Lately, it seems that there is nothing but bad news about DC movies and series. The Batgirl movie has been canceled and put in a vault. The Arrowverse is almost dead. And we’re probably not going to get any of those JJ Abrams-produced DC shows that we were promised.
But every streak of bad luck has to end at some point, and the winds are finally turning in a better direction at Warner Bros. Discovery. Following the success of Black Adam’s opening weekend, Warner has revealed that James Gunn and Peter Safran will lead the reorganization of DC Studios.
It’s not the first time we’ve been promised that DC will become a Hollywood force rivaling Marvel Studios, but with James Gunn and producer Peter Safran steering the ship, we finally have reason to be optimistic. Let’s take a look at why this shakeup is exactly the kind of good news DC has been in need of as of late.
Bringing stability to the DCEU
There are plenty of reasons why DC has struggled to consistently compete with Marvel at the box office over the years, but what it really comes down to is that the company has become its own worst enemy. There never seems to be a clear direction for the DCEU or a consistent figure at the helm. Marvel has benefited from the vision and leadership skills of Kevin Feige. DC, by comparison, has gone through countless executives, with each corporate reorganization ushering in new leadership and another strategic shift.
It’s getting to a point where any strategy (good or bad) is preferable to DC’s current lack of direction. Warner Bros. Discovery president David Zaslav wants a 10-year plan for DC’s movie lineup, and that means finally choosing a course and sticking to it for the long haul.
Fortunately, Warner did not choose just anyone to be in charge, but to a director with a lot of experience making expensive superhero movies and attract the public. Also, Warner isn’t trying to simply replicate Marvel’s approach. Instead of having a single Kevin Feige-type figure at the helm, the newly launched DC Studios is under the joint control of Gunn and producer Peter Safran. As co-general directors, Gunn will focus on the creative part, while Safran, one of the promoters of the Warren Files and Aquaman franchises, will be in charge of the commercial part. This new system is more comparable to Pixar’s approach to making movies than it is to Marvel Studios’ method. And we don’t think anyone can argue that Pixar’s model doesn’t perform well.
The master of many genres
He may be best known for directing the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, but Gunn hasn’t been typecast as “a superhero guy.”. James Gunn first broke into Hollywood writing the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake and the live-action Scooby-Doo movies. With 2006’s Slither: The Plague, he established himself as one of the most interesting new horror directors in recent years. He even tackled a very different kind of superhero movie with 2010’s Super, a movie about as far removed from the big-budget world of the MCU as you can get.
Gunn wrote on Facebook in 2010: “I’ve done B movies, independent movies, kids’ movies, horror movies and gigantic sideshows. It seems to me there are plenty of people everywhere who make movies for money or to feed their own vanity. And then there are people who do what they do because they like to tell stories, they like cinema and they want to give back to the world some of the same magic that they have taken from the works of others”.
DC needs someone who can dabble in different genres and who appreciates low-budget, quirky jewelry as well as blockbuster superhero movies. The DC Universe itself is a vast and diverse place. The mighty heroes of the Justice League rub shoulders with horror characters like Swamp Thing and John Constantine, Wild West characters like Jonah Hex, and the almighty beings of The Sandman.
It’s too easy for DC to play it safe and keep producing more Batman and Wonder Woman movies. But to harness the full potential of this shared universe, they need someone like gunnwho is adept at thinking outside of known space.
Gunn is clearly a filmmaker who is comfortable wearing many different hats. He is a writer and director, and even a very talented musician.
Superhero Pitch Management
Being a good director has to do as much with managing the tone of a film as with anything else. This is especially true of superhero movies, where directors don’t always have as much control over the visuals as they do in smaller-scale movies. It’s a tough job to find the balance between character development and the inclusion of the obligatory CGI battle scenes, and keep the studio’s accountants happy.
