The DC Extended Universe has been one mired in controversy, with few of its entries being universally beloved. Disparate visions have seen the universe try to go in different directions but to no real avail. For better or worse, Zack Snyder's vision is the one that has the most supporters, if only because it’s actually a concrete plan.
Now, with the controversy of the upcoming movie The Flash, not to mention other aspects of the DCEU, it’s unknown where the universe should go. Perhaps the best answer would be… anywhere! In fact, this “sky’s the limit” approach was exemplified best by the Transformers franchise during the 2010s. Here’s how the robots in disguise could save the DC Extended Universe.
What Was Transformers’ Aligned Continuity?
During the 2000s, the Transformers franchise was host to several continuities. These included the worlds of the Unicron Trilogy, the live-action movies, Transformers: Animated, the Transformers: Universe toyline and comic books from Dreamwave and IDW Publishing. Wanting a bit more consistency, the powers that be devised the Aligned Continuity going into the 2010s. This would encompass novels such as Transformers: Exodus, video games Transformers: War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, as well as the cartoons Transformers: Prime, Rescue Bots and Robots in Disguise.
These entries would all have some slight divergences from one another, somewhat similar to the different incarnations of Transformers: Generation 1, but they still loosely adhered to Exodus and the “Binder of Revelation” production bible. Thus, different shows and productions could go in their own direction, all while having a similar basis or origin story in each. This granted the franchise some consistency, all while still allowing for creativity and diversity in tone. For instance, the video games, Transformers: Prime and Rescue Bots all sit along different degrees of the dark/lighthearted scale. Such a template served the franchise well into the 2020s, and it could do the same for the DCEU.
How the DCEU Could Emulate the Aligned Continuity
The DCEU definitely has a continuity conundrum. Should it restore the so-called Snyderverse, simply let Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Black Adam release to usher in a less dark DCEU, or even go forward with the rumored continuity changes in the dreadful sounding Flash movie? There’s money to be made in each case, and the best solution might just be to do all three.
Using the Aligned Continuity as a basis, the DCEU would split off into separate branches, but with the bones of the Snyderverse as the anchor. Elements from Man of Steel, Aquaman and Wonder Woman could be kept for the DCEU, while everything chronologically up to Zack Snyder’s Justice League could be canon for the Snyderverse. Likewise, the Flashverse would remix these movies by adding them to a version of Tim Burton’s Batman universe, creating something entirely new.
By doing this, all DC fans could be happy, whether they like superhero films that are dark, gritty, lighthearted, comical or anything in between. It would also allow even casual viewers enough familiarity to jump in between universes while still knowing the brass tax of what's happened so far. Snyderverse projects could be relegated to HBO Max, DCEU projects could be theatrical, and Flashverse could be a bit of both. This would also allow Warner Bros. to further bolster the lineup of HBO Max’s content, as the current woes of Netflix leave a prime opening in the streaming wars. By transforming an idea from Transformers, DC could have a consistent multiverse, all under the “Aligned” DC Films banner.