Damn you, Darkseid.
It seems that the appearance of the Lord of Apokolips in Zack Snyder’s Justice League left Warner Bros. uneasy about the villain appearing in another DCEU film. And so, Ava DuVernay’s long-brewing New Gods film — and James Wan’s Aquaman-related The Trench — have both been canned by WB execs.
“As part of our DC slate, some legacy development titles including New Gods and The Trench will not be moving forward,” Warner Bros. and DC said in a statement. “We thank our partners Ava DuVernay, Tom King, James Wan and Peter Safran for their time and collaboration during this process and look forward to our continued partnership with them on other DC stories. The projects will remain in their skillful hands if they were to move forward in the future.”
Editorial note: conditional tense is all wrong there. Should be “The projects WOULD remain…if they were…” Damn you, Darkseid.
New Gods had been in development since 2018 with DuVernay (A Wrinkle in Time) and Tom King (Mister Miracle) collaborating. The Trench was a spinoff of Aquaman, with Wan (Aquaman) set to direct and producer Peter Safran working on the property.
This will come as no surprise to anyone who closely examined post-ZSJL statements by WarnerMedia head Ann Sarnoff; there was no mention of either film in the triumphal announcing of future DCEU movies.
According to The Hollywood Reporter:
With The Trench, sources say that the upcoming Aquaman sequel was considered enough, but Warners could come back to it down the line if there is thirst for more adventures set in the Atlantean kingdoms. It was also considered a possibility for streaming, but is more of a stand-alone story rather than having a strong tie-in to Aquaman or the rest of the DC universe.
New Gods, which would have been a sprawling tale, was complicated by the fact that its villain, Darkseid, just appeared as a major foil in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and there was a desire to have space between the latter and any new appearances.
Both properties were just too connected to the old “Snyder-verse/Justice League” concept of the DCEU. Under DC Films president Walter Hamada, WB is moving forward with its current sparkly new slate, which includes The Suicide Squad, a Peacemaker spin-off, Shazam 2, Aquaman 2 and The Flash movie. Neither canceled project had a natural place in this line-up.
DuVernay and Wan aren’t out in the cold at WB: DuVernay is developing Naomi for The CW and Wan is set to direct Aquaman 2. DuVernay is also developing DMZ, based on the Vertigo comic, for WB, but nothing has been heard about that for a while so…we’ll see.
Klaxons foretelling the coming of the New Gods film had fallen similarly silent, and this afternoon DuVernay and actor Ray Porter, who played Darkseid in ZSJL, had a Twitter exchange that boded ill.
Thank you, Ray. You’ve been nothing but gracious towards me. Appreciate you. And fans who supported. I’m told the studio will be speaking about their recent decision about NEW GODS characters soon. I hope our paths cross one day, sir. If not in the Fourth World, then in another. https://t.co/3Ncrqk1cXf
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 1, 2021
After the news broke, she followed this up with a tweet thanking Tom King for his work.
Tom, I loved writing NEW GODS with you. I’m upset that the saga of Barda, Scott, Granny, Highfather and The Furies ends this way. Diving into Kirby’s Fourth World was the adventure of a lifetime. That can’t be taken away. Thank you for your friendship. And remember… #DarkseidIs pic.twitter.com/XyyIjcB8Wv
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 1, 2021
And King responded:
Ava! I’m so incredibly proud of the work we did, it was such a joy seeing you bring your passion and talent to these characters. I really felt Kirby’s legacy was being honored here and I wish we could’ve kept going. That one Barda/Scott scene where…damn.
— Tom King (@TomKingTK) April 1, 2021
Let’s face it, the idea of bringing Jack Kirby’s sprawling and delirious Fourth World to the screen under DuVernay and King was just too good to be true. Granny Goodness, we hardly knew ye.
Of course, Marvel is ALREADY bringing Kirby’s OTHER even MORE sprawling and delirious series, The Eternals, to the screen in November (after a delay of a year) under visionary director Chloe Zhao, but…