Nothing causes fan panic like an anticipated film having its release delayed. As soon as the announcement that Warner Bros. has pushed back director Zack Snyder's "Batman/Superman" film by nearly a full calendar year hit the Internet, fans began digging the grave for the "Man of Steel" sequel.
Well, it's a little early to put down a deposit on a plot just yet -- there could be some very good reasons the film was postponed. In fact, it may be a blessing that Snyder and writer David Goyer find themselves with more time to make sure the film will be as good as it can possibly can be. From more time to really put a polish on the final script to working out the best possible corporate synergy strategies and more, we explain why shifting to 2016 looks like a pretty sharp move.
It Gets the Sequel Out of an Overcrowded 2015
2015 will be the greatest geek year in Hollywood history to date. Between "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Ant-Man," "Fantastic Four" and the granddaddy of them all, "Star Wars: Episode VII," not to mention a new "Jurassic Park," two new Pixar films, a new "Terminator," the latest Bond movie and reimaginings of "Peter Pan" and "The Jungle Book," something's got to give. There's only so much buzz to go around, and while "Superman/Batman" is big -- huge, really -- does Warner Bros. really want to risk losing any spotlight for a tent pole film that has to be successful in order for its DC properties to remain viable? At this point, Marvel/Disney can afford to release a film that underperforms, but not DC/Warner Bros. By moving Snyder's sequel, Warner Bros. will bring fan anticipation to a fever pitch and make the summer of 2016 its own. Sure, there are huge things scheduled for 2016 -- two unannounced Marvel films, a new "X-Men" flick, the "Avatar" sequel and more -- but by moving into a much-less crowded arena, WB has declared that 2016 belongs to them. In fact, this 'statement' is underscored by the May 6 release date, since early May is traditionally when a Marvel movie is released, since Columbia's "Spider-Man" debuted in 2002. It also, not so coincidentally, happens to be Free Comic Book Day weekend.
All of DC Entertainment's Ducks Will be in a Row
With the upcoming move of DC Comics to Burbank, Warner Bros. will centralize its DC Entertainment talent, theoretically creating a smoother synergy between comics, film, television and animation. Pushing "Batman/Superman" to 2016 will allow the entirety of DC's brain trust to be settled into their new surroundings and able to focus on working with the rest of Warner Bros. in developing a multi-media push to promote the film. Giving the comic guys an extra year can make sure whatever themes, villains or storylines that inform the film can also inform the comics so when the film hits, retailers can have collections and related titles to sell the masses. By 2016, "Arrow," "The Flash," "Gotham," Constantine" and "Hourman" could all be airing, across three television networks. Though "Arrow" takes place in the theoretical "Justice League" movie universe has been denied by WB brass in the past, star Stephen Amell just stated that he's had early -- very early -- talks about portraying Green Arrow on the big screen. The extra time will allow DC to conceivably tie one or more of the shows into the events of the film. Maybe Warner's animation division will have time to prepare a new animated "Wonder Woman" or "Justice League" cartoon. Simply put, the delay allows DC Entertainment to make sure all tiers of media will be able to benefit from the inevitable "Batman/Superman" publicity juggernaut.
It Creates More Distance from Nolan's Batman Trilogy
Nit picking aside, Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" films were quite possibly the superhero film genre's finest hour. The films transcended genre expectations and built a cultural zeitgeist that will almost be impossible to match. While this is undeniably a good thing for Warner Bros., it's also a double-edged sword when it comes to introducing a new iteration of the hero. There needs to be some distance between "The Dark Knight" trilogy and the "Man of Steel" sequel in order for fans to be able to take a fair-minded view of Ben Affleck's performance as compared to Christian Bale's. "Man of Steel" worked because there was some distance between it and "Superman Returns," and let's be honest: There was not a great deal of fan love for "Returns" in the first place. But fans love them some Nolan, and every month the director's films are removed from "Superman/Batman" can only benefit the new Dark Knight. Quite frankly, it is totally understandable that Warner Bros. may want to put some additional distance between this move and the still-fresh-in-our-minds Nolan trilogy.
Shifting "Batman/Superman" Decreases the Wait for the Next DC Superhero Movie
The only thing we know for sure is "Batman/Superman" isn't going to be the last DC film if Warner Bros. has their way. Even before the industry-shattering announcement at Comic-Con International, speculation was rampant that the "Man of Steel" sequel would spawn the DC Cinematic Universe. The flames of this line of speculation were fanned when it was announced that Wonder Woman would play a major role in "Batman/Superman," unifying DC's Trinity for the first time on the big screen -- in Wonder Woman's case, this will be her live-action, silver screen debut. A "Justice League" movie, and it's various spin-offs, will take a good while to produce; pre-production alone could be a logistical nightmare for any director trying to wedge as many iconic DC characters in the film as possible. The last thing Warner Bros. wants is for there to be a huge gap of time between "Batman/Superman," "Justice League" and any conceivable spin-off films. If Warner Bros. is wise, it will hit fans with a one, two punch of films and have "Batman/Superman" lead right into whatever the follow-up is. Any other approach risks a loss of momentum.
The Best Move Is To Take the Time to Get it Right
By the time "Batman/Superman" becomes a moviegoing reality, Marvel Studios, Fox and Sony, barring any delays, will have released in nine separate Marvel-centric films with a tenth, "X-Men: Apocalypse," premiering just a few weeks after "Batman/Superman" -- and Marvel still has an untitled flick scheduled to debut the same day. If DC Entertainment wants to crack Marvel's Hollywood chokehold, it's imperative that this movie be done right. A film that opens the DC Cinematic Universe to the possibilities of "The Justice League" has to be tonally perfect. It is a complex formula, but not an impossible one. This is, after all, the studio that backed Nolan's vision for Batman, but neither Gotham nor Metropolis were built in a day, and the more time Warner Bros. takes to get the "Batman/Superman" script as close to perfect as possible, the better. Beyond reintroducing Batman, the script will has to fit in Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor (presumably), most likely another, more physical villain as well, and who knows how many Justice League member cameos. To make sure this movie and its spin-offs are embraced by a Marvel-crazed public, it's best to move slow and smart.