CS Soapbox: The Best and Worst DC FanDome Panels!
DC FanDome set a benchmark for virtual conventions this past weekend. While not as “live” as advertised, the Comic-Con-esque event was largely a success across all metrics. Even with the last-minute decision to air many panels during a second-half scheduled for September 12, DC Comics spoon-fed fans the goods regarding hotly anticipated movies, tv shows and video games. Aside from the occasional cringe-worthy commentary, DC FanDome experienced very few technical issues, implementing just enough of the fandom (via questions, art, and cosplay) to help it dominate social media all the live-long day. So, which DC FanDome panels were the best and which cowered in terror as “R Patz” sought vengeance?
Wonder Woman 1984
The first panel of the day was for Wonder Woman 1984. Not only was the sequel’s cast (Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, etc.) and director (Patty Jenkins) in attendance, but the original Wonder Woman, Linda Carter, made a surprise appearance (and Venus Williams for some reason). The big news came courtesy of a new trailer that gave us a look at Kristin Wiig fully-formed as Cheetah.
Leading up to DC FanDome, there were a lot of announcements surrounding Andrés Muschietti’s The Flash. Perhaps the biggest was that both Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck will be reprising their roles as the caped crusader. The former’s existence in Barry Allen’s solo film foreshadows larger implications in the DCEU—the launching of the multiverse. The Multiverse 101 and Introducing Flash Panel (featuring Muschietti, star Ezra Miller (and his “Flash facts”), producer Barbara Muschietti, and writer Christina Hodson) divulged how The Flash will change everything: unlike other superheroes, Barry Allen can manipulate time.
The Flash will loosely adapt the Flashpoint storyline from the comics, where Barry attempts to change his past. In doing so, the film will open the door to the multiverse, making every iteration of every character in the DC Universe (movies and television) valid. From Keaton and Christian Bale’s Batman to Affleck and Robert Pattinson’s, all of these characters will exist within the same multiverse. This brilliant and ambitious retcon from Warner Bros. will make any apparent missteps made establishing the DC Extended Universe irrelevant and will make everything the studio every created fair game. The Flash panel also unveiled some concept art of Barry fighting alongside Keaton’s Batman and a look at the new suit (designed by Batffeck?, who will be a father-figure of sorts in the film).
The Batman’s panel began with some brief words from Robert Pattinson, who then introduced director Matt Reeves. Reeves (who’s also producing a prequel/spinoff series about the Gotham police department for HBO Max) spoke at length about his film’s relation to Batman: Year Two, and its emphasis on fleshing out Gotham (and its inhabitants) like never before. Fans who weren’t sold by Reeves’ enthusiasm and knowledge, were won over by The Batman’s teaser trailer.
Set to Nirvana’s “Something in the Way,” the trailer confirmed Paul Dano’s Riddler as the film’s main villain and gave fans their first look Colin Farrell’s unrecognizable Penguin (yup, he’s in there), Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman, and Pattinson’s Batman—who brutally beats up on some thug before declaring himself “vengeance.” Pretty impressive considering only 30% of the movie has been shot at this point. About an hour before we saw Reeves enter the “Hall of Heroes,” The Batman’s teaser trailer leaked online…However, that did nothing to mitigate anyone’s excitement—Patman stole the show.
The Snyder Cut of Justice League
Before The Batman panel, everyone was talking about the Snyder Cut. The aforementioned cut (and Snyder) has gained an overwhelming and warranted amount of support over the past few years, making his panel not only the most-hyped but one of DC FanDome’s finest. The first trailer (appropriate set to “Hallelujah”) for the long-awaited Zack Snyder’s Justice League dropped as well as confirmation that it will be a 4-part series with hour-long episodes on HBO Max.
Various aspects of Snyder’s Cut look dramatically (and unexpectedly) different from 2017’s Justice League. The trailer gave fans their first look at Darkseid, Cyborg’s origin story, black-clad Superman, and hinted at a time-traveling Flash (among other things). The series will be much darker than its cinematic counterpart—Snyder called his Justice League a movie “for adults.”
Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson has been attached to Black Adam for years. Doubling down on his repeated promise of changing the hierarchy of power in the DCEU, Johnson unveiled an animated teaser (and logo) for the upcoming Black Adam movie. The teaser outlined the anti-hero’s Egyptian backstory, hinted at his relationship to Shazam, and confirmed that the bulk of the film will be set 5000 years after Black Adam’s origin (modern-day).
