(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump is to hold a second summit with the leader of North Korea near the end of February to try to coax the North to give up its nuclear program.
The announcement came at the White House Friday after Trump met with a North Korean envoy.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump met for 90 minutes with Kim Yong Chol to discuss denuclearization and a second summit. She said the president looks forward to meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a place to be announced at a later date.
Trump had his first, historic meeting with Kim Jong Un last June in Singapore and reached a vague denuclearization agreement, but little tangible progress has been made since. So far, no details have been publicly released about how denuclearization could occur.
President Donald Trump once succinctly summed up his two-part defense on his campaign’s contacts with Russia during the 2016 election in an interview with the New York Times: “There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime.”
In recent days, the first half of that defense has started to look shakier.
Trump’s own lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, seemed to indicate that more evidence may come out, telling CNN that he “never said” there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia, only ruling out direct involvement with the president. House Democrats are now investigating a BuzzFeed report that Trump told his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about the Trump Tower Moscow project.
That’s put more attention on the second half of the defense.
The president has a point. In the current political discussion, “collusion” doesn’t refer to a specific federal crime. As former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote in TIME in December, “the term collusion has no legal meaning in this context.”
That doesn’t mean no laws were broken, however. Based on the facts uncovered so far, experts say there are four broad areas where members of the Trump campaign could land in legal hot water.
Lying to investigators
Five people ensnared in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have already been charged with lying to investigators or Congress: George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, Michael Flynn, Alex van der Zwaan and Michael Cohen.
Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted of financial crimes in a Virginia court in 2018, but he has since also been accused of lying to Mueller’s team in the course of his cooperation agreement that began after that trial.
In situations like this, it is often lying in the course of the investigation that can bring people down, instead of more sweeping charges about any underlying conduct.
“In the federal criminal-justice system, prosecutors have an incentive to charge crimes that are easier to prove—like lying to Congress or the FBI,” Mariotti wrote.
Obstruction of justice
Mueller had already reportedly been looking into whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey, because Trump indicated that the firing had to do with the investigation into his relationship with Russia.
The BuzzFeed report raises another potential case: suborning perjury by directing someone to lie to Congress.
Cohen has already admitted that he lied to Congress, pleading guilty to the charge in November. But if it can be proven that Trump ordered him to lie, that would bring the president into riskier legal territory.
Many legal experts, including Trump’s Attorney General nominee William Barr, think firing an FBI director—for whatever reason— is within presidential authority and thin gruel in an obstruction probe. But directing someone to commit perjury is a clearer case of obstruction.
Even Barr, who wrote a memo in 2018 outlining concerns about Mueller’s potential obstruction inquiry, has said the type of conduct BuzzFeed reports Trump engaged in with Cohen would be a crime. At Barr’s confirmation hearing on Jan. 15, before the BuzzFeed story came out, Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham both grilled him on that point.
“The president persuading a person to commit perjury would be obstruction, is that right?” Klobuchar asked Barr. “Yes,” Barr replied, noting that applies to “any person” directing another to commit perjury.
At AG nominee Barr’s confirmation hearing, I asked whether a president directing a witness to commit perjury = obstruction. His response: Yes https://t.co/GM7zf6d8KM
Graham also asked Barr, “If there was some reason to believe that the president tried to coach somebody not to testify or testify falsely, that could be obstruction of justice?” And Barr replied, “Yes.”
There’s even historical precedent for this very situation. As presidential historian Jon Meacham noted on Twitter, “The first article of impeachment against Nixon was just this: obstruction by directing others to lie. This is not hysteria or hyperventilating. It’s history.”
The first article of impeachment against Nixon was just this: obstruction by directing others to lie. This is not hysteria or hyperventilating. It’s history.
Election law prohibits foreign nationals from “directly or indirectly” making “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.”
The specter of this crime has been raised in a number of different instances in the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia, including the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer, along with Manafort and other attendees.
At that meeting, Russians had offered “to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary (Clinton) and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” according to an email from a Trump associate to Trump Jr. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya have said information about Clinton was never exchanged at the meeting. Whether this meeting broke election law could hinge on the definition of “other thing of value” — in other words, whether damaging information on Trump’s political opponent could be legally seen as a contribution of value from a foreign national to his campaign.
More recently, an improperly redacted court filing by Manafort’s legal team inadvertently revealed that Mueller’s office thinks Manafort “lied about sharing polling data with Mr. Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.” (Konstantin Kilimnik is a former associate of Manafort’s with ties to Russian intelligence.)
Experts say this act on its own likely wouldn’t constitute a crime, but it could be a piece of evidence to prove other crimes. In the court filing, it was in the context of a back and forth of Mueller’s team accusing Manafort of lying to them during his cooperation agreement, which could be a crime. But it could also fit into a larger conspiracy to violate election law.
“Manafort’s provision of polling data to an individual with strong ties to Russian intelligence [could be] a potential piece of evidence in support of a theory that the Trump campaign, or Trump himself, conspired with Russian actors to influence the 2016 presidential election through the expenditure of money,” James Gardner, election law expert at University at Buffalo School of Law, tells TIME.
