Walter Hamada has been promoted to overseeing Warner Bros.’ comic book films, which means he’ll have the reigns on DC films going forward, as well as any non-DC comic book films that Warner Bros. make.
After heaps of critical negativity for most of their DCEU output (but not all – Wonder Woman, as you know, did incredibly well), Warner Bros. decided in December to replace Jon Berg and Geoff Johns as the heads of DC films.
It was far from a firing and more of a reshuffle – Johns is still at DC as President and Chief creative officer, but his realm now extends beyond just film. And he’ll still provide guidance on DC comic book films. It makes sense to keep a man as experienced as Johns around, for some sage advice.
Hamada has said he and Johns will work “closely” together, which shows that Hamada has respect for his predecessors and what’s come before him. But Hamada himself is no newcomer – his career extends far back with New Line; a division of Warner Bros. If you glance back at his career as a producer, it’s littered mostly with horror films – many well known (The Final Destination, Annabelle, The Conjuring, IT and more).
Hamada is credited with helping to grow the Conjuring universe into something grander. He’s even good friends with James Wan – of Saw, The Conjuring and Furious 7 fame – who recently directed the DCEU’s Aquaman film.
Don’t forget – that solo film was shot before Hamada took on his new role, but Hamada in the driving seat will no doubt mean that Wan will stick around too, perhaps for an Aquaman sequel, if the first film does well, just like Patty Jenkins stuck around for Wonder Woman 2.
If you’re curious why a woman didn’t take Hamada’s role too (the only outright success for DC last year had a female at the helm, so a woman taking control of the primary wheel would have made sense, in my opinion), it’s worth remembering that Warner Bros. promoted two women last year – Courtenay Valenti as President of Production and Diane Nelson as Chief of Entertainment. Both of whom survived the reshuffle and will be keeping their roles.
The ultimate question is: is Hamada a good choice? And will he “save” the DCEU from the criticism and steer it in a better direction? I don’t think the DCEU has put much of a foot wrong – often you’ll find the critics jumping on these films, with the majority of true DC fans actually holding positive feelings about what they saw.
But however you look at it, the mass populace certainly believe that the DCEU is flawed and clearly Warner Bros. themselves think that something needs fixing. I’m of the opinion that you can always make something great even better, so there’s room for Hamada to make an impact.
But is a man who helmed a bunch of popular, cash-churning horror films really the right choice to lead a comic book franchise that means so much to so many? Veteran producer Toby Emmerich certainly has faith. He’s said:
“Walter is creative, resourceful, and committed to excellence, and will bring those qualities to his oversight of our superhero films. 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.”
But when it comes to those aforementioned fanboys and fangirls, I’m sure I’m not alone is saying Hamada’s prior career doesn’t fill us with much faith. Wouldn’t the helm be much better suited to someone with a past in live-action comic book content, who lives and breathes those stories, as a fan themselves? Someone like Greg Berlanti, perhaps, who’s done so well with DC content on TV.
But I’m all for giving Hamada the benefit of the doubt – let’s see what he can do.
Image credits: DC, Warner Bros.