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.
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.
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“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.”