In other words, if Manafort shared internal polling data with Kilimnik in an effort to influence where, how or if Russian nationals spent money on U.S. election efforts, that could be a conspiracy to break federal election law.
Fraud and related activity in connection with computers
Giuliani has repeatedly said “collusion is not a crime” and denied that Trump broke any laws. He also recently said, “There is not a single bit of evidence the President of the United States committed the only crime you can commit here: conspired with the Russians to hack the DNC.”
Giuliani’s statement gets to a key question about events during the campaign. In 2016, hackers that the U.S. government believe to have been directed by the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. Batches of the hacked emails were released by Wikileaks.
Mueller’s team has reportedly been investigating whether Trump ally Roger Stone had a back channel to Wikileaks during the campaign or shared information he believed was from Wikileaks with the Trump campaign. If Stone simply knew Wikileaks planned to release emails in advance, that likely wouldn’t be a crime.
But if he — or anyone else — assisted or coordinated in the dissemination of the stolen emails, that could violate 18 U.S. Code § 1030, which covers fraud and related activity in connection with computers, or The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an amendment to that law.
The package appeared one day, unbidden, on the desk of a TIME writer. Inside was a slick white box that housed a petri dish sealed with gold tape. In the dish was a crumpled tissue—and inside the tissue were, allegedly, the germs of a sick person who had sneezed into it.
Vaev Tissue, the only product of a new startup based in Los Angeles, costs $79.99, according to the company’s website. Its sole purpose is to give the user a cold virus. “We believe using a tissue that carries a human sneeze is safer than needles or pills,” read the note that came with the product, written by the founder of the company. Wipe your nose with the sullied tissue, and you’ll “get sick on your own terms.”
But a few questions lingered, like a runny nose that won’t go away. Why would anyone pay to make themselves sick? And was this product—and this company—actually real?
In a series of phone calls, I talked to Oliver Niessen, the 34-year-old founder of the company. “The simple idea is you choose now to get sick, with the idea in mind that you won’t get sick with that same cold … later,” says Niessen. You’d wipe your nose with a Vaev tissue a few days before leaving on vacation, for instance, and get your cold out of the way before your trip, Niessen says. “That kind of freedom, that kind of luxury to choose—I mean, we customize everything in our lives and we have everything the way that we want it, so why not approach sickness that way as well?”
The problem is, that’s not how viruses work, says Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at the University of Arizona who studies how diseases spread. “There’s a lot of things wrong with that,” he says. “There are more than 200 types of rhinoviruses, so you’re going to have to shove about 200 tissues up your nose each time to get a different one.” Exposing yourself to one cold might offer you some future protection against that strain. “But getting inoculated from one doesn’t protect you against all the others.” That’s why we’ve never had a vaccine for the common cold, he says. “How do you make a vaccine against 200 different viruses?”
There is nothing positive that can come from this, only things that are adverse.Chances are good that wiping your nose with a dirty tissue will give you whatever virus is on it, as long as the tissue is refrigerated or treated with a preservative to keep the virus alive, Gerba says. But the recipient has no way of knowing the specific contents of the tissue, whether it’s a rhinovirus or even the flu. Niessen declines to discuss screening procedures. Vaev, Niessen says, has a “stable” of 10 go-to sneezers, some of which the company recruited online. He says that the company confirms a person is truly sick and doesn’t just have allergies. “A sick person sneezes into a batch of our tissues, and then we put them in our packaging, and that’s how they work,” he says. “We just send it through the mail.”
Selling sneezed-on tissues is an “incredible liability,” Gerba says, because you can’t predict how a person will react to any virus. “Say you have an elderly person, you give it to them—they could die from it,” he says. Other people who are at higher risk of suffering serious complications—and even dying—from a rhinovirus infection include children, people with compromised immune systems and anyone with an underlying respiratory problem that they might not know about, Gerba says. The instructions included with Vaev only note that it is intended for adults and children 6 years and older.
“There is nothing positive that can come from this, only things that are adverse,” says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University. Federal health agencies agree that the best way to avoid getting a cold is to wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and stay away from people who are sick (and their tissues, presumably).
Still, people are buying it, Niessen says. Last fall, a crew of cheerful young women—called the “Vaev Squad”—peddled the dirty tissues on Venice Beach, according to Vaev’s Instagram. They’re popular at music festivals, Niessen adds. The typical Vaev customers are young parents and people in their 20s, Niessen says, and “critical” of vaccines. “Our customers are people who want to educate themselves on what do vaccines really mean for me and my family, and are there alternatives?” Vaev have so far sold close to 1,000 tissues, Niessen says. A search of social platforms did turn up at least one person who says she tried the product. Vaev’s Instagram account features a story from Jillian Forster, a fitness instructor in Los Angeles. In the post, Forster wipes her nose with Vaev. A caption reads “Boosting my immune system with @vaevtissue !!!” Forster says the company contacted her on Instagram and asked if she would try it for free, she says. “Nothing really happened,” she says. Before she would recommend it, “I think I would want to know more about it and maybe talk to somebody from the company, because I didn’t really know a ton about it. I felt there was a limited amount of information on it when I looked at their website.”
