James Gunn Announces New DC Slate “Gods and Monsters”
There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is James Gunn.
The new co-CEO of the recently re-christened DC Studios took to the internet today to announce the first phase of the plan developed with Peter Safran under the auspices of Warner Bros Discovery execs Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy. Moving forward past the existing slate of films already in the pipeline — Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman — the new “DC Universe” will be a unified continuity that spans multiple media formats.
“So, as many of you know, DC has been disconnected in film and television for a long time. Our jobs — mine and Peter’s — is to come in and make sure the DCU is connected in film, television, gaming, and animation. That the characters are consistent, played by the same actors, and it works within one story.” Gunn made a point in his presentation to set The Batman, Joker, and Teen Titans Go! in their own “Elseworlds” category.
“Shazam has always been off kind of in his own part of the DCU, so he connects very well. That moves directly into The Flash, a fantastic movie that I really love. That resets the entire DC Universe. And then to move into Blue Beetle, a fantastic film about a kid who’s a marvelous part of the DCU, and then into Aquaman 2, which leads directly into our next few projects…”
“The DCU’s a multiverse, but we’re going to be focusing on one universe from that multiverse,” explains Safran. “And if something isn’t DCU, we’re going to make that very clear. So, strictly adult fare like Todd Phillips’ Joker, or kids animation like Teen Titans Go!, we’re going to make it very clear that those are DC Elseworlds, just the same way that they do it in the comic books.”
Per the announcement on the DC Comics blog, the upcoming Joker: Folie à Deux and the sequel to The Batman will be considered outside the main continuity. One would assume that applies to the upcoming series focused on the Penguin, if that project continues to move forward in the production pipeline.
At the press event Monday, Gunn and Safran confirmed The Batman Part II will be in theaters October 3, 2025, although no plot details were mentioned. They also confirmed that the Superman project written by Ta-Nehisi Coates is still in active development, and they’re waiting on a draft of the screenplay to be delivered.
The two laid out their plans for the future of DC. “DC Studios is unprecedented,” Safran said. “It is a standalone production entity and studio. It is the first time ever that everything DC related — film, television, live-action, animation, gaming — is all centralized under one creative vision, that of James and myself.”
“Here at DC, we have Metropolis, Gotham, Themyscira, Atlantis, Bialya… This is the world that we’re creating,” Gunn shares. “We’re coming into a world where superheroes exist and have existed for some time in one form or another, and that’s the universe. We are telling a big, huge central story that is like Marvel, except that I think we’re a lot more planned out than Marvel from the beginning because we’ve gotten a group of writers together to work the story out completely.”
No directors have been hired yet, although they say they’re “very close” on two of them, but there is a writers room comprised of Drew Goddard, Jeremy Slater, Christina Hobson, Christal Henry, and Tom King. “We sat down in a room for a few days and we started to bash out what the basic overall plan could be,” Gunn said. “Not so much that it ties your wrists, but enough that we know what the basic story is, where we’re going. And it’s something that we’ll continue to do.”
The first project for the new operation, Creature Commandos, is a seven-episode animated series set up at HBO Max. Gunn says, “What we’re doing with the DCU is we’re having animation tied directly into live action. Television, movies and games all intertwine within the same universe. We’re going to cast actors that are going to be able to play the characters in this, as well as in other things, some of which we’ve already cast. I’ve written all seven episodes of this show and it’s in production now.”
The show features Rick Flag, Sr. along with Nina Mazursky, Doctor Phosphorus, Eric Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, G.I. Robot, and Weasel. The Bride will be the lead character, according to Gunn, and Flag will appear across various other stories. The team is a monster-based variant of Task Force X, and like the “Suicide Squad” is assembled for the mission by Amanda Waller.
Gunn says that animation allows the creative team to “tell stories that are gigantic, but without spending, you now, $50 million an episode.” Plus, the actors cast to voice these characters could also show up as their live-action counterparts.
Viola Davis returns as the manipulative Amanda Waller in this live-action HBO Max series, which Gunn says till connect with Peacemaker, and some characters will appear in both shows. Christal Henry and Jeremy Carver are serving as showrunners. Safran says this series takes place between seasons one and two of Peacemaker. And with this production slate in place, season two of Peacemaker is currently on hold. Waller will pick up the story out of the season finale of Peacemaker, in which Amanda Waller’s daughter revealed the existence of Task Force X to the world.
Gunn says, “It is a fantastic story that’s out of this world, and I can’t wait for people to see it.”
Safran and Gunn have pinned this film as the official starting point for the new DCU, as it’s the first film made in the new continuity post-reset from The Flash. Safran calls it an “amuse-bouche” (an appetizer) to give us a glimpse of what’s in store, and it’s not an origin story despite the plan to cast a younger actor to replace Henry Cavill. “It focuses on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. Superman represents truth, justice and the American way. He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned.”
As for the casting rumors that swirled around the internet regarding Cavill, Gunn says the actor wasn’t fired because he was never hired for anything past the Black Adam cameo. “We didn’t fire Henry. Henry was never cast. He was in a cameo, and that was the end of his story. A lot of people made assumptions which weren’t true.” Gunn adds, “For me, for this story, it isn’t Henry. I like Henry. He’s a great guy. I think he’s gotten dicked around by a lot of people, including former regimes of this company. But this Superman isn’t Henry for a number of reasons.”
Gunn describes Superman as “saintly” among the people, saying the plan is to move into more complex stories than just “good guy vs bad guy.”
“You need to tell stories that are more morally complex. You need to tell stories that don’t just pretend to be different genres, but actually are different genres.” Gunn says many of the modern superhero films are rushed into production before the third act is in place, which leaves them making things up as the film is in the pipeline, leading to a bunch of people punching each other with no flow to the action. Safran says, “It’s bad movie fatigue.”
Superman: Legacy is slated to hit theaters July 11, 2025.
However, Gunn says that although there’s a date in place, Superman: Legacy and any other project could move dates if it’s not ready to go, telling Variety, “I’ve seen it happen again and again — it’s a mess. It’s the primary reason for the deterioration in quality of films today, versus 20-30 years ago.” Gunn and Safran have said that they will not greenlight a film until it’s ready to begin production.
This HBO Max live-action series will focus on Hal Jordan and John Stewart, although Gunn says other Green Lanterns will appear. Gunn describes it as “a terrestrial-based TV show which is almost like True Detective with a couple of Green Lanterns who are space cops watching over precinct Earth. In it, they discover a terrifying mystery that ties into our larger story of the DCU.” This terrifying mystery is an “ancient horror” on Earth.
According to press reports, this series is not the show being developed by Greg Berlanti. “Greg’s vision was more of a space opera,” Safran said. “Our vision is much more True Detective, terrestrial-based investigation story.”
Spinning out of Superman: Legacy will be a live-action film starring the Wildstorm characters created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The Wildstorm characters were folded into DC Comics continuity during the New 52 relaunch, and characters from that imprint will be part of the DCU filmed media as well.
The Authority is a morally gray ends-justify-the-means superhero team. Gunn says, “They are basically good-intentioned, but they think that the world is completely broken and the only way to fix it is to take things into their own hands, whether that means killing people, destroying heads of state, changing governments — basically, whatever they want to do to make the world better. We’ll see how that journey goes for them.”
Safran adds, “They’re kind of like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. They know that you want them on the wall, or at least they believe that.”
This is a live-action television series set on the island of Themyscira in the days before the birth of Wonder Woman. Safran describes it as “a Game of Thrones-type story” that involves “all of the darkness, drama and political intrigue behind this society of only women.” Gunn says it’s the island society’s origin story, with both beautiful and ugly truths behind it all, which suggests (on the surface level, at least) that perhaps there will be elements from Brian Azzarello’s run on Wonder Woman in the New 52 days, in which there were some revelations about the Amazons that met with … mixed reactions.
The Brave and the Bold
“The introduction of the DCU’s Batman is The Brave and the Bold,” which will be based on Grant Morrison’s Batman: Batman & Son comic book run. Gunn says, “Damian Wayne is my favorite Robin. He’s a little assassin who Batman tries to get in line, and so this is the story of the two of them and the beginning of sort of the Bat-Family in the DCU.” Safran says of Bruce Wayne’s extended adopted family, “…we feel like they’ve been left out of the Batman stories in the theater for far too long.”
