Photo by: Brenden Cowan
On Jan. 31, James Gunn announced DC’s outline for movies and television for the next ten years.
Gunn, who became co-CEO of DC Studios last October, said that DC’s goal moving forward is to keep their products connected to one another. Characters will be portrayed by the same actors between movies, TV shows and video games, and whenever there are products outside of this continuity — such as 2019’s Joker — they will be clearly labelled as “Elseworld” products.
Many of the projects Gunn described were of relatively obscure DC characters, such as Blue Beetle, the Creature Commandos and The Authority. While some of DC’s mainstays are present in the lineup, their projects will focus on less explored storylines. One example is the upcoming Batman movie featuring Damien Wayne as Robin, rather than one of the older Robins such as Dick Grayson or Jason Todd.
While this lineup is odd and has some notable absences, it mirrors the original Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) lineup; before Marvel became a cinematic juggernaut, they were in financial trouble. This led to them selling the movie rights to their most popular heroes: Spider-Man to Sony, the Hulk to Universal Studios and the X-Men to 20th Century Studios. At this time, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were all somewhat unpopular, and the MCU is what made them superstars.
Even as the MCU has progressed, they’ve not shied away from adapting less popular comics, such as Ant-Man and The Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s success shows that DC does not need to rely on their biggest names to be a hit.
One interesting project is the upcoming Swamp Thing story, which Gunn stated will be firmly in the horror genre. He also said that while Swamp Thing’s story will be “tonally outside” the rest of the DCU, it will still tie into the other DCU stories. While it is unclear how they will handle Swamp Thing appearing alongside tonally distant DC characters in projects after the Swamp Thing story, this presents a unique challenge not seen in either the previous DC cinematic universe nor the MCU.
A pivotal title in the lineup is the upcoming Flash movie, as Gunn stated that this movie will reset the DC continuity. Despite the controversy surrounding Ezra Miller, the current actor for the Flash, it seems that they may remain in their role.
“Ezra is completely committed to their recovery,” said Peter Safran, the other DC Studios co-CEO. “We’re fully supportive of that journey that they’re on right now. When the time is right, when they feel they are ready to have the discussion, we’ll all figure out what the best way forward is. But right now, they are completely focused on their recovery.”
Some speculate that this as a guarantee of Miller’s return, and that the studio doesn’t want to reshoot the movie when it’s so close to being finished. However, reviewer Bob “MovieBob” Chipman pointed out that this may not be DC’s decision to make.
“You guys know they can’t remove Ezra Miller from any contracts unless they remove themselves while they are undergoing treatment/rehab, right?” he posted to Twitter. “SAG rule. Same reason nobody could say Affleck was officially not Batman for over a year; remember that?”
Despite some concerns, Gunn’s announcement has been met with enthusiasm overall, and fans are looking forward to seeing what the DCU has in store. As Marvel starts to lose the hold it had on the box office and movie-goers experience superhero fatigue, DC Studios may either usurp the former giant or go down with it; only time will tell.