Surprise! DC Comics is getting ready to unveil its plans for Stage I of its Cinematic Continuum, and there's some interesting names in the mix. Looking at the list, there are heroes both familiar and alien (in all sense of the word) to audiences of the chief competitor to Marvel Studios. While their rival has a plan that stretches to 2028, DC is only reaching as far as 2018, at least for the time being. Bear in mind, they're still new to the model that Marvel has cemented into its business plan.

So what do movie and comic fans have to look forward to in the future of DC Comics? How does it all fit together? Is Joseph Gordon-Levitt going to play Nightwing? (NO, AND STOP ASKING!) These questions and more will be answered in our analysis of Stage I to DC's Cinematic Continuum. (We can't keep giving everything titles like "phase I" or "cinematic universe." Let's get creative, guys.)

The Bat Man
Batman
Year Introduced: 1939 (Detective Comics # 27)
Previous Movies: Batman (1943/1966/1989), Batman and Robin (1949/1997), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005 – 2012)
Stage I Entries: Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)
Stage I Actor: Ben Affleck
Special Abilities: Martial arts, theatricality, deception, advanced surveillance techniques, and corporate espionage.

General Background: Bruce Wayne was orphaned in one of the squalid back alleys of Gotham City. From that moment, he dedicated himself to bringing his parents' killer to justice, as well as cleaning up the corrupt streets of Gotham. Using his family's wealth and his status amongst the corporate elite, Mr. Wayne (with the help of his loyal butler, Alfred) adopted the visage of that which he feared, in hopes he could inspire the same sort of fear amongst those who would seek to poison the city he loves.

How He Might Be Used In Stage I: The Batman of Dawn Of Justice is a seasoned veteran, battle scarred and relying on drones to do his crime fighting. This is evident by his current build and costume, which are more reminiscent of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns era. Don't let that fool you, though, as Miller's Batman still kicked a lot of ass as an older man. My guess is it'll be a little while before we see Batman fly solo again, as someone else is being set up as the DC Continuum's equivalent to Iron Man. Still, Batman makes bank, and bank is what Warner Bros needs if they're going to continue playing in the comic sandbox.
Superman
Superman
Year Introduced: 1938 (Action Comics #1)
Previous Movies: Superman (1948), Atom Man vs Superman (1950), Superman and the Mole Men (1951), Superman: The Movie (1978), Superman II (1981), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987), Superman Returns (2006), Man of Steel (2013)
Stage I Entries: Man Of Steel (2013), Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), Man Of Steel 2 (2018)
Stage I Actor: Henry Cavill
Special Abilities: Flight, extreme feats of strength, oxygen retention, ocular heat beams, ice breath, heightened senses.

General Background: Born Kal-El of the planet Krypton, Clark Kent crash landed on Earth to be raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent. Struggling to learn his place in the world, and reeling from the death of his adoptive father, the last son of Krypton roamed the Earth helping those in need and ultimately becoming a citizen of the human race. He sealed his fate when, during a bout of combat with General Zod, he reluctantly eliminated the remnants of his species.

How They Might Be Used In Stage I: Superman is the DC Continuum's Iron Man, in the respect that they've decided to lead off with his story and will progress through Stage I before they circle back to his story in Man Of Steel 2 in 2018. Funny enough, Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice was supposed to be the original Superman follow up, but Warner Bros is putting their cards on the table officially and pushing back the continuing solo adventures of Clark Kent until the rest of the continuum has been able to have a say.
Shazam
Shazam
Year Introduced: 1940 (Whiz Comics #2)
Previous Movies: The Adventures Of Captain Marvel - 1941
Stage I Entries: Shazam (2016)
Stage I Actor (speculated): TBD (Billy Batson) / Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (Shazam)
Special Abilities: Wisdom, strength, stamina, power, courage and speed.

General Background: Chosen to be "a champion of good," radio reporter Billy Batson was endowed with the powers to transform into the mighty Shazam (formerly known as Captain Marvel). Using powers relating to Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury – Billy can even share his powers with family and friends.

How They Might Be Used In Phase I: With his journalistic ties into the universe, Billy Batson will probably end up being a reporter for The Daily Planet. Knowing the modern slant of the films, it'd be a safe bet to make him an online blogger. While Billy Batson is a good launching point for an atypical, scrawny kid, Dwayne Johnson has been known to circle this role in the past, as well as another role we'll get to later down the line.
Sandman
Sandman
Year Introduced: 1974 /1989
Previous Movies: None
Stage I Entries: Sandman (2016)
Stage I Actor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Special Ability: Traveling through people's dreams, building walls with sand and fire.

