By: David Eckstein-Schoemann
It’s early 2023, and co-heads of DC studios, James Gunn and Peter Safran, have unveiled their plans for the newly christened DCU (DC Universe). Reading comics has been one of my favorite pastimes since my childhood. They introduced me to imaginative worlds, epic stories, and timeless characters. Naturally, this means I got heavily invested in a lot of superhero media, including games, shows, and (of course) movies. DC Comics has made some of my favorite works in creative media. I will admit that DC films, as a whole, have felt less cohesive than Marvel films in recent years. Media and fans have said that this resulted from heavy studio interference in some projects, inconsistent usage of the DC Comics characters, and a lack of a plan. Now the new DC heads the films, pivoting from the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) to the DCU. And what better film to do that than “The Flash”. For those who know the character (from the comics, or the television show), you’ll know that his ability to time travel and alter the past like in the famous comic storyline “Flashpoint” makes this film the perfect pivoting point. Gunn himself has made it clear that he intends to make the stories consistent, keeping the same actors in their roles in the overall larger narrative. Though there will be projects outside of this main universe, such as Matt Reeves “The Batman” series, Todd Philips “Joker” series and “Teen Titans Go”. Gunn labeled these as “DC Elseworlds”. While I’m excited for those films, I’m really excited to give my thoughts and opinions on the main DCU films/shows that he announced.
There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
In Gunn’s DCU announcement, he said that the first chapter of this franchise will be titled “Gods and Monsters”. This first project will be an HBO Max animated series that will center on a supernatural black ops unit consisting of characters, such as Rick Flag Sr., Nina Mazursky, Doctor Phosphorus, Eric Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, G.I. Robot, and Weasel. This series will start the trend of characters transitioning between animation and live action with the same actors playing their roles in both media. This series will also feature Viola Davis reprising her role as Amanda Waller (from “The Suicide Squad” movies). I am not as familiar with this group from the comics, but I am always down to see monster characters in animation.
Speaking of Amanda Waller, Viola Davis is also slated to return in her own HBO Max miniseries. The series will also have the titular character team up with former members of A.R.G.U.S. after the revelation of her involvement in Task Force X (codename for the Suicide Squad). A major player in DC Comics, Waller has always been one of the biggest governmental forces in the lore. Even though she lacks superpowers, she uses intimidation, political connections, and the forced cooperation of detained criminals/metahumans to achieve her goals, often in the name of national security. Even characters such as Batman are known to think twice before crossing this character. Gunn seemed particularly excited while talking about this show. And now he’s got me excited to see how this series turns out.
This will be set as the official start of the DCU films, with the previously mentioned series offering the appetizers before the main course. After the unfortunate announcement that Henry Cavill would be stepping down from this role, which he portrayed in the DCEU films, Gunn confirmed that this movie will serve as a full reboot of the character. Gunn also stated that the character will be 25 years old and will be a more seasoned reporter for the Daily Planet, much like in the series “Smallville”. The film’s narrative will also be partially inspired by one of my favorite Superman stories of all time, “All-Star Superman ”, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. It is clear that they want to bring the character back to his classic roots, as well as bring back the color, hope, and optimism that everyone associates with Superman. It’s been around ten years since I’ve seen this character in his own movie, and July 11, 2025 (the scheduled release date) can’t come soon enough.
Next on the list is the live action series “Lanterns”. It’s been a while since this group has gotten attention in live action, and the last time didn’t go so well. This is why I’m glad that Gunn is introducing the Green Lantern Corps as an important component to the wider DCU. The series will focus on characters Hal Jordan and John Stewart, while also featuring other characters from the Corps. It will follow the two space cops on a terrestrial-based story that will revolve around them solving a dark mystery while monitoring sector 2814 (Earth). While I would have preferred that this property get a feature-length film after the failed attempt with Ryan Reynolds in 2011, I also understand why they made this choice, as the Green Lantern Corps is home to dozens of characters who will benefit from being developed throughout multiple hour-long episodes. I’m also excited to see Hal Jordan, who I’ve read about numerous times in the comics, and John Stewart, who I grew up with on the animated series”Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited”. Out of all the shows in the DCU’s lineup, this is the one I most can’t wait to see. With its big story and creative characters, it’s about time the Green Lanterns were done justice in live action (no pun intended).