The company’s contrary public health stance isn’t the only part of Vaev that raises questions. The founder, Oliver Niessen, seems to have no presence on the Internet. He’s intentionally absent from all social media and untraceable via a nationwide public records search—unusual for anyone, let alone the founder of a startup on a media blitz. “It’s been very hard for me to ensure that there is no footprint for me available online,” he says. He wouldn’t explain why he wanted it that way. “I can’t comment further on my identity.” (He did reluctantly confirm that Oliver Niessen is his real name.) The only detail of his work history he would share is that he was a video editor at a pharmaceutical marketing firm in Philadelphia, which he did not name. The phone number he gave me as the best number to reach him even names someone else in the voicemail: a guy named Mikey. Niessen says that’s because several members of the company share a phone line.
People think it is fake. It’s not.Niessen also declines to give details about the tissue company, even the most basic ones. When I asked what the incorporated name of his company was, he replied, “I don’t want to say.” He also wouldn’t say in which state the company was incorporated—a search of the California secretary of state’s business search website revealed that Vaev Tissue is not incorporated in that state—or even if it was a U.S. company at all. According to its website, whose domain is registered to an untraceable entity, Vaev started in Copenhagen; its Twitter account also notes Copenhagen as its location. (The word vaev means tissue in Danish). Niessen says the company has eight employees, but wouldn’t name them or offer his employees, his lawyer or anyone else associated with the company for an interview.
The only other person who appears to be publicly affiliated with the company is Grant Eastey, a 28-year-old actor and model in Los Angeles. He says he first learned of the company when he saw the Vaev Squad at Venice Beach. “It was similar to the Red Bull girls,” he says. He later auditioned and was cast for a Vaev photo shoot. Eastey appears on the website in a tiny, sweaty tank top, sporting oversized boxing gloves and a tissue stuffed in one nostril.
He shared the photo with his Instagram followers, and a journalist who had received a sample posted a comment. “Is this a joke product?” she asked.
“It works! Try it!” Eastey replied.
When she said that there was hardly any information on their website, he replied again. “10/28! Stay tuned! Let me know if your news stations wants to set up an interview.”
Eastey says now that he has no idea if the tissue works. “I did try the product while I was there…they said here, put this up your nose, we’re going to get a couple shots,” he says. “I didn’t necessarily feel any different.”
He says he was just excited to see a news journalist interact with him on Instagram, so he picked a date to build some hype. “Sometimes I just talk a bunch of shit online, say stuff to random people,” he says. “When you’re trying to make it and come up in the acting and modeling world and pursuing your dream, you take every shot that you can get.”
You couldn’t buy a Vaev tissue today, even if you wanted to. The website has listed it as “sold out” for months. “We have had some supply-chain issues,” Niessen says. He won’t go into them. “I don’t want to say anything that looks bad for the business, because truly nothing bad or detrimental to the eventual return of the product to the website and to the marketplace is happening.”
Still, he hints that the holdup is with the stable of 10 sneezers. “We kind of just check in with them about whether or not they’re sick, and it is beneficial for them to be sick, of course,” he says. “It’s just enough people that at least one of them is always sick.” That’s not a sure bet, though, and sometimes, people just aren’t sick. “That can, like, halt production,” he says. “Say we’re ready with our tissues and we don’t have somebody who we feel is sick enough or sick at all…retaining more people than that is kind of a tall order for a startup.” Niessen will not say whether or not he pays the sneezers. “I would rather not address my relationship with those people,” he says.
Niessen says he finds the suggestion that his company may be a hoax “very annoying.”
“People think it is fake,” he says. “It’s not.”
If Vaev is what it claims to be, sending viruses through the mail raises legal questions. According to the United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement arm of the United States Postal Service, mailing infectious substances is allowed “only when they are intended for medical or veterinary use, research, or laboratory certification related to public health, and when properly prepared for mailing to withstand shocks, pressure changes, and other conditions incident to ordinary handling in transit.”
“These tissues do not appear to be intended for any of the listed purposes,” the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said in a statement to TIME. (Niessen says that according to his lawyer, “the packages we mail out are not in violation of the law.”)
When (and if) the used tissue becomes available for sale, Niessen believes people will shell out for it. “I think that products are worth what people are willing to pay for them,” he says. “It’s a premium product, and it’s not something you can get from anyone anywhere else.”
Niessen acknowledges that you could, theoretically, just swipe a used tissue from a sick friend for free. But it won’t be nicely packaged, and that seems to be crucial to get people to use the product. “We did focus-group testing where we kind of just took two people in front of the group and had them pass a tissue to each other,” Niessen says. “It’s something that our testers responded really negatively to.”
Niessen says he expects to restock in a few weeks, as soon as he can get a fresh batch of sneezes on a new set of tissues.
