When Warner Bros. announced back in 2018 that Ava DuVernay had signed on to direct a New Gods film penned by comic book writer Tom King, the news was intriguing—if only for the promise of the creative team potentially bringing the likes of Mister Miracle, Big Barda, and Granny Goodness to the silver screen. While it first seemed as if New Gods was coming together in the time after Warner Bros.’ initial announcement, the studio changed its tune earlier this year.
New Gods wouldn’t have been the first time the DCEU’s focus turned to Apokolips, but it might have spent more time digging into inhabitants other than Darkseid, who was meant to be featured in 2017's Justice League but was replaced by Steppenwolf in Joss Whedon’s version. When WB took New Gods and James Wan’s The Trench (which was actually a secret Black Manta project) off its production slate, it seemed possible that the decision was partially driven by Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the long-rumored director’s cut, where Darkseid did play a large role.
From the sound of recent comments DuVernay’s made about what went down with New Gods, that may have been the case. During an interview on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM show last week, DuVernay explained how, after signing onto her overall development deal with Warner Bros. in 2018, she immediately began looking into the studio’s catalog of DC Comics IP, and identified the New Gods as characters she was interested in. “I loved New Gods, which is the project that got axed,” DuVernay said. “The studio decided that they did not want to pursue a certain part of that comic world, based on some things that were going on with another film in that world.”
According to DuVernay, she wasn’t even able to fully finish working on New Gods’ script with King before Warner pulled the plug, and the director’s reference to “another film in that world” appears to be about Zack Snyder’s Justice League, the only other recent film project spotlighting DC’s Fourth World characters. A significantly larger amount of screen time for Darkseid was one of the major selling points of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and while the director’s cut was far less in sync with some of WB’s other recent DCEU projects, the studio’s flirtations with a multiverse have left open the potential for it to play a role in the cinematic universe’s future.
While more of the Snyderverse’s take on Darkseid existing alongside DuVernay’s might have complicated audiences’ understanding of the Fourth World to a certain extent, Warner Bros. has recently gambled on multiple iterations of characters like the Joker and Batman being box office draws. It’s interesting to consider whether the powers that be felt that trying to adapt classic Jack Kirby comics into a live-action film might be too difficult, or if the studio might instead be merely waiting to introduce that lore to a wider audience.
What’s going to be really interesting to see going forward is what ends up becoming of DuVernay and co-executive producer Jill Blankenship’s upcoming adaptation of Naomi for the CW. As new a character as Naomi is, it wouldn’t be too surprising if ideas familiar to New Gods fans pop up in the series, particularly given DuVernay’s involvement.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is now streaming on HBO Max, and Naomi premieres on the CW sometime in 2022.
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