Is It’s an area where even Marvel has started to struggle lately.. The MCU has never been guilty of taking itself too seriously, but things have gone off the rails a bit in Phase 4. Post-Avengers: Endgame movies have struggled to create a sense of danger or interest for our heroes. . Thor: Love & Thunder is so focused on being a goofy rom-com that it loses sight of the powerful drama fueling the comics that inspired it.
Just like the Russo brothers, Gunn is especially adept at maintaining that balance. and create films that are as endearing and emotionally weighty as they are fun. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are hilarious, but they also treat Star-Lord and his team like a dysfunctional family that grows and evolves together. Many fans have criticized DCEU movies like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman for portraying these heroes as distant gods rather than three-dimensional people. DC needs someone who recognizes that superheroes can have fun and struggle with emotional pathos in the same movie.
Like the Russo brothers, Gunn is especially adept at maintaining that balance and creating films that are as endearing and emotionally compelling as they are funny.
Connecting DC movies and series
Although DC has struggled to keep up with the MCU on the big screen, it has often had the upper hand on the small screen. Doom Patrol and Harley Quinn are among the best series airing right nowWhether they’re superheroes or not. And though its star is fading, the Arrowverse proved that it was possible to create a thriving universe of interconnected superheroes on television.
Having said that, Marvel beats DC in one important way. They have cracked the code to build a shared universe where both movies and series can co-exist and support each other. Of course, there were some growing pains for a while, as shows like Agents of SHIELD and Daredevil had a pretty one-sided relationship with the MCU. But with the arrival of Disney+ and new series like Scarlet Burja and Vision and Loki, television has become the same driving force as movies in the MCU.
DC is still not clear, since most of their current live-action series take place in self-contained universes. They haven’t even been able to create a shared universe between the Titans and the Doom Patrol, even though the latter is technically a spin-off of the former. And while it seemed like JJ Abrams might lead the charge with his Justice League Dark series, it now seems increasingly unlikely that any of those series will see the light of day.
Only Gunn has managed to create a television series that has a significant connection to the DCEU.. His series The Peacemaker picks up where 2021’s Suicide Squad left off, and even throws in some familiar faces from the movies in the process. The Peacemaker sets an example that DC clearly wants to follow, as The Batman is also set to receive several spin-offs in the form of series in addition to a sequel movie. There’s no reason why the DC movies and TV shows can’t work together as a cohesive whole, and Gunn could be the man to finally get the ball rolling.
The Marvel and DC War of Talents
It is clear that Gunn is a gifted storyteller who has a lot to offer the DCEU during this unstable and uncertain phase of its existence. But let’s also not ignore the very obvious benefit to DC here. Locking Gunn into an exclusive contract also hurts Marvel in a very direct way..
Gunn has been a key piece in shaping the MCU as it has expanded from mainstream franchises like Iron Man and Captain America to Marvel’s more outlandish ones like Guardians of the Galaxy. Not many directors could have transformed Guardians of the Galaxy from an obscure Marvel comic into one of the biggest Hollywood franchises in the world. And, as we’ve already discussed, Gunn is one of the best when it comes to combining blockbuster fun with true emotional stakes.
Marvel’s loss is definitely DC’s gain on this one.. They lose one of their most important creative voices at a time when the MCU is still in the process of rediscovering itself in the Multiverse Saga. It’s easy to imagine a world where Gunn would have stayed at Marvel after finishing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and taken the helm of one of the next Avengers movies. It is clear that this will not happen now.
The fact that DC hired Gunn may be an early move in a talent war which we often see on the comics side. Both companies have a habit of tying top-selling writers and artists into exclusive contracts, thereby denying the competition the fruits of their labor. Additionally, Warner has recently signed The Batman director Matt Reeves to a contract, suggesting that we won’t be seeing Reeves acting in the MCU anytime soon. If DC is trying to beat Marvel at their own game, they need all the creative talent they can get. Keeping James Gunn in the DC house is a move that should make even Marvel a little nervous.
Do you think Gunn is the hand the DCEU needs right now? Will DC finally become a Hollywood force to rival Marvel?