Earlier tonight, news broke that a new Joker project is in the works, bringing the Clown Prince of Crime into a new, non-DCEU canon spinoff. This project is completely unconnected to the shared universe that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman and Justice League all exist in, and the big surprise is it won't be the only film of its ilk to happen. In fact, a new production banner has been formed at Warner Bros solely for the purpose of telling one-off stories.
This new banner has yet to have an official name, but as fans of the DC universe, let's call it what it is in the hypothetical sense: DC Elseworlds. Much like the new Joker film, DC Elseworlds would give the studio the opportunity to tell unique one-off stories that would exist as separate, single-serving entries. What's more exciting is the fact that these films will be cast as a fresh slate that's also separate from the DCEU franchise, meaning if you're still holding out hope for seeing Joe Manganiello as Superman or Gina Carano as Wonder Woman, you might just get your wish.
But let's step this up another notch and think about an even bigger picture. With the hypothetical DC Elseworlds brand in place, DC can keep up with what 20th Century Fox has been doing with X-Men properties like Logan and Deadpool. With the wings free and clear to soar away from the DCEU, Elseworlds can tell stories that are more intense and definitely more R-rated. So while The Batman trilogy thrives under Matt Reeves' direction with Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Warner Bros could use DC Elseworlds to also engage in a live-action remake of The Dark Knight Returns. Or, even better, that Superman: Red Son movie project that's been rumored just might find itself the next film in this experimental line of comic adaptations.
Starting a new banner for the production of non-DCEU films is a brilliant move that not only shows how hungry DC is for a new strategy that'll help improve its brand, but it also shows a new phase of evolution for comic book movies. While the shared universe concept still exists in force in both Marvel and DC's camps, seeing DC start its own separate universe to tell stories outside of the shared canon may be something that the comic book movie market sees as the shape of things to come. Should this venture detailed by Deadline succeed, perhaps Marvel might end up creating its own label of non-MCU stories to keep up, especially considering Fox already struck gold.
For now though, DC Elseworlds (again, that's not the official branding) will start it all off with the '80s crime drama-themed Joker spinoff, which does not have a production or release date in mind. Meanwhile, in the DCEU, Justice League is the next film on the docket, with a November 17 release date firmly in place.