DC Film’s Jon Berg, Geoff Johns on Success of ‘Wonder Woman’ and Sequel Plans (EXCLUSIVE)

Courtesy of Warner Bros./Clay Enos

Jon Berg and Geoff Johns are riding high. The two men, whose job is to oversee the DC film universe for Warner Bros., are basking in the glow of the critical and commercial success of “Wonder Woman.” Berg is a veteran producer whose credits include “Elf” and “Out of Time,” while Johns is deeply enmeshed in DC lore, having written for the likes of “Green Lantern” and “Aquaman” in addition to guiding the company’s television efforts.

They spoke with Variety about what’s next for “Wonder Woman,” their reaction to the poor reviews for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” and why there will be more female superheroes and villains in upcoming DC films.


Toby Emmerich Warner Bros Picture Group

Inside Warner Bros. Pictures Chief Toby Emmerich’s Vision for the Studio and DC Universe

Why did audiences embrace “Wonder Woman”?
Berg: It’s a fun movie. It’s positive and optimistic. The early films may have been too dark in parts.

Johns: Most of the DC Universe is known as being a hopeful and optimistic place. It’s known for characters that are inspirational and aspirational. Anyone who knows and loves the DC Universe knows that a lot of that has to do with its hope and optimism.

“Suicide Squad” and “Batman v. Superman” made money, but critics hated them. Did you learn anything from the poor response to the films?
Berg: There are lessons from every movie. You would be silly not to analyze how a movie was received — what went right and what went wrong on the making of a movie.

On “Suicide Squad,” the movie did incredibly well commercially. It didn’t work narratively. You had some great casting and some great characterizations, but where the story fell down was on narrative, on plot. We could do better. “Batman v. Superman” was tonally dark. People didn’t respond to that.

Johns: “Wonder Woman” celebrated exactly who the character is, but looking at it, it’s not like we should change everything to be about hope and optimism. There’s nothing to change. That’s what these characters are.

Given the success of “Wonder Woman,” do you expect to make more female-driven comic-book films?
Johns: We’ve got a lot of plans for our female characters just because they’re great characters. There are many wonderful elements to the DC Universe, and one of them is that we have the best female characters, heroes and villains, in the world. No one is going to beat Wonder Woman and Batgirl and Harley Quinn.

Will Patty Jenkins be back to direct the sequel to “Wonder Woman”?
Johns: Patty and I are writing the treatment right now. The goal is to make another great “Wonder Woman” film. I had a blast making it with Patty the first time. We’ve got a cool idea for the second one.

Will Wonder Woman’s role be enhanced in “Justice League”?
Berg: Her role won’t change, but she was already playing a big role. People really responded to Gal [Gadot] in “Batman v. Superman.” We knew we had something special.

Joss Whedon is overseeing reshoots on “Justice League” and will write and direct “Batgirl.” How important will he be to the DC cinematic universe going forward?

Berg: He’s a big part already. We love him. He’s a great partner, collaborator; we want him to be ensconced. We bring people by, have general meetings and talk about comics and their favorite superhero movies. With Joss, he saw the master board, and he saw a “Batgirl” title and he said, “You guys seriously want to do ‘Batgirl’?” And we said, “Absolutely.” He said, “That’s my jam.”

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  1. ctrent29 says:

    It’s pretty crappy of them.

  2. Rex the Wonder Dog says:

    Throwing Zack Snyder under the bus while trying to make it sound like not throwing Zack Snyder under the bus.

  3. shevek says:

    Really hoping we see a gorgeous version of Cheetah (not the monstrous depiction from Rebirth) in the second film – she’s Wonder Woman’s ultimate nemesis, and both the fight scenes and Barbara Minerva’s transformation would be unbelievable onscreen.

    Plus I’ve seen rumors that Geoff Johns is also overseeing some kind of Titans series? Live-action versions of Raven, Starfire and Cassie Sandsmark (all for the very first time!) would be mindblowing.

  4. Jacen says:

    They are on the right path with WW, and in a future installment I would like to see one of the unique elements to the character: that she doesn’t always defeat her antagonists by beating them into submission or killing them. A recent Greg Rucka storyline concluded with WW defeating villains Phobos and Deimos by honestly (bound by the lasso) expressing her love for them as beings; an early George Perez story had her defeat Ares by confronting with him logic and reason to make him realize the foolish outcome of his plan; and elsewhere she has redeemed some of her villains. The last time a film’s villain was redeemed was… what, Return of the Jedi? I think trying that avenue in a future WW movie could be heartening and surprising for the audience.

  5. Jacques Strappe says:

    One success and so many critical failures puts DC/WB into celebration mode. Continue to copy the Marvel Studios model (and poach some of their directors and creative team) and DC might enjoy more success. One hit does not a trend make, however. Not even sure if Wonder Woman signals a strong desire among movie fans for more female super heroes but the studios will probably assume that fans want mostly female leads since Hollywood is all about copying

    • Jason Smith says:

      DC should run far and fast from the shitty Marvel Studios model, which is already wearing thin. The idea that every movie has to be exactly the same, all the characters have to sound the same and there are 0 unique stories is not DC. Marvel can do that all they want.. but Batman shouldn’t sound like Flash.. the way Captain America sounds like Iron Man.

      • carolinaalvarennga says:

        I agree

      • Mike says:

        Responding to Rex’s comment – Civil War was really good EXCEPT that they weren’t able to finish it as strongly as it needed to be. They sacrificed Iron Patriot’s ability to walk (temporarily), but they should’ve had either Stark or Rogers mortally wounded…

        And the ending where he sent that letter to Stark….lame. Should’ve left them as enemies, for now.

        I loved GOTG 2 – talk about trying to be as creative as possible with sequel. That was the opposite of a “recycled cash grab”. NOT as good as the original, but it was as inspired as it could be.

        Iron Man 3 and Ultron were indeed crappy.

      • Rex the Wonder Dog says:

        I hear what you are saying. Captain America: The First Avenger Captain America: Winter Soldier were a great movies. Captain America: Civil War was, where have I seen this before. I was so bored I don’t even remember what the plot was anymore. Iron Man 1 & 2, great. Iron Man 3, been there, done that.
        Guardians of the Galaxy, wow, that was fun. GotG 2, what the hell was that. And don’t get me started on Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s all just a recycled cash grab with Marvel now.

      • Mike says:

        “Shitty” meaning every single movie prints money and gets positive critic and audience responses?

        Listen, I hear what you’re saying – I’m getting serious superhero fatigue on the Marvel side…but they’ve established a formula that continues to work.

        I’m shocked they continue to make entertaining movies.

        I’m still waiting for the first flop. Perhaps Spiderman: Homecoming…though it looks decent, if not exactly inspiring.

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