Last night was exciting for DC and DC cinematic universe fans everywhere. Since October of last year, we’ve known that James Gunn and Peter Safran would be joining forces to take over control of DC Studios. Still, until last night we didn’t know what that meant for the studio’s future.
However, thanks to a plethora of information released last night, fans can now rest easy with the knowledge that the future of the DCU is in good hands and that the direction of future projects will bring all of the depth, darkness and intrigue that the DCU has so sorely missed.
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There’s a lot of information to go through, but the one thread tying everything together will be DC’s new approach to the beloved characters, villains and heroes alike. Fans will see less of the cookie-cutter “good vs bad” storylines the studio is famous for in the future. Instead, the DCU will embrace the grey for which the comics are so well-known.
DC Cinematic Universe Phase 1
Here are just a few of our plans. Up, up, and away! #DCStudios #DCU @DCComics pic.twitter.com/8XNDNLUEPq
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 31, 2023
James Gunn:”We want to take it away from good guy versus bad guy, and there’s all sorts of really, really almost saintly people, Superman is among them. There are really terrible villains like Gorilla Grodd, or Joker, and then there’s everybody in between. So, there’s all these shades of gray of these different types of characters, which allows us to tell more complex storytelling.”
This new and more faithful approach will apply to the characters viewers already know and love and to some newly introduced characters moving forward, like Supergirl.
“Superman was sent to earth, and he was raised by incredibly loving parents. Whereas Kara was on Krypton, she was on a piece of Krypton that drifted away from the planet, and lived there for the first 14 years of her life among a horrible situation where she watched everybody around her die. And so she’s a much harsher and more f–ked up Supergirl than we’ve been used to thus far.”
This new tone will also pave the way for more morally ambiguous groups to emerge on the screen, such as The Authority, one of DC’s less-known hero groups who will also be making their DCU debut.
“The Authority 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, whatever they want to do to make the world better.”
A fresh new tone wasn’t the only thing revealed last night. Fans were also treated to James Gunn and Peter Safran unveiling most of their plans for the DCU Phase 1 slate, which included the confirmation of over ten upcoming projects slated to release over the next several years as well as some information about how these projects would be tied together and fit into the overarching universe. Perhaps the biggest reveal is that going forward, live-action films, TV shows, animated features and games will take place in the same universe and build off each other’s stories instead of existing independently.
But without further ado, here are all the projects that have been confirmed so far and everything we know about them:
Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Blue Beetle
Both these movies were made before the new plan for the DCU was set into motion, so it’s unlikely that the tone would fit into where the studio is heading. However, that doesn’t mean this is the end of these projects. James Gunn has already confirmed that Shazam: Fury of the Gods will lead directly into the upcoming The Flash movie and that Blue Beetle will be a completely stand-alone entry, not tied to anything that has come before.
Because of this, there is a good chance that Xolo Mariedueña’s Blue Beetle could seamlessly transition into the new DCU, while Zachary Levi’s Shazam could pave a future for himself thanks to The Flash.
Talking about The Flash, this movie will see the complete reset for the DCU. James Gunn confirmed that the movie’s multiverse and the time-travel story would pave the way for everything to come. While not much more information was given about the project, James Gunn praised the film director Andy Muschietti for what was delivered.
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom
The Flash is one of many films responsible for setting all the significant changes into motion. James Gunn revealed that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom would lead directly into the new Superman reboot movie. Although, since last night, there has been a fair share of argument online about whether Jame Gunn meant that Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom would be the last movie releasing before the next Superman film or if he meant that the Jason Momoa-led sequel would directly set up and lead into the reboot.
The most spoken about announcement is Superman: Legacy, the firm movie that will form part of Phase 1. From what we know, James Gunn is writing the script, and the film will focus on a young Clark Kent who is already established as Superman and working to balance his superhero and regular life. The movie already has an official release date of July 11, 2025. However, a new actor has yet to be cast for Superman, and the film still needs a director. James Gunn did say he might direct if time permits.
The first animated series for Phase 1 was also announced with Creature Commandos, which will be headed to HBO. This seven-episode mini-series is already in production, with all the episodes written by James Gunn. The animated series will follow the Bride of Frankenstein as the protagonist and features other DC characters like Nina Mazursky, Doctor Phosphorus, Eric Frankenstein, and G.I. Robot.
While we’ve known about the upcoming HBO series Waller for a while, we now know that the Amanda Waller-centered show will occur between Peacemaker seasons 1 and 2. Waller will see Viola Davis return as Amanda Waller, and several characters from Peacemaker are also scheduled to appear.
The Green Lanterns
Another exciting reveal is that The Green Lanterns will finally return and play a pivotal role in Phase 1. The upcoming HBO Max show will follow al Jordan and John Stewart, two of the most popular Green Lanterns in the comics. From what we know, the series will be a True Detective-type mystery mostly set on Earth, where the two Lanterns will have to investigate an ancient horror. This horror will directly connect to the overall narrative of Phase 1.
Another show coming to HBO Max will be Paradise Lost, the prequel story to Wonder Woman that will focus on her home, Themyscira. According to James Gunn, the series will be dark, dramatic, and with a heavy focus on the political intrigue behind the island. Although fans shouldn’t expect to see Diana Prince in the show as it’s set years before her birth.
Another HBO Max show will be Booser Gold, a show following the time-travelling hero Michael Jon Carter. Currently, the show is still very early in its planning stages, with James Gunn and Peter Safran talking about who will be playing the role of Booster Gold in the show.
The first major film (outside of Superman) announced was The Authority. The movie will be based on the original Wildstorm imprint before DC absorbed them in 1999. It will follow a group of anti-heroes who believe the world needs saving and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.
The Brave and the Bold
Phase 1 will also see the reboot of Batman with The Brave and the Bold. This film will star fan favourite Bruce Wayne and debut his son, Damian Wayne. The Brave and the Bold is based on Grant Morrison’s Batman comics and will feature other members of the Bat Family, although no further information was given.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
Based on the 2022 comic run by Tom King, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow will follow Supergirl after she stays on a piece of Krypton for 14 years after the planet was destroyed and watches loved ones around her die.
Keeping with their new darker tone for the DCU, James Gunn and Peter Safran will also be bringing Swamp Thing to the big screen to bring monsters into Phase 1. Little was revealed about how Swamp Thing would fit into the larger universe other than that the movie will be an origin story for Swamp Thing.
These projects are only some of what will form part of Chapter 1 of Phase 1. According to James Gunn, Phase 1 will have two chapters by the time it concludes in 10 years, and to retain some flexibility and surprise, many of the projects will be kept under wraps.
The goal in the future will be to release at least two films and two new HBO Max shows every year, starting with the 2025 release of Superman: Legacy. As for Matt Reeves’ The Batman? It was confirmed that the trilogy would move forward regardless of the new DCU plans and would remain separate as part of the newly established DC Elseworlds brand.
James Gunn confirmed that The Batman trilogy would form part of a more prominent crime sage that will expand into spinoff films and shows. However, he did not elaborate on what these might be.