In the last few weeks, the relationship between the future of DC Comics blockbusters and HBO Max has gotten surprisingly close. First it was announced that Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984 would be premiering on the streaming service at the same time domestically as it would be theatrically, and then shortly after that it was revealed that James Gunn's The Suicide Squad will have the same release strategy applied when it comes out next August. These have been surprising developments, but it turns out that what we're witnessing now is just the start of something much bigger, as Warner Bros. has some big plans for their expansive comic book franchise and digital platform.
The New York Times has run a feature about DC Films President Walter Hamada in the wake of Wonder Woman 1984's release, and it confirms that going forward HBO Max is going to be kept in strong consideration as moves are made to bring more superhero stories to life in live-action. Or in Hamada's own words:
With every movie that we’re looking at now, we are thinking, ‘What’s the potential Max spinoff?’
This is actually something that we've seen hints of in recent months even beyond the release strategies for both Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad. It was confirmed back in late September that the latter film is already getting a spin-off series that will specifically focus on Peacemaker, the character that is being played by John Cena in the upcoming James Gunn film. But that's only one aspect of a much bigger plan that involves not just miniseries based on characters from other projects, but also the development of exclusive features.
As you'd expect, there are no plans to slow down the number of DC Comics films that play on the big screen, as there are goals to release as many as four movies per year in theaters, but soon enough those projects will have parallel plans to blockbusters made specifically for HBO Max. According to the newspaper, the ultimate idea is eventually to launch two of these movies each year, and to have them center on "riskier characters like Batgirl and Static Shock." What's not made clear is how resources are going to be allocated to these films in comparison to the titles that are actually going to be literally selling tickets.
When you think about it, this very much appears to be DC Films following a similar path as Marvel Studios – which has also started to diversify in terms of storytelling mediums recently and has set up multiple shows to premiere on Disney+ in the coming years. The big difference between the two plans essentially boils down to continuity. While Marvel Studios will be operating so that shows like WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye feed into the same big screen universe as their theatrical releases, DC is opting to embrace the multiverse concept and allow some of their projects link, while others function independently.
They've already started this ball rolling with the DC Extended Universe, the Arrow-verse and projects like Joker existing simultaneously, but in the coming years it looks like we can expect those plans to vastly expand.
How will this all work out? We have no idea, but we're certainly fascinated and will be closely following along as new developments are announced. For all of the latest news and updates, be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend!