On Monday, new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran summoned Hollywood’s top entertainment journalists to Building 95 on the Warner Bros. lot, where they excitedly revealed their film and television slate.
Though there weren’t any major casting announcements — or director signings, for that matter — the 10 projects that were announced represent the future of the DCU, for better or worse, and it’s important to note that Gunn and Safran are keeping some secrets up their sleeves in their quest to assemble a long-term, interconnected story for the iconic comic book company and its stable of beloved characters. “This is just the first part of the first chapter,” cautioned Gunn. “This is not all of Chapter 1.”
Indeed, Gunn and Safran revealed a two-chapter plan for the DCU over the next 8-10 years, the first chapter of which is focused on “Gods and Monsters.” The duo unveiled five new theatrical films as well as five new TV series that will be developed for HBO Max.
Per WB’s official press release, “James Gunn’s Superman: Legacy” anchors the current feature slate, and that particular phrasing hints at a certain sense of authorship on his part that would seem to indicate the writer’s intention to also direct the film, which will hit theaters on July 11, 2025. That was certainly the contention of our columnist, Jamie Williams, and I lay out a supporting theory below.
“Superman: Legacy is the true foundation of our creative vision for the DC Universe. Not only is Superman an iconic part of DC lore, [but] he is also a favorite character for comic book readers, viewers of earlier movies, and fans around the world. I can’t wait to introduce our version of Superman, who audiences will be able to follow and get to know across films, movies, animation, and gaming,” Gunn said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Matt Reeves‘ The Batman — Part II will come out three months after the new Superman movie, on Oct. 3, 2025. That means that 2024 is only expected to bring one DC feature — Joker: Folie à Deux — though Gunn and Safran might deliver some television next year in the form of Creature Commandos and Waller, the latter of which will see Viola Davis reprise her role as Amanda Waller.
Before we continue, check out the DC slate below:
- Superman: Legacy – Gunn said he hasn’t decided whether he’ll direct the Superman movie he’s been hard at work writing for the past several months, as to him, it’s all about what best serves DC and the fans. Would the DCU be better served having Gunn spend the majority of his time and energy getting it off to a great start, or would it be beneficial in the long run if he gave every project a little bit of himself, allowing him, ultimately, to write more? Safran said he’s certainly hoping that Gunn will direct it, and Gunn all but gave it away right at the beginning of his presentation, but as of now, it’s not official. I’ll explain in just a second, but let me continue real quick.Slated to fly into theaters on July 11, 2025, Superman: Legacy will balance Superman’s Kryptonian heritage with his American upbringing. He represents pure kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old-fashioned. And because great villains are the opposite of the heroes they battle, Gunn said he expects to be the villain to be really evil, citing Gorilla Grodd and Joker as examples. But back to why I’m all but certain Gunn will direct Superman: Legacy himself…When James was 11 years old, his parents sent him to see a psychiatrist because he didn’t interact with his peers much growing up. And in order to help James, that psychiatrist encouraged Gunn’s father to take an interest in the things that James loved, which meant comic books. So he drove his son to Creation Comic-Con in Chicago, where they met Ernie Chan, and it cemented James’ love of comics. And he said that one of his happiest moments was when he walked in on his father reading a Superman comic on his own. As soon as he said that, I knew there wasn’t a chance in hell he was going to pass up the opportunity to reinvent the Man of Steel.
- The Authority – For example, Gunn said that he worked on the outline for The Authority, and he’s “working hard on it with writers,” and yes, that was writers, plural. Gunn called it a big movie that sees the WildStorm characters joining the DCU and offers a different kind of story. The characters in this film are well-intentioned, but they think the world is broken and the only way to fix it is to take matters into their own hands and do what they believe is right, even if it involves killing the heads of state and influencing governments. They’re morally grey characters who believe the ends justify the means, and they decide what those ends are.
- The Brave and the Bold – Inspired by Grant Morrison’s comic series, this film is expected to serve as both Batman and Robin’s introductions into the DCU. Gunn noted that he’s still working with Robert Pattinson on Matt Reeves’ sequel to The Batman (which is still being planned as a crime trilogy that also includes The Penguin series), and he’s still talking to Ben Affleck, who would love to direct a DCU movie, but that neither will be Batman in this universe. Instead, The Brave and the Bold will follow Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian Wayne, a little murderer/assassin and “a real son of a bitch,” according to Gunn. He and Safran are putting the unusual father-son story together now, and it will feature other members of the extended Batfamily.
- Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow – Gunn is working with Tom King, who wrote the award-winning comics and is a member of the new DC brain trust. If Superman was sent to Earth and raised by loving parents, this sci-fi adventure movie basically positions Kara as a girl who was on a piece of Krypton that drifted away from the planet, forcing her to watch her entire world die, so she’s “a harsher and more fucked up Supergirl,” one that viewers are used to seeing.
- Swamp Thing – Gunn talked about the need for projects that are tonally different, and this movie falls under that mandate, as it’ll investigate the dark origins of Swamp Thing. In other words, it’ll be a little bit darker than other DCU projects, kind of like Marvel’s Werewolf By Night.
Gunn and Safran are already talking to potential directors for three of the five movies above, though it’s unclear if Gunn is counting himself in that number. He added that there are a couple of other projects that he’s keeping hidden because their titles give away too much, and they do, in fact, have one director working on a big project, though it hasn’t been announced yet and isn’t listed above, as it’ll come a little bit later, as this (male) director apparently likes to take his time when it comes to development.
Regarding the recent run of DC stars, Gunn said that he and Safran have spoken to Gal Gadot, and while she’s up to return as Wonder Woman at some point, they’re not sure if that will happen, let alone when. They also stressed that while Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck are not a part of the DCU right now, Cavill was not fired, he just wasn’t hired to be the new Superman. Gunn also clarified that Jason Momoa will not play two characters, so they’ll revisit that (Lobo?) conversation after Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom comes out.
Asked point blank, Gunn didn’t say whether Ezra Miller will continue on as The Flash beyond the upcoming film, but he called it “one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen.” And as noted above, Viola Davis and John Cena will be back along with several other Peacemaker cast members, plus, I assume, Sean Gunn as the voice of Weasel in Creature Commandos (seen below).
TELEVISION (for HBO Max)
- Creature Commandos – This seven-episode animated series written by James Gunn is currently in production. The series finds Amanda Waller creating a black ops team out of monstrous prisoners — Rick Flag Sr. (who will appear in other DCU projects), Nina Mazursky, Doctor Phosphorus, Eric Frankenstein, the Bride of Frankenstein (who will be positioned as the lead), G.I. Robot, and Weasel, who was played by Sean Gunn in The Suicide Squad, and who was also referenced in Season 1 of Peacemaker.
- Waller – Gunn confirmed that Oscar/Emmy winner Viola Davis will reprise her role in this spinoff series, which will also feature Team Peacemaker, as it will serve as a follow-up of sorts that will sit between Season 1 and Season 2 of that HBO Max series. the streamer is equally excited about this show, which hails from writers Christal Henry (Watchmen) and Jeremy Carver (Doom Patrol).
- Booster Gold – Gunn has been talking to an actor for the part of Booster Gold, who is envisioned as a loser from the future who uses basic future technology to pretend to be a superhero in the present day. So basically, Booster Gold has Imposter syndrome, and it’s about how he uses this technology to be loved — love being the primary theme of Gunn’s vision for the DCU.
- Lanterns – This epic-scale HBO Max event series (all DCU series going forward will be on HBO Max) will follow the two best-known Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan and John Stewart, and the show is envisioned as a “True Detective-type mystery… a terrestrial-based mystery that leads into the overall story we’re telling — is ancient horror on Earth. They’re like intergalactic super cops working in precinct Earth to uncover a dark mystery
- Paradise Lost – This live-action series will further explore Themyscira, the home of the Amazons and the birthplace of Wonder Woman. It will largely take place prior to the events of Diana’s birth, and it will further explore the genesis and political intrigue behind this island society of women and what that means — what their rules are and what games they play with each other to get to the top. The drama sounds a little like Game of Thrones to me, perhaps with fewer dragons?
Gunn promised that there will be an ending to the basic story at the conclusion of Chapter 1, though maybe not the universe as a whole. Because of that 8-10 year plan, talent is being asked to sign 10-year deals that cover both film and television.
Of course, those aren’t the only mediums in town. Gunn also acknowledged that “gaming is a big part of what we’re doing,” and after noting that the two most popular rides in the world are based on Guardians of the Galaxy, chuckled when asked whether he’s working with Six Flags to develop some new DC rides, so stay tuned on that front. Clearly, he and Safran have been tasked with overseeing every aspect of DC outside of the comics themselves.
“As we craft the plan for DC Studios, we are thrilled to share with fans the first 10 stories they can expect from the unified DC Universe featuring some of our most well-known characters as well as the next generation of marquee characters,” Safran said in a statement. “Chapter 1 tells cohesive stories that highlight love, compassion, and the innate goodness of the human spirit, all designed to minimize audience confusion and maximize audience engagement across platforms.”
