The biggest takeaway, for those who care about the state of DC and have watched it become the type of mess that even Marie Kondo doesn’t have time to fix anymore, is that Gunn wants you to know he’s actually reading the comic books. All of them.
That much was clear as Gunn and his co-head of DC Studios, Peter Safran, finally presented the first look at a future that is shaping up to be the first true challenge to Marvel Studios’s Age of Avengers — a championship reign that Gunn helped create with his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy.
Here are just a few of our plans. Up, up, and away! #DCStudios #DCU @DCComics pic.twitter.com/8XNDNLUEPq— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 31, 2023
Here are the projects they announced, with our analysis of each:
The Brave and the Bold
Gunn and Safran’s interconnected DCU will indeed have its own Batman. And he’s going to be a first-time father! The dramatic bat-paternity saga will finally introduce movie fans to Damian Wayne, who is the son of Batman and holds the mantle of Robin the Boy Wonder in the pages of DC Comics. Gunn mentioned in his address that Damian — whose mother is Talia al Ghul, daughter of one of Batman’s greatest enemies, Ra’s al Ghul — is his favorite Robin. Gunn also stated that the acclaimed 2000s Batman comics run written by Grant Morrison, where Damian made his debut, will play a heavy influence on this new Dark Knight.
This gives DCU its first true live-action cinematic dynamic duo since George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in the ’90s (and no, we are not counting Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “The Dark Knight Rises”). DC on film has shied away from the legacy of Robin the Boy Wonder for too long. Fans can only hope that it’s not just Damian Wayne they meet but every Robin who once wore a domino mask and an “R” on their chest. Nightwing, the Red Hood and Red Robin deserve screen time, too.
The Batman: Part II
Robert Pattinson isn’t going anywhere for now. Director Matt Reeves’s Batman franchise will move forward with a sequel that is in no way connected to the DCU that Gunn and Safran are building. Movies such as the upcoming “The Batman” sequel, Joker sequel “Joker: Folie à Deux,” and even DC’s hilarious animated sleeper hit “Teen Titans Go” will get a DC Elseworlds label. That’s Gunn winking to comics fans who know Elseworlds was an imprint that served as DC’s version of “What If?,” telling tales that existed outside of the main continuity. It’s almost as if Gunn was challenging you, saying, “Do you remember your favorite Elseworlds tale?” Yes, James. I do. It’s the one where Batman became a Green Lantern. Thanks for asking.
Gunn announced a release date for the new Superman movie he is writing that will definitely not star Henry Cavill (July 11, 2025). The video showed cover art from “All-Star Superman” No. 1, which was written by Morrison and beautifully illustrated by artist Frank Quitely. There was no mention of Gunn writing his Superman movie based off it, but just putting that bold imagery next to his announcement lets fans know he’s well-versed in one of the greatest Superman stories ever told and might be influenced by it.
Gunn is not committed to direct … yet. One of the biggest superhero movie announcements of the decade will be when Gunn casts his new Man of Steel, an actor who will probably be signing up for a long haul of service.
Gunn wasted no time saying this movie will be an adaptation of writer Tom King and artist Bilquis Evely’s “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow” comics that debuted in 2021. That means Gunn isn’t just reading the classics. He’s reading the new stuff.
Congrats are in order for King, one of DC Comics’ top writers for years, who was once attached to a “New Gods” movie with Ava DuVernay. This new film will highlight the differences between Superman, who was raised by loving human parents on Earth, and Supergirl, who by the time she was a teenager had seen the worst the universe had to offer.
This animated series written by Gunn features a team of classic monsters led by the Bride of Frankenstein. Gunn and Safran have not cast any voice actors yet, but whoever lands the roles will be asked to play their respective characters in live action, as well. You’re probably telling yourself you’ve never heard of this team. But remember when you used to say that about the Guardians of the Galaxy?
This series will star Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, DC’s top G-woman, who she also played in the Suicide Squad movies. Waller is the best candidate for the DCU’s version of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), a character who can connect all the DCU’s moving parts.
No, Ryan Reynolds will not be back as the Green Lantern (but imagine if Gunn convinced him to make a cameo! How hilarious would that be?). Gunn and Safran described this Green Lantern series as something akin to HBO’s “True Detective” in space. That tracks, since the Green Lanterns have always been DC’s deep-space cops. This series will feature Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart. The heart of the story will be a mystery that could very well connect to the big moment (or big villain) that will bring all of DC Studios’s movies and shows together.
This is a superhero team that protects the world no matter how extreme the methods or how much blood is shed. They don’t play nice and have a history of clashing with Superman in the comics. It can’t be a coincidence that Gunn has such big plans for both Superman and the Authority in his opening slate, could it? But Gunn probably already knows you’re thinking that. This could also be a potential R-rated offering, like Gunn’s recent “The Suicide Squad” movie.
The world of Wonder Woman gets the “Game of Thrones” treatment in this HBO Max series that will take place on the island of her birth, Themyscira. This series is set before both Wonder Woman movies starring Gal Gadot, with no word yet on whether Gadot will be involved or if Princess Diana/Wonder Woman is even a main character. This would be an opportune time to introduce popular comics characters from the Wonder Woman universe such as Nubia and Yara Flor.
A character created by the man who helped kill Superman (Dan Jurgens) in early ’90s comics, Booster Gold is a time traveler from the future who comes to the present to try to be the hero he never could be in his own timeline. With Gunn overlooking things, this HBO Max series has the potential to be a comedy gold mine — something DC hasn’t seen that much lately.
A Swamp Thing horror movie starring DC’s plant man with Gunn overseeing it just seems like a very good idea.