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James Gunn’s New DCU Continues to be Controversial

How has the internet reacted to the set future for DC film and television?

Credit: DC Studios

The New DCU is on its way. Earlier this month, director and new creative head at DC, James Gunn released a video announcing the first slate of film and television projects that make up his new revised DC cinematic universe. The relatively simple video consists mainly of Gunn standing in front of a blank wall and listing each project with a simple graphic associated with each of them.

This stands in stark contrast to the grand and massive slate rollouts over at Marvel, full of spectacle and extravaganza. Compared to the live events usually hosted by Kevin Feige at the annual D23 expo, Gunn’s video feels far more cold and barren. 

That said, despite the absence of all the bits and bobs of a Marvel announcement, the video still holds plenty of new and exciting announcements regarding the future of DC for both film and television. Besides the last of the old DCEU films from the old guard coming out later this year, a host of brand new projects created entirely under Gunn’s helm have been announced as well, and the fan response has been… mixed. In this article, we are going to take a look at each of the new projects announced and the fan response online.

Blue Beetle

Movie poster with a bionic beetle
Blue Beetle promotional poster
Image Courtesy of DC Studios & IMDB

This project is the odd one out. Technically announced 2 years ago, Blue Beetle spent much of its early development under the old DC regime, and the switch to the new management occurred while this film was in mid-production. As such, there is a high likelihood this project could be retroactively pulled into Gunn’s new DCU. 

Starring Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña, Blue Beetle has been flying under the radar for some time. The character of Blue Beetle has always been a cult favorite among comics fans and more of a supporting character. The small but concentrated fanbase that has been following this film’s development has remained fairly positive in its praise. Despite releasing later this year, little is still known about the project beyond a few set photos.

Creature Commandos. 

Various cartoon monsters including Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein monster and Weasel among others posing towards the viewer.
Creature Commandos concept art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

The first of several TV projects announced for the slate that looks to conjoin DC’s film and television aspirations.

As with most of the new projects announced with this video, all that is known is what Gunn gives us, and beyond a poster highlighting some of the characters, nothing else has been made privy to the public about this property. The only other thing mentioned by Gunn is the fact that characters will “move into animation, out of animation, usually having the same actor play their voice who plays them in live action” An effort that many fans are claiming is a bit ambitious coming right out of the gate. 

Pop culture critic and commentator Vera Wylde of the YouTube channel Council of Geeks exclaimed in a video of her own, “and he is intending to cast voice Talent who could also feasibly play these characters in live-action now it’s daring I’ll give him that it’s the kind of thing that certainly sounds good I just wonder if the logistics are gonna just not be worth it.” Which is a sentiment not held by her alone.

Waller

Amanda Waller in chains and held at gunpoint.
Geoff Isherwood comic art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Of the new projects slated, this is the one we can feel out the most. It stars mostly characters already introduced and focuses on Amanda Waller teaming up with Peacemaker and his gang. So far a solid premise and online chatter have been pretty quiet about it so far, seemingly pleased with the announcement and having faith in the talent behind it. Which includes Christal Henry and Jeremy Carver, both DC veterans after their work on Watchmen and Doom Patrol respectively.

Superman: Legacy

Superman sitting in a cloud.
Superman comic panel
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Any project regarding the boy in blue is going to be controversial. Superman is not just a superhero, he is THE superhero. The archetype, the blueprint, the original. Every superhero made after 1938 owes some legacy to Superman. This film hit trouble right off the back, as James and Peter Safran both made the decision to sack fan favorite, Henry Cavill, from the role in favor of a full reboot just months after reintroducing himself at the end of Black Adam. Already angering a large percentage of the fanbase, Superman Legacy is on rough footing. Notably, the new casting for everyone’s favorite Daily Planet reporter is still underway and the frenzy that is the internet is having a field day figuring out who should play the role. Like these videos from @lexreviews & @sammyjreacts on Tiktok respectively:

Lanterns

Art of both Hal Jordan and John Stewart posing with glowing green lantern rings.
Green Lantern comic covers
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Easily the most ambitious of the new projects. This is a TV show starring the titular green lantern core. This is a big commitment for the small screen, one not unnoticed by the internet we are concerned it may be biting off more than it can chew. However, Gunn also states that the type of story they are shooting for is akin to True Detective; suggesting a far more down-to-earth story for our intergalactic space rangers.

The Authority

Comics panel of several superheroes posing against the sky.
The Authority comic art
Video Screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Easily the most controversial of the projects announced The Authority is a meta-critical take on superheroes. Not necessarily a bad concept but one that comes at a time when other projects are doing the same thing. Already fans are pointing fingers at Amazon’s The Boys live-action show and the animated show Invincible. Both shows have been incredibly successful at taking a meta-perspective of the superhero genre and its tropes. Invincible mocks the blind faith we put on the Superman archetype and analyzes the psychology of an all-powerful man. The Boys parodies superheroes as a whole while also taking shots at rampant commercialization and media manipulation. It is hard to see what The Authority could bring to the table that is new and different. Especially in a niche genre already filled by two currently running and well-received shows. 

Plus, The Authority is an extremely odd choice for a project set early on in the new DCU. A fact not unnoticed by popular comics Tiktoker Jay “ThePandaRedd” Morton, who claimed, “I’m confused how Authority is phase f*****g one of the DCU.”

