The DCEU May Eschew Linear Narrative, Feature Flashbacks and Flash-forwards

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Warner Bros

The DCEU has had its work cut out for it from the start. It had a little bit better footing than Marvel because everyone knows who Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman are, but it still seems like Warner Bros. is trying to fit too much information into every movie so that it can prepare for the next on in the series. The most notorious example of this was the commercial smack-dab in the middle of Batman v. Superman that teased the solo movies and Justice League team-up for a bunch of new characters you never see onscreen again. Apparently, in order to tie the next bunch of films in the series together, we might be seeing flashbacks and flash-forwards in the upcoming solo adventures.

Producer Charles Roven spoke to ComicBook.com about the upcoming Wonder Woman, and about how all the DCEU films will knit themselves together. Apparently, in order to keep the story straight, this will involve a lot of jumping around in time.

For example, the Justice League movie will take place in a universe that’s post-Batman v Superman, just like Batman v Superman takes place in a universe that’s post-Man of Steel. When we’re dealing with either The Flash or Aquaman, since they will take place in a universe that has happened after Justice League, the characters and the world will be informed by the movies that preceded them, except that there’s flashbacks or whatever within those particular movies, [and] flashforwards within those particular movies.

Well, that just sounds needlessly complicated! Why not just make the movies based on an overview of what will happen in Justice League, throw in some references to a previous movie through dialogue if you have to, and leave it at that? Roven also explained how this model involves all of the directors working closely together to make sure that their movies look like they come from the same series.

When we talk about who Arthur Curry is [he’s Aquaman], and we talk about the universe when that movie starts in terms of him and where he is, obviously Atlantis exists and has existed before the timeline of his movie, but both [Justice League director] Zack [Snyder] and [Aquaman director] James [Wan] collaborate on what the look of both movies will be.

What’s frustrating about this is it means that none of these movies are allowed to be their own thing — they are there simply to serve a larger whole. And the flashback/flash-forward thing offers up a whole new slew of issues, most notably including material in the movie that won’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t already know what it means. Easter eggs are all well and good, but a long, unexplained sequence like the “Knightmare” in BvS is irritating and confusing to viewers who haven’t read ahead in the comics.

We don’t know what the plots of the solo Flash movie, Aquaman, or Cyborg are going to be, but it seems like it would be more relaxing for the directors and the viewers if these movies were allowed to stand apart from each other, instead of all combining into what could quickly become a nonsensical superhero soup if Warner Bros. isn’t careful.

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