With Aquamanmaking a nearly $300 million-splash in theaters since its December release, it seems the DC Extended Universe may have finally found its footing. And with Shazam! and Joaquin Phoenix’s solo Joker movie both set to hit theaters this year — followed by the Margot Robbie-led Birds of Prey as well as Wonder Woman 1984 in 2020 — DC Extended Universe fans aren’t going to have to wait long for more action.
In fact, Warner Bros.’ full slate of upcoming DC flicks, which includes nearly 25 titles, is jam-packed with movies that are sure to have superhero enthusiasts raring to secure their seats on opening night.
The DC Extended Universe has struggled to match the level of blockbuster success that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has achieved with superhero mega-hits like Black Pantherand Avengers: Infinity War. But judging by the box office pulls of recent DC Extended Universe’s releases like Justice League and Wonder Woman, that may be beginning to change.
From DC movies that have a set release date to those that are still in development, here’s a complete list of all the upcoming DC movies — including those that don’t fall under the umbrella of the DC Extended Universe.
Shazam! (April 5, 2019)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Zachary Levi will star as the superhero Shazam, formerly known as Captain Marvel, in what director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation, Lights Out) has said will be the DC Extended Universe’s most “lighthearted” movie to date. The story follows 14-year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a foster kid who is granted powers by an ancient wizard and gains the ability to transform into an adult superhero (Levi) simply by uttering the word “Shazam!”
This time around, Shazam will not face off with his comic book archenemy Black Adam, as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is currently developing a solo film for the DC antihero. He will instead battle supervillain Doctor Sivana (Mark Strong) in his first big screen outing.
The Shazam! screenplay was written by Henry Gayden (from a story by Gayden and Darren Lemke) with Peter Safran producing. It actor Jack Dylan Grazer will also star as Billy’s foster brother and best friend Freddy.
Joker (Oct. 4, 2019)
Universe: DC Dark/Black
Director Todd Phillips’ (The Hangover) standalone Joker movie will be the first entry in the DC Dark/Black universe —a line of films that take place outside of the DC Extended Universe, where Jared Leto plays the Joker.
As the latest star to take up the mantle of Gotham’s Clown Prince of Crime, Joaquin Phoenix follows in the footsteps of A-listers like Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. But unlike his predecessors, Phoenix will portray the Joker in the years before he becomes Batman’s archnemesis. The origin flick will chronicle failed comedian Arthur Fleck’s descent into madness and eventual transformation into the titular villain, and has been described by Warner Bros. as an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study, but also a broader cautionary tale.”
The movie will take place in the 1980s and was reportedly inspired by Martin Scorsese’s 1982 cult classic The King of Comedy. Early reports indicated that Scorsese was attached to the project as a producer, but he is not credited in any capacity.
Joker also stars Robert De Niro, Marc Maron, Zazie Beetz and Dark Knight Rises alum Brett Cullen, with Dante Pereira-Olson set to appear as a young Bruce Wayne. It was co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver (The Fighter).
Birds of Prey (Feb. 7, 2020)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Margot Robbie will return as Suicide Squad favorite Harley Quinn to assemble her own team of superheroes in Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). “I pitched the idea of an R-rated girl gang film including Harley, because I was like, ‘Harley needs friends,’” Robbie told Collider in May 2018. “Harley loves interacting with people, so don’t ever make her do a standalone film.”
Helmed by Indie director Cathy Yan, the female-led flick will also star Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress — a “former mafia princess who was devastated at a young age when her family was killed in a mob hit,” according to Variety— Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary — a vigilante who takes down opponents with a powerful sonic scream — and Rosie Perez as Gotham City PD detective Renee Montoya. Ewan McGregor has also joined the cast as the villainous Black Mask.
Although Batgirl was a member of the Birds in the comics, in the movie, a younger Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) will come under the protection of the titular team of heroes.
Birds of Prey was written by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee).
Cyborg (set for April 3, 2020 – for the time being)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Following his cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Cyborg was formally inducted into the DCEU in Justice League. Now, Ray Fisher is set to reprise the role of Victor Stone in a solo movie that, according to Joe Morton — who played Cyborg’s father, Silas Stone, in Justice League — may expand on a storyline that was scrapped from the 2017 superhero flick.
The Cyborg standalone was originally slated for an April 2020 release, but it’s possible that date will be pushed back.
Wonder Woman 1984 (June 5, 2020)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
The Wonder Womanfranchise is continuing its march toward Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) present-day Justice League storyline with a 66-year time jump from the end of WWI to 1984. Following the success of 2017’s Wonder Woman — which became the highest-grossing live-action film directed by a woman less than a month after it hit theaters — Patty Jenkins is hoping for a repeat performance from Wonder Woman 1984.
“I want to make great movies. I realized I have these characters that I love, this world that I love, and we can make this whole new movie about something pure and strong and unique as the first one,” Jenkins said at San Diego Comic-Con 2018.
While Gadot has said that Wonder Woman1984 is not a sequel, but rather a “different chapter,” both Gadot and Chris Pine — whose character, Steve Trevor, appeared to die in Wonder Woman — are reprising their roles from the first installment. Kristen Wiig is joining in on the fun as Cheetah, a villain with the ability to transform into a human-cheetah hybrid, while Game of Thrones‘ Pedro Pascal is also set to play a “pivotal role.”
