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The Internet Is Split Over Warner Bros. Decision to Put James Gunn In Charge Of The DC Universe

By Brian Richards | DC Movies | October 26, 2022 |

By Brian Richards | DC Movies | October 26, 2022 |


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WARNING: There will be spoilers for Black Adam in this article. So whether you’ve already seen it or not, or if you just don’t give a damn about being spoiled, this is letting you know in advance before you scroll down any further.

Black Adam opened in theaters this past weekend, and whether you liked it or not, its opening weekend was a triumphant one, as the film took in $67 million at the box office here in North America. Combined with international profits, its total gross over the weekend was $140 million. This, of course, made Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson very happy, and not just because it eased any possible wounds from the film getting very mixed reviews that resulted in a lower-than-expected score on Rotten Tomatoes.

This past Monday, while people were still discussing Black Adam’s weekend box office, another announcement was made that had nearly everyone on the Internet buzzing. No, it wasn’t the trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but this video from Henry Cavill announcing that he is still playing Superman and that there is much more to come in seeing the Man of Steel on the big screen.

At the end of Black Adam, there is of course a mid-credits scene that is a sign of things to come. It starts off with Teth-Adam (who is now calling himself ‘Black Adam’) being greeted in Kahndaq by a drone that projects the holographic image of Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who has a message for him.

AMANDA WALLER: “Okay…’Black Adam.’ My name is Amanda Waller. Congratulations, you have my attention. This is gonna be your only warning. You don’t want to stay in my prison, that’s fine. Kahndaq is your prison now. You step one foot outside of it, you will not live to regret it.”

BLACK ADAM: “There’s no one on this planet who can stop me.”

WALLER: “I can call in a favor and send people who aren’t from this planet.”

BLACK ADAM: “Send them all.”

WALLER: “As you wish.” (Black Adam then zaps the drone with his lightning powers and causes it to explode, leaving nothing but a huge cloud of smoke. A few seconds pass before we see someone in that smoke, walking closer and closer to Black Adam. That someone…is Superman)

SUPERMAN: “It’s been a while since anyone’s made the world this nervous. Black Adam … we should talk.” (Black Adam simply smirks in response, before the scene cuts to black, and the credits continue rolling)

For the past couple of weeks leading up to Black Adam’s theatrical release, there had been rumors as to whether Johnson had done the impossible and finally convinced Henry Cavill and Warner Bros. to see eye-to-eye and get Cavill off the bench so he could once again suit up as Superman like millions of fans had been hoping for. The last time Cavill appeared in theaters as Superman was in Joss Whedon’s version of Justice League back in 2017, and…it left so many people feeling unsatisfied for so many reasons. And when Zack Snyder’s Justice League finally premiered on HBO Max last year, it not only whetted everyone’s appetites for more sequels to this version of Justice League, but it also made them wonder even more when Warner Bros. and DC were going to make more sequels to Man of Steel, and make it so that Tyler Hoechlin isn’t the only live-action version of Superman that fans see on a regular basis. (That isn’t a complaint about Hoechlin, mind you, as he’s proven to be really impressive as Superman/Clark Kent on Superman & Lois.) Johnson knew how much people have been wanting to see Cavill as Superman, and he not only made it clear that he felt the same way, but that the previous regime at Warner Bros. were the ones who were throwing up roadblocks and preventing Cavill from reprising the role in the first place.

It didn’t take long for people on social media to express their enthusiasm and talk about how excited they are about getting another solo movie for Superman, and about how it’s just as important that Amy Adams return to the DCEU as Lois Lane. They also didn’t hesitate to shut down any and all naysayers who insisted that Adams should be recast with another actress due to lack of chemistry with Cavill and because they feel she is now too old to continue playing the character. (FYI: Amy Adams is 48 years old. Robert Downey Jr. began playing Tony Stark - a.k.a. Iron Man - in Iron Man when he was 42, and he exited the role in Avengers: Endgame with no complaints whatsoever about his age when he was 53.)

