Darkseid is...probably one of the characters fans were most looking forward to seeing in Warner Bros.’ previously-announced New Gods film from director Ava DuVernay and Mister Miracle scribe Tom King. Though Jack Kirby’s DC Comics character was recently revealed in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, unfortunately, New Gods’ Darkseid is...something audiences are going to be waiting quite a while to see.
Today, Warner Bros. announced its intentions to put its New Gods film on hold indefinitely, after having first revealed back in 2018 its plans to explore the Fourth World characters created by Kirby. io9 confirmed this news earlier this week but neither WB, King, or DuVernay would respond to queries. Included in the studio’s cancellation plans is James Wan’s The Trench, an Aquaman spin-off with a focus on horror.
“As part of our DC slate, some legacy development titles including New Gods and The Trench will not be moving forward,” WB said in a statement. “We thank our partners Ava DuVernay, Tom King, James Wan and Peter Safran for their time and collaboration during this process and look forward to our continued partnership with them on other DC stories. The projects will remain in their skillful hands if they were to move forward in the future.”
While the news is sure to be disappointing to more than a few people, Warner Bros.’s move is not particularly unexpected considering how the studio has seemed to be recalibrating its loosely-connected cinematic universe once again as of late. Since 2018, it’s felt like the studio’s vision for its comic book films has shifted drastically in the wake of things like Shazam actually being pretty good, Todd Phelps’ Joker winning an Oscar and a worldwide pandemic effectively grinding the film industry to a halt in 2020.
To be fair, it was surprising when Warner Bros. first made clear that it was quite serious about going off-world for one of its next action-epics. It was even more surprising when both King and DuVernay talked about crafting a story around Mister Miracle and Big Barda, two classic DC characters who don’t exactly enjoy what one might consider widespread popularity among moviegoers who don’t also read comic books.
Despite the fact that Warner Bros. has stated it has no interest in further exploring Snyder’s ideas for future films, we live in a world where the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League is a real thing that HBO Max subscribers can stream now from their home. A few years ago, only the most diehard of members of Snyder’s (at times) cult-life fandom believed that a completed film actually existed, because in truth, it didn’t, and the film that’s now available to the public was only possible after Warner Bros. poured an addition $70 million into its post-production budget. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Zack Snyder’s Justice League would serve to renew interest in more of the director’s ideas for the franchise and to give reason for directors like Suicide Squad’s David Ayer to hop on the bandwagon campaigning for their own re-releases.
In a recent interview with Variety, WarnerMedia Studios CEO Ann Sarnoff made it quite clear that the studio doesn’t intend to replicate how Zack Snyder’s Justice League came to be. “With that comes the completion of his trilogy,” she said. “We’re very happy we’ve done this, but we’re very excited about the plans we have for all the multi-dimensional DC characters that are being developed right now.
Though there might have been some coincidental, narrative connective tissue between the recent Justice League, which featured a lot of Darkseid, and the New Gods film, the takeaway isn’t that the two’s fates were somehow intertwined, but that studios’ plans sometimes change, particularly in extraordinary circumstances.
Beyond Apokolips and its warlike people, Warner Bros. is obviously trying to figure out what to do with characters like the Flash, Batman, Harley Quinn, and Superman, all of whom are starring in upcoming films that have the potential to become rather important pieces of the studio’s larger strategy for the future. What that strategy is, though, is tricky to ascertain, especially when you take into account things like the recently-announced Hourman movie that will soon be a thing that exists.
Will New Gods ever come to the silver screen? In a world that includes three Guardians of the Galaxy films and two Suicide Squads? Potentially. But for the time being, it seems as if DC’s new cinematic age of heroes is going to be short a few warlike newcomers from the stars.
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