The DCEU needs a few adjustments. Justice League didn't exactly pan out the way that many fans had hoped, and now the cinematic universe is trying to make up lost ground with the development of films like Aquaman, Shazam!, and Wonder Woman 1984. There's plenty of source material for the DCEU to pull from, but we think there's no better source of inspiration than the animated TV shows that DC has produced over the years.
With that in mind, and ahead of the December 21 release of Aquaman later this year, we have assembled a list of elements that the DCEU should straight-up steal from classic DC animation. With so many different points to get to, let's kick things off by honing in on Justice League Unlimited's fluid timeline.
Jump Around The Timeline
With only a few exceptions, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DCEU have both taken to telling straightforward stories that take place on a single timeline. However, when you have characters who exist across the span of generations, there's a lot more room to keep things flexible. Few other universes have embodied that idea better than the classic DC Animated Universe, which simultaneously told the modern day Justice League story, while also offering up Batman Beyond -- a story set in the same universe, following Bruce Wayne decades after hanging up the cape and cowl. Many fans have clamored for a Batman Beyond movie for years, and while that's not the only option on the table for creating a DCEU that hops around the timeline, it shows the appetite for stories that don't just move forward linearly.
Give Minor Characters One-Off Arcs
When the Justice League cartoon transitioned from Justice League to Justice League Unlimited, one of the most brilliant creative decisions made by the folks behind the scenes involved shifting focus to tell broader stories about far more obscure heroes. These often involved one-episode arcs for C-listers like Booster Gold, and some of those stories have gone on to become some of the most beloved tales in the animated DC canon. The DCEU could perform a similar feat by moving away from the franchise model for smaller heroes and instead focusing on digging deep into the DC roster to tell standalone, one-off stories that might not have full series potential. Don't think Martian Manhunter deserves a whole trilogy of movies? Then give us a great one-off with a beginning, middle and ending.