I'm (Cautiously!) Optimistic About James Gunn's DC Slate

I'm (Cautiously!) Optimistic About James Gunn's DC Slate

When Marvel Studios began its path to The Avengers, Feige and his creative team started fresh. The now-massive, 30-plus film conglomerate began as origin stories for heroes like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America—before they all met up for the big crossover epic. Meanwhile, DC Studios and Warner Bros., the home of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, didn't take the same approach. Things got so complicated that DC had multiple actors playing Batman at the same time, confusing timelines, and two films that were redone and repackaged entirely. (See: Justice League and Suicide Squad.)

DC needed a change. So Warner Bros. hired Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn as their version of Feige—a guy who would be the creative head of DC Studios moving forward. Though he’s kept mum on their plans for the next few years, the studio spent the first couple of months dashing everyone’s hopes that Henry Cavill would return as Superman. DC followed that up by gutting almost everything left from what was known as the Snyderverse (named after Justice League director Zack Snyder), including plans for Wonder Woman 3, Aquaman 3, a Black Adam sequel, Titans, Doom Patrol, the CW's Flash series, and the finished Batgirl film that may never see the light of day.

Well, what will we get instead? Gunn announced the upcoming slate in a video posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, and there is a lot to get through. Like Marvel, DC Studios will heavily expand into television, with each story connecting with the upcoming films. "A lot of people are thinking this is Marvel 2.0. It’s not," Gunn told The Hollywood Reporter. Okay... but it kind of is. There are also many projects set to premiere from before Gunn took over, such as Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Waller with Viola Davis, but it seems like we'll have a whole new ballgame after that. Let’s break it down.

What the Hell is Elseworlds?

Anything that was successful enough to not receive the Batgirl treatment before Gunn took the helm at DC will exist through what he’s calling the Elseworlds project. Following what DC Comics did back in 1989, Elseworlds served as an imprint for basically any story that occurred in the DC universe—but existed outside of the working timeline. To save continuity, if a story wanted to do something else, it was published by Elseworlds. According to Gunn, this is where Matt Reeves’s The Batman: Part II, the upcoming Penguin television series with Colin Farrell, and Joker: Folie à Deux will exist. Gunn also announced that Pattinson will return as the caped crusader for Part II on October 3, 2025.

We’re Getting Another Batman

Sure, not continuing with Pattinson as Batman in the DCEU makes sense when you truly want a clean slate. But at the same time, it feels a little silly, because Pattinson’s The Batman was already an origin story that could have been easily integrated into Gunn’s plans, but now he’s officially going to front that other Batman franchise.

Now, we'll see the return of a Batman and Robin duo to a DC live-action role since 1995’s Batman Forever. Adapting Grant Morrison’s The Brave and the Bold, the new television series will adapt the introduction of Damian Wayne—Bruce’s son and a trained assassin—who becomes the next Robin. It’ll serve as the beginning of “the Bat family in the DCEU,” Gunn said. The story will need an older Batman if he’s going to have a son, though the presentation didn’t name a single actor attached to any of the projects announced.

Superman: Legacy Worries Me

Heralded by Gunn as the true start of the new DCEU, Superman: Legacy will hit theaters on July 11, 2025. There’s something about the title Legacy that worries me. Are we getting a new Superman who carries the baggage of the previous films? Gunn showed fans an image from the cover of All-Star Superman (another story penned by Morrison) during the presentation, which features an older Superman making peace with the world before his death. Following the reveal that Batman would be old enough to have a son, and now Superman: Legacy possibly adapting a story about an older superhero, we could have an awkward start to the next decade. Though casting the new Superman was going to feel odd regardless.

"We didn’t fire Henry. Henry was never cast,” Gunn told The Hollywood Reporter in an attempt to soothe the rabid fanbase. “For me, it’s about who do I want to cast as Superman and who do the filmmakers we have want to cast. And for me, for this story, it isn’t Henry. I like Henry, I think he’s a great guy. I think he’s getting dicked around by a lot of people, including the former regime at this company. But this Superman is not Henry, for a number of reasons.” Gunn also plans to adapts Tom King’s excellent 12-issue miniseries Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow into a standalone film.

Green Lantern, Take Two!

Coming back as a television series—without Ryan Reynolds—DC Studios will introduce audiences once again to the world of the Green Lantern. The Reynolds film was such a shame, because Green Lantern has some of the best stories in comic-book history. Hopefully, Gunn can give us something that doesn’t fall completely on its ass like last time. Hal Jordan will return, along with John Stewart in an HBO series titled Lanterns, which Gunn calls, “almost like True Detective.” The Lanterns are pretty much space cops, so the idea makes sense. As crazy as it sounds, this is the best way to bring the Lanterns back.

James Gunn Will Do What James Gunn Does (For Better or Worse)

With both Guardians and Suicide Squad, Gunn brought obscure comic book teams to the main stage—and was largely able to successfully introduce each of their unique members. Just look at how much we think about Groot nowadays! Crazy. "One of our strategies is to take our diamond characters, which is Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and we use them to prop up other characters that people don’t know,” Gunn told THR. Safran added that “those lesser known properties" will then become "the diamond properties of tomorrow.” The Diamond Properties of Tomorrow. Put that on a billboard.

Meanewhile, Gunn will likely look to do the same thing he did in Guardians with the various new teams announced today, such as The Authority, Lanterns, Wonder Woman’s Paradise Island, and Creature Commandos—an animated series that will also have a live-action component as well. Gunn is also planning a Swamp Thing film and the first live-action series for Booster Gold—a polarizing hero that DC fans will know from either some of the worst comics they've ever read, or as a small-time team member from a few of DC's best stories.

Will any of this work? Will the endless, corny jokes land? We’ll see. I'm cautiously optimistic about a good majority of these announcements, but I don’t quite yet know if I trust Gunn. Guardians of the Galaxy was one of my favorite MCU films, but I can’t say that anything he's done since has reached anywhere near that same level of quality. The MCU still felt new at the time—and I just don’t have the energy to care about a Guardians Christmas special, or more episodes of Peacemaker. Hell, it's hard to trust a guy who says that the upcoming Flash film with Ezra Miller is “probably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.” But if this is the true beginning of a new era in superhero films—where Gunn takes risks, tells fresh stories, and doesn’t try to quip his way into the box office—then who knows? Come back to me when Gunn makes some casting decisions.

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