The Wonder Woman 1984 script is based on a story by Jenkins and former DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns and was written by David Callaham (Godzilla, The Expendables).
Green Lantern Corps (set for July 24, 2020 – for the time being)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Despite the fact that the 2011 Ryan Reynolds-led Green Lantern solo movie was heavily panned by both critics and audiences, Warner Bros. has opted to move forward with a reboot that will introduce multiple Green Lanterns into the DCEU. Silver Age Green Lantern Hal Jordan will reportedly be paired with a younger John Stewart for a buddy cop-style movie that will focus on Stewart’s origin story.
Green Lantern Corps will be written and produced by former DC Entertainment president Geoff Johns, who wrote Green Lantern comics for nearly a decade. No director is yet attached.
The Flash (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
A Flash spin-off was originally intended to be DC’s first post-Justice League release, but due to a series of director switch-ups — both Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and Rick Famuyiwa (Confirmation, Dope) stepped down from the project in 2016 over creative differences with Warner Bros. — the fastest man alive flick isn’t expected to hit theaters until at least 2021. However, no official release date has been announced.
Directing duo Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Game Night, Vacation) are currently onboard to helm Barry Allen’s (Ezra Miler) first solo adventure, based on a script by Joby Harold (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword).
“We love that he is not your traditional superhero, like Batman or Superman who have their sh-t together and are filled with angst and anguish,” Daley told Den of Geek in February 2018.
“In much the same way that Peter Parker is sort of the entry level way into the Marvel Superhero Universe, they both share that quality that they’re still a little excited to have these powers and they’re newbies and all that,” added Goldstein.
Now, former Marvel director James Gunn, who was fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in July, has been tapped to pen a script and potentially direct what will reportedly be a “reboot” of the first movie. It’s unclear how many, if any, of the original cast members will return.
The Batman (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Speculation over Ben Affleck’s solo Batman movie has run rampant since summer 2015, when it was reported that Affleck was in talks with Warner Bros. to star in, co-write and possibly direct the standalone superhero flick. Affleck later decided to step down from the director’s chair in order to focus on his lead role, and Matt Reeves (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) was brought on board to direct.
However, reports now indicate that Warner Bros. may not intend to move forward with either of its planned Batman or Superman solo movies, meaning Affleck’s departure from the DCEU could be imminent.
New Gods (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe – provisionally
Following the March 2018 release of A Wrinkle in Time, Warner Bros. announced that director Ava DuVernay will be adapting Jack Kirby’s comic New Gods for the DC Extended Universe from a script by Kario Salem (Chasing Mavericks).
If the movie follows the comics, the story will likely center on the war between the Fourth World planets of New Genesis, a utopia ruled by the Highfather, and Apokolips, a dystopia ruled by the despot Darkseid.
Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), Darkseid’s uncle, was already introduced into the DCEU in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and later returned as the main villain in Justice League. Some fans also speculate that Darkseid was the menacing “he” that Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) referenced at the end of Batman v Superman.
“The bell’s already been rung. And they’ve heard it. Out in the dark among the stars. Ding dong, the God is dead,” Luthor told Batman (Ben Affleck) following Superman’s (Henry Cavill) death. “But a bell cannot be unrung. He’s hungry. He’s found us. And he’s coming.”
However, some reports seem to indicate that New Gods will exist outside of the DCEU entirely and is intended to be the start of a new universe of properties for Warner Bros.
Justice League Dark (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Originally titled Dark Universe, Justice League Dark has been in development since at least 2013, when Guillermo Del Toro confirmed he was working on the movie. Nearly six years later, Del Toro is no longer involved, but the project is supposedly still active.
Doug Liman (The Bourne of Idenity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) was also attached to Justice League Dark for a period of time, but exited in May 2017.
Details about the movie’s plot are being kept under wraps, but as The Hollywood Reporter explains, in the comics, “Justice League Dark was a loosely organized team of supernatural characters who dealt with threats to the world (and, occasionally, all of existence) that were of a more metaphysical nature than the regular League could handle.”
The members of the team vary, but some mainstays include John Constantine, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon.
Marvel’s Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron) was hired to both write and direct a standalone Batgirl movie in March 2017, but left the project in February 2018 after releasing a statement in which he claimed he “really didn’t have a story.”
Warner Bros. is now looking for a female director to replace Whedon while Christina Hodson, the screenwriter for Birds of Prey, pens a script for the Barbara Gordon-centric story.
Gotham City Sirens (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Margot Robbie will be back for another DCEU adventure in David Ayer’s (Suicide Squad) Gotham City Sirens movie, which will see Harley Quinn team up with fellow Gotham City female villains Poison Ivy and Catwoman.
“It’s a story about three fantastic women who’re trying to find their way in the world, and realize that they have more power together than they do individually,” Ayers told IGN in 2017. “I have daughters, and I want to create something that might be able to help them get along in the world a little bit.”
Geneva Robertson-Dwore (Tomb Raider) is writing the script.
