This weekend’s DC FanDome, a digital convention and premiere space for the latest DC news, movie trailers, and interviews, was a huge success, all things considered. Months into Zoom burnout, and after San Diego Comic-Con’s “Comic-Con@Home” struggled to recreate the in-person experience, the DC event blended high production value with live-streaming, fan interaction, and a bevy of news to rousing effect. Maybe quarantine has left me a husk of my former self, but The Rock yelling at me about how Black Adam could beat up Superman is exactly what I needed.
Running 12 hours, the convention gave us first tastes of major releases like Wonder Woman, The Suicide Squad, Zack Snyder’s re-edit of Justice League for HBO Max, and The Batman. There were glimpses at new games from WB Montreal and Rocksteady, and even some legit comic news (who’s ready for more Static Shock?). Part of the fun was that each panel took place in the “Hall of Heroes,” a Hall H replacement designed by DC artist and publisher Jim Lee that allowed host Aisha Tyler to actually present interviews and clips through the magic of green screen.
The “winner” of the convention is in the eye of the beholders. Whereas Disney and Marvel have built a monolithic shared universe with the MCU movies (and future Disney Plus) shows, DC, Warner Bros. Pictures, and their various collaborators are throwing everything at the wall. The “multiverse” allows for multiple movies involving Justice League characters, the possibilities of more Arrowverse crossovers with parallel worlds (aka anything that would also wind up on HBO Max), and more creative freedom for people who want to reimagine the pantheon’s icons for whatever story they want to tell. We’re getting a Batman reboot that looks like Chinatown by way of David Fincher. Instead of aping Marvel, DC is signaling a future on the opposite end of the spectrum.
If you missed DC FanDome, here’s a look back at the highlights:
The Wonder Woman 1984 trailer debuted Cheetah
After some scheduling snafus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warner Bros. Pictures will release Wonder Woman 1984 on Oct. 2, 2020. To get fans hyped, the cast gathered in the Hall of Heroes to field some fan questions, geek out over TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, and introduce a new trailer for the sequel. There’s not a ton of new footage here — there’s only so much to promote when a release date is in constant flux — but the trailer offered a peek at the design for Cheetah, played by Kristen Wiig.
And yes, Wiig’s character Barbara is an actual cheetah woman in the movie. Or she becomes one. Comics editor Susana Polo can explain:
Matt Reeves’ The Batman trailer had a lot going on
With only a few weeks of production completed before the pandemic shut down most of the world, Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes) showed up to DC FanDome knowing he had to show something from his rebooted Batman movie (likely because we’ve seen the suit and Batcycle in action in the streets of Liverpool). The first trailer introduces us to most of the re-envisioned elements, from Robert Pattinson’s Death Stranding-esque Bruce Wayne to Paul Dano, Colin Farrell, and Zoë Kravitz as Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman, respectively.
Reeves describes his film as being a “Year Two” story, and dealing with the duality of the character in a story that could “really happen.” He got a full 30 minutes to dig into the movie during his FanDome panel, and his commentary provided the perfection annotations for our full breakdown of the trailer.
The first Gotham Knights gameplay footage
Batman is dead(!?) in the next Batman game. WB Games Montreal revealed its cooperative Batman: Arkham series successor, Gotham Knights, on Saturday, showing how Batgirl, Robin, Red Hood, and Nightwing will clean up Gotham City’s streets in Bruce Wayne’s absence. Gotham Knights will feature some familiar beat-’em-up combat, two-player co-op (or solo play, if you prefer), and familiar villains, like the return of Mr. Freeze.
But the real Big Bad pulling the strings in Gotham Knights, which is coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X in 2021, is the Court of Owls, a cultish conspiracy of the richest families in Gotham City.
The return of Static and Milestone Comics
Just days before the event, DC split FanDome into two events, one for the Hall of Heroes and major film, TV, and game announcements, and another, set for Sept. 12, for more in-depth comic panels, fan events, and cosplay.
But we still got a few comic updates in the Hall of Heroes. DC Comics announced the return of Milestone Comics, home of the superhero known as Static — who you might remember from his fabulous and before-its-time animated series Static Shock. Milestone was founded in 1993 by a quartet of Black comic book creators, as a comics publisher with a mandate to address the underrepresentation of racial minorities in superhero comics. Static will return in a digital-first series in February 2021, with a stand-alone Static graphic novel also on the way. Icon and Rocket, another iconic Milestone duo, will also return in graphic novel form.
