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These DC Characters and Actors Won’t Be Returning in the DCEU

Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck, Batgirl (Leslie Grace), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) against DC logo

The DC Extended Universe underwent significant restructuring in 2022 following the installment of James Gunn and Peter Safran as co-CEOs of the new DC Universe. The change came after Warner Bros. merged with Discovery and David Zaslav took over as CEO. In an effort to revitalize the DCU, Zaslav wanted new creative minds to lead the franchise, focusing on high-quality films with a 10-year plan similar to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even before Gunn and Safran officially started their roles, the DCU started experiencing losses as a result of the corporate shakeup.

Batgirl was the first to go as Warner Bros. Discovery made the shocking decision in August 2022 to cancel the film, despite it having been in post-production with a $90 million budget. As a result, fans were prepared for more cuts when Gunn and Safran came on board in November of 2022. However, some may not have been prepared for the sheer number of cuts, including some of the DCEU’s most popular and beloved characters/actors. Gunn and Safran decided to retire the majority of the old regiment’s heroes, meaning nearly all the staples of the DCEU were removed to make room for an entirely new universe.

While there have been a lot of cuts and recasts, the heroes that have remained have been surprising. So far, the studio has expressed nothing but excitement and support for Ezra Miller in The Flash, despite the actor’s recent history of controversies and legal troubles. Also surprising was a Shazam! Fury of the Gods post-credit scene which strongly teased that Zachary Levi’s Shazam is in the DCU to stay, despite his growing list of controversies, including his support of Jordan Peterson.

Since the takeover, the matter of who is going and who is staying in the DCU has gotten a bit confusing. Here is a complete list of every DC character confirmed (or suspected) to be cut from the new DCU—so far.

Leslie Grace’s Batgirl

Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon in Batgirl
(Warner Bros.)

Batgirl was first announced to be in development in 2018, and by 2021 it was slated for release exclusively on HBO Max in 2022. The film was set to mark Leslie Grace’s DCU debut as Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl), as well as Batgirl’s first appearance in a live-action film in 25 years. However, in early August, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that the film had been canceled. Vague reasons were given for the cancellation, including that it didn’t align with Warner Bros. Discovery’s new vision and goals, as well as that it was “unreleasable.”

However, some reports of negative reactions to screenings have been called into question. Rather than it being a quality issue, some suggested that Warner Bros. Discovery simply didn’t want to pay to elevate the film to a theatrical release and felt that it would be better financially to use it as a tax write-off. Whatever the reason, Batgirl will not be making her long-awaited DC debut, nor is she slated to appear in any future projects yet.

Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman

Gal Gadot as Diana Prince in the first Wonder Woman film
(Warner Bros.)

Just a few months after Batgirl‘s cancellation, another female character was cut from the DCU with little explanation. On December 7, 2022, it was announced that Wonder Woman 3 had been shelved and that director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot were out of the DCU. The sequel was the first film Gunn and Safran cut, citing it didn’t fit with their vision of the DCU’s future.

However, Gadot recently returned for a cameo in Shazam! Fury of the Gods and may also have a cameo in The Flash—although some rumors have suggested her scene was cut from the latter. While Gunn and Safran have not explicitly stated that Gadot won’t be returning to their DCU, she is not currently slated to appear in any projects in DCU’s Chapter One. Although a Wonder Woman prequel, Paradise Lost, is in the works, Gadot is not believed to be featured in it, which means either The Flash or Shazam! Fury of the Gods could be her last appearance as Wonder Woman.

Henry Cavill’s Superman

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in Man of Steel
(Warner Bros.)

Just a week after Wonder Woman 3 was shelved, on December 14, 2022, Henry Cavill announced that he will not be returning as Superman in Gunn’s DCU. This news caused substantial upset among fans given that, just two months prior, Cavill made his long-awaited return as Superman with a cameo in Black Adam. In addition to the cameo, and at the urging of the studio, Cavill publicly announced that he had officially returned as Superman, and rumors began to fly about a potential Man of Steel 2 and Justice League 2. However, weeks later, he had to backtrack and confirm he wasn’t returning.

The poor way his departure was handled might have been the result of Dwayne Johnson reportedly going over studio executives’ heads to bring Cavill into Black Adam, with no one at the studio filling them in on the fact that Gunn was already developing Superman Legacy and there was a chance the role would be recast. Gunn and Safran are said to be searching for a younger Superman to replace Cavill, and he has officially been cut from the DCU. It is believed that a cameo Cavill filmed for The Flash was cut, meaning Black Adam is likely his final appearance as Superman.

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry in Aquaman
(Warner Bros.)

Jason Momoa is slated to return as Arthur Curry (a.k.a. Aquaman) in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom this December. The film will mark the official end of the old regime and the beginning of Gunn’s new plans for the DCU. It is believed that the Aquaman film series will end with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. However, while he likely will not return as Aquaman, reports suggest that Gunn and Safran want to keep Momoa in the DCU. He’s reportedly being eyed to play a new character, Lobo, in the future, but this has not been confirmed.

Ben Affleck’s Batman

Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne as Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
(Warner Bros.)

Ben Affleck is slated to appear as Batman in both The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. However, the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman will be recast for Gunn’s new DCU. Gunn revealed that he plans to introduce the new Batman in the Chapter One film The Brave and the Bold, featuring the Caped Crusader and his son, Damian Wayne. This isn’t too surprising, as Affleck had initially planned to retire from the role after The Flash, but he ended up enjoying his experience on The Flash so much that he surprised fans by revealing that he’s also set to appear in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. After that, though, Affleck’s retirement from the superhero genre will commence, and he confirmed he will not return as the character nor direct a DCU film.

Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson as Teth Adam in Black Adam
(Warner Bros.)

Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam hasn’t been officially cut from the DCU, but he won’t be appearing in it anytime soon. Just days after Cavill announced his departure, Johnson released a statement on Twitter confirming that Black Adam was not part of the DCU’s Chapter One plans. However, Johnson indicated that he, Gunn, and Safran were still very interested in exploring Black Adam in the DCU outside of Chapter One, potentially even in DC’s Elseworlds.

Whether Johnson will actually return is uncertain, though, especially amid rumors that DC executives and fans are unhappy with him. Johnson has been criticized for his role in the Cavill saga and has also been accused of sabotaging both Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods by blocking all attempts for the two heroes/films to crossover at all, even in the form of a cameo. It’s unclear if Johnson deliberately impacted either film, but if reports of the studio being unhappy with his interference are true, his days as Black Adam are probably numbered.

(featured image: Warner Bros. / DC Comics)

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Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.