Untitled Joker movie (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
In addition to Joaquin Phoenix’s standalone Joker movie, Jared Leto will be reprising the role of the Clown Prince of Crime for a separate solo flick. However, unlike Phoenix’s, this one will be part of the DCEU.
Leto is reportedly set to both star in and executive produce the still untitled movie, which will lay the groundwork for an expansion of the Suicide Squad property, according to Variety.
Harley Quinn & The Joker (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
When Jared Leto’s Joker and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn aren’t off on their own adventures, they’ll be reuniting to explore their troublesome relationship in a joint movie penned by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind Bad Santa who now executive produces This Is Us.
“It was sort of like, we wrote Bad Santa a couple of years ago, and it was that sensibility mixed with our This Is Us sensibility. We kind of meshed them together,” Ficarra told Metroin September 2018. “We were doing a relationship movie but with the sensibility of a Bad Santa, f—ed up, mentally deranged people. It was a lot of fun.”
Ficarra even went so far as to reveal how he and Requa envision the first scene playing out. “The whole thing starts with Harley kidnapping Dr. Phil. Played by Dr. Phil, hopefully,” he explained. “Because her and the Joker are having problems with their relationship.”
Steven Spielberg officially signed on to produce and potentially direct a movie adaptation of the DC comic Blackhawk — a series that centers on the leader of an elite squadron of WWII fighter pilots — in April 2018. Frequent Spielberg collaborator David Koepp (Jurassic Park, War of the Worlds) is writing the script.
“We are so proud to be the studio behind Steven Spielberg’s latest hit, and are thrilled to be working with him again on this new action adventure,” said Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich following the success of Spielberg’s 2018 release Ready Player One. “We can’t wait to see what new ground he will break in introducing Blackhawk to movie audiences worldwide.”
It’s not yet been confirmed that Blackhawk will be a part of the DC Extended Universe.
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Warner Bros. put a Supergirl movie written by Oren Uziel (The Cloverfield Paradox) into development in August 2018. Details about the plot have not yet been released, but in the comics, Supergirl is the teenage cousin of Superman who escapes Krypton at the same time as baby Clark Kent.
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Although Warner Bros. announced a Nightwing solo film directed by Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie) and written by Bill Dubuque (Ozark) nearly two years ago, progress on the movie seems to have stalled indefinitely since.
However, according to McKay, there’s still hope for a Dick Grayson standalone chronicling the adventures of the original Robin. “No.You’re going to have to wait tho,” McKay tweeted in response to fan who asked if the Nightwing movie was no more in October 2018. “Keep hope alive. To paraphrase Dick Grayson: Nightwing lives. Always.”
Black Adam (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been attached to play DC antihero Black Adam in a DCEU movie for several years. But while he was originally intended to be the villain in Shazam!, Warner Bros. later decided to give each character their own standalone movie before pitting the two against each other on the big screen. Adam Sztykiel (Rampage) has been tapped to write the screenplay with Hiram Garcia (Skyscraper, Rampage) producing.
“For the longest time, you know you kind of have this living superhero in Dwayne Johnson, so I was always trying to figure out what’s the perfect character that will kind of fit him and his look and his build and his kind of edge and the attitude he’s got,” Garcia told Collider in August 2018 of knowing the role was right for Johnson. “Black Adam just made kind of great sense. It was this kind of really cool antihero, kicks ass, who believes in basically exacting justice in his way with a fascinating backstory, the history he has with regards to having been a former slave and freeing his people and then getting his abilities and what happened from there.”
Universe: DC Extended Universe
After making his first DCEU appearance in Justice League’s end credit scene, Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke was slated to star opposite Ben Affleck in the solo Batman movie. But with that project in limbo, Warner Bros. decided to move forward with a Deathstroke standalone.
“I say ‘it’s in the works’ because it is. There’s nothing further,” Manganiello told MTV at San Diego Comic-Con 2018. “I can’t say without speaking out of school. I’m part of a team, I’m a part of a locker room. You don’t talk outside the locker room. All I can say is, for the hardcore fans, it’s in the works. They want it, they want the character to happen, it’s just when he happens. They [want to do it the right way]. Everybody’s committed to that.”
Gareth Evans (The Raid) has signed on to direct.
Universe: DC Extended Universe
A movie centered on alien bounty hunter Lobo has been stuck in development for nearly a decade —before the DCEU even existed. But with Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman) now on board to pen the screenplay, it seems the interstellar mercenary flick may get underway. Transformers‘ Michael Bay has reportedly met with Warner Bros. to discuss the project, but has yet to officially sign on to direct.
Blue Beetle (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
Warner Bros. announced in November 2018 that Jaime Reyes will become the first Latino superhero to headline a movie in a Blue Beetle standalone. Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala) has been tapped to write the screenplay with Zev Foreman (Once Upon a Time in Venice) executive producing.
Plastic Man (TBD)
Universe: DC Extended Universe
A Plastic Man movie has reportedly been in development at Warner Bros. since December 2018, when the studio announced that Amanda Idoko (Breaking News in Yuba County) was hired to pen a comedic action-adventure script for the DC character who can transform himself into any shape. Bob Shaye, the co-founder of New Line Cinema, will executive produce.