John Ridley’s POC Batman?
Long rumored and nary discussed, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley appeared at a Batman-themed FanDome panel to reveal that he has indeed written a mini-series starring the Caped Crusader ... but it may not be Bruce Wayne under the cowl. “I think it’s a pretty safe bet that if I’m writing Batman, it’s probably a little better than a 47% chance he’s going to be a person of color,” said Ridley.
A first look at 2022’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Rocksteady, the team that created the Batman: Arkham video game series, is relocating from Gotham City to Metropolis for a game based on the Suicide Squad. Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, and Deadshot are tasked with an impossible job: saving the Earth (from what appears to be Brainiac?) and killing the Justice League. That’s obviously a tall order, considering the superhero team’s ranks (which includes Evil Superman), but the supervillain team looks surprisingly capable in Rocksteady’s take: Deadshot has a flame-throwing jetpack, Boomerang has super speed, King Shark has a very large gun, and Harley can swing around Metropolis like Spider-Man.
It’s been a long wait for Rocksteady’s next game, but we’ll get Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League in 2022. It’s coming to PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.
James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad trailer promised a departure
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was not the only reveal surrounding Task Force X. Writer-director James Gunn also showed up to FanDome to discuss The Suicide Squad, which is technically a sequel and not a reboot, but it might as well be a reboot. Whatever plans Suicide Squad director David Ayer and Warner Bros. had to follow-up the hit 2016 supervillain team-up went out the window, in favor of a fresh, light-hearted start with Gunn, who became a free agent after Disney and Marvel fired him from Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 (which he’s since been rehired to make).
The Suicide Squad panel had lots to reveal, including Idris Elba’s Deadshot replacement character Bloodsport, the full cast line-up, and a slew of behind-the-scenes footage that teased a comedic, anarchical spin on The Dirty Dozen. If you’re not familiar with all the weird and wild characters Gunn has stuffed into the movie (so far), we have you covered.
The Flash movie finally revealed as Flashpoint
Days before DC FanDome, news broke that Ben Affleck would return to the DC movie universe to fight side-by-side as Batman with Ezra Miller’s Flash. Also, Michael Keaton would likely show up as his version of Batman from the 1989 movie. How is it possible? Because the stand-alone Flash movie is actually, really, definitively adapting the Flashpoint comic book arc. Miller, director/producer siblings Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti (It), and screenwriter Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey) were all on hand at the panel to explain the infinite possibilities of the setup, but also relay that the (untitled) Flash movie still has an emotional core.
The Rock explained his Black Adam movie
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has spent years developing a Black Adam movie with Warner Bros. and various directors. His Jungle Cruise cohort Jaume Collet-Serra will finally bring it to life ... as soon as Hollywood can resume shooting movies. But the lack of actual production didn’t stop The Rock from doing what he did best: hyping the hell out of his work.
At the FanDome panel, the actor talked a huge game for the antihero, who doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the newly announced Shazam!: Fury of the Gods. Instead, Black Adam will begin in ancient Egypt and find the hero as a slave, who becomes empowered and then locked up. When he’s released 5,000 years later, it’s game on — which in The Rock’s mind means everything from taking on the Justice Society of America to, potentially, Superman himself.
The Rock walked fans through his entire thought process on both the character and the plot. If you’re looking for some early spoilers, indulge away.
Zack Snyder’s four-hour Justice League got a loud trailer
Zack Snyder is a master tease. He’s been flooding the internet with tastes of the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League for years now, and even after HBO Max announced that a version of the movie would hit the platform in 2021, he continued to put bits of the movie online for public consumption.
Snyder’s appearance at FanDome was the epitome of his movement. While he fielded some important questions about what exactly Zack Snyder’s Justice League will look like in the end — the four-hour re-edit will exist as both four “episodes” and a completed film version — the panel was also a great excuse to get a bunch of fans to laud him for his greatness. The tone, as always, is specific and weird. There were also a bunch of reminders to buy Snyder Cut merch. Zack Snyder is.
The most compelling part of the panel was the actual footage (you can find it at the end of the embed above). Parts of Zack Snyder’s Justice League are instantly recognizable from the original 2017 cut. Others make good on Snyder’s promises over the years, including new arcs for Cyborg and Flash. Darkseid is also there, effing people up. The whole thing is flashy, and the excitement is undeniable — soon we’ll know if the original vision is “better” than the barely-a-movie edit we got years ago. And for now, we can speculate on what that vision actually is, as is the way.