[Correction: The following article previously claimed that Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was scheduled to be released on June 13, 2014. The actual date of release is June 14, 2013. The correction has been made below.]
Warner Bros. has a lot of catching up to do if the studio wants to beat Marvel Studios at their own game. While Marvel was setting up its big superhero crossover for years, with tie-ins like Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor leading up to the big event (a major gamble that, as we now know, paid off), Warner Bros. was focusing on their critically-acclaimed Batman trilogy and letting major players like Wonder Woman and The Flash languish in development hell, with only the disappointing dud Green Lantern actually reaching theaters. Now, Warner Bros. has their Justice League movie scheduled for 2015, with only one superhero movie before then to set the stage: the Superman reboot Man of Steel.
Then again… maybe not.
Zack Snyder's recent comments about the relationship between Man of Steel and the upcoming Justice League movie do not inspire confidence about the future of the DC Universe in cinema. When asked about whether Man of Steel fits into the continuity of upcoming superhero team up, Snyder told The New York Post, "I don't know how Justice League is going to be handled. Honestly, I don't. [...] But The Man of Steel exists, and Superman is in it. I don't know how you'd move forward without acknowledging that."
We don't know either, Zack, unless Warner Bros. has decided to wait and see if Snyder's Superman reboot catches on with audiences. After the disappointing reviews and grosses of Snyder's last feature film, Sucker Punch, released after Snyder came on board Man of Steel, these comments could imply that Warner Bros. is adopting a "wait and see" attitude towards Snyder's film. Or, perhaps, it's all just Snyder trying not to give away all the film's secrets too early.
"Um, how can I answer that?" the director responded when asked about how Man of Steel would be integrated into a larger comic book universe at Warner Bros. "I can't really say anything to that, because that's a big spoiler. I will say, yeah, they trust me to keep them on course."
They trust Snyder to keep him on course, but not to know whether his version of Superman will be included in the Justice League movie? Snyder is obviously keeping something from us, but is it just a spoiler for the Justice League or is he trying to distract from potential uncertainty behind the scenes of a studio that's taking a dangerous step into the world-building cinematic storytelling that Marvel Studios, and Marvel Studios alone, has only just recently brought into the light of day?
It seems rude to question Warner Bros. at this juncture, and obviously we wish them well, but with Man of Steel still an unknown quantity, Justice League without so much as a director and a dodgy track record of superhero films not starring Batman over the last few decades, perhaps the studio can understand our trepidation. We want Justice League, and we want it to be good. We want Wonder Woman movies, The Flash movies… heck, we'll take a Martian Manhunter movie if it kicks ass. But we need better reassurances than this if our enthusiasm is going to peak. With all of Warner Bros.' hopes for building a proper buzz laid at the feet of one film, Man of Steel needs to come across as a safe bet for audiences and investors alike, and it would certainly go a long way towards getting us fanpersons excited if we knew that Warner Bros. has a plan, and that it begins here.
Man of Steel opens in theaters on June 14, 2013.
Follow William Bibbiani on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.