The DCEU almost made Crisis on Infinite Earths — could it still happen?
Before the merger with Discovery, DC's parent company nearly made a Crisis movie. Can — and should — they still do it?
DC did the impossible in staging an adaptation of the 1985 crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths for television in late 2019. According to a new report, they were close to doing it again on the big screen.
In a story by The Hollywood Reporter, negative feelings from DC festered after last week’s Q2 earnings call, where Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said the DC franchise has been “reset” with a new 10-year plan.
“We are not going to release any film before it’s ready,” Zaslav said, referring to his decision to cancel the already-shot Batgirl. “DC is something we can make better.” THR says those at DC felt “pissed” at Zaslav’s remarks.
THR went on to explain that DC Films president Walter Hamada — who has been at the center of actor Ray Fisher’s accusations of trying to “undermine” investigations of misconduct on the set of Justice League — nearly left DC after the abrupt cancellation of Batgirl. THR adds that Hamada outlined a schedule for new DC projects prior to the Discovery merger.
The slate is said to have included movies with Supergirl (starring Sasha Calle, who will appear in 2023’s The Flash), a new Green Lantern, Static (still in development), and J.J. Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ take on Superman with a Black lead. “Development has slowed, with none of those features attaching directors,” reports THR.
But one of the biggest movies in development was Crisis on Infinite Earths, “a take on the seminal DC Comics story that was adapted for TV on The CW.”
This alone should be a big deal to any DC fan. The TV adaptation went off as a five-part event that encompassed the vast majority of DC’s TV shows, including Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl, cameos from bygone shows like Smallville and HBO Max shows like Titans, Doom Patrol, and Stargirl. Even now-embattled actor Ezra Miller showed up as The Flash.
But a big screen version of Crisis on Infinite Earths could be far more ambitious, given the more comprehensive production process of a theatrical movie. While THR offered few details on what Hamada’s plan for a Crisis on Infinite Earths movie would look like, one can only assume it would involve the collapse of the DC media multiverse to streamline it into a single canon, just as the original comic book version did for DC Comics in the mid-1980s.
Speculation for a theoretical Crisis movie is academic, however, as the future of DC is more unclear than ever under Zaslav. Walter Hamada is said to be staying at least until the release of Black Adam this November; his future with the company after that is unknown, as are his plans for the DC Universe.
The new CEO is bullish on ensuring Warner Bros. stays a prestigious studio anchored by theatrical releases. That could mean a big screen version of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
At the same time, it’s unknown just how much Zaslav knows (or cares) about the DC Universe; in his Q2 earnings call, he only brought up DC’s marquee characters in Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, whose 2018 movie grossed more than a billion dollars and spawned a sequel.
As any Marvel fan will tell you, it’s Marvel’s continued investment in its lesser-known characters that’s allowed the Marvel Cinematic Universe to become the juggernaut it is now. DC can’t do the same if it relies on telling the same origin story with the same four characters over and over again. Nor can a movie like Crisis on Infinite Earths work with such a limited universe.
Zaslave is also less excited about streaming than his predecessors, which not only explains the cancellation of Batgirl but also why fans are concerned about their favorite HBO Max exclusives. Director James Gunn has been assured that Peacemaker is safe, with a second season on the way. The feature film Blue Beetle, starring Xolo Maridueña, is also “safe,” according to THR, as the movie has pivoted from an HBO Max exclusive to a theatrical release in August 2023.
With the DC Universe in flux to the point that’s it not even clear who’s playing Batman these days, one can argue that DC is already in a crisis. And unlike in the comics, not even sacrificing The Flash feels like enough to save it.