The four DC movies that will be released in 2023 can begin to shape a more defined cinematic future for the DC Universe. It’s no secret that DC movies have struggled to create a cohesive live-action cinematic franchise in the past decade. Now, Warner Bros. is putting an end to the DCEU with four movies that will conclude the universe established by Man of Steel, paving the way for the birth of a brand-new franchise free from direct connections to the now-defunct Snyderverse.

The new DCU’s slate, helmed by James Gunn and Peter Safran, will introduce a new universe filled with popular DC characters such as Superman and Swamp Thing, beginning with the DCU’s first chapter, Gods and Monsters.” But to get there, the DCEU will need to gradually transition across 2023’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash,Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. Each of these cinematic releases can provide a small look at how the DCEU will give way to the DCU.

Related: DC’s 2023 Movies All Still Have Major Problems


5 The Flash Movie Is Key To The DC Universe’s Reboot

Barry Allen's Flash, General Zod, and Batman.

Andy Muschietti’s The Flash is arguably the most important DC movie in the shift between the DCEU and the DCU, as Barry Allen’s dangerous trip through the DC multiverse will permanently affect DC canon with changes such as the introduction of Michael Keaton’s Batman and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, as well as the return of General Zod and the potential rewriting of the entire DCEU timeline. The concept of the multiverse allows The Flash to leave all variables perfectly aligned for a franchise-wide reboot, which can leave the DCU free to start a new universe from scratch.

As The Flash trailers suggest, Henry Cavill’s Superman may be replaced by Sasha Calle’s Supergirl, and Michael Keaton’s Batman may replace Ben Affleck’s. However, The Flash can also reveal that these two new heroes won’t be able to return to the DCU. Other major DC characters like Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman may implicitly survive the multiversal changes caused by Barry Allen, but the ripples The Flash will have across the DC multiverse could suggest that no DCEU character will be safe from being replaced. It all depends on how Barry Allen’s multiversal adventure ends.

4 Blue Beetle Will Be A Test Of DC’s Elseworlds Strategy

DC Elseworlds Movies Joker and Blue Beetle

It hasn’t been confirmed if Blue Beetle will be a full-fledged Elseworlds movie set in its own universe like Matt Reeves’ The Batman and Todd Phillips’ Joker, but the movie will be narratively disconnected from the DCU and DCEU. Given how close its release date is to the end of the DCEU, and considering how tonally different to other DC Elseworlds movies like The Batman and Joker it may be, Blue Beetle is the ideal movie to test how successful the self-contained stories can become, whether they’re considered part of the mainline canon or not, when interconnectivity is not part of their selling points.

3 Aquaman 2 Can Set Up (Or Change) Jason Momoa’s DC Future

Jason Momoa as Aquaman and DC Comics art of Lobo.

Although Jason Momoa’s Aquaman has been a popular part of the DCEU and James Wan’s Aquaman remains the highest-grossing DC movie ever, there have been some hints at Jason Momoa’s casting as the anti-hero Lobo. Jason Momoa has expressed his love for Lobo, and DCU head Peter Safran has acknowledged Momoa’s interest in playing the character. However, both of them have also reassured Momoa’s commitment to Aquaman, at least until Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is released.

Related: DCU’s New Ben Affleck Plan Is Better Than A Batman Return

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom likely won’t reveal any new information about Jason Momoa’s possible character change, but it will confirm where Aquaman will end up after the events of his last DCEU-set movie. The Aquamansequel could address The Flash‘s multiversal events and suggest it already takes place in a slightly different universe, or it could completely avoid any direct set-up of Aquaman’s future in order to allow the DCU to reintegrate him. The appearance of another DC character in a post-credits scene could be the key to confirming Aquaman’s canon status.

2 DC’s 2023 Movies Can Impact Batman’s DC Universe Future

Batman played by Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck

While Robert Pattinson stars in The Batman‘s self-contained universe, The Flash will bring back Ben Affleck and reintroduce Michael Keaton, and the DCU prepares to present a new Batman in The Brave and the Bold. With three current active Batmen and a new one on the way, DC movies may need to streamline the character, and The Flash can be the first step in that direction. Ben Affleck’s Batman can say his final goodbye before Barry Allen rewrites the DCEU timeline, and Michael Keaton could be revealed to survive the reset in his own universe.

One major question left is Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom‘s two Batmen, who could either confirm the Dark Knight’s status after The Flash or create even more questions about the DC multiverse. Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s return in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom could suggest that multiple realities can survive the events of The Flash and that Barry Allen’s multiversal changes don’t impede multiple versions of the same character from existing simultaneously. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom could be DC’s last chance to establish Batman’s future before the DCU wipes the slate clean, so getting these appearances right is a major responsibility the Aquaman sequel is playing with.

1 DC’s 2023 Movies Will Prove How The DCEU Will Transition Into The DCU

The original DCEU logo and Ezra Miller as The Flash

In general, 2023’s DC movies need to juggle their stories with the narrative possibilities they leave open for the DCU. The current DC Universe could end with a vague hint at a new universe replacing the previous one, or it could directly address that a major change has occurred, possibly sparing DCEU Justice League characters like Gadot’s Wonder Woman but leaving behind others like Henry Cavill’s Superman. A lack of connective tissue between the DCEU and the DCU could be jarring, but it could also avoid future narrative issues. Likewise, a bridge between both franchises could be confusing, but it could also explain the multiversal logistics behind the change.

More: How DC’s 2023 Slate Could Actually Help Gunn’s Reboot

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