By Brian Richards | DC Movies | February 1, 2023 |
By Brian Richards | DC Movies | February 1, 2023 |
Ever since it was first announced that writer-director James Gunn would be the co-CEO of DC Studios for Warner Bros. Discovery alongside producer Peter Safran, the Internet has been very busy in discussing what they love, what they hate, and what they really hate about this decision. People have expressed how much they love Gunn’s previous films, and how they look forward to seeing him call the shots when it comes to DC. Others have also expressed how much they don’t like Gunn or his work, that he has no business being the one in charge of DC Studios, and how truly unhappy they are about Gunn’s recent decision to no longer let Henry Cavill continue playing Superman.
When Gunn stated that he would announce sometime this month what he and Safran have planned for the next decade of DC Studios, it piqued the curiosity of both his supporters and his haters. They wanted to see what characters he’d be using for film and television, and how he’d be using them. They also wanted to know if he was going to completely reboot everything and start from scratch, using entirely new faces to tell entirely new stories compared to what we’ve seen so far in the DCEU. Despite Gunn shooting down numerous rumors on Twitter (such as the one which said that he was going to reveal the DCU slate on January 6), the wait for new information became excruciating. Even Congressman and fellow geek Robert Garcia wanted to know what was up and joked about how far he was willing to go to get some much-needed answers.
If @JamesGunn doesn’t present the new DCU plan by February 1st, I’m calling him in for a congressional hearing where I will ask the tough questions everyone wants to know.— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarcia) January 29, 2023
Yesterday, the wait finally came to an end, and reporters were invited to a meeting held at Warner Bros. Studios to get those answers about the upcoming slate of projects Gunn and Safran have planned for DC Studios in film, television, animation, and gaming that will all be connected to tell one cohesive story. Gunn released a video on his Twitter page in which he explained what we have to look forward to in the first chapter of the DC Universe, which will be known as “Gods and Monsters.”
Creature Commandos: a seven-episode animated series written entirely by Gunn. Introduced in the pages of DC Comics back in 1980, the comic centered about a team of supernatural creatures — a vampire, a werewolf, a Frankenstein monster, a gorgon, and a regular-degular human — working together as a team to battle Nazis during World War II.
Waller: Viola Davis will continue to play Amanda Waller, the ruthless and no-nonsense government operative in charge of the Suicide Squad, and according to Gunn, “…[Waller] is going to team up with members of Team Peacemaker … It is a fantastic story that is out of this world, and I can’t wait for people to see it.” The television series is being developed by Christal Henry, who wrote for the HBO limited series Watchmen (which Alan Moore absolutely loved, by the way), and Jeremy Carver, showrunner/executive producer for the DC series Doom Patrol, which will soon be ending its four-season run on HBO Max.
Superman: Legacy: According to Gunn, this will be the true beginning of the DCU, and is scheduled to open in theaters on July 11, 2025. Gunn is still writing the screenplay, there has been no announcement yet as to who will be in the director’s chair for this project (though it’s been assumed that Gunn will just end up directing it himself), and it has been emphasized by both Gunn and Safran that this will not be another origin story. Safran explained what to expect from the film: “It focuses on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He is the embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way. He is kindness in a world that thinks that kindness is old-fashioned.” (Though it is interesting to see Safran using Superman’s original motto of “Truth, justice, and the American way” instead of his recently updated motto: “Truth, justice, and a better tomorrow.”)
Lanterns: When director Zack Snyder was given the green light by Warner Bros. back in 2020 to complete production of Zack Snyder’s Justice League for its premiere on HBO Max the following year, he experienced at least one major hurdle that prevented things from going smoothly. The ending that Snyder originally intended was to introduce the John Stewart version of Green Lantern (played by Wayne T. Carr), and he shot the footage of that introduction in the driveway of his own house. But Warner Bros. didn’t want Green Lantern being introduced in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, as they stated that they already had their own plans for the character, resulting in Snyder replacing Green Lantern in the film’s ending with Martian Manhunter. Whatever plans Warner Bros. and its previous regime may have had for John Stewart-as-Green Lantern obviously never came to fruition, and Gunn announced that one of the upcoming projects will be a television series similar to HBO’s True Detective, focused on Hal Jordan and John Stewart (“…and a few other Lanterns peppered in there,” according to Gunn) assigned to protect Earth, and attempting to solve a mystery together that ties into the rest of the DC Universe.
