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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

James Gunn and Peter Safran Unveils New DC Universe


Wed 01 Feb 2023 | 04:17 PM
James Gunn, Peter Safran
James Gunn, Peter Safran
Yara Sameh

DC Studios leaders James Gunn and Peter Safran have finally unveiled the first 10 film and TV titles within the rebooted DC Universe.

The announcement comes after three months after the pair officially started running the newly created DC Studios within Warner Bros. Discovery, 

The co-chiefs met with the press on the Warner Bros. studio lot to present what they said was the first part of Chapter 1 of the DCU, which is titled “Gods and Monsters.”

The projects run the gamut. There are titles based on marquee DC heroes — including the previously announced Superman feature written by Gunn, now officially titled “Superman: Legacy,” a Batman and Robin movie, a Wonder Woman prequel series, and a Green Lantern mystery series — as well as titles featuring lesser known characters, including "Booster Gold" and "Swamp Thing". 

Safran pointed out that the DCU exists as a multiverse but the titles will exist in one singular universe. 

Overall, the slate represents the most robust vision for DC’s future in scripted entertainment since Warner Bros.’ first attempt in 2014 to build a universe to rival that of Marvel Studios.

“DC Studios is unprecedented. It is a standalone production entity and studio. It is the first time ever that everything DC related — film, television, live-action, animation, gaming — is all centralized under one creative vision, that of James and myself,” Safran noted.

Given that the DCU is still very much in its earliest stages, the execs were light on some specifics: No directors have been attached to any projects nor have actors attached, either. The exception is Viola Davis, who will star in the HBO Max series “Waller” as the amoral, self-imposed superintendent of the DC universe, Amanda Waller. She originated the role in 2016’s “Suicide Squad”.

Safran and Gunn had also left the door open for Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, and Zachary Levi to continue playing their respective DC superheroes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and Shazam, but Gunn reiterated that Henry Cavill will return as Superman. Otherwise, the execs said, they will be casting new actors in the roles.

To build the overarching story for the DCU, Gunn brought together a writers' room of Drew Goddard (“The Martian”), Jeremy Slater (“Moon Knight”), Christina Hobson (“The Flash,” “Batgirl”), Christal Henry (“Watchmen”), and comics writer Tom King (“Batman,” “Mister Miracle”). 

Gunn indicated that at least some of these writers would continue working on DCU projects, including Henry, who is co-showrunning “Waller.”

“We sat down in a room for a few days and we started to bash out what the basic overall plan could be,” Gunn pointed out.

 “Not so much that it ties your wrists, but enough that we know what the basic story is, where we’re going. And it’s something that we’ll continue to do.”

The execs added that the plan was to release roughly two films and two TV series per year into the DCU. That output will not, however, sacrifice quality to meet deadlines. 

Gunn and Safran were adamant that films and series will not go into production until scripts are finished, which is not the norm for pricey tentpoles that need to create awareness by planting flags on the calendar. 

Though Gunn and Safran are working in one DC Universe, some stories will stand apart. Matt Reeves’ Batman movies and Todd Phillips’ sequel to Joker will fall under a banner titled "DC Elseworlds", which will, just as in the comics, fall outside the larger continuity of the DCU. 

The Black Superman project, being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates under the previous regime, remains in active development and would also fall under that category. Teen Titans Go!, the popular and long-running cartoon series on Cartoon Network also falls under that banner, the duo said.

All in, the slate that the co-leads announced will run through 2027. Only “Superman: Legacy” and “The Batman Part II” have set release dates.

Before audiences get to those projects, however, there is a matter of this year’s crop of movies, starting with "Shazam! Fury of the God"s, coming March 17, and continuing with "The Flash" (June 16), "Blue Beetle" (Aug. 18) and "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom" (Dec. 25).

DC Comics Roadmap Collage

Here is a breakdown of details about the projects:

Movies

Superman: Legacy: The movie featuring the Man of Steel that Gunn is writing and may direct. Iis rated PG-13 and will not be another origin story, even if it deals with the hero’s double identity as an alien and Earth’s protector.

“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,” Safran said.

A release date of July 11, 2025.

The Authority: A movie based on a team of superheroes with rather extreme methods of protecting the planet that first originated in the late 1990s under an influential imprint known as Wildstorm, run by artist and now head of DC publishing Jim Lee.

“One of the things of the DCU is that it’s not just a story of heroes and villains. Not every film and TV show is going to be about good guy versus bad guy, giant things from the sky come and good guy wins. There are white hats, black hats and gray hats,” Gunn said.

Safran added: “They are kinda like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. They know that you want them on the wall. Or at least they believe that.”

The Brave and the Bold: A movie about the heir to the Wayne empire and will feature the rest of the extended Bat Family. It will take inspiration from the now-classic Batman run written by Grant Morrison that introduced Batman to a son he never knew existed: a murderous tween raised by assassins. “It’s a very strange father-and-son story.”

The Batman sequel: Pattinson will continue to portray the Dark Knight in at least one more crime saga movie directed by Reeves. That movie is titled "The Batman Part II" and will be released on Oct. 3, 2025.

“2025 is going to be a very big year for DC,” crowed Safran. “Superman and Batman within the same year.”

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow: Taking its cues from the recent Tom King-written miniseries, the movie promises a different take than what most think of when Superman’s cousin comes to mind.

"Superman was sent to Earth, and he was raised by incredibly loving parents, whereas Kara was in Krypton, she was on a piece of Krypton that drifted away from the planet, and lived there for the first 14 years of her life among [a] horrible situation where she watched everybody around her die. So she's a much harsher and more f—ked up Super Girl than we've been used to this far." Gunn pointed out.

Swamp Thing: A horror movie that closes out the first part of the first chapter.

Creature commandos

Television Projects

Creature Commandos: A seven-episode animated series, written by Gunn, that is already in production. Originally a team of classic monsters assembled to fight Nazis, this is a modern take on the concept. The voice actors have yet to be cast, but the executives are looking for actors who can voice the animated characters and also portray the live-action versions when the antiheroes show up in movies and series.

Waller: In a spinoff of Gunn’s own HBO Max hit series Peacemaker, Viola Davis will return as the ruthless and morally ambiguous head of a government task force. It is being written by Christal Henry (Watchmen) and Jeremy Carver, the creator of the Doom Patrol TV series.

Booster Gold: An HBO Max series based on a unique, lesser-known hero created in 1986.

“It’s about a loser from the future who uses basic future technology to come back to today and pretend to be a superhero.” Gunn described it as “imposter syndrome as superhero,” Safran said.

Lanterns: Greg Berlanti’s long-in-the-works Green Lanterns TV series has been scrapped. In its place will be a new take on the space cops with power rings.

“Our vision for this is very much in the vein of True Detective,” Safran described. “It’s terrestrial-based.”

It will feature prominent Lantern heroes Hal Jordan and John Stewart and is one of the most important shows they have in development.

“This plays a really big role in leading into the main story we are telling across film and TV.”

Paradise Lost: The duo describes this HBO Max series as a Game of Thrones-style drama set on the all-female island that is Wonder Woman’s birthplace, "Themyscira", filled with political intrigue and scheming between power players. It takes place before the events of the Wonder Woman franchise.