Movie studios and cinema chains are hoping that 2023 can bring the theatrical experience back to pre-pandemic levels. Even with the massive success of the likes of Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar 2, and Jurassic World: Dominion – the 2022 box office was still 30% down on 2019. They’re pinning their hopes on the likes of Mission Impossible 7, Guardians of the Galaxy 3, and Fast X. After a tumultuous year, Warner Bros and DC will finally be releasing the much-delayed Aquaman 2, Shazam 2, and The Flash – but none of these are really guaranteed success.
The DCEU has been in disarray, to put it mildly, for some time. Figureheads such as Ben Affleck’s Batman, Henry Cavill’s Superman, and now reportedly Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman have all fallen by the wayside – so there’s nothing bringing these disparate characters together. The last DC movie – Black Adam – was something of a damp squib.
We last saw Aquaman in 2018, and Shazam in 2019, and The Flash in 2017’s Justice League (although a director’s cut was released in 2021). Much more significantly, in the years it’s taken for The Flash to actually make it to the big screen, the film’s star Ezra Miller has become embroiled in legal trouble.
James Gunn now has taken over creative control of the DCEU, but Aquaman, Shazam, and The Flash feel like hangers-on from the old regime that need to be released and put out of their misery. Warner Bros may even be tempted to scrap them like Batgirl, but the sunken cost must be far too great.
In a new report in Variety, Warner Bros are trying to big up The Flash; “Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck are returning as Batman, and the plot hinges on time travel and multiverses, two of the hottest things going in superhero storytelling. Studio insiders haven’t been this excited for Warner Bros superhero movie since The Dark Knight movies. In fact, almost everything about The Flash points to a massive summer sensation.”
The stories regarding Ezra Miller probably aren’t widely-known enough to make a huge dent in the box office, but whether over-all interest will be high enough – remains to be seen.
While we wait to discover the fate of DC’s 2023 slate, check out our guide to the best Batman actors.