The list of DCEU casualties that have had to face Warner Brothers’ onslaught is high. The list now has two more names – Ava DuVernay’s New Gods movie and James Wan’s The Trench. The former was supposed to bring Jack Kirby’s greatest creation to life. The latter was a grand experiment. While New Gods being axed is certainly a bad thing, we would be lying if we said The Trench being cancelled did not hit us hard. James Wan’s Aquaman spinoff had the potential to be a blockbuster. But the studio cancelling it proves just how flawed and short-sighted the decision making apparatus is at Warner Brothers.
A statement from Warner Brothers was released a few days ago via The Hollywood Reporter. The studio had these words of explanation to five:
“As part of our DC slate, some legacy development titles including New Gods and The Trench will not be moving forward. 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.”
The Trench would have been significant to DC fans for a lot of reasons. As a matter of fact, it would have been pivotal for superhero fans in general. Most superhero movies now focus on continuity and a unified strategy. Everything needs to be connected – the shows, the movies, and the comics. This strategy is what helped the MCU become a giant. The DCEU aims to get there. And that is the vision of Ann Sarnoff – Warner Brothers’ CEO.
But here’s the catch – the DCEU has tried to create a unified continuity. And it has failed miserably. The only movies under the DC banner that had Box Office successes were Shazam, Wonder Woman, and Joker. All three of the movies had little to no connection to the larger DCEU.
Moreover the idea of a shared superhero universe is getting old. No one wants capes and cowls acting like idealistic boy scouts anymore. If The Boys and Invincible are any indication, the audience loves when Directors experiment and create a niche sub-genre. The Trench could have been one of the first superhero horror movies. It could have opened up the DCEU to a dual strategy of a shared universe as well as standalone storylines.
For now, Warner Brothers intends to chart a course for the Multiverse concept within the DCEU. This would theoretically allow the Directors to focus on an infinite amount of story arcs. James Wan’s the Trench could have very well been placed as an alternate universe story. if only Warner Brothers decides to stop mimicking the competition and think of something original.
James Wan’s The Trench could have been a masterpiece had it been allowed to happen. Sadly, we will never get to see it.