Johnson then talked with Noah Centineo about his role as Atom Smasher in the film as well the appearance of other members of the Justice Society of America (JSA): Hawkman, Dr. Fate, and Cyclone. Johnson closed out the panel by calling out Shazam, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League…because Black Adam is primed to completely change the DCEU. Looks like the Rock will be too busy to run for president…
The Suicide Squad
Famed Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, and The Suicide Squad‘s cast, unveiled every DC villain in the movie. Pete Davidson is playing Blackguard, John Cena is Peacemaker, Idris Elba is Bloodsport, Alice Braga is Sul Soria (new character), Nathan Fillion is T.D.K. (another new character), Michael Rooker is Savant, David Dastmalchian is Polka-Dot Man, Sean Gunn is Weasel, Peter Capaldi is the Thinker, Flula Borg is Javelin, Daniela Melchior is Ratcatcher 2 (presumably related to the original Ratcatcher), Mayling Ng is playing Mongal, and Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, and Jai Courtney will be reprising their roles from 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Gunn dove deep into comic-book lore to assemble his team, citing a conversation with writer John Ostrander and claiming that his film will serve as a spiritual sequel to the original comics. Gunn and company also shared a behind-the-scenes teaser of the film in which Gunn calls The Suicide Squad the biggest film he’s ever made. It does look pretty fricking fun. The Suicide Squad is set to release on Aug. 6, 2021.
Filmmaker Reginald Hudlin took part in a surprise panel about Milestone Media, an imprint of DC devoted to African American voices. During which Hudlin confirmed that a live-action Static Shock movie is being developed at Warner Bros (without providing further details). The electromagnetic superhero has found success on the page and in the self-titled animated series. Static Shock is also set to return in a digital comic book series in February 2021.
WB Games Montreal Announcement & Rocksteady Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
An early reveal (and one of the best) was that of the first trailer for WB Montreal’s new videogame, Gotham Knights. We also got 7 minutes of gameplay and confirmation that it is not a sequel to Arkham games. Although, Batman is dead. The open-world/co-op game will follow Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, and Red Hood as they attempt to restore justice in the wake of Batman’s demise. The heroes will also come into conflict with the criminal society, the Court of Owls, and their legion of assassins, the Talons.
The second videogame reveal was Rocksteady’s anticipated Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League trailer. And it looks great.
The Flash, Titans, and Sandman TV Panels
The TV side of things took an expected backseat to all of the cinematic madness. However, there were still things to be excited about. The Titans TV Panel teased the DC Universe show’s third season: characters like Barbara Gordon AKA Batgirl and Jonathan Crane AKA Scarecrow will be showing up in the series. Fans were also informed of Jason Todd (Curran Walters) AKA Robin 2.0’s pending transformation into Red Hood. In addition to Titans news, Neil Gaiman showed up during The Sandman Universe: Enter the Dream panel to talk about Netflix’s adaptation of his acclaimed comic book series and The Flash TV Panel dropped a trailer for the seventh season of the CW show.
No announcement for season 3 of Harley Quinn?
Zachary Levi hosted the panel featuring the cast of 2019’s Shazam! While it was fun and endearing to witness the group’s chemistry, the panel didn’t reveal anything other than the sequel’s title: Shazam: Fury of the Gods (releasing on November 4, 2022). Based on the title, one has to assume that the movie will feature a Black Adam v Shazam showdown…Sinbad also showed up to crack some jokes. Why? Who knows. Maybe he’s in the movie?
The Aquaman panel didn’t have much going for it. Director James Wan and Patrick Wilson spoke on what to expect from Aquaman 2 in 2022. Wan said that it will be “a little bit more serious, a little bit more relevant to the world that we’re living in today,” and also reinforced Wilson’s desire to see a handful of new worlds: “I can definitely guarantee you new worlds in this next one and I think you’re going to be very excited as an actor.”
Other panels included Beyond Batman, I’m Batman: The Voice Behind the Cowl, The Legacy of the Bat, BAWSE Females of Color within the DC Universe, Wonder Woman 80th Celebration Panel, and Ask Harley Quinn which added a needed amount of character and nostalgia to the proceeding, but fell smack dab in the middle of what DC FanDome had to offer.
Despite sketchy release dates and production halts induced by COVID-19, DC’s future looks very bright. DC FanDome was able to succeed (where Comic-Con could not) because of its content, hype, and announcements. The excitement generated by the virtual event is actually quite surprising. One has to wonder what Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios are thinking…