Can Walter Hamada Save DC Films?

Aqua-man hits theaters on Dec. 21. Warner Bros.

It is certainly reasonable to debate the level of involvement Zack Snyder had with Justice League, and even more so in the case of the recently demoted Geoff Johns. That sort of thing doesn’t really matter in the franchise world: irrespective of talent or what’s fair, if the profit isn’t impressing studio heads, the captain has to go down with the ship—no exceptions. Justice League was a major disappointment. It warned Warner Bros. that the cultural power of its properties was no longer enough to repudiate a string of critical duds. Audiences were exhausted. Four films and five years of promotion did very little to whet the appetite of audiences. So, much like the last time one of their tentpoles couldn’t quite bring the thunder, a change of hands has occurred.

Walter Hamada, frequent collaborator of James Wan, producer of The Conjuring series and writer of the massive flop 47 Ronin, has been named the new president of DC based films. Geoff Johns, hitherto co-president with John Berg, will still remain involved with the production of DC films going forward, but as a “consultant.” I understand how such a profound commercial letdown can shake up a studio desperate to sustain its shared cinematic universe, but the admonishment of Johns is illogical. The fundamental groundwork had already been put in place by the time Berg and Johns stepped on. Justice League was already in pre-production before Batman V. Superman hit theatres. If there is one thing I’m not ambivalent about, it’s that Geoff Johns knows comics. Johns knows how to weave a good story, he gets how these characters operate and he’s imaginative. I have faith that Hamada can get this thing on track, but it’s a bummer we’ll never get to see what this thing might have looked like if Johns was allowed a little more time to remold the dregs of Snyder’s blueprint.

There are some potential benefits to a guy like Hamada helming the ship, though Warner Bros.’ hiring decision wasn’t made transparent. It’s interesting: Genre/horror to man DC comics movieverse. Mhm, could work, especially considering Hamada’s box office success with relatively low-budget horror films. What’s more, via the Verge , DC is rumored to scale down in scope, and perhaps budget, considerably. With the future of Batfleck in the franchise up in the air, and the overall trajectory failing to resonate with fans, this is a welcomed mandate. Warner Bros. clearly believes in Hamada, which is also a good sign….I guess. Here’s what Warner Bros. president Toby Emmerich had to say about the decision:

“Walter is creative, resourceful, and committed to excellence, and will bring those qualities to his oversight of our superhero films. He’s a terrific production executive and served as an executive producer on two of the summer’s most popular films, New Line’s It and Annabelle: Creation. I’m confident Walter and Geoff, working with our filmmaking partners, will deliver films that will resonate with both broad global audiences as well as DC fanboys and fangirls. Walter’s a great addition to the Warner Bros. Pictures team, and I look forward to working with him in his new post.”

We’ll have to wait and see if this change is a meaningful one when the first film under Hamada’s watch, Aquaman , hits theatres on Dec. 21.

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