Taylor Gautreaux, who is expecting a baby in March, works in software development for a private company under a government contract. After her work came to a halt under the shutdown, she was told by her company to use any remaining paid time off and then take leave without pay. She has been advised by her company to seek other forms of employment as the shutdown drags on.
The timing to find a new job is far from ideal — and would be even if she wasn’t in her third trimester.
“People don’t want to hire someone who’s going to leave in three months,” Gautreaux tells TIME. “It’s definitely going to have a long term effect.”
Gautreaux has about 24 hours of paid time left over. She’ll get a partial paycheck this Friday that she says will help, but she says it’s not nearly enough to cover her mortgage, car loans and upcoming medical bills related to her pregnancy. Giving birth in Louisiana, where she lives, can cost on average $5,590 for a vaginal delivery and nearly $8,000 for a Caesarean section, according to FAIR Health. While Gautreaux has health insurance that could help defray the costs, she is not receiving a paycheck from which any contributions to her benefits could be deducted. When the government reopens, she expects to be charged for those deductibles. Her employer did not immediately return a request for comment.
“I have no idea how we’re going to pay for the medical bills,” she says. “It’s put a lot of unneeded stress on me during this pregnancy.”
Gautreaux is among the many government contractors unlikely to receive any retroactive pay once the government reopens. She and her husband are also among the nearly 80% of full-time workers in the U.S. who live paycheck to paycheck. Gautreaux says they have taken steps to lessen the impact of the government shutdown on their finances by drastically lowering their spending, creating a fundraiser on GoFundMe and reaching out to their lenders to defer payments. That approach has worked to an extent, but the bank has told the couple they can’t push payments back for more than two months. She says they are financially prepared to make it under the shutdown for another month. After that, everything gets murky.
“If it lifts before I have the baby, it will be easier for us to recoup,” she says. “If not, it’s going to be very, very challenging. We’ll have no other option other than declaring bankruptcy.”
The costs of the shutdown for the 800,000 affected federal employees — as well as a range of government contractors numbering in the hundreds of thousands to potentially millions, according to the Washington Post — could cause lasting damage to their finances well after the government reopens, according to Matthew Shapiro, an economist at the University of Michigan who studied how federal workers coped with the major government shutdown in 2013.
Back then, Shapiro says the situation was less dire because “it was clear the shutdown would resolve.”
“There was less of a risk on the part of government workers getting paid late and people, like lenders, getting paid late,” he says. “They knew workers would get their retroactive pay, that those who did defer payments on mortgage, rent and credit cards quickly made it up either at the end of the month or the next month.”
With no clear end to the current shutdown emerging, government contractors and furloughed employees are quickly approaching an impasse as bills pile up and paychecks don’t arrive. Shapiro says that if the shutdown wraps up by the end of January, the financial damage is likely to be small, with workers quickly making any payments they deferred. But if the shutdown creeps into February and beyond, workers are likely to get behind on their monthly payments in a serious way that could impact their credit scores and financial future. President Donald Trump signed a bill on Wednesday that will guarantee back pay for furloughed federal workers once the shutdown is over, but that bill does not apply to contract workers like Gautreaux.
Overall, Shapiro says the bigger economic effects will be subtle, but add up. Without any pay, government workers will likely cancel any potential travel, curb spending at restaurants and other businesses, and delay purchasing any big-ticket items. These small decisions could quickly multiply, depending on how long the shutdown lasts. Already, companies have reported losses in revenue due to the shutdown. Delta Airlines said this week that it lost about $25 million this month due to a drop in bookings as fewer government employees travel.
The number of contractors missing out on pay has reached the point that it has slowed down the U.S. economy, Bloomberg reports. As the shutdown approaches its fifth week, experts note that the economic damage could be long-lasting. S&P Global Group estimated on Jan. 11 that if the shutdown lasts another two weeks, the total cost to the economy would hit $6 billion, CNBC reported.
“The macroeconomic effects could potentially be noticeable,” Shapiro says. “If it’s resolved this month, and federal workers are paid retroactively, some of that spending will be made up. For contractors, that’s not the case. Those are dollars which are permanently lost.”
On Tuesday, economists with the White House acknowledged that the shutdown has already had economic consequences, as the effects of losing work from contractors and furloughed employees add up. Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters that the shutdown’s cost to the economy was bigger than anticipated.
“We’ve been watching the actual effects, and noticing that the impact that we see on government contractors is bigger than the sort of staff rule of thumb anticipated,” he said. “And we subsequently, right now, think that it’s about a tenth of a percent a week, not a tenth of a percent every two weeks.”
Government employees and contractors are all too aware of the impending hits to their personal finances. Sunny Blaylock, a government contractor for the U.S. State Department, was laid off in January after her company said it could no longer afford to pay for benefits without having any hours to bill.