As if that news about the return of Henry Cavill as Superman wasn’t enough to make jaws hit the floor all over the Internet, another announcement was made yesterday afternoon regarding the future of the DCEU: James Gunn, writer-director of Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and The Suicide Squad, and Peter Safran, producer of The Conjuring films, Aquaman, Shazam!, and The Suicide Squad, were appointed as the co-CEOs of the newly-formed DC Studios, and will oversee development and production of all DC projects in film, television, and animation.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

In recent weeks, Gunn and Safran were spotted on the Warner Bros. lot, meeting with Warners film co-chair Michael De Luca about future projects. And according to sources, the initial overture to Safran and Gunn came from De Luca over the summer, even as the studio was in shaky talks with producer Dan Lin to take the job.

Gunn will focus on the creative side of things, while Safran will focus on the business and production side. Both are expected to continue to direct and produce projects, respectively. They will report directly to Zaslav and work closely with Warners film bosses De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Sources say the deal runs four years, and Gunn will be exclusive to DC. The goal is for them not just to be producers, but to truly function as executives even as Gunn will occasionally hone a movie.

Unlike Marvel Studios, DC has multiple films set in separate creative universes, and according to sources, Joker filmmaker Todd Phillips’ work on the upcoming sequel, which goes into production later this year, will not fall under Gunn and Safran’s purview and instead will be overseen by De Luca and Abdy. Matt Reeves, who worked under Hamada, has a budding universe based on his The Batman movie. It is unclear under whose purview Reeves’ future projects would fall, but everything else moving forward would be under Gunn and Safran’s.

“DC has among the most entertaining, powerful, and iconic characters in the world and I am thrilled to have the singular and complementary talents of James and Peter joining our world-class team and overseeing the creative direction of the storied DC Universe,” said Zaslav in a statement. “Their decades of experience in filmmaking, close ties to the creative community, and proven track record thrilling superhero fans around the globe make them uniquely qualified to develop a long-term strategy across film, TV, and animation, and take this iconic franchise to the next level of creative storytelling.”

This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but of course, the responses to this news was incredibly divided. There are those who were very happy about this and felt that Warner Bros. hiring Gunn and Safran (especially Gunn, whose work has gained admirers long before he began making comic book films for Marvel or DC) to oversee the DC Universe and call the shots for DC Studios, was the right move and the best move for the studio to make.

Then there were those who were very f—-ing unhappy about this. Who hated the fact that Gunn, of all people, was chosen to be in charge of DC Studios, and who saw this as yet another reason to turn their back on Warner Bros. and on DC films for good. Their reasons for feeling this way?

Because they don’t like Gunn’s films. Or the humor in his films, particularly in the Guardians of the Galaxy films and in The Suicide Squad, which they feel is juvenile, misogynistic, and plain unfunny. Because of Gunn being perceived as trying to act as if he wrote the first Guardians of the Galaxy film all by himself without any assistance whatsoever from Nicole Perlman, who wrote several drafts of the screenplay before Gunn was hired and chose to rewrite everything, and who later went on to co-write the story for Captain Marvel. Because they hate the fact that Gunn was given free rein by Warner Bros. to make The Suicide Squad without any of the usual behind-the-scenes interference from Warner Bros., but Zack Snyder, David Ayer, and Cathy Yan weren’t given that same level of trust when making their own films. Because Gunn was given the green light by Warner Bros. to make the HBO Max series Peacemaker, which is a spin-off of The Suicide Squad that Gunn was allowed to make before The Suicide Squad even opened in theaters or premiered on HBO Max.

Because they didn’t like how Gunn handled the appearance of the Justice League on Peacemaker, and accused him of trying to ruin those characters with his humor that they don’t like for the reasons I listed above. (The fact that Cyborg wasn’t even present, and both Superman and Wonder Woman were seen only as silhouetted figures, just made them hate this scene even more.)

