DC reels after storm of controversies

A steady stream of scandals and blunders leaves DC questioning its future


Courtesy of DC

DC Studios’ most recent films have stirred controversy.

Alyssa Soltren, Staff Writer

I’ll be honest: I have yet to watch “The Batman”, but I’m sure that it is great, and it is on my watch list. What I cannot ignore, however, is how many not-so-great things have come out of Warner Bros. this year. This may not be news to some, but DC films in particular have taken some blows. It seems that WB’s misfortunes have cast a shadow on DC studios. In other words, it just looks like a tangly, mismanaged mess that makes one feel as if WB is already past its best days.

I think we should start with the most prominent and recently publicized subject — Ezra Miller. This actor is involved in both DC and “Fantastic Beasts” film franchises — their most current project is the starring role in “The Flash”. In recent months, numerous reports have been flowing into the mainstream news regarding various crimes and acts of misconduct that Miller has committed. This has come into collision with the fact that promotion for the upcoming film “The Flash” is about to pick up. Warner Bros. spent around $200 million producing this first-ever solo feature film for the popular character. 

As far as we can tell, the movie is still set to release next summer. Miller even released a public apology and a promise to get help a few days ago. I won’t give my thoughts on how WB is handling this — partially because I don’t think they even really know how to handle it — but there’s no way this movie will just get dropped … unless Miller does something even worse, such as killing someone. 

Speaking of dropped movies, let’s take a look at another unreleased movie whose lead character had never previously had a solo feature film, except this movie will most likely never see the light of day. Plans for a “Batgirl” movie began in 2016. After the right directors and actors were found, the movie was filmed in 2021 and 2022. It was the plan to release it exclusively on the streaming platform HBO Max later this year. But despite the fact that it was in the final stages of post-production, “Batgirl” got axed. Some report that WB’s decision to do so was due to bad test screening, but the company denies this and instead cites their goal to make more theatrical DC films. Others still wonder how much loss there would have been anyway if it was just going to be released on a streaming service. Still more have gawked at the fact that one of the film’s directors was informed of this at his own wedding.

Now that’s quite a bit of drama — but wait, there’s more! How many of you paid attention to the trial between actors and ex-spouses Johnny Depp and Amber Heard this past spring? For those of you who didn’t, I’ll just let you know that it resulted in Heard receiving severe criticism for a number of reasons. One notable reaction was the created petition now bearing over 4.5 million signatures, calling for her removal from the upcoming “Aquaman” sequel due to the trial’s revelation of her behavior. Despite this, the movie’s producers still insist that she is in the movie, although there were reports that her role was reduced for uncertain reasons. They had already completed filming some time ago and are currently in post-production. If she has such a small role as is claimed, though, it makes me wonder how difficult it would be to reshoot those scenes with someone else as Mera. Then again, I am no expert in the film industry’s inner and outer workings.

Heard’s influence was also interwoven within “The Secrets of Dumbledore”, the third installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” series. Depp previously played the role of Gellert Grindlewald in this franchise, but a lawsuit involving him and Heard resulted in Warner Bros. quickly removing him from that role in the third movie. Amid the controversy, filming and post-production proceeded. After “The Secrets of Dumbledore” had its time in theaters, it seemed to be an overall disappointment. It made an objectively decent profit in the box office, but it also wound up being the lowest-grossing entry of any Harry Potter film. I imagine that there are multiple reasons for this underperformance, but the fact that Depp was removed while Miller — who also had a lead role in this film, whaddya know — remained in it likely did not promote the movie in the eyes of the public.

With all of these knotted-up predicaments, it’s easy to conclude that Warner Bros. is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. But perhaps there is hope yet. As we have also seen, “The Batman” was a success, and directors of DC media in general have been granted more creative liberty in recent years. I’m not saying that Warner Bros. is completely blameless, though.

The development of the problematic films wouldn’t have happened without them.