New Gods, which DuVernay has been developing as a directing vehicle with acclaimed comic book writer Tom King since 2018, would have brought to the screen the comic book characters created by the late and legendary artist Jack Kirby. DuVernay, however, remains in the DC fold and is currently working on the DC series Naomi for The CW.
The Trench, meanwhile, was to have been a horror-tinged project spinning out of Aquaman and focused on the group of the deadly amphibious creatures seen in the $1 billion-grossing 2018 film. Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald had written the script, which Wan was developing as a producer with collaborator Peter Safran. Wan, too, remains in the DC fold as he is prepping to shoot Aquaman 2 for the studio later this year.
The projects are being shelved but like many comic characters, could come to life down the road. DC Films, led by president Walter Hamada, is leaving the door open to revisit these properties in the future, but insiders note that when it became clear the upcoming DC slate did not have a natural spot for New Gods or The Trench over the next few years, execs believed it was best not to leave the filmmakers hanging in development without a clear end in sight.
DC is currently building an interconnected slate in which projects will feed in and out of the big screen and the small, with films such as James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (Aug. 6) spinning off into the John Cena-led HBO Max series Peacemaker, and Matt Reeves’ The Batman (March 4, 2022) spawning its own Gotham police department focused show.
“Tom, I loved writing NEW GODS with you,” DuVernay wrote on Twitter, along with a photo of herself with King. “I’m upset that the saga of Barda, Scott, Granny, Highfather and The Furies ends this way. Diving into Kirby’s Fourth World was the adventure of a lifetime. That can’t be taken away. Thank you for your friendship. And remember… #DarkseidIs”
With The Trench, sources say that the upcoming Aquaman sequel was considered enough, but Warners could come back to it down the line if there is thirst for more adventures set in the Atlantean kingdoms. It was also considered a possibility for streaming, but it is more of a standalone story rather than having a strong tying into Aquaman or the rest of the DC universe.
New Gods, which would have been a sprawling tale, was complicated by the fact that its villain, Darkseid, just appeared as a major foil in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and there was a desire to have space between the latter and any new appearances.
Except for The Batman, which is set on an alternate Earth known to geeks as Earth-2, DC is plotting its films and shows to share the same universe. Key to setting up its new status quo will be The Flash (Nov. 4, 2022), which will tackle the multiverse and is said to also lend clarity to the future of the Justice League with multiple Batmen, as well as Supergirl, appearing.
Other projects on the slate due out in 2022-23 include Warners’ and New Line’s Black Adam (July 29, 2022) and Shazam! Fury Of The Gods (June 2, 2023), as well as Warners’ Blue Beetle, Batgirl, Supergirl, Green Lantern Corps and Static Shock.
Zatanna and a third Wonder Woman are also in development, while an upcoming Superman, from producer J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Ta-Nehisi Coates, is too early in development to say if it will be connected to the larger DC Universe or if, like The Batman, will stand on its own.
April 1, 2 p.m.: Updated with DuVernay’s tweet.