The Authority: One of the most surprising moves as part of Gunn and Safran’s announcement was that there will be a movie about the superhero team known as The Authority, who were created in the 1990s by writer Warren Ellis (who has experienced some recent controversies regarding his behavior with female fans) and artist Bryan Hitch as part of the DC Comics imprint, Wildstorm. The team is comprised of Apollo, Midnighter, The Doctor (no, not that one), Jack Hawksmoor, The Engineer, Swift, and team leader Jenny Sparks. (FYI: Apollo and Midnighter are gay and in a relationship together, and are also seen as the Wildstorm version of Superman and Batman.) Like most superhero teams in comics, they use their powers to protect the world and make it a safer place. Unlike those superhero teams, they’re willing to defeat their enemies by any means necessary, even if it means killing them with little to no hesitation. (One of their storylines involved the Authority going up against an evil and sadistic version of the Avengers, who is led by an evil and sadistic version of the late and legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby, and whose version of Captain America dies very painfully from a jackhammer that is used on him from behind and below the waist, as payback for sexually assaulting one of the Authority members.)
Paradise Lost: A television series set on the island of Themyscira, a.k.a. Paradise Island, a.k.a. the home of Wonder Woman and her fellow Amazons. Gunn compared this series to Game of Thrones (though I’d like to hope that it won’t include all of the sexual assault that kept happening on Game of Thrones), in that it will delve into the politics, power plays, and inner workings of Themyscira, and will take place before the events of Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984.
The Brave and the Bold: The film that will introduce the DCU’s version of Batman is this live-action adaptation of writer Grant Morrison and artist Andy Kubert’s “Batman and Son” story arc, which featured Batman discovering the existence of his pre-teen son (and future Robin): Damian Wayne, who has spent his entire childhood being trained to become an assassin under the guidance of his mother, Talia al Ghul, daughter of one of Batman’s deadliest enemies, Ra’s al Ghul. Gunn described this as a “strange father-son story” that features his favorite version of Robin, who he refers to as “a little son of a bitch,” and will also be the beginning of the Bat-Family in the DCU. (For those of you wanting to see Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing, and his spectacular ass in the DCU, you’ll have to wait a little while longer. In the meantime, you can keep watching Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson/Nightwing on Titans, which is also concluding its four-season run on HBO Max.)
Booster Gold: Considering Gunn’s fondness for telling stories in both Marvel and DC with lesser-known heroes and villains, fans both hoped and expected that he would include a Booster Gold project as part of his upcoming slate. And sure enough, that’s exactly what we’re getting, in the form of a television series that centers on Booster Gold time-traveling to the past so he can become a superhero who is loved and appreciated by all. As Gunn puts it: “He’s a loser from the future who uses future technology to come back to present-day, and become a superhero so people will love him. It is basically the superhero story of imposter syndrome on an HBO Max series.” Depending on who you ask online, the popular choice for those who have been fancasting Booster Gold is Glen Powell from Top Gun: Maverick, Devotion, and Set It Up.
FYI: Take this with a grain of salt, but we already have at least one Booster Gold-related rumor…
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: Based on the comic book miniseries written by Tom King and illustrated by Bilquis Evely, Gunn stated that this story would show us a version of Supergirl who is not like previous versions of her character that we’ve seen before, and whose personality and upbringing is nothing at all like Superman. “We will see the difference between Superman, who was sent to Earth and raised by loving parents from the time he was an infant, versus Supergirl, raised on a rock, a chip off of Krypton, and who watched everyone around her die and be killed in terrible ways for the first 14 years of her life and then come to Earth. She is much more hardcore, and not the Supergirl we’re used to.” Chances are that the Supergirl appearing in this film will not be the Supergirl appearing in The Flash later this year played by Sasha Calle, especially since Gunn has already proven that he has his own stories and ideas in mind when it comes to Superman and company.
Swamp Thing: This is not the first live-action version of the character, as the late Wes Craven directed a Swamp Thing film in 1982, followed by The Return of Swamp Thing in 1988, which led to a short-lived television series in syndication. The most recent Swamp Thing adaptation starred Crystal Reed, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Beals, and both Andy Bean and Derek Mears in the title role, and Warner Bros., keeping up their tradition of making dumbass decisions when it comes to their handling of DC Comics properties, chose to cancel the show before the pilot even aired, despite the show going on to receive praise from both critics and fans. This upcoming version of Swamp Thing will be, according to Gunn, a horror story that will fit into the rest of the DCU, despite its dark and intense tone, and will close out the first part of the “Gods and Monsters” chapter for the DCU.
James Mangold, director of Logan, Walk the Line, and the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, shared this on his Twitter page last night. Which some people are taking as a sign that he might be directing Swamp Thing.
February 1, 2023Gunn also announced that any upcoming DC film that falls outside of the DC Universe stories he and Safran have in mind will fall under “DC Elseworlds,” much like the comics themselves. The two films that will be considered DC Elseworlds stories are Joker: Folie á Deux, the sequel to Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga, which is scheduled to open in theaters October 4, 2024; and The Batman: Part II, starring Robert Pattinson, which is scheduled to open on October 3, 2025.
Dustin has already covered what Gunn and Safran had to say regarding Henry Cavill, Zachary Levi, and Ezra Miller, so I won’t rehash that here. However, we can jump into what Safran had to say regarding Batgirl, and how Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav shelved the film for tax-related reasons. Safran, not surprisingly, supports his boss and feels that Zaslav did the right thing.
