DCEU Lands Spielberg & Yan

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By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

As I had hoped, Walter Hamada is really starting to make his mark over at Warner Bros. and DC Films.

It has just been announced that legendary film director Steven Spielberg and the up-and-coming Cathy Yan have both been given their own DC properties to work on. Spielberg will be taking on WW2 fighter pilot comic Blackhawk while Yan will be at the helm of a Harley Quinn centric movie based on the Birds Of Prey.

So let’s start with Yan.

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Cathy Yan – Birds Of Prey / Harley Quinn Movie

As a lot of you may know, Harley Quinn is one of my all-time favourite comic characters. You may also know, that I really dislike the Margot Robbie version of the character, but I’ve spoken about this at length previously.

Yan would be the first female Asian-American director of a superhero property so that in itself is a big deal. But nor does it hint at tokenism. For most people, the most successful DCEU film to date is Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins. It’s not that a male director cannot successfully direct a female-lead movie, because Alex Garland nailed it with Anniliation. But when you look at how David Ayer handled his female DC characters, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I’m also glad that Joss Wheadon has also departed Batgirl because that would have been another disaster. Jenkins understood the character a lot more naturally, and we have seen with the likes of Jessia Jones, a female showrunner and writer at the helm of a property that is very female-centric.

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Yan’s only previous work to date is her debut feature film Dead Pigs. I will admit that, while I have heard about the movie, I have not seen it myself. I have managed to watch its festival submission video, which is around 12 minutes long. And what I saw, I liked. The one thing I took from it was the brilliant use of colour, and with a property like Birds Of Prey that could be something that could be used really well. The character relationships and dynamics also looked very solid, so this will hopefully be another string to the film’s bow.

On a side note, the film will be written by Christina Hodson, who has just been hired to write the screenplay for Batgirl. With Barbara Gordon such an important part of the Birds Of Prey, this could be a nice way of introducing the character. Thus freeing up her solo movie from the shackles of an ‘origin story’. I think hiring someone like Yan to direct this movie over the likes of an Ayer or Wheadon type is definitely the way to go. The potential for this film is unbelievably high, and I think Hamada and Johns have got this director choice right.

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Steven Spielberg – Blackhawk

After the success of Ready Player One, or failure, depending on your viewpoint, it seems Spielberg is sticking around at Warner Bros. When I first saw the news that Spielberg was directing a DC movie I was, admittedly surprised. But also pleased, as having Spielberg attached to DC project might just give it that extra boost the DCEU needs. But with that being said, it’s not like he’s in charge of a big name property, well at least these days. I think this project is a relatively low risk for Spielberg. He’s had previous success in this time period before with three of the Indiana Jones movies, so I think the property and director match very well here.

If they stick with the WWII setting, you have the possibility of a Wonder Woman cameo, something which I think would help create even more excitement for a title that won’t have a big pull. As Blackhawk is a lesser-known title, the audience for the film may actually increase. People who are done with the DCEU might come back because it’s Spielberg and in the hope that it’s a different type of DC film.

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On the flipside of the Spielberg brand name, the film could end up being another Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and for haters of the DCEU, I’m sure that will be their initial stance.  I mean, the film is going to be written by KOTCS writer David Koepp, but he also wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park so, it could go either way!

One obvious issue Spielberg will have to tackle is some of the characters in Blackhawk. ‘Chop-Chop’ is one character I can see being totally changed if you don’t know anything about him, just picture Mickey Rooney in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Sure, it was the norm for that type of depiction back in the 40s. But obviously, we’ve dragged ourselves out of the sea a little more since then. There is also the fascinating prospect of Lady Blackhawk. The lone female of the group, but a character who over time became more popular and known than Blackhawk himself! Who is to say it will be a male lead after all? Could Spielberg go with Lady Blackhawk as the central character? Probably not, but you never know.

Overall, I think these two directors are a welcome addition to DC Films, and hopefully, Hamada continues to weave his magic and restore some credibility back into the DCEU.

What do you think of the latest additions to the DCEU? If you’ve given up on the franchise, is this enough to tempt you back in? Let us know in the comments.

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