Warner Bros. may have moved its Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice away from Disney/Marvel‘s May 6, 2016, threequel Captain America 3, but the switch to March 25 was more bold strategy than tail-turning. Instead of going head to head (to head) with Cap, Warners now will open its DC superhero faceoff ahead of the summer movie crush, as director Zack Snyder’s 300 and Watchmen did in years past. It’s just the start of WB’s long-game plan to release two new superhero tentpoles per year through 2020 — following Marvel’s example of long-range flag planting and going farther than their rival’s schedule by a year. Your move, Disney.
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The mic drop is particularly strong coming off a Comic-Con where Snyder’s Batman v. Superman teaser blew away the competition and Marvel’s presence uncharacteristically floundered. WB is staking strong claim to the next six years in the blockbuster biz even before it can prove it can make a new-generation hit. Consider it a reclaiming of the comic book movie crown WB once won when it changed the superhero game with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. WB and DC now finally are taking back the momentum they lost when Marvel and upstart exec Kevin Feige seized control with 2008’s Iron Man; that reign that’s steadily continued for six years, all the way through last week’s monster opening for the once-obscure and now-beloved Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise. Now fans have nine new unnamed DC films to speculate about. So what could be up WB’s sleeve?