Discussing James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Universe Film (and Television) Slate

Joe Meola ‘25 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

It feels like for as long as fans can remember, the cinematic future of DC Comics’ library of iconic superheroes and villains has been uncertain. Ever since the release of Justice League in 2017, parent company Warner Brothers (now, following a merger, Warner Bros. Discovery) has constantly been shifting what direction it wants the franchise to go in. This is partially due to shifts in tastes of fans of the property, but especially due to constant changes in leadership at both a creative and an executive level.

At last, though, this beloved franchise has found some stability in the hands of newly-elected co-CEOs James Gunn (who is perhaps more well known for his directorial work for DC’s chief competitor Marvel Studios) and Peter Safran, who have been hard at work planning eight to ten years into the future of DC on both the big and small screen. On January 31, DC released a video in which Gunn announced and briefly explained some of the projects in the works.

First, Gunn discussed the status of previously-announced films in production, as well as how they are going to fit into his and Saffran’s overall plans for a new shared cinematic universe. Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are all still being released as part of the previous “DC Extended Universe,” while projects like Joker 2 and The Batman–Part II will remain outside the new DC Universe continuity and labeled as “Elseworlds.”

In the video, Gunn confirmed that following the March 17 release of Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, The Flash will reboot the DC Universe. The beginning of said reboot will be in the previously-mentioned Blue Beetle and Aquaman films–both made before Gunn and Safran’s arrival to DC–which will lead into a new era of DC projects.

This first “chapter” of Gunn and Safran’s DCU–titled “Gods and Monsters”–will introduce (and reintroduce) both familiar and unfamiliar faces to audiences across not only both film and television, but also across live action and animation. The first project announced is Creature Commandos, a HBO Max original animated series focused on an elite military unit of monsters that was created for the long-defunct DC Comics series Weird War Tales by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Pat Broderick. The initial roster of this ragtag crew of monsters consisted of their human leader Lt. Matthew Shrieve, gorgon Dr. Myrna Rhodes, werewolf Warren Griffith, Frankenstein-esque monster Private Lucky Taylor, and vampire Sgt. Vincent Velcro. The team has also frequently been aided by military android G.I. Robot. The roster of the team that will appear in Gunn’s seven-episode series is a bit different from its original counterpart, however. Aspects of the show’s team are reminiscent of the team’s 2011 reimagining into the “Agents of S.H.A.D.E.” with its utilization of Eric Frankenstein, team leader Bride of Frankenstein, and Gill-man Dr. Nina Mazursky, while also resembling a Suicide Squad roster with its inclusion of Rick Flag Sr., father to Rick Flag Jr. of The Suicide Squad fame, Weasel, who survived death in the aforementioned film, and obscure Batman villain Doctor Phophorous. The team also includes frequent Creature Commandos ally the G.I. Robot. Since this series is a reimagining of an already fairly obscure concept, it is anyone’s guess what could happen. It should also be noted that Gunn and co. intend to cast in this and other future animated projects voice actors that can also portray their characters in live action, which is very exciting.

Official Promotional Art. The Creature Commandos: (L-R) Rick Flag Sr., Dr. Nina Mazursky, Doctor Phosphorus, Eric Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, G.I. Robot, and Weasel. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

The next series announced by Gunn is Waller from Crystal Henry and Jeremy Carver, focusing on Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller from the Suicide Squad films and the Peacemaker series and likely filling the gap between season one and the upcoming season two of Peacemaker.

Touted by Gunn as “the true beginning of the DCU,” the first film announced is Superman: Legacy, which will also be written by Gunn, with no director currently attached to the project. Gunn has discussed this project in the past, claiming that it is a new, rebooted Superman story that will not retread his origin. Rebooting characters without retreading their origin stories was done with great success in the most recent iteration of Marvel’s Spider-Man films, so this is a good direction to go in with Superman. Most importantly, Gunn has provided fans with the release date of July 11, 2025. Evidently, 2025 is going to be a big year for superhero fans as in addition to Superman: Legacy, 2025 will also see the release of the aforementioned The Batman Part–II (on October 3), as well as Marvel Studios’ Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Fantastic Four.

Gunn and co. will also be expanding the DCU with HBO Max series Lanterns–focussed on Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart–which Gunn compares to True Detective, Paradise Lost–a prequel focused on the Amazons–and Booster Gold. This new version of the DCU will also have James Gunn’s “passion project” The Authority, based on a team of heroes originally published by WildStorm Productions. The team of heroes that would eventually become known as the Authority originated as writer Warren Ellis’ take on WildStorm series Stormwatch. Ellis took the story once started by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi and took it in his own direction, introducing new characters and an altered tone to the book. Ellis eventually took his version of Stormwatch and relaunched it for WildStorm as The Authority, often viewed as an edgier, more totalitarian version of DC’s Justice League. 

