While Warner Bros have consciously moved away from their Zack Snyder-moulded over-arching creative strategy for the DCEU - or what remains of it - they're somewhat hamstrung by the fact that they still have two successful properties in that franchise that necessitate a continuation.
Both Wonder Woman and Aquaman scored big wins at the box office (and critically, though that barely matters now) and they're both embedded in a shared universe that pre-dated their solo movies, so we're stuck with the DCEU framework whether you like it or not.
Quite how they'll get around that fact in the future remains to be seen, because the idea of another Justice League movie is still as exciting as the idea of one anything like the first one is detestable. Fundamentally, the ensemble is a good idea, but the approach to it all so far has been less than inspiring. And in the absence of the ability to reboot it entirely because of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, something else has to happen.
So how about a soft reboot?
Ray Fisher has just been talking recently about his belief (or desire at least) that Cyborg will appear in another DCEU movie in the future and there's still a Flashpoint movie in the works SOMEWHERE, so those two films will slot into the same universe (with the latter offering a chance to reset some things, excitingly). And then there's Wonder Woman 1984, which is an easy one to deal with because it's in the past and both Aquaman 2 and The Trench, which have to come post-Justice League in the same universe.
What we probably won't get, at this stage is a Batman movie within the main timeline, but it is entirely possible that Matt Reeves' trilogy will act as prequels to set up the Dark Knight's return to the team-up fold later. Superman, on the other hand, is a more confusing one.
While the rumours of Henry Cavill's departure from the role appear to have been over-zealous at best and completely wrong at worst, it's hard to see Man Of Steel 2 coming any time soon. It makes more sense for Superman to go away for a while and Cavill to drop out. It also makes sense for someone else to come in in his place.
Rumours have previously pin-pointed Supergirl as the replacement, but what if we get a different, darker concern? What if Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam is being set up as the new focal point of the franchise? Or at least one of them?
Think about it: The Rock is one of the biggest draws in Hollywood right now and he's a one-man marketing industry. To have him in the DCEU and not take advantage of his profile by limiting him to one villain appearance in a Shazam! crossover or his own movie and then the crossover at most is just wrong-headed. Warner Bros need to lean on him and they need to replace Superman with him.
Maybe that's why Johnson has been talking up Black Adam to MTV at the MTV Movie & TV Awards in a way that once more compares him to the Man Of Steel. And why he's done it repeatedly since he was cast. What he's saying too, is telling:
"Also, Black Adam has the same powers as Superman. That's f'n crazy, man! I mean think about that! That's why it's so cool and exciting. He has the same powers as Superman. The only difference is Superman, of course, with his DNA, he doesn't kill anyone in his ethos, but Black Adam does [laughs menacingly].
That line about Black Adam being able to kill, where Superman can't is interesting too, given how much of a conversation that's been. And the fact that he's said the movie will be fun definitely suggests we're getting Black Adam as an anti-hero. The Rock was also asked whether he's tried the suit on yet, while offering the suggestion that the film is going to be "dark and edgy":
"No. Not yet. There is a lot of obviously research and development that has to go into Black Adam. We're so excited we have Jaume Collet-Serra [as director] who I just worked with on Jungle Cruise. Or course he did The Shallows, so you know he is a genre filmmaker who inherently is edgy and dark which was great for Jungle Cruiseand is going to be great for Black Adam. He has a great take and a great pitch on Black Adam."
Could it be that Johnson's Black Adam will be the new founding stone of a new era for the DCEU? Should it be the case? Share your reactions in the comments thread.