As they continue to work toward the big 'Justice League' crossover, Warner Bros. is also planning the further expansion of the DC cinematic universe. Not unlike how Marvel has made billions off of second-tier characters, Warner Bros. is looking to do the same, releasing two lower-budgeted superhero films every year outside of the summer blockbuster season.

Bleeding Cool reports that Warner Bros. is developing "a series of lower-prominence comic books" for "relatively lower budget movies" that would cost in the $40 million range. One of the titles mentioned is 'Suicide Squad,' a movie that Warner Bros. has had in various forms of development for the past few years. Other rumored properties include 'Booster Gold,' 'Deathstroke', 'Team 7' and the Joseph Gordon-Levitt 'Sandman' movie.

The move is a direct counterstrike to Marvel's strategy of spring and fall superhero films, including 'Thor: The Dark World' this past November and 'Captain America 2' in April. Of course, these are established properties; can Warner Bros. have similar success with lesser-known superheroes?

'Suicide Squad' currently has a script by Justin Marks, but you can expect a rewrite if Warner Bros. gives the film the go-ahead. The team (also once called "Task Force X") revolved around the premise that the government recruited a gang of supervillains to perform top-secret kamikaze-style tasks that were qualified as "suicide runs." The current lineup includes Deadshot, El Diablo, King Shark, Harley Quinn, Iceberg and Captain Boomerang.

While there wouldn't be much crossover between these films and 'Batman vs. Superman' or 'Justice League,' it certainly does allow for some world building, something the DC universe desperately needs.

The question is whether Warner Bros. can pull it off. They've been talking big about their DC plans, but beyond 'Batman vs. Superman,' we haven't seen much in the way of action. Before they start worrying about getting lesser-known superhero movies made, shouldn't they worry about getting a 'Wonder Woman' movie made? Or, developing 'Justice League' even further and using the theoretical success of that film to help launch the smaller titles (a la 'Guardians of the Galaxy')?

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