Here’s Which DC Projects Are on the Chopping Block (And Which Aren’t)

By Jessica Lerner 

There’s been a lot of speculation over what the future holds for HBO Max since the start of the month, especially regarding the upcoming and current DC projects.

Warner Bros. Discovery made headlines over the past two weeks after the cancelations of the nearly-completed $90 million feature film Batgirl, based on the DC character, and Scoob!: Holiday Haunt, a follow-up to 2020’s Scoob. Plus, HBO Max quietly removed multiple shows and movies, and more cuts may be coming as the company plans to merge its two streaming services—HBO Max and Discovery+—by the summer of 2023.

During Warner Bros. Discovery’s most recent earnings call, CEO David Zaslav said the company has done somewhat of a reset but remains committed to DC projects.


He noted a team will focus on 10-year planning at DC, similar to “the structure that Alan Horn and Bob Iger put together effectively with [Marvel Studios chief] Kevin Feige at Disney.”

“The objective is to grow the DC brand, to grow the DC characters,” he said. “But also, our job is to protect the DC brand, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

So what exactly does this entail?

We know the company wants to pivot, elevate and focus on DC, per Zaslav, but how does that play out beyond the basic platitudes? Unfortunately, that means despite the company’s commitment to DC, some content will end up on the chopping block.

Canceled projects

At least three projects that were in development have already been scrapped over the past six months at HBO Max.

A planned spinoff of Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Batman was shelved by the streamer back in March. The series was described as building upon “the motion picture’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City, ultimately launching a new Batman universe across multiple platforms.”

The live-action Wonder Twins film, based on the DC characters of the same name, was then scrapped back in May, a month after it was revealed that KJ Apa and Isabel May had been chosen to play shape-shifters Zan and Jayna.

The planned DC anthology series Strange Adventures, which had been in development at the streamer since 2019, is also not moving forward at HBO Max.

Additionally, Variety initially reported HBO Max’s Titans and Doom Patrol, both holdovers from the short-lived streamer DC Universe, could be axed following their respective upcoming fourth seasons.

The news source later changed that article to clarify that no decision had been made and that, like with all series, the success of their forthcoming seasons will determine whether they would be renewed. So despite this, it can’t be a good thing that reports circulated about the possible cancelations.

A reassuring presence

Some content has a better chance than others of surviving.

After all, some of these projects and shows hail from juggernaut showrunners like J.J. Abrams and Greg Berlanti, perhaps solidifying their futures.

In 2019, Abrams and his production company Bad Robot Productions signed a deal with WarnerMedia, owned by AT&T at the time. Additionally, it was announced in 2021, he and Bad Robot Productions would produce a number of films and television programs based on the DC Comics superhero team Justice League Dark, in a manner similar to how Marvel initially produced individual television programs based on each member of The Defenders before releasing the team-up miniseries. Through his Bad Robot banner, Abrams is working on a Superman reboot movie for Warner Bros. and DC.

Berlanti, meanwhile, is the undisputed DC king of The CW. He is the rainmaker behind some of the network’s most celebrated DC content, such as the Arrowverse, including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, Batwoman, Superman & Lois and Stargirl.

Due to his success, there’s also been talk of Berlanti becoming DC’s Kevin Feige. Warner Bros. Discovery needs someone who can take the most successful aspects of the DCEU and build on them, potentially someone like Berlanti, who established a unified mini-universe of DC TV episodes, especially given that DC Films president Walter Hamada reportedly is no longer making the creative decisions.

“Safe” projects

The good news, though, is that the future of plenty of HBO Max’s DC-based content looks bright.

Showrunner James Gunn has assured fans that Season 2 of Peacemaker, a spinoff of Gunn’s 2021 Suicide Squad, is still a go, and Season 3 of Pennyworth, retitled Pennyworth: The Origin of Batman’s Butler after its move from Epix to HBO Max, is set to premiere in October.

Additionally, Season 4 of the adult animated comedy series Harley Quinn, currently airing Season 3, is a “safe bet,” per TVLine. 

The streamer’s live-action Green Lantern series from Berlanti and The Batman prequel The Penguin are both “moving along, according to Deadline. And two Justice League Dark projects from Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, featuring John Constantine and Madame Xanadu, remain in active development, per Variety.

The future of DC

So, taken together, what does all of this mean?

Moving forward, it’s likely there will be less opportunity for standalone universe series like Titans and Doom Patrol, somewhat of oddities among HBO Max’s live-action lineup, as As more DC shows are splintered off into the DCEU, like Peacemaker or The Penguin.

Additionally, having a prolific showrunner attached to any project doesn’t guarantee its survival. Both the Wonder Twins live-action movie and the Strange Adventures hailed from Berlanti, and Abram’s sci-fi series Demimonde is no longer moving forward at HBO due to budgetary issues.

In the end, some shows are better poised to survive the restructuring at Warner Bros. Discovery, but nothing is guaranteed.