Pop Culture

James Gunn Is Already Teasing His Plans for the DC Cinematic Universe

The Gunn regime is starting to take effect, and the potential is very exciting.

David Dastmalchian John Cena Sylvester Stallone  Idris Elba and Daniela Melchior in The Suicide Squad.

David Dastmalchian, John Cena, Sylvester Stallone (voice), Idris Elba and Daniela Melchior in The Suicide Squad.Courtesy of Warner Bros via Everett Collection

Only two days after the release of his latest Marvel project, Disney+’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, James Gunn was eagerly teasing his plans for his new job: Overseeing Marvel’s rival, the DC Cinematic Universe. On Sunday night, presumably antsy after a long holiday weekend and eager to get back to work, the writer/director jumped on Twitter and began responding to some fan questions about his plans to chart a cohesive course for characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more. And his answers provided some interesting potential insights into the future of DC.

The DCU hasn’t lacked ambition, but it has lacked clarity and focus.. Gunn wrote that his initial concern  is to make everything connect “across film and TV (and animation).” That doesn’t necessarily mean that viewers will get a series of interlocking puzzle pieces a la MCUl. But at the very least, when heroes appear outside of their own movies, their stories will be more cohesive. Gunn’s initial response prompted some additional questions and answers in the thread, many of which are worth exploring and mindlessly speculating on, even if there are no concrete plans…yet. As such, we’re reading the Twitter tea leaves to guess what Gunn may have in mind.

The Movie to TV Pipeline

Gunn’s interlocking approach to  film and television is already well underway. Those who watched Gunn’s excellent Peacemaker HBO Max series know that the eight-episodea spin-off from The Suicide Squad culminated in a cameo from the Justice League—albeit with a few members cast in shadow due to scheduling issues or ongoing contract disputes. However, both Erza Miller’s Flash and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman appeared to pay off a season-long gag about the King of Atlantis’ rumored sexual proclivities. Simple yet effective pieces of world-building like this are the IP equivalent of a lay-up and make perfect sense to include in subsequent Peacemaker seasons or other shows.

As for those other series, well, a lot is still up in the air. But the Black Canary movie led by Jurnee Smollett (which survived the Warner Bros. budgetary ax that felled Batgirl) may make more sense as a show instead of a movie and would certainly allow for her fellow Birds of Prey to appear. 

Booster Gold

Those who didn’t watch Smallville or Justice League Unlimited might be scratching  their heads over his addressing the future of a character whose name sounds like a bad nutritional supplement, but there’s a rich vein to be mined with Booster Gold.

Otherwise known as Michael John Carter, Booster Gold is a washed-up athlete from the 25th century who steals a time machine and a flight ring to return to the present and become a corporate-sponsored superhero, leveraging his knowledge of the future to inform the past. (Think the sports almanac from Back to the Future, but with superheroes.) The loveable yet jerkish sad sack has a lot of overlap with Gunn’s characterization of Star-Lord in the Guardians movies and would work well within his wheelhouse, should he decide to move forward with some sort of adaptation. DC certainly thought so, as Thor and X-Men: First Class writer Zack Stentz penned a movie script for Booster Gold—but nothing’s progressed since he turned in the script in 2019.

So it’s fascinating that Gunn specifically mentioned Booster as “the MOST requested character” by fans, as he’s even more obscure than Black Adam. But if handled correctly, he could easily become a household name like Rocket Raccoon.

Animation

DC remains the gold standard for animated stories, with series like Batman: The Animated SeriesTeen Titans, and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited having a totemic legacy. Gunn confirms there will be “some” 3D and 2D projects set in the DCU, but how would those work?

This is highly speculative, but it might be nice to harken back to WB’s Looney Tunes days by having DCU animated shorts on HBO Max, or attached to future DCU releases. What about tacking a quick cartoon charting the history of Polka-Dot Man or King Shark onto the beginning of the next Suicide Squad sequel? Peacemaker’s sidekick Eagly could easily headline an animated episode of Peacemaker. It’s harder to imagine some of the more prominent stars of the DCU, like Gal Gadot or Henry Cavill, headlining an in-canon cartoon—but it’s not impossible, considering that Gunn convinced Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper to lend their voices to a GOTG holiday special.

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