While you might think the timing is a knee-jerk reaction to what Marvel and Disney just did, the truth is that Warner Bros and DC have been working on this revamp for a long time. That's apparent in the slow and steady changes we've seen lately, like the studio reaching out and bringing notable DC writers on board to oversee their movie development. According to Variety, one of the ongoing problems with Warner Bros developing DC titles was that they didn't have an executive "inside the comic book company with the right sensibility for producing tentpoles, or at least the experience of managing all aspects of a major franchise." Finke notes that the uneven relationship between the two companies produced all those pre-production stops and starts that annoy fans so much, and caused the Watchmen lawsuit that nearly delayed the film this past spring.
So, what does this mean for DC readers and movie fans? Well, there's a lot of potential! The publishing end will remain the same, with Levitz remaining on the paper and panel side in an editorial and creative capacity. When it comes to the movies, all films and characters that have been brewing for ages (Wonder Woman, Superman, Justice League, The Flash) have been "called back" from producers like Joel Silver who were actively developing them. Warner Bros' Jeff Robinov is determined to see them up and into production pronto, instead of languishing in development hell.
Basically, what you're about to see is DC Entertainment become an actual rival and box office threat to Marvel Entertainment. You've actually started to see the first steps down this bigger, better, "develop it all!" road with The Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, The Losers, Deadman, Lobo, and Fox's Human Target series. Levitz will also be helping Warner Bros untangle those tricky Superman rights, undoubtedly so the studio could get a movie into active development by that 2011 deadline. There will be big, big stories brewing here in the next couple of months, and I'm willing to bet Wonder Woman will be leading the DCE charge to the silver screen.
* If you want to read more on the Paul Levitz shift, and how it affects the publishing end, check out Heidi MacDonald's The Beat. who has been faithfully documenting the comic industry's reactions to Levitz's departure.