After months of speculation, Warner Bros. has confirmed that “Man of Steel” director Zach Snyder, 48, will also helm a dedicated “Justice League” film after tackling a “Man of Steel” sequel tentatively titled “Superman vs. Batman” in 2016.
Greg Silverman, Warner Bros.’ president of worldwide production, confirmed the news to the Wall Street Journal on Sunday. Details about the production are scarce, but Henry Cavill is expected to return as Superman, while Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, set to debut as Batman and Wonder Woman, respectively, in “Superman vs. Batman,” are also likely to appear in "Justice League."
Though it seems Warner Bros., which has owned DC Comics since the late 1960s, hopes to replicate the billion-dollar success that Disney-owned Marvel found with “The Avengers,” it doesn’t appear to be following the same template. Where Disney has relied on a mix of different directors and writers, and is breaking the superhero mold with this year’s Marvel space opera “The Guardians of the Galaxy,” Warner Bros. is doubling down on Zach Snyder’s realistic and gritty creative vision.
Snyder’s 2013 “Man of Steel” underperformed slightly with a domestic gross of $291 million compared to expectations of $300 to $350 million, but Warner Bros. has shown faith in the director as he returns to expand on the DC Comics universe he helped create. The production company made its intentions for a full-scale “Justice League” movie known some time ago and helped lay the foundation for it with "Man of Steel."
Before launching “The Avengers” in 2012, Disney’s Marvel built up its superhero universe with a series of smaller, standalone films focusing on individual heroes like Iron Man and Thor, ensuring audiences were familiar with the characters before teaming them up in the Joss Whedon-helmed “The Avengers.” Warner Bros. appears to be taking the opposite approach, using films like “Superman vs. Batman” and “Justice League” to build up interest in -- and measure the audience’s response to -- characters like Wonder Woman, who may later receive their own spin-off films.
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As Warner Bros. president of worldwide marketing Sue Kroll explained to the Wall Street Journal, the studio has no current plans for a Wonder Woman solo film but will consider the possibility if she proves popular enough in coming movies.
“That is our hope,” Kroll said. “The world is ready for her.”
Warner Bros. also has a handful of other DC Comics properties unrelated to the Justice League series in development, including noir crime drama “100 Bullets” and another potential superhero franchise called “Shazam.”