General Background: Here's where things get a little complicated, as there are several incarnations of The Sandman. The original incarnation was Wesley Dodds, who was the founding member of The Justice Society of America (which later becomes the Justice League of America). The second, Dr. Garret Sanford, was linked to Wonder Woman and eventually became a member of the Justice League. Guess what... neither of those incarnations are being used, as the Neil Gaiman reboot (which purposely created a new Sandman, different from the other incarnations) is the specific version in play.

How They Might Be Used In Phase I: Honestly, this is the hardest one to peg. The version of the property in play exists outside of the Justice League, though it has its links to past incarnations, which actually do have strong ties to the Justice League. The most interesting case scenario would be that Sandman is going to be used as the DC equivalent of Guardians of the Galaxy. This could help lead to the weirder parts of the DC universe, such as Justice League Dark.
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman
Year Introduced: 1941 (All Star Comics #8)
Previous Movies: None
Stage I Entries: Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016), Justice League / Wonder Woman (2017)
Stage I Actress: Gal Gadot
Special Ability: Feats of strength, speed, healing powers, the Lasso of Truth and magical weaponry.

General Background: Wonder Woman, an Amazonian princess from Themyscira, crosses over to our world after she meets and rescues Captain Steve Trevor – an Air Force pilot who accidentally finds his way into the mythical kingdom. Once in our world, she assumes the identity of Diana Prince, her alter ego when she's not using her Lasso of Truth, her invisible jet, and her magic bracelets that deflect incoming weapons fire.

How They Might Be Used In Phase I: Wonder Woman's day has finally come, as she'll be making her debut in the Justice League prequel, then starring in her own film and the Justice League film both in 2017. Two years, and three movies to be a part of, Wonder Woman is probably going to see a piece of the conflict from both Justice League films follow her back into her own stand alone film.
The Flash
The Flash
Year Introduced: 1940 (Flash Comics #1)
Previous Movies: None
Stage I Entries: Flash/Green Lantern crossover (2017)
Stage I Actor (speculated): Grant Gustin
Special Ability: Able to travel faster than the speed of light, and time itself.

General Background: Barry Allen, a forensic investigator in Central City, is the subject of a horrific lab accident. Through an intense chemical reaction, Allen gains the ability to travel at super high speeds, able to foil crime before it's even completed.

How They Might Be Used In Phase I: The Flash is going to be DC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D lynchpin, if they play their cards right. The television apparatus for DC has always been stronger than Marvel's previous efforts, and now with the cinematic continuum being developed, this could be the first property to link the two halves of DC Comics. (In which case, look out for Arrow in Stage 2!)
John Stewart
Green Lantern
Year Introduced: 1940 (All-American Comics #16)
Previous Movies: Green Lantern (2011)
Stage I Entries: Justice League / Flash/Green Lantern crossover (2017)
Stage I Actor (speculated): Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
Special Ability: Interstellar flight, the ability to create matter through willpower.

General Background: Throughout the universe, the Green Lantern Corps are protectors against the forces of evil. Scattered throughout the universe, each member of the Corps possesses a ring that helpsl them use their power. Should anything happen to one of the members of the Lantern Corps, the ring will target the nearest entity worthy of possessing the ring's power.

How They Might Be Used In Phase I: Here's where the more reasonable rumor about Dwayne Johnson comes into play. Earlier this year, Johnson was in talks with DC about some hush hush subject matter. Shortly after, he Instagrammed a photo with the hashtag #JohnStewartCanStillWhupSupermansAss. It can be assumed that he might make an appearance in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice, but you can definitely bank on him being in both the crossover event and Justice League.
JLA
Justice League
Year Introduced: 1960 (The Brave and the Bold)
Previous Movies: None
Special Ability: Teamwork, and the sum total of their abilities.

General Background: When the crisis is too big for just one hero, and the world is in the balance, the Justice League is called in to handle the situation as a team. With a membership roster that's as high as the altitude of their meeting place, the Watchtower satellite, the League handles crises across multiple Earths, multiple planets, and multiple timelines.

How They Might Be Used In Stage I: The Avengers of DC's cinematic continuum, Justice League has been teased for a long time, and almost made its way to us as recently as 2007. With plans finally in the works, and a two film starter package in the works, DC is looking ready to start with the crossovers and slowly spin off into individual installments. With three films a year, starting in 2016, there are a lot of moving pieces that need to fall into place really quickly to meet this ambitious schedule. Stage I lives and dies with Batman vs. Superman and Justice League, and adding the extra stress of Shazam and Sandman doesn't help. The next couple of years are going to be interesting for DC, and let's just hope they can make it out with movies as good as their intentions are in making them.

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