With new casting announcements are DC Comics movie adaptations finally aiming in the right direction?

With what seems like an ever-widening move away from superhero movies for kids in the live-action arm of DC Entertainment–from a too-long recut of Justice League to another Suicide Squad movie aimed at adult audiences–fans of comic book movies for all ages should be glad to hear three big pieces of news this month from Warner Brothers about forthcoming film projects.  It’s hard to beat word that Helen Mirren has been cast as a new villainess in Shazam: Fury of the Gods, the sequel to Zachary Levi’s Shazam!, a good-hearted favorite of the DC live-action movies.  Along with her untouchable slate of acting honors, Mirren’s performances in the RED and Fast & Furious franchises make her perfect casting. 

Now Pierce Brosnan is returning to theaters in a major role since we last saw him in the great action-drama The Foreigner (reviewed here).  He’s playing Dr. Fate opposite Dwayne Johnson, who has the title role, in Black Adam, coming in July 2022.  That DC project keeps sounding better and better, and Johnson has been talking about it publicly since at least 2008.  It will feature Sarah Shahi (Fairly Legal, Life, Psych) as Isis and Aldis Hodge (Leverage, Black Mirror, Star Trek: Short Treks) as Carter Hall aka Hawkman.

Actress and writer Emerald Fennell will be writing the script for another key project as Zatanna finally makes it to the big screen.  Zatanna has always been an exciting character in DC Comics.  Will Fennell, known for darker fare Killing Eve and Promising Young Woman, create a story loyal to the comics, and stay accessible to all the segments of comics fandom? How about tapping Justice League Dark, especially Mikel Janin and Peter Milligan’s version, and take a cue from the successful TV series Swamp Thing–probably the best adaptation from DC Comics for TV yet–which also leveraged characters from Justice League Dark?

While you’re waiting for those three DC projects, here’s a red-band/NSFW trailer for the new The Suicide Squad.  The CGI characters appear to be much better than in the 2016 Suicide Squad movie, especially seeing first images of Weasel and King Shark (with Sylvester Stallone’s voice), and Peter Capaldi also looks good with prosthetics as The Thinker.  But the dialogue seems lackluster and flat, and the trailer is more disturbing and gross than tapping the gritty nature of the classic comics.  For adults it might be fun, but it’s clearly not for tweens and younger kids.

The Suicide Squad is slated for release August 6, 2021.  Shazam: Fury of the Gods has a long wait:  It’s not expected until June 2, 2023.  More than a decade since we heard of it, Black Adam is slated for a theater release July 29, 2022.  The Zatanna film will be even farther out–Will we see it by 2024 or 2025?

C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg

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