As reported elsewhere, Ben Affleck will not be reprising his role as the Dark Knight in the new continuity, but Gunn says they’re in talks for Affleck to direct one of the projects, and they’re very excited for him to be doing that.
Another HBO Max live-action series, Booster Gold tells the story of Mike Carter, a “loser from the future” who uses time travel technology to jump into the past (our present) and pretends to be a superhero for the adulation and fame. Gunn says it’s “basically the superhero story of imposter syndrome” and how Booster deals with that. There are currently talks in progress with an actor to play Booster, but no names have been mentioned.
Gunn says it’s going to be a very different type of show, and it speaks to the mix of major and minor characters that exist all in one universe. As this is a TV series, it would seem the previously announced film from Greg Berlanti is no longer in development.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
Based on the story written by Tom King (who used to be with the CIA) with art by Bilquis Evely, this live-action movie delivers a Kara Zor-El who’s been living on a piece of Krypton that drifted in space after the destruction of the planet. Watching everyone around her die in some horrible way has made her “a much more jaded character” than the Supergirl we’re used to seeing. Gunn says this Supergirl is “much more hardcore.”
Gunn says of King, “He’s been one of the guys in the room with us, along with four or five other writers. I love his take on these characters. He just turns them slightly to be something very unique.”
There’s no indication if this Supergirl will be the one played by Sasha Calle, whom we’ll meet in The Flash. Odds are pretty good that the role will be played by someone else, as Calle’s Supergirl is suspected to be the Lana Lane-Kent variant and not Superman’s cousin Kara.
Gunn says this film is “a very dark horror story and the origins of the monster who is Swamp Thing.” Despite being tonally different from everything else announced as part of this first chapter, Gunn says it will feed into the overall story being told in this universe. Comparing Swamp Thing to the inclusion of Rocket Raccoon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Gunn says they’re “one-upping” that mashup approach with this film. “This is a much more horrific film, but we’ll still have Swamp Thing interact with the other characters.”
Safran says, “…it’s important to point out that in these stories, although they’re interconnected, they’re not all tonally the same. Each set of filmmakers bring their own aesthetic to these films, and the fun is seeing how these tonally different works mash up in the future.”
“As everyone here probably knows, the history of DC is pretty messed up,” Gunn told press on Monday. With the Snyderverse, the Arrowverse, various animated films, the video games doing their own thing, the recent Black Adam and Birds of Prey disappointments, Gunn added, ““No one was minding the mint. They were just giving away IP like they were party favors to any creators that smiled at them.”
Gunn and Safran are happy to have everything connected in one distinct continuity (with the exception of the Elseworlds titles), and they have flexibility in determining where these projects will live, especially on the television side. “We have the ability to sell outside of HBO Max, if that makes sense,” Safran tells Variety. “So we’ll figure out if there are certain shows coming up that would be better served elsewhere, or [if] there’s not real estate on HBO Max for us. But we like the idea of having shows on Amazon and Hulu and Netflix. It just broadens the DC audience.” The current rough plan is to release two films and two series per year.
The two also left open the door for possible returns for Jason Momoa or Ezra Miller, who each have projects already in the release pipeline. Gunn also made clear that there won’t be any actors playing more than one character, so either Momoa continues to play Aquaman, or maybe Lobo (a fan-favorite casting), but not both. No mention was made of Gal Gadot, although previously Gunn has stated he’s open to keeping her as Wonder Woman.
“There’s no reasons why all the people you mentioned, couldn’t be part of the DCU, we just haven’t decided what the story is that we want to tell that incorporates Shazam or Aquaman,” Safran said, according to Deadline. Safran also makes clear that Miller’s next outing as The Flash is the only one on the books, saying that the actor’s journey now is focused on mental health recovery.
Notable is the absence of any mention of the Superman film connected with Michael B. Jordan or the animated Harley Quinn.