Long gestating DC Comics adaptations “New Gods” with director Ava DuVernay and screenwriter Tom King, and “The Trench” with director James Wan and producer Peter Safran are not moving forward at Warner Bros., the studio announced on Thursday.
“As part of our DC slate, some legacy development titles including ‘New Gods’ and ‘The Trench’ will not be moving forward,” the studio 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.”
The decision is certain to raise eyebrows with some DC fans as it comes just a few weeks after the debut of “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” which officially closed the book on the “Snyder-verse” — i.e. the director’s unified narrative involving several of DC’s biggest characters. “New Gods” — which DuVernay and King have been developing since early 2018 — involves the “Fourth World” characters created by DC artist Jack Kirby that were heavily featured in the Snyder cut, first among them the totalitarian villain Darkseid.
Earlier on Thursday, Ray Porter, who plays Darkseid in the Snyder cut, even tweeted to fans to “please stop pestering” DuVernay about the movie and the character. DuVernay responded thanking Porter, and all but announcing that she wasn’t moving forward with “New Gods.”
“I hope our paths cross one day, sir,” DuVernay tweeted. “If not in the Fourth World, then in another.”
“The Trench,” meanwhile, was meant as a horror-inflected one-off set in the dangerous oceanic abyss filled with the ravenous aquatic creatures first seen in Wan’s 2018 blockbuster “Aquaman.” Noah Gardner and Aidan Fitzgerald had written a script for the film, which Wan was producing with Safran.
In its statement, the studio made clear that it may revive these projects at a later date, and DuVernay and Wan would effectively have right of first refusal to continue with them. Both filmmakers are also staying within the DC fold: DuVernay is developing the teen superhero show “Naomi” for the CW, and Wan is preparing to direct “Aquaman 2” for Warner Bros.
So why would “New Gods” and “The Trench” not fit within DC Films’ vision? Both projects involve relatively obscure DC comics characters to a general audience; more importantly, both also have connections to the Snyder cut, “New Gods” through Darkseid and “The Trench” through Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.