Anyone following our coverage would glean not all is okay at DC Comics. Sales are down dismally and there is a constant shift in leadership and creative direction predominantly affecting their film universe at Warner Bros. Now it appears we have a reason for the crumbling of the regime formerly in charge of the Extended Universe.
Diane Nelson, former co-president of DC Entertainment, let it be known she is no friend of fellow former co-president and the chief creative officer of DC, Geoff Johns. It all started with Nelson tweeting a link to a Hollywood Reporter article defending Todd Phillips’ Joker movie and the violence it contains. A reply lodged an allegation Nelson helped Johns “destroy his work from the inside” and she responded, “He’s no buddy of mine.”
He’s no buddy of mine.
— Diane Nelson (@dewnelson1) September 18, 2019
Other users charge Nelson with hypocrisy over agreeing with a defense of Joker, and “playing politics,” when she didn’t defend Snyder and his bleaker vision of Superman during her tenure. One user wrote:
You couldn’t defend Zacks movies and whatever little darkness there was.. busy playing politics then..
But now i guess dark violence is cool??#ReleaseTheSnyderCut
— Androider (@LazyAndroids) September 17, 2019
Snyder vacated his responsibilities with DC and Warner in 2017. Man of Steel met with a mixed reaction and negativity swirled around its climax and specifically Superman killing Zod. Batman v. Superman followed with heavily gloomy overtones and the Death of Superman.
Joker has worse “gut punches” in store for audiences, reportedly. The exploration into Arthur Fleck’s transformation into the title character is oft described as a journey into the mind and trauma of a mentally ill person who becomes an icon of rebellion and the fabled 99%. (Related — Rumor: Joker Movie Plot Details Leaked Online [Potentially Major Spoilers])
What makes Snyder’s tone and content a stretch but Joker not is a mystery. That may not even have anything to do with Diane Nelson or the regime change, but politics of it can’t be ruled out. While Nelson didn’t clarify her comment or expand on it, the fact is she resigned from her post.
Variety said in June of 2018 the decision was “her own” and implied it was due to “family-related issues.” The article went on to say an “insider stressed” she was not forced out. Forced out or not, her words about Johns suggest the work environment was not comfortable; and if fans are anti-Johns and Nelson promptly wants to rebuke him, something is the matter. (Related — BREAKING: DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson to Leave Warner Bros.)
The Geoff Johns Conundrum
Johns’ capacity as co-president put him in a role for WB similar to Kevin Feige over at Disney-Marvel. He executive produced most DCEU entries and continues to have his name on DC Universe original programs Titans and Doom Patrol.
Johns stepped down weeks after Nelson to start his own production company — Mad Ghost. In a statement, he said he wanted to “spend my days writing and on set” in “a more hands-on creative role.”
That won’t be on the set of the new Suicide Squad, however. IMDb doesn’t list him as involved. In regards to other projects in development, Johns’ website has him down for Green Lantern Corps but that could change before we know it.
JJ Abrams closed a deal with Warner and the buzz is he has designs on rebooting Green Lantern. If Abrams’ plans will clash with Johns’ remains to be seen. (Related — Report: J.J. Abrams Might Be the Next to Take on Superman and Green Lantern)
Abrams’ working relationship with WB will be easier with new CEO Ann Sarnoff at the helm. Sarnoff took over for Kevin Tsujihara, who took his leave amid a sex scandal, and she was recommended by producer Katie McGrath, wife of Abrams. (Related: Warner Bros. Chairman-CEO Kevin Tsujihara Resigns After Investigation Into Relationship with Charlotte Kirk)
Variety notes Tsujihara was “seen as…closely aligned” with Diane Nelson. Tsujihara called her in a letter “a friend and colleague as well as a valued member of the Warner Bros. family.” Perhaps she knew what was coming and that’s why she left.
The full story has yet to come out but Nelson’s original tweet and terse reply sparked an entire thread of curious users asking her to elaborate and urging her to jump on the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut bandwagon. Her words also made it to the DC_Cinematic Reddit — in a thread where comments are disabled.
Nelson is currently Head of Operations and Content at Quibi, a new entertainment platform specializing in short-form video.