No matter what your personal feelings are in regards to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it’s become clear that Warner Bros. is not happy with the film’s critical and box-office reception. They have already begun to reshuffle their entire approach to their DC films, and today’s news solidifies that decision.
Charles Roven, who has worked on every DC adaptation since Batman Begins, will no longer be an active producer on a number of upcoming DC films. He will remain as an executive producer but his day-to-day involvement will be diminished.
This seems like an inconsequential change but it speaks to something much deeper at the heart of this entire DC Films issue: the inescapable spectre of Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was a game-changing success and Warner Bros. was happy to let most of the team behind those films help shape the DC Extended Universe (including a somewhat honorary credit for Nolan on Man of Steel). From a bookkeeping perspective that makes total sense, but Warner Bros. didn’t count on the negative reception to its first two films, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
In order to give the DCEU a firm foundation, the upcoming films really need to step away from Nolan’s influence. This means getting rid of screenwriter David Goyer and most of the people that carried over from the Dark Knight trilogy. The DCEU needs to have a different and more cohesive narrative thrust going forward.
Which is why Suicide Squad looks to be the real kickoff to the DCEU. Roven is a producer on that film but it’s clear that Suicide Squad is writer/director David Ayer’s movie. It doesn’t feel beholden (at least tonally) to anything that has preceded it, and it’s very likely that Suicide Squad will be a guiding force for the DCEU going forward.
Roven will still be involved with the films on some level — the official release says his position with the company is “evolving” —but it’s clear that the power structure for the newly established DC Films is not going to reflect the Nolan-heavy team that came before. That’s a good thing in the long run, but let’s hope Warner Bros./DC can get themselves together before the DCEU requires a hard reboot.