Up next on the list is the movie called “The Authority”, which centers on the titular team from DC’s Wildstorm imprint. These new film characters will come into the DCU in this film and then interact with the core characters in future projects. The team essentially is a group of superheroes who see the world as broken, and are willing to fight crime by “any means necessary”. I personally have not read this series, but it sounds very similar to “The Boys” and “Invincible”–another series revolving around violent superheroes. If there is anything James Gunn can do, it’s turn unknown characters into household names (see “Guardians of the Galaxy”). It’s another property that takes a different look at superheroes, so I will definitely check this film out.
The next series is “Paradise Lost”. This show takes place prior to the birth of Wonder Woman on her home island Themyscira. It will focus on the early history of the Amazons and how they separated themselves from mankind. The setting and tone are very similar to hardcore fantasy series, such as “Game of Thrones” and ‘House of the Dragon”. Both are book series and TV shows of which I am a huge fan. Suffice it to say, I can’t wait to see this on HBO Max.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
With Ben Affleck stepping down from his role as Batman in the DCEU films, and Robert Pattinson staying in the DC Elseworld Batman series, the door is open for a new actor to don the cape and cowl in the DCU. This cinematic outing will introduce Batman as well as his biological son, Damien Wayne, who James Gunn says is his favorite Robin. Robin’s essentially a twelve year old assassin who Bruce has to keep in line. Out of all the characters in DC’s roster, Batman has received the most screen time. Whether in the movies or TV shows, Batman is a character everyone is familiar with, regardless of whether they picked up a comic. Given the multiple stories already out there on the Caped Crusader, I’m grateful that they are doing something new and different this time around. It’s based on Grant Morrison’s comic book run on the titular character. Most notably the “Batman and Son” storylines, and will introduce the larger Bat family into the DCU. I’m hopeful that characters such as Alfred, Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and hopefully other Robins will make an appearance here.
The last series in the announcement is “Booster Gold”. He is one of DC’s most popular cult heroes, a loser from the future who travels back in time using advanced technology to make himself a popular superhero in the present. It is basically the comic book show equivalent of “Imposter Syndrome”. This is something that a lot of people can relate to. Booster Gold is a character who I always enjoyed reading in team-up and side stories, so it’s nice to finally see him done on the small screen.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
One of the best comic storylines I’ve read in recent years was Tom King’s “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow”. I can see why Gunn wanted to bring the big sci-fi story to the big screen. Unlike the CW series, where Kal-El (Superman) was sent to earth and raised by loving parents, Kara Zor-El (Supergirl) was raised on a broken chunk of Krypton and forced to watch everyone around her slowly perish. Naturally, she is a much more jaded character. Based on what I read in the comic, it is essentially a massive space adventure that has a ton of creative worlds and characters.
The last film in DC’s announcement is “Swamp Thing”, a very dark horror story about how scientist Alec Holland became a monster. While it is distant and tonally different from the previously mentioned films/shows, it will still connect to the larger story. It is confirmed to be based on Alan Moore’s iconic run on the character, which dives into the question of whether this new creature is the original person or a completely different entity. I surprisingly get very invested into these types of stories of who is the real monster, since I’ve also read classic novels, such as “Frankenstein” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Recent reports revealed that director James Mangold is in talks to direct this film. After seeing his work on movies such as “Logan” and “Ford v. Ferrari”, with him, I’m sure this film would be in good hands.
Check out Gunn’s announcement here. I think what I’m most excited about is that the new co-heads of the DCU are taking their time developing the story, instead of trying to quickly catch up to their rival. This alone will hopefully help us emotionally connect with the characters. After all, a good connection makes the story more meaningful.