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Five Things James Gunn’s DCU Needs to Get Right

James Gunn’s DCU

Gunn’s New DC Universe Has Huge Expectations For Fans

Earlier this year, DC Studios’ new co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran unveiled their first slate of projects in their upcoming DC universe. With Gunn overseeing creative control and overall storytelling, the acclaimed director promises fans a more cohesive universe. Chapter One: Gods and Monsters will be a new overarching story that will connect all planned films and series, erasing the majority of the studio’s former Extended Universe and allowing the franchise to reset. 

With this summer’s The Flash being the start of the studio’s new DCU, fans hope Gunn’s new universe will be able to right the wrongs of Zack Snyder’s troubled and problematic SnyderVerse. Until then, here are five things we hope Gunn’s new DCU will be finally able to get right.  

5. The Bat-Family

Not since Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone suited up in those tight rubber suits in Joel Schumacher’s laugh-out-loud Batman and Robin have fans seen a big screen depiction of Batman’s sidekicks. Sure, HBO Max’s series Titans have given us new interpretations of Robin, Red Hood, and Batgirl, but it’s been over 25 years since audiences have seen members of the Bat-family portrayed on film. Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice robbed fans of the potential of seeing the Boy Wonder, when it was revealed that Robin had already been killed off by the Joker in the DCEU. Though we didn’t get confirmation which Robin had bit the dust in the film, Zack Synder eventually came forward to reveal that it was Dick Grayson that had suffered at the hands of Jared Leto’s Joker. 

With Gunn’s new Batman film, The Brave and the Bold, fans will finally be introduced to Batman’s extended family on screen. Gunn has revealed that the film will focus on Batman’s relationship with his son and current Robin, Damian Wayne. The film will see Gunn’s take on the Dark Knight lining up with the comics as Bruce Wayne manages his relationship with Damian—a Robin with a much darker and edgier personality. This storyline has great potential as it shows Gunn’s DCU is willing to branch out and focus less on Batman and more on his extended family.

James Gunn’s DCU 

4. Incorporating Different Genres

A big problem a lot of people had with the SnyderVerse was the tone of the universe. With the exception of the Shazam films, the DECU tried too hard to be the opposite of Marvel by establishing a darker and edgier universe where superheroes exist. Because of this, most of the films within the universe felt the same, leaving directors very little creative input. 

When Gunn unveiled his master plan earlier this year, he hinted at the different genres the DCU will incorporate by giving creators more freedom over their projects. Some examples include several new HBO Max series such as Lanterns, which follows iconic Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart. The show is said to feel like an intergalactic crime drama in the vein of True Detective. The Amazonian drama Paradise Lost is said to have a Game of Thrones-type story taking place on Themyscira, the birthplace of Wonder Woman and home of the Amazons. Finally, Booster Gold will be a comedy which will focus on a superhero dealing with imposter syndrome. In the comics, Booster Gold steals technology from the future and travels to modern day Earth to make a name for himself as a superhero. With these series committed to exploring new styles of storytelling, the DCU is sure to attract a larger audience. 

James Gunn’s DCU

3. Green Lantern 

Speaking of DC’s emerald space cop, it seems like Hollywood has had a hard time getting the popular character right. Before the disaster that was 2011’s Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds, the character had only appeared briefly onscreen in the 1997 CBS failed pilot, Justice League of America. In 2006, Warner Bros. hired Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel to write a Green Lantern script with the studio casting Jack Black in the titular role. The film was going to be a comedy focusing on an original character named Jud Plato, a slacker who receives the power ring instead of Hal Jordan. Due to backlash over the script being leaked, the studio decided to cancel the project.

With the announcement of DC’s new series Lanterns, Gunn and Safran have the opportunity to give fans an honest and exciting portrayal of DC’s intergalactic police force. One exciting detail Gunn revealed is that the series will introduce John Stewart, the second human to become Green Lantern. Throughout the years, Stewart has become a fan-favorite in the comics and his popularity has grown even more, thanks to his portrayal in the hit animated series’ Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. The potential of Lanterns being a gritty crime drama set in space with a veteran Hal Jordan and rookie John Stewart is a premise too exciting to pass up. 

James Gunn’s DCU

2. The Villains

One of the DCEU’s biggest failures was its villains. With the exception of Michael Shannon’s General Zod in Man of Steel and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, the franchise didn’t have many antagonists that stood out. Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luther divided fans since his introduction in Dawn of Justice, which depicted Superman’s arch nemesis as a sporadic tech-billionaire with daddy issues; Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah in Wonder Woman 1984 was just a rehash of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman; and Justice League’s Steppenwolf was a lackluster villain who was easily overpowered in the end by Superman. Let’s also not get started with Jared Leto’s performance as the Joker…

DC has some of the greatest and even most compelling villains to date; it’s what makes their comics so interesting to read. Almost every major DC character has an arch nemesis whose rivalry goes back decades, making the villain just as iconic as the hero. Seeing those rivalries properly fleshed out on the big screen will captivate audiences and fans who have been left disappointed with previous iterations. And with Gunn proclaiming his love for the source material, there’s hope that these iconic villains will finally get their chance to shine. 

James Gunn’s DCU

1. Superman

Now this might be a controversial subject for some, as a lot of SnyderVerse zealots out there believe Henry Cavil’s portrayal of Superman was perfect. But the truth is Cavil’s performance, though great in its own way, skewed far from the fundamentals of the character DC fans have known for decades. Snyder’s Superman was taught to hide his gifts from the world because his father, Jonathan Kent, told him the world wouldn’t accept him. This is the opposite of what Pa Kent from the comics had taught him. Because of this, Clark Kent seemed reluctant in becoming Superman, making being a hero seem like it was a burden rather than a duty. Concerned about society’s opinion on him, Snyder’s Superman seemed like an emotional wreck who cared too much about his relationship with Lois Lane than saving humanity. 

With Superman: Legacy being the first film in Gunn’s DC universe, it’s important that this portrayal of the character embodies all the virtues Cavil’s Superman lacked. Gunn has already stated that his Superman will already be established within the DCU, with the film showing Clark Kent balancing his Kryptonian heritage and human upbringing. Gunn says that he wants to showcase Superman as a good hero in a morally complex world. Bringing hope back into the character is crucial because it’s what defines Superman from any other hero. Having a comic accurate Superman will help make Gunn and Safran’s DCU stand out by bringing more optimism in a franchise that was left in ruins. 

As fans eagerly await to see the beginning of Gunn’s vision unfold next year, the DC fandom is once again left in wonder. With their outline in place, Gunn and Safran’s DCU holds the potential to rejuvenate a dying franchise while captivating audiences once again. 

James Gunn’s DCU

Man of Steel (2013): Official Warner Bros. Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Matt Keyser is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton University with a bachelor's in Communications-Journalism. He is a freelance entertainment reporter with a focus on film and television. As a former senior programming coordinator for the Newport Beach Film Festival, Matt's experience with critiquing narratives and documentaries has helped showcase his passion for television and cinema through his writing.