“Batgirl’s a character that inevitably we will include in our story,” he said. “On the Batgirl front, it’s not about late in the process of the film getting canceled. I saw the movie, and there are a lot of incredibly talented people in front of and behind the camera on that film. But that film was not releasable, and it happens sometimes. That film was not releasable. I actually think that [president and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery David] Zaslav and the team made a very bold and courageous decision to cancel it because it would have hurt DC. It would have hurt those people involved.”
“I think that they really stood up to support DC,” he continued. “The characters, the story, the quality of all of that. I spoke to Adil [El Arbi] and Bilall [Fallah] — the directors — last week, we were chatting. We’d love to be in business with all those folks. Christina Hodson wrote it. Some people are already back in business with us. As I said, a lot of talented people were involved, but the film just was not releasable. It would not have been able to compete in the theatrical marketplace; it was built for the small screen. So, again, I think it was not an easy decision, but they made the right decision by shelving it.”
Safran’s comments about Batgirl will be used on social media as gasoline for the fire that is people who remain utterly convinced that Batgirl was never going to be any good, that it never should’ve been made in the first place, and that it looked like it belonged on The CW. (As for Safran stating that Batgirl wouldn’t have done well as a theatrical release, and belonged on the small screen? It was originally intended to premiere on HBO Max instead of in movie theaters, so I don’t really see the problem here.)
Gunn and Safran brought together a group of writers to help organize the stories planned for the DCU, including Drew Goddard (Cloverfield, The Cabin in the Woods), Christal Henry, Jeremy Carver, Jeremy Slater (showrunner of Moon Knight), Christina Hodson (writer of Birds of Prey, The Flash, and the now-shelved Batgirl), and Tom King. He also emphasized the importance of storytelling for the DCU, and said that projects would not move forward until screenplays were complete and made to satisfaction, while also shutting down accusations that every DC film would have a tone that’s similar to his own work.
Gunn and Safran also stressed the importance of strong screenplays, saying a focus there would prevent the dreaded feeling of “superhero fatigue” and also give the projects a tonal and thematic difference from each other. Gunn called out the degradation of screenwriters in Hollywood and also said that the duo wanted to be respectful of the voice of filmmakers they were working with … up to a point.
“It’s not the Gunnverse, it’s not,” Gunn said. “It’s got to be all these different feels from all these different stories. That’s what makes it so fun. The stories are completely different, and each has the individual expression of the writers and the director that are making those projects.”
But, he added, “We’re not stupid. Not every filmmaker is going to be happy. Because if someone is doing something that isn’t working, we’re going to be honest.”
The responses from people on social media to Gunn’s DCU announcement? Divisive as usual, whenever it comes to the DCU. They’re happy and excited about what’s to come and can’t wait to see their favorite characters given the respect that they deserve on the big and small screens. They’re angry and confused as to why the door is still open for Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Zachary Levi to continue as Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Shazam, but Cavill got fired from continuing to play Superman. They think that Gunn is simply going to use Superman: Legacy as a way to completely remake Man of Steel, and fill it with the hope and optimism and inspirational speeches and red trunks now included with Superman’s costume that detractors felt was completely missing from that film.
They’re tired of Batgirl getting thrown under the bus by Warner Bros. (and seeing its quality and the work of its cast and crew repeatedly insulted by the studio, as if it excuses their conduct), only to announce that Superman and Batman getting more movies to star in. They don’t get how this chapter of the DCU will introduce gods and monsters, but completely leave out Wonder Woman (who is a demi-god) as part of that introduction. They’re tired of seeing hashtags like #BoycottWBD, #FireJamesGunn, and #SellSnyderverseToNetflix, and seeing them used by people who refuse to accept that whatever Zack Snyder had planned for the rest of his five-part Justice League saga is not going to become a reality. (Much of this is coming from people who like and enjoy Snyder’s work in the DCEU, and who would love to see it continue.) And they also made it clear that whether you’re excited or disappointed about what Gunn and Safran have in store for the DCU, there’s nothing wrong with feeling what you feel and expressing how you feel, as long as you don’t behave like a bully and an a—hole about it.
Gunn and Safran also made sure to point out that these are just some of the projects announced for Chapter 1 of the DCU, and that there are more films and television shows to come. So if you’re disappointed that Gunn didn’t announce anything for characters like Green Arrow, The Question, John Constantine, or Detective Chimp? Be patient, as we all wait and see how the world will respond to the first half of Gunn and Safran’s choices for DC Studios.
As for myself, who is 70% curious and 30% excited, my overall reaction to this announcement of the DCU’s upcoming slate can be boiled down to just one sentence:
Shazam: Fury of the Gods opens in theaters March 17; The Flash opens June 16; Blue Beetle opens August 18; and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens December 25.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety