DC’s New Film Lineup Is Beating Marvel’s in One Big Way

Source: Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. has finally revealed plans for its DC Entertainment properties, unveiling a whopping 10-movie lineup of DC superhero films between 2016 and 2020. There’s a massive amount of information to pore over, but one thing that immediately stands about the studio’s upcoming slate is its unprecedented diversity.

The genre has long been criticized for its lack of gender and racial diversity, with studios facing increasing public pressure to feature women and actors of color. But while Marvel has been lagging behind in its efforts to change that, it seems Warner Bros. and DC have gotten the message, loud and clear. During Warner Bros.’ announcement, the studio confirmed the upcoming release of three milestone-making projectsWonder Woman starring Gal Gadot, Cyborg starring Ray Fisher, and Flash starring Ezra Miller.

A female-centered superhero movie has been missing from the world of modern comic book adaptations for far too long, something that fans have pointed out repeatedly over the past several years. Both Marvel and DC seemed to be dragging their feet in making it happen, but now the latter has officially catapulted ahead with a much-anticipated Wonder Woman solo movie.

Though the classic character has always been a rumored subject for a standalone film, the upcoming take will be only the second time she’s been included in a feature motion picture and the first in which she’ll star as a central character. Per the Warner Bros. announcement, the film will be released in 2017 in between Suicide Squad, due in 2016, and the first Justice League movie.

The announcement should have Marvel feeling the heat. Despite fan pleas, the studio has yet to take advantage of having an already established female character in Black Widow, played by Scarlet Johansson. A Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) movie is reportedly in the works, but the studio has been slow to get the project off the ground.

In August, Marvel President Kevin Feige caught flak for claiming the studio supported the idea of a female superhero solo film but that it “comes down to timing.” Other than the promise of more female characters in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 — the first gave a fair amount of screen time to Zoe Saldana’s Gamora — there’s been little other action taken on that front. Now DC has finally beaten Marvel to the punch; Sony may have, too, as the studio is rumored to be adding a female superhero to the Spider-Man Universe in 2017.

That’s not the only notable glass ceiling that DC has shattered with its new lineup. Due to the studio’s decision to make its Flash film separate from the television adaptation (currently airing on the CW), Ezra Miller has been cast to take on the role of the fastest man alive in 2018. The casting is significant, as it will mark the first time an openly gay actor will play a major superhero in a feature film.

The casting of Ray Fisher in the title role of DC’s standalone Cyborg film (out in 2020) is similarly important. With the new gig, Fisher will become the first black actor to get a lead in the contemporary world of superhero movies.

Racial diversity has been as much of a hot button issue as gender disparity. To be fair, Marvel has been taking gradual — albeit smaller — progressive steps in that category. The studio already introduced Anthony Mackle’s Falcon, the first African-American comic book superhero, in the Captain America franchise. More recently, controversy surrounded the studio’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot due to the casting of black actor Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm (The Human Torch). The studio is also rumored to be working on a Black Panther film, which stars a superhero from the fictional African nation of Wakanda. Should that project ever come to light, it would mark a significant move forward for the studio.

As of now, though, it seems DC is coming out ahead in terms of revamping the genre to be more inclusive. Unless Marvel stops talking about changes and actually starts making them in the near future, it’ll have a long ways to go before catching up to the newly groundbreaking DC movie slate.

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