The strange case of Batgirl’s cancellation is only scratching the surface of Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO Max’s directionlessness in dealing with DC comics’ properties, according to a new report from Variety (opens in new tab).
Earlier this week, filmmaker Kevin Smith revealed on a podcast (opens in new tab) that HBO Max’s DC anthology show Strange Adventures had been cancelled even before the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger had been finalized. And back in May, The Wonder Twins movie for the streamer was also axed.
The bad news may well keep coming for DC franchises on HBO Max. Titans and Doom Patrol have yet to start their latest seasons on the streamer, but Variety says it’s “yet to be determined” whether they’ll be renewed afterwards, with an overall view to be taken once the shows air and, presumably, the numbers can be assessed.
However, an earlier version of the article, spotted by Comicbook (opens in new tab), suggested the company was siding on cancellation with the phrase “on the chopping block” used. This is excused in a correction on Variety, stating that the article was updated “to reflect the current status” of the two shows.
“Confusing state” for DC shows
So what’s going on with DC? The Variety piece paints a picture of confusion as Warner Bros. Discovery attempts to build an entertainment machine that can match the prolific hit-making of archrivals Marvel at Disney.
Speaking to investors earlier this month, CEO David Zaslav spoke of a restructuring at the company, with the aim to form a team with a “ten-year plan focusing just on DC.” The restructuring would be “similar to the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together very effectively with [Marvel boss] Kevin Feige at Disney.”
This, as Variety notes, seems to overwrite the efforts DC Films chief Walter Hamada has already made with long-term plans for the DC cinematic universe, leading to “rampant speculation” about the fates of various upcoming projects.
For now, just one project has a green light since the merger was completed: Joker: Folie à Deux, which isn’t due out until 2024. Other projects are even further away, still in the development stage: Wonder Woman 3, Superman, Static Shock and a sequel to The Batman all lack any firm dates or “substantive updates.”
In the meantime, we’re due to get cinematic releases of Black Adam in October, and Blue Beetle in 2023. Like the cancelled Batgirl, the latter was originally pegged for HBO Max before ‘upgrading’ to the cinema, but a Black Canary movie is set to appear on the streamer itself at some point. There’s also talk of a spin-off TV series focusing on Batman villain The Penguin, a second season of Peacemaker and a Green Lantern series.
But given the fate of Batgirl, it’s safe to say that such tentative plans can change with next to no notice. No wonder the aim is to mimic the stability and long-term planning that Marvel has mastered from within the Disney family.
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