She says her family had just gotten to a place of relative financial stability before the shutdown began. Now, they are surviving off savings originally set aside to pay off her husband’s student loans. The shutdown has also motivated her to start looking for work in industries unrelated to the government — both to help out the family in the interim and to guarantee against going through something like this again.
“It just feels like such a betrayal,” says Blaylock, whose husband is a diplomat currently working without pay. “I have a lot less optimism that everything is going to be okay. This whole thing is making us question that maybe we need to rethink our priorities as a family.”
Blaylock and her husband went through the 2013 shutdown as well, “but this one is different.”
“The length of time, for one thing,” she says. “The last time, I don’t feel like we missed a paycheck. I never felt there was not an end in sight.”
Prior to this point, paying bills on time and in full was a priority for Blaylock. Now, she’s considering letting her credit card bill carry a balance so she can keep enough money close in case of emergencies. She says that even if the government reopens as soon as next week, the effects of the shutdown on her finances will be felt for a long time.
“It will take me months, if not years, for me to feel like we can splurge or go out or plan a trip,” she says. “That’s not going to happen for us personally until far after we are able to repair the cost to our savings.”
(NAIROBI, Kenya) — A Canadian national and five other people suspected of helping extremist gunmen stage a deadly attack in the Kenyan capital this week appeared in court on Friday as prosecutors investigated them for suspected terror offenses.
A judge ordered five of the suspects held for 30 days while authorities look into the assault on the dusitD2 hotel complex that was carried out by al-Shabab, a group that is linked to al-Qaida and based in neighboring Somalia.
Kenyan authorities say 21 people, including one police officer, were killed by the attackers, one of whom blew himself up beside a restaurant. Another four gunmen died.
Prosecutors suspect the alleged accomplices, including two taxi drivers and an agent for a mobile phone-based money service, of “aiding and abetting” the attackers who stormed the Nairobi complex on Tuesday afternoon and were killed by Wednesday morning, according to a court document. Prosecutors said they were pursuing more suspects in and outside Kenya.
Suspects who appeared in court were identified as Joel Nganga Wainaina, Oliver Kanyango Muthee, Gladys Kaari Justus, Guleid Abdihakim and Osman Ibrahim. Abdihakim is a Canadian national, according to prosecutors. Hussein Mohammed, another suspect who was arrested in Mandera county along the border with Somalia, was brought to court separately, prosecutors said.
“The investigations into this matter are complex and transnational and would therefore require sufficient time and resources to uncover the entire criminal syndicate,” said Noordin Haji, director of public prosecutions. He said he has appointed a team of prosecutors to help ensure that the investigations are “meticulous and fast-tracked.”
Police earlier identified a Kenyan military officer as the father of a suspect in the assault. The son, Ali Salim Gichunge, as well as Violet Kemunto Omwoyo, were named as attackers in court documents.
“The attackers were in constant communications with several phone numbers which are located in Somalia,” prosecutors said.
Gichunge’s father, who is not believed to have been involved in the attack, was summoned for questioning about when he last saw his son and other details, a senior police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The official said a total of 11 people were detained as part of the investigation.
The attack was denounced on Friday in Eastleigh, a Nairobi neighborhood that is home to many ethnic Somalis and has been targeted in massive police operations against suspected extremist cells. Shop owners temporarily closed businesses to protest against extremism, and crowds gathered.
Al-Shabab also carried out the 2013 attack at Nairobi’s nearby Westgate Mall that killed 67 people, and an assault on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 that claimed 147 lives, mostly students. While U.S. airstrikes and a multinational African Union force in Somalia have reduced the Islamic extremists’ ability to operate, al-Shabab is still capable of carrying out spectacular acts of violence in retaliation for the Kenyan military’s presence in Somalia.
The attackers who stormed the hotel complex opened fire and set off grenades, sending panicked people running for cover as security forces converged. Security camera footage released later showed a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a grassy area. Authorities identified him as 25-year-old Mahir Khalid Riziki, who was born in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa and was sought several years ago by police for alleged extremist activities.
A hotel employee, seen in the video footage walking past Riziki just before the explosion, described in an interview with Kenya’s K24 television how he heard the man talking on a mobile phone.
“Where are you guys?” the agitated bomber said at least a couple of times, according to Abdullahi Ogelo, the employee. Ogelo, who later concluded Riziki had been talking to his accomplices, said the man was also moving his hand over his chest.
Seconds later, the bomber detonated in a flash and billowing smoke.
In the television interview, Ogelo said God saved him and gave him a “second chance.”
(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is suspending a county elections supervisor who failed to meet deadlines during recounts after November’s election.
DeSantis announced Friday that he is replacing Palm Beach elections supervisor Susan Bucher, a former Democratic state representative who has held the position since 2008.
Florida had recounts in three statewide races: governor, U.S. senate and agriculture commissioner.
DeSantis says Bucher violated the law by not completing recounts by a state mandated deadline. He says her office was the “Keystone Cops” of elections administration and notes the county didn’t finish recounts until 50 days after the election.
DeSantis appointed lawyer Wendy Link to fill the position. The state Senate will have the final say in whether Bucher will be permanently removed from office.