Warner Bros. Discovery
- DC Studios announced the first wave of movies and TV shows for the new DC universe.
- It features a strange mix of well-known characters and those you may not have heard of.
- There are also aspects of the old DC movie universe — but it still shows promise.
An animated monster series. New Superman and Batman movies. A Wonder Woman spinoff show.
These are a few of the projects DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran announced on Tuesday as part of the first wave of content for their new, connected DC universe.
The slate, titled “Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters,” is, to put it plainly, bizarre — and even a bit risky.
It features a mix of well-known characters, like Superman and Batman, as well as ones who only diehard comic-book readers may recognize, like the antihero team The Authority, celebrity-superhero Booster Gold, and Swamp Thing, who recently starred in a one-season TV series and will now get his own horror movie.
Safran told a small group of journalists that one of the slate’s goals is “to build those lesser known properties into the diamond properties of tomorrow.”
In that way, Chapter 1 is similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has made household names out of formerly B- and C-list characters, like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. But the MCU didn’t launch with those characters out of the gate.
And Gunn stressed that the new DC universe is not “Marvel 2.0.” If anything, it’s still a bit of the old DC Extended Universe.
Amazons from “Wonder Woman” (2017).
Warner Bros. Movies
Not everything from the old DCEU is being scrapped
After WarnerMedia and Discovery merged last year to form Warner Bros. Discovery, one of the new company’s first priorities was to get DC movies on the right track after a largely unsuccessful attempt at a cinematic universe. That old ‘DCEU’ included critical and financial flops like director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.”
Gunn and Safran, who were put in charge of DC Studios in October, have scrapped much of that universe. Henry Cavill’s Superman, for example, is being replaced by a younger version of the character who will appear in “Superman: Legacy,” which is being written by Gunn and is set to hit theaters in 2025.
But some aspects of the old DCEU will remain intact. Gunn and Safran announced “Waller,” a “Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker” TV spinoff with Viola Davis reprising her role of Amanda Waller. And the TV series “Paradise Lost,” set on the island Themyscira, will be a prequel to the “Wonder Woman” movies — after a third film was scrapped.
Additionally, four DC movies will be released this year that were greenlit before Gunn and Safran came on board, including “The Flash,” starring controversial actor Ezra Miller.
None of those characters — which also include Shazam, Aquaman, and Blue Beetle — were mentioned in Gunn and Safran’s Chapter 1 plans, though they acknowledged that the actors may be included in future projects.
This isn’t to mention characters like Robert Pattinson’s Batman, who will live on under the DC Elseworlds banner, which includes projects that exist outside of the universe Gunn and Safran are building. The “Joker” sequel will also fall under this label.
The “Batman and Robin” comic by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
DC Comics/Frank Quitely
It’s weird and a bit confusing, but the new plan shows promise
But once you get past the initial confusion of the multiple stages and universes, it’s clear that Gunn and Safran have a plan — and that there is promise.
If Gunn and Safran wanted to keep any aspects of the old DC movie universe, they picked the right ones. Gunn’s 2021 movie “The Suicide Squad” and last year’s HBO Max series “Peacemaker” were critically praised and improved on the original 2016 “Suicide Squad” movie. And the first “Wonder Woman” is still the best-reviewed of the DCEU, and earned over $800 million at the global box office.
They also seem to be taking inspiration from highly regarded comic stories. For example, writer Grant Morrison and artist Andy Kubert’s “Batman and Son” will be the template for the movie “The Brave and the Bold,” which is set to introduce a new Batman.
Gunn also promised that the projects would have “the individual expression of the writers and the director that are making those projects.”
One thing is certain: The expectations are sky-high.