DC fights back with Ben Affleck’s standalone Batman movie and stunning Wonder Woman footage

Ben Affleck and Amy Adams
Ben Affleck and Amy Adams unveil Marvel's Batman plans for the future

Universal may have set box office records last year and Walt Disney Studios may be the envy of Hollywood with its Marvel and Pixar divisions, but Warner Bros. is still a Hollywood powerhouse that puts more films in cinemas than any of their competitors. At Tuesday afternoon’s CinemaCon presentation in Las Vegas they showed the world’s theatre owners how mighty a stick they still carry and, much to the audience’s delight, were not so quiet about it.

Standalone Ben Affleck Batman film confirmed - plus The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman  

Warner Bros. Chairman Kevin Tsujihara made news early on as he confirmed that Ben Affleck would be directing a standalone Batman film, a project that’s been rumoured for some time.  Moreover, anyone who thought the critical reaction and audience word of mouth for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice would make the studio question their DC Comics movie strategy was sadly mistaken. Tsujihara reiterated the plan to release 10 DC Comics films over the next few years.  Warner Bros. then lived up to its reputation as the studio of stars by having none other than Affleck and Amy Adams walking on stage to present a brand new feature on WB’s DC movie universe.

The preview borrowed heavily from Dawn of Justice, but was boosted by new footage from Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and David Ayers’ Suicide Squad. The piece also featured Ezra Miller (The Flash), Jason Moma (Aquaman) and Ray Fisher (Cyborg) providing background on the lesser known characters that will eventually appear in their own solo films. That trio then joined Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and much-maligned filmmaker Zack Snyder from the London set of Justice League for a quick thank you and visual reminder that production is already underway.

Gal Gadot in the first footage of Wonder Woman

The most impressive part of this footage was the first look of Wonder Woman which doesn’t arrive in theaters until the summer of 2017.  Set in WWI, Jenkins and her production team have created a detailed period world that seems more in line with what you’d expect from a prestige drama than a superhero movie. And keeping the historical events of the time in context, there was a fleeting moment where Wonder Woman appears to witness the horror of a battlefield being doused in mustard gas.  Gadot’s Wonder Woman is a true warrior who takes no prisoners as she rides horseback, sword in hand, taking down the bad guys in one fatal swoop (who those villains are remain to be seen).  Oh, and those magical bracelets certainly come in handy in deflecting stray bullets.

That wasn’t all for the DC Comics universe, however.  A slew of Suicide Squad cast members were up next including Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne and Will Smith. Ayers joined them, telling the crowd: “Suicide Squad is like hanging out with the coolest kids in the school and you get to be one of them.”

A new trailer recently debuted for the August blockbuster, but this extended look included much more action and gave a hint of the pressure Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller is under to make her concept of coercing super powered bad guys coerced into being good guys truly succeed.  Jared Leto may only have a small role in the movie as a rock n’ roll inspired version of The Joker, his varied and slick wardrobe makes the screen pop.  

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It was recently reported that Ayers reconvened the cast for reshoots to add more comedy after the unexpected success of Deadpool earlier this year. Unless Warner Bros. has shown every charismatically funny turn from Robbie’s Harley Quinn this preview certainly suggested the picture looks like it’s in pretty good shape already.

The Lego Batman Movie

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But wait, the WB has even more superhero product coming your way.  Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the creative duo behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, were on hand to speak about a number of Warner Animated Group properties including The Lego Batman Movie.  The picture doesn’t arrive in theaters until next year, but Warner Bros. surprised with an extremely funny clip that suggests it’s very much of the spirit of its predecessor.

It begins with the Lego Batman (Will Arnett) returning to the Batcave to find Alfred (Ralph Fiennes) reminding him that the child he won at a charity auction is waiting for him upstairs. That peppy new “son” is Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) who is so comically naïve he immediately assumes Bruce Wayne is nice enough to let Batman have his hideout underneath Wayne Manor.

Before Lego Batman can stop him from doing anything too silly he’s activated an automated clothing rack that features a slew of alternate Batman uniforms.  Grayson throws himself into a mess of “Reggae Batman” gear before deciding to make some alterations by ripping off those pants that were just a bit too tight.  Yes, this is the origin of the Lego Robin and all you really need to know is that this incarnation has a yellow cape that sparkles.

Warner Bros. showcased a number of other releases that played well for those in attendance including James Wan’s London-set The Conjuring 2, David Sandberg’s Lights Out, Todd Phillips’s War Dogs, Central Intelligence with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart ,as well as the animated comedy Storks.  Smartly, they ended the show with arguably their most anticipated film of the year, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

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There was no new footage shown as Warner’s replayed the behind the scenes sneak and first trailer that are already online. To blunt that disappointment, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne was on hand along with co-stars Colin Farrell and Katherine Waterston to provide their enthusiastic endorsement.

“We had the most astounding time working with the brilliant J.K. Rowling getting to enter her imagination,” Redmayne says. “It’s the first script she’s ever written and that was extraordinary for us [as well as] also getting to work with the original team who brought the original Harry Potter books to life.”

Frankly, it was a smart move by the studio. The look at Beasts was a nostalgic spell cast over an audience who had just been overwhelmed by 90 minutes of superheroes, comedies and horror flicks.  Nothing was better than leaving them hoping that Beasts duplicates some of that Harry Potter magic.