The Authority is meant to be a critical analysis of other DC superheroes, particularly Superman. They are meant to clash with the well-established tropes of the characters. They appear to be your normal stoic superheroes a la the Justice League but differ by being more brutal and far more morally questionable. So the choice to adapt this team of superheroes before the new DCU can even adapt the team they are supposed to parody is an extremely odd choice.

Paradise Lost

Amazonians waging war against an unknown male population.
Amazonian comic art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

This Wonder Woman spin-off series has so far flown under the radar, in an invisible plane perhaps. Odd considering any series regarding a founding member of the Justice League. Especially one of the big three (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman)

The series follows Amazonains on Themyscira at war with a rival group. Gunn himself compared the series to Game of Thrones. Paradise Lost otherwise remains a mystery.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Batman examines the floor while Robin brandishes a sword.
Frank Quitely Batman & Robin comic art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

The new Batman project has been turning heads left and right. Batman has always been #2 in the DC hierarchy of characters and any project pertaining to the man in the cowl is going to garner attention, however, interestingly, it is not ol’ Bats catching the attention this time around, but rather the announcement that the new film will involve a Robin. Excited as they are, fans are confused as to why the first robin to have a feature film appearance in over 25 years will be Damien Wayne.

For those unaware, in the main comics continuity, there have been 4 people to hold the Robin mantle. First is Dick Grayson the original Robin, then Jason Todd the second Robin, who is replaced by Tim Drake the third Robin, and finally Damien Wayne the fourth Robin and biological son of Bruce Wayne.

Another interesting fact is that in the comics, Damien Wayne is no older than 11 or 12. Meaning the Caped Crusader’s costar will have to be quite young. Robin’s age is an issue Hollywood has continually avoided and ignored in the past. Typically foregoing comic accuracy in favor of introducing an older Robin instead.

Either way, the internet is just as crazy fan-casting this role as they are Superman. This Reddit post lists some of the fan-favorite choices on the internet. Although, it too falls victim to Hollywood’s folly of aging up the Robin character.

Booster Gold

A smug looking superhero with blonde hair and wearing a gold and black suit.
Booster Gold comic cover
Video Screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Booster Gold has been a fan-favorite cult character for years and has seen a handful of small-screen live-action adaptations. He’s not an entirely difficult character to grasp. James Gunn described him as ” The superhero story of Imposter Syndrome”. Online chatter has been quiet so far as little can be gleamed or guessed about the project yet. However, the very existence of this project is evidence of the inclusion of Blue Beetle into the new DCU. The friendship between the two characters in the comics has been a fan favorite for years.

Supergirl: World of Tomorrow

Supergirl sitting on an alien beach next to a sword and covered in blood.
Supergirl comic art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Once again, Chatter has been little about this project slated for theaters. What little has been said regards the use of a relatively recent and somewhat controversial comics storyline. Gunn has proposed a much darker version of the character of Supergirl than what many audiences may be used to.

Swamp Thing

A comic panel of a monster covered in vegetation.
Swamp Thing comic art
Video screenshot courtesy of DC Studios

Swamp Thing is an interesting choice given the character was already adapted just a few years ago for HBO MAX. This darker story stands out from the more typical superhero and action-adventure stories filling up the new slate. However, given the horror-themed characters of Creature Commandos, the possibility of crossover is there. Little has been said yet of the new series. Swamp Thing has had plenty of adaptations before, some good, most bad. Until we know more about it, we will just have to hold our breaths.

Conclusion

The DCU as slated is still gestating, barely growing and the little information we are given has little substance to it beyond face value. As such, what little conversation being held is mostly speculation of the wild variety. Most of the projects have been met with quiet affirmation. The few projects that have received outspoken controversy haven’t been denounced by fans outright. Superman, despite the sacking of Henry Cavill, is still being met with plenty of excitement by fans. Batman will always have its supporters, and plenty of people are salivating at the idea of a cinematic Robin, regardless of who is behind the mask.

Overall, what little chatter of substance that is occurring has been largely positive if a little tepid and cautious after the last few years of DC saw largely mixed results. At the same time, fans have been clamoring for big changes and what Gunn showed us bares little resemblance to what came before and looks to be quite unique compared to what the competitor is offering. 

As for the other 3 films set to release later this year under the DCEU (not to be confused with the new DCU). All of them are burdened with controversy. 

Shazam: Fury of the Gods has a shadow cast over it after the recent concerning tweets by main star Zachary Levi, Aquaman 2 is shrouded in uncertainties due to the inclusion of controversial actress Amber Herd, and The Flash is, of course, on thin ice due to the many questionable actions and statements by main star Ezra Miller, who spent much of 2022 on a crime spree across the US.

Read more about the new DCU here

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Hey! My name is Ryan, and I am a student senior at the University of Missouri St. Louis. I'm a communication major with a specialization in public relations. Writing is a pastime I picked up over the pandemic and felt journalism might be an interesting career path to check out. I am a nerd with a love of video games and sci-fi. I am also a slight anglophile with a solid toe in the U.K scene at most times. My favorite TV show is Psych and my favorite video game series is The Legend of Zelda.

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