The Authority. Art by Bryan Hitch. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

The most notable members of this team are Midnighter and Apollo. In addition to being more ruthless analogues to Batman and Superman (yet still with fairly unique personalities and skill sets) the pair of heroes is also one of the most prominent queer couples in comics, second perhaps only to Marvel’s Wiccan and Hulkling. Various characters from WildStorm were integrated into the DC Universe in 2011 during the New 52 reboot, yet a version of the Authority hasn’t been seen in main DC continuity until 2021’s Superman and the Authority mini-series, which created a new version of the team led by Superman and excluding many of its prominent members (except for Midnighter and Apollo, of course, as they are by far the most popular), so it should be interesting to see how the team is adapted into the film version of the DCU. Furthermore, this opens the door to other characters from the WildStorm universe being integrated into the DC Universe, such as fan-favorite anti-hero Grifter from WildC.A.T.s. This may also open the door to characters from other DC-adjacent comic book imprints, such as Milestone Media’s Static, who has appeared in various DC adaptations.

The next film announced is The Brave and the Bold, the introduction to the DCU’s version of Batman. This film will be a “Batman and Robin” story in which Batman–Bruce Wayne–teams up with the fifth mainstream iteration of Robin, Damian Wayne–Bruce’s biological son. The film will draw from Grant Morrison’s run on Batman comics, which certainly has a lot of content to draw from. Damian Wayne was created by Morrison in the storyline titled “Batman and Son,” so it makes sense that Morrison’s run will serve as inspiration for the film. It is also likely that Morrison’s run on the Batman and Robin ongoing comic book series in particular will inspire parts of the film, as it represents the earliest instances of Damian Wayne actually acting as Batman’s sole Robin (despite Dick Grayson rather than Bruce Wayne filling the cape and cowl of Batman in the series). The use of Damian Wayne likely means that in this version of the DC Universe, the Bat-Family is already pre-established, meaning that fans may finally see characters like Nightwing, Barbara Gordon, Red Hood, and Tim Drake on the big screen.

Damian Wayne as Robin. Art by Andy Kubert. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

Superman: Legacy is not the only film being made in Superman’s corner of the DC Universe, as Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is also in the works, based on Tom King’s 2022 comic mini-series of the same name. Gunn emphasizes that this film will focus on what makes Supergirl unique from her male counterpart as she navigates through this sci-fi epic. The fact that a Supergirl movie is in the works combined with the knowledge that James Gunn is very enthused about the upcoming Flash film, which will feature a version of the character played by Sasha Calle, begs the question of whether or not Calle will return to the role. It is so far out, though, that even Gunn and Saffran do not know yet whether she will return or not.

Supergirl. Art by Bilquis Evely. Image courtesy of DC Comics.

The last project announced is a Swamp Thing film, adding some more “monster” to this “Gods and Monsters” chapter of the DCU. According to Gunn, this movie will be a “very dark horror story,” as well as an origin story for the titular character. It is very likely that this movie will draw inspiration from Alan Moore’s run on the Swamp Thing comics, as that is the take on the character everyone looks to when thinking of him. However, perhaps Scott Snyder’s or Ram V’s work on the character will inform the film as well, as those are more recent takes that have received generally positive feedback. Moreover, director James Mangold–director of Logan–has expressed interest in working on the project, which would honestly be a phenomenal move from DC if they managed to work with him.

What is interesting about this slate of films and shows is both the variety of characters and the eras of the stories they are drawing from. Gunn isn’t starting out this universe with only projects based on DC’s triple-A, big-name characters. Of course, he’s using some A-listers with Superman: Legacy and The Brave and the Bold, but he’s also making use of some B-listers like Booster Gold and cult favorites like Swamp Thing and The Authority, in addition to relatively unknown characters like The Creature Commandos. This illustrates that Gunn wants to expose audiences to the full scope of characters that DC Comics has to offer, as opposed to characters that have tons of popular adaptations already. Additionally, it should be noted that based on the information given, it seems that most of these projects in the works are based off comics published after the year 1999, which likely indicates that despite being a reboot, this is still a tenured version of the DCU.

Prepare yourselves for years’ worth of (hopefully) great superhero stories, as it seems DC has finally got it together!

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