James Gunn’s DC Slate has dropped!
After Gunn and Peter Safran took the reins earlier this year, DC fans have been waiting to hear what the plans are for the forthcoming DC Universe. Now, that wait is over. The wait to see these projects come to the screen (and hopefully not be erased from servers) begins.
After the Marvel Cinematic Universe took off fifteen years ago, DC sought to replicate the MCU’s success. However, DC’s stumbled a bit along the path to a successful cinematic universe. Controversy and allegations of abuse mired movie production. Directors and actors left and then returned. Reviews were often murky when they were not outright poor.
Earlier this year, rumors ran rampant that Warner Bros. Discovery’s new CEO was seeking the DC version of Kevin Feige. Enter Gunn and Safran. However, Gunn is quite clear: his plans for DC are not to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe 2.0.
DC Slate In 2023
Gunn and Safran’s introduced DC slate makes many changes to the existing DCU, formerly known as the DC Extended Universe. However, a lot of projects were already well into production when Gunn and Safran took over. These projects will go ahead.
Still, it’s worth remembering that these projects might not indicate the overall direction Gunn and Safran plan to take the DCU.
Shazam!: Fury of the Gods releases on March 17th, followed by The Flash on June 23. Blue Beetle will hit the big screen in August, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom releases on Christmas Day.
As for the future of these franchises…
Farewell To Favorites
Long-standing DCU stars will not be returning. Henry Cavill was not cast as Superman. Ben Affleck’s Batman will also not return. (Admittedly, though, there are rumors that Affleck might still be involved in a different capacity…) Patty Jenkins’ third Wonder Woman film was also canceled. Plus, Ezra Miller’s future as The Flash seems unclear, given the star’s recent tabloid headlines after a mental health emergency.
While it might seem like Gunn is cleaning house, that’s not inherently true. Gunn pushed back on claims that Gal Gadot was “booted” from the franchise. Plus, he’s not ruled out returns for Miller or other characters like Jason Momoa’s Aquaman.
In fact, Gunn commented that the upcoming film The Flash is, in his opinion:
…probably one of the greatest superhero movies ever made.
That’s pretty high praise, so fans will have to wait and see. In the meantime, Safran affirmed DC’s commitment to supporting Miller in their recovery.
If Cavill won’t be returning, what does that mean for Clark Kent in Gunn’s DC slate?
Strategy for the Upcoming DC Slate
Gunn and Safran dubbed this phase of the DCU “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.” The similarities to the concept of the MCU’s phases are obvious, so time will tell if “it’s not the DC version of the MCU!” is mere talk or truth.
That said, there’s wisdom in taking inspiration from a successful franchise, and inspiration isn’t the same thing as copying.
For example, Gunn’s DC slate is hardly through with DC Comics’ Big Three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Yes, plans exist for individual stories focused on these three. The Big Three, though, will also introduce new characters (well, new for cinema-only fans).
One of our strategies is to take our diamond characters — which [are] Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman — and we use them to prop up other characters that people don’t know.
That’s pretty much exactly what Gunn did with Guardians of the Galaxy in Marvel. Starlord, Gamora, and the rest were relatively unknown when compared to other big-name heroes. However, the movie introduced Thanos, a character teased in 2012’s Avengers, thereby giving the Guardians a direct tie to the stakes of the overall universe and beloved fan-favorite characters.
Since then, the Guardians have become household names in their own right. Clearly, the strategy works.
The Big Three
The DC Slate’s plans for the Big Three are as follows:
- Superman: Legacy: a Superman movie, releasing July 11, 2025.
- Paradise Lost: a Wonder Woman TV show, set on Themyscira.
- The Brave and the Bold: a Batman movie.
For now, Superman: Legacy is the only one with a release date. Gunn himself stated that he is writing the script. He may be directing as well. Gunn explained that his vision for the film is that it not be an origin story, but instead, according to Safran, a search for identity:
It focuses on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He is the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way. He is kindness in a world that thinks that kindness is old-fashioned.
The focus on themes and the promise of a psychological story seems an interesting spin on the classic Superman tale, one that fits with the traditional comics and yet could well feel fresh and unique.
Gunn and Safran pitched Paradise Lost with a striking comparison: to Game of Thrones! Considering Wonder Woman does draw (loosely) from Greek and Roman mythology, well, there might certainly be some Game of Thrones-style romances. Paradise Lost promises political intrigue.
Lastly, The Brave and the Bold will debut Batman to the DCU big screen. What does seem to make it stand out among a sea of Batman properties is that it will be a father-son story… and mark the live-action debut of Damian Wayne. Yes, the Bat Brat will be cutting his own way into households everywhere.
DC Slate: Other Movies
Gunn and Safran announced three other movies for the upcoming DC slate.
The Authority might conjure Guardians of the Galaxy comparisons for its sheer unexpectedness. The Authority is a team that isn’t very well known among DC Comic heroes… if you can call them that! These antiheroes wield bizarre powers, and the twists in their lore often run quite dark. These could appeal to both superhero fans and fans of darker dramas.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow takes its title from Tom King’s recent comics. Gunn also promises a darker twist on the character. Gunn and Safran also appointed King to a team of writers to develop the entire DC slate.
Lastly, Swamp Thing plans to close out the DCU’s Chapter 1. It also promises a unique twist to superhero movies, in that it presumably will by no means follow the classic superhero formula. No, instead Swamp Thing will be a horror film.
While horror may not be for everyone, delving into different genres is a surefire way to distinguish the DCU from the MCU. Marvel’s well-used tropes clearly work, and some films incorporate aspects of other genres (for example, Captain America: The Winter Soldier definitely draws from political thrillers). Still, there’s no outright dive away from the superhero formula, and there’s certainly no horror movie.
This also speaks to Warner Bros. Discovery’s ambitions. By putting eggs in TV shows and movies that cross mediums and genres, they can establish an entirely different type of cinematic universe.
DC Slate: Shows
The Wonder Woman-based Paradise Lost is not the only DC TV show scheduled for the future. Gunn and Safran added at least four other shows to DC’s slate.
- Creature Commandos
- Booster Gold
Creature Commandos promises a uniquely monstrous version of the Suicide Squad (a crew Gunn himself directed in 2021’s version), while Waller makes Suicide Squad mastermind Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) the star.
Lest things appear too dark and serious, Booster Gold will bring a comedic side to the DCU. Fans have been clamoring for a Booster Gold live-action adaptation for well over a decade now, and it’s finally happening.
Undoubtedly, though, the most famous name on this slate is Lanterns. Starring Hal Jordan and John Stewart, the premise is a mystery—literally. The Lanterns are set to explore a mystery with wider implications for the DCU as a whole. Let’s hope Gunn and Safran’s version, set to drop on HBO Max, won’t have to be put out of its misery by a universe-crossing Deadpool.
DC Slate: DC Elseworlds
Of course, there are existing DC-based properties that will also be continuing. Dubbed “DC Elseworlds,” they take their name from DC Comics, where Elseworlds are standalone stories that don’t technically occur in canon.
While not part of the DCU proper (meaning they’re not likely to cross over with other films), these films will fall under the general umbrella of Gunn and Safran’s management.
These include films like the 2024 Joker: Folie à Deux, which will be a musical starring Lady Gaga alongside Joaquin Phoenix, and 2025’s The Batman Part II. In addition, Blue Beetle, set to come out this very year in August, will be categorized as a DC Elseworld film. Other potential movies include Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Superman which will star a Black actor.
Popular DC-based series likely fall under this category, too. For example, the critically acclaimed Harley Quinn, along with Teen Titans GO, seem to fit these parameters.