cinematic Universe whose meticulously crafted interconnected universe is organized into phases with a clear, forward momentum while DC’s approach appears to more closely resemble the plans of South Park’s underpants gnomes.
Phase 1: Announce Films
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit
By no means am I saying one approach is superior to the other. DC’s approach to simply hire talented filmmakers like James Wan or Joss Whedon and to worry about continuity later could certainly engender creative freedom resulting in great films.
Starting off with Ben Affleck’s The Batman, which has been targeted for a 2018 release window. Director Matt Reeves reportedly would like to re-write the film to focus on more of Batman’s rogue’s gallery rather than just Deathstroke. However, Reeves will be continuing work on his War For the Planet of the Apes through June.
Assuming the writer’s strike does indeed happen, Reeves would be unable to work on the film until any such conflict is resolved. This could push Affleck’s Batman film until 2019, which would coincide with the character’s 80-year anniversary. I feel this a likely scenario.
The absence of Batman would leave Aquaman as the only DC film in 2018. Which is why I think Warner Bros. and DC might aim to fast-track one of their other projects like Gotham City Sirens to fill the void left by The Batman. GCS director David Ayer showed an ability to work quickly and successfully (at the box office that is) with Suicide Squad in which he only had six weeks to write.
The Harley Quinn led film would also push the DCEU in a more female-centric direction, which seems to be a prudent decision. With Wonder Woman, Gotham City Sirens, and Joss Whedon’s Batgirl, DC could gain a real identity as a company for pushing strong female protagonists.
Another film that could be in jeopardy is The Flash. The film has already gone through three directors and the writer’s strike certainly wouldn’t help things. No new director has been announced so perhaps Warner Bros. is waiting to see how the character is received in Justice League before making any rash decisions. But the Scarlet Speedster’s first solo film could be on-hold for some time.
The recently announced Green Lantern Corps being written by David Goyer would likely be halted as well. As for the rumored Matthew Vaughn-directed Man of Steel 2, Suicide Squad 2, and Dark Universe for example would all likely face similar fates.
One film I think that is very likely to be fast tracked is Black Adam. This film stars America’s sweetheart, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson so it is unlikely that DC will want to wait long and waste his undeniable star power.
It is possible that the reception to November’s Justice League could decide the outlook of the entire film slate regardless of the writer’s strike.
If Justice League underwhelms it is hard to imagine a world where Cyborg gets his own film. But if Justice League is a hit then the effects of this writer’s strike could be felt for years to come.