The abrupt cancelation of Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel 2 is the latest bombshell news from DC that confirms once and for all that the Snyderverse is officially dead, which is the right move for the DCU. Although it has not been confirmed that the Snyderverse will officially end, the writing is on the wall for Zack Snyder’s vision. Moreover, with Gunn’s new DCU taking the place of DCEU following the release of Aquaman: The Lost Kingdom, the change will happen sooner than later.
The soon-dead Snyderverse, the colloquial term for Zack Snyder’s DC films, began with 2014’s Man of Steel, the film that kickstarted the entire DCEU. However, after a series of films with poor critical reception, Warner Brothers Studios eventually opted to part ways with Snyder halfway through the production of Justice League. The inevitable result was a division in DC’s vision that included a large subset of projects following Snyder’s original vision, tone, and style. Although Snyder’s version of Justice League was eventually released on HBO Max, recent events, including James Gunn and Peter Safron’s hiring as the new DCU heads, categorically imply that the DC’s Snyderverse is done.
Why The Snyderverse Didn’t Succeed
Zack Snyder’s vision for a DC cinematic universe adopted a far darker take on the iconic comic book characters, with running themes regarding the nature of great power, human fear over the unknown, and loss. The “Epilogue” sequence in Zack Snyder’s Justice League went so far as to confirm that, had Snyder continued in his position at DC, the culmination of his vision would have been an adaptation of the “Injustice” storyline. However, Snyder’s vision never came to fruition, with his time at DC being cut short in 2017 before he could carry through on his plans for the future.
After the harsh reaction and dipping box office draw of Zack Snyder’s DC films, the executives at Warner Brothers began to get cold feet about adapting Snyder’s future plans for the DCEU. Especially after the success of Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman in 2017, certain personalities at DC and Warner Brothers, including Geoff Johns, the former Chief Creative Officer at DC Entertainment, began interfering in Snyder’s projects, attempting to give them a lighter tone more akin to the thriving Marvel Cinematic Universe. The problem with this approach was that the lighter tone didn’t match Snyder’s overall universe or his apparent interests as a filmmaker.
Zach Snyder’s involvement with DC came to an end in 2017 when he stepped away from his Justice League film, which was mid-way through production, due to personal family issues. Taking the MCU comparisons to heart, DC brought in Joss Whedon, the director of the first two Avengers films in the MCU, to finish the movie. The end result of Justice League was an unsatisfying mishmash of two very different visions that left the film divided and the universe without direction. Outside of the completion of his director’s cut for Justice League, Zach Snyder hasn’t been involved in any DC project since his departure, completely stalling his DCEU plans.
Is James Gunn’s DCU Erasing The Snyderverse Completely?
Though Black Adam‘s mid-credit scene offered DC fans hope that Zack Snyder’s vision would be continued in some form, the recent cancelation of Man of Steel 2 and exit of Henry Cavill as Superman appears to put an end to any notions of the Snyderverse’s continuation. Moreover, apparent leaks and widespread rumors have suggested that Jason Momoa will no longer be playing Aquaman in the DCU. Even more shocking was the news that Wonder Woman 3 is no longer moving forward, though Gunn has hinted that Gal Gadot may return as the character. Regardless, it appears as though the main features of the Snyderverse are being erased at breakneck speed.
Though there has not yet been an official announcement from DC Studios about whether it will end or continue the Snyderverse, it is clear that James Gunn’s plan isn’t to restore the Snyderverse at all. Instead, the filmmaker appears to be pinpointing ideas and stories that do not fit into his vision for a new franchise and eliminating them before they come to fruition. However, his indications that certain actors, films, and storylines may yet have a place in the DCU suggest that the Snyderverse will not be completely erased as some have feared but rather revised to better fit the narrative moving forward.
Why The Snyderverse Needs To End
Although both the announced cancelations and those that are yet to come have proven to be slightly controversial, their end result will inevitably be a healthier overall franchise. Even if it takes a while for the end result to bear fruit, the end of the Snyderverse and the DCEU itself is a good thing for the future of DC movies. While Snyder’s vision could have been a triumph had it been realized, it is far too late to restore his version of the cinematic universe. Ultimately, the damage has been done, and there is little to be done to repair the relationship between Warner Brothers and Snyder.
Furthermore, James Gunn, as an independent and unique creator, cannot be expected to carry on the vision of another filmmaker with a very different voice and storytelling style. Had Warner Brothers ever intended to restore the Snyderverse, the studio would have done the work to repair its relationship with Snyder himself. Instead, the studio decided that James Gunn’s new DCU plan, cancellations and all, was the best way to carry forward and, in so doing, fully adopted his approach to filmmaking rather than Snyder’s. It should not be surprising, therefore, that Gunn has elected not to continue in the footsteps of his predecessor.
James Gunn’s DCU Future Looks Bright
Although James Gunn has received some pushback regarding his changes to the DC cinematic universe, the future of the franchise looks bright in his capable hands. The director was behind two of the DCEU’s best-received projects, The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, proving that his storytelling continues to resonate in the genre. Moreover, his work in the MCU with the Guardians of the Galaxy movies also showcases his keen sense of emotional storytelling and compelling characters. While he faces many trials ahead, including the recasting of Superman for the DCU, Gunn certainly seems up to the challenge at hand.
James Gunn’s recent actions as DC head have certainly been divisive over the last several weeks, especially for those who had been excited about the prospect of Henry Cavill’s return as Superman. However, Gunn’s first moves already confirm that he is the right man for the job. He has proven himself willing to make tough calls for the good of the universe, even if it seems painful at the time. Although it will look decidedly different from what fans are used to in the DCEU and may cost several exciting projects like Man of Steel 2, James Gunn’s DCU looks very bright indeed.