During Monday’s Q&A session, Gunn acknowledged that “a lot of people think this is gonna be Marvel 2.0,” but he said that what makes the DCU different is that it takes place in an alternate world. In the MCU, the action takes place in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, in addition to fictional locales such as Wakanda. But in the DCU, there’s Gotham and Metropolis and Atlantis, so it’s not our world, necessarily, but a world where superheroes exist, and have existed for quite some time. And yes, “one of the things we’re working on involves a multiverse,” said Gunn, though he said he’s focused on one universe within that multiverse for now.
That said, he’s eager to see “seemingly incongruent things come together,” as that’s the kind of tone that he enjoys striving for. In other words, Gunn is something of an agent of chaos rather than a button-up studio executive.
Without throwing shade at Kevin Feige and the rest of his friends at Marvel, Gunn said that the DCU is already a lot more planned out than the early days of the MCU, and that he has already been working with a group of writers to completely work out that larger story. He said that the DCU will be filled with morally complex characters a la Game of Thrones and that he and Safran promise not to put projects into production until the script is right.
“Movies, in general, are not as good as they used to be because they’re set into a date and they don’t even have a third act until they’re already shooting,” confessed Gunn. “We’re going to make writers as important as they are. That is our commitment to this process,” he swore to the press.
“I knew there’d be a lot of hitches, a lot of problems, but comic books are in my blood. These characters are in my blood,” said Gunn. “We all know it’s been a fucked up road for many of them over the last few years… [so] it’s a challenge, but there’s a chance to do something really wonderful [here],” he insisted. “[Yes], the history has been shit [and] it’s been a fucked up journey. They were giving out IP to creatives who smiled at the people in charge, and then the people in charge didn’t even have real power,” admitted Gunn.
“We have a lot to prove,” he concluded, though he said he’s excited to lead a standalone entity with a unified creative vision and tell “stories about love” over the next 8-10 years — though after two months on the job, Gunn joked that he’s already tired.
Gunn and Safran sat with the trade press first and gave them an earlier embargo time before chatting with the major blogs and fan sites next, and I imagine that the two groups came away with very different information.
For example, Gunn and Safran mentioned an architectural group for the DCU, i.e. the writers who are putting together the building blocks of that universe. He said he has been working very closely with Tom King, and that others involved include Christal Henry, Christina Hodson, Jeremy Slater, and yes, Drew Goddard.
Asked whether he felt pressure to deliver a massive slate to the press to compete with Marvel, Gunn said he simply figured that his master plan was going to get out there anyway, so why not let fans know about it himself rather than let it come out piecemeal in dribs and drabs through the trades.
Gunn explained that while there are four more DC movies coming to theaters this year — Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — it’s The Flash that will “reset everything.” Following that reset, Blue Beetle (which as of now is disconnected from the other DC movies) could be part of the DCU, but no matter what, everything from Superman: Legacy and on will be connected and consistent, though there will be properties that exist outside of the DCU, much like DC Elseworlds. Those projects include Todd Phillips‘ Joker movies and kids’ animation efforts such as Teen Titans Go. Likewise, some of the animated titles from WB Home Entertainment will continue as Elseworld-type titles, while others will be connected to the larger universe.
Gunn acknowledged that Superman will be entering the public domain in a decade, but only certain elements of the character, and he won’t allow that to impact his definition of Clark Kent. He also said that while the DCU will be a unified universe, he wants fans to understand the story first and foremost, so if Superman is in The Authority, he wants viewers to be able to understand what’s going on in The Authority without having seen Superman: Legacy, and while small confusions are, of course, unavoidable, the main thing is that each individual project is understood on its own terms.
To that end, I thought that Monday’s presentation was a success, as Gunn and the equally smooth Safran said all the right things about prioritizing writers and not rushing movies before scripts are ready in order to meet release dates. You’d be shocked how many tentpole movies enter production without a third act that everyone is happy with. I’m excited about the new era of DC, even though the slate that Gunn and Safran unveiled was a mix of marquee characters (Superman! Batman! Robin! Amanda Waller!) and second-tier properties (Swamp Thing, Booster Gold), though if anyone has had success elevating B-tier properties to the A-list, it would be Gunn. I think these characters are in the right hands, and that in Gunn, DC has found the closest thing it can to Kevin Feige, though we’ll have to wait to see whether Superman: Legacy is worth the wait. Because we all know Gunn can talk the talk, but all that matters is that he can walk the walk. He bought himself some time on Monday. Now let’s let the man do his thing.