Most of all: Because a lot of his detractors in DCEU Twitter are convinced that James Gunn is actually a pedophile, and because they really hate the fact that he used to make a whole bunch of now-deleted jokes on Twitter. Jokes that got him fired by Disney from the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, only to be re-hired not too long afterward , partly thanks to online campaigns on his behalf, such as the #RehireJamesGunn hashtag) that not only made him seem like a pedophile to those same detractors, but were just straight-up horrible and misogynistic. Keep in mind that these accusations against Gunn were mostly started by the same kind of right-wing trolls who went after the Netflix film Cuties, and its writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré, by accusing the film of encouraging and promoting child pornography. This resulted in a lot of people on social media taking the bait from racist f-ckboys and Pick-Mes on the Internet who didn’t even watch the film themselves, and demanding that Netflix remove the film from its catalog or they would cancel their subscriptions. (The fact that Netflix fumbled the ball in how they chose to market Cuties on their app only convinced people that their backlash and their online harassment, including death threats made towards Doucouré, was completely merited. And it got to the point that even Netflix co-CEO contacted her to offer his apologies.)

For those same detractors, this was just one more decision by The Powers That Be over at Warner Bros. that reminded them why they no longer care anything about DC movies or television shows. Whether it’s Batgirl being shelved for tax reasons; The Flash still being allowed to open in theaters despite Ezra Miller’s conduct constantly making headlines, HBO Max refusing to move forward with their reboot of John Constantine that was being developed by Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams’ production company; Warner Bros. cancelling the Zatanna film that was to be written by Promising Young Woman writer-director Emerald Fennell; Ray Fisher’s treatment during reshoots of Justice League that resulted in him walking away from the role of Cyborg and not being asked to return; Robert Pattinson getting his own solo Batman film instead of Ben Affleck; and the previous regime refusing to show any respect or appreciation for ZacK Snyder’s work in the DCEU (including not letting him use scenes of actor Wayne T. Carr as Green Lantern in Zack Snyder’s Justice League because it interfered with the studio’s nonexistent plans for the character and for the Green Lantern Corps), Warner Bros. is moving their once-favorite cinematic universe down a path that they refuse to follow.

As for those who are still interested and invested in what Warner Bros., James Gunn, and Peter Safran have planned for DC Studios, there are a few questions that are now being asked: What other movies and television shows is Gunn personally planning to make for the DC Universe after the next season of Peacemaker? (Booster Gold? Deathstroke? Detective Chimp? Another film with the Suicide Squad?) How much of his humor and tone will be seen and felt in other DC projects? Will Gunn and Safran convince Zack Snyder to once again work with Warner Bros. so he can finally complete his five-part Justice League saga after he is done making his two-part sci-fi film Rebel Moon for Netflix? (As many people on Twitter pointed out: Not only has Gunn been openly supportive of Snyder and the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on Twitter, but both directors have also worked together before, as Gunn wrote the screenplay - with additional contributions by writers Scott Frank and Michael Tolkin - for Snyder’s first film, the 2004 horror remake Dawn of the Dead.) Will Gunn and Safran also make the #ReleaseTheAyerCut hashtag/movement, and finally release writer-director David Ayer’s original version of Suicide Squad? Are they both going to reach out to writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, and convince him to write and direct a Superman film after he has completed making both parts of Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning, despite the fact that McQuarrie’s previous pitch with Cavill was rejected by the studio? Will the writers, directors, and actors for DC projects be happy with the decisions that Gunn and Safran make? And most importantly: Will James Gunn and his handling of comic book adaptations bring critical and financial success for Warner Bros. and DC like how Kevin Feige has done for Marvel and Disney? Only time will tell.

At least this much is clear: This news about James Gunn now working for Warner Bros. and DC definitely overshadowed Marvel dropping the trailer for the James Gunn-helmed The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special on the same day…

It also gave the Internet something else to discuss other than James Cameron throwing shade at both Marvel and DC when being interviewed by the New York Times about his upcoming, rumored-to-be-three-hours-long Avatar sequel/subject of intense Twitter discourse, Avatar: The Way of Water.

Because I’ve said it more than once, and they really are hell-bent on giving me additional reasons to keep saying it:

There really is never a dull moment when it comes to the DCEU DCU.

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Shazam: Fury of the Gods opens in theaters March 17, 2023; The Flash opens June 23, 2023, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens December 25, 2023.