DC Extended Universe
The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is an American media franchise and shared universe centered on a series of superhero films based on characters that appeared in American comic books by DC Comics, produced by DC Films and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. The franchise also includes comic books, short films, novels, and video games. The DCEU, much like the original DC Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plot elements, settings, cast, and characters.
Warner Bros. had plans to bring various DC Comics superheroes together in films since 2002, when Wolfgang Petersen was set to direct a crossover of the Batman and Superman film franchises. After a planned Justice League film was put on hold and the success of The Dark Knight in 2008, Warner Bros. decided to focus on individual franchises but began to start building a shared universe to compete with Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011. The DCEU was originally planned to center around five films directed by Zack Snyder, but by 2018 DC Films downplayed the shared nature of the universe in order to allow greater autonomy for the individual filmmakers.
The first DCEU film is Man of Steel (2013), a reboot of the Superman film series, followed by Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which served as a reboot of the Batman film series. These films were followed by Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Justice League (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam! (2019), Birds of Prey (2020), and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). The franchise will continue with The Suicide Squad in 2021, Black Adam, The Flash, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in 2022, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods in 2023. Additionally, the DCEU expanded to exclusive releases on the streaming service HBO Max with Zack Snyder's Justice League in 2021, and will continue with the television series Peacemaker in 2022.
The DCEU is the eleventh-highest-grossing film franchise of all time, having grossed over $5.6 billion at the global box office. Its highest-grossing film, Aquaman, earned over $1.15 billion worldwide and became the highest-grossing DC Comics-based film to date. The DCEU has received a generally mixed critical response.