First of all, the good news: director James Gunn and producer Peter Safran have been chosen as co-presidents of DC Studios. The duo’s role will be, starting now, to oversee the creative direction of the entire DC universe, whether in films, series or animation projects. That is, dozens of chefs running in the same kitchen.
The announcement ends the quest to find a “Kevin Feige” for the universe of heroes behind Superman, Batman and co. Since David Zaslav took over Warner Bros. Discovery, the executive wanted a name to unify the products with the DC label, a mess that took constant beatings from rival Marvel.
James Gunn left independent cinema and entered the blockbuster game by directing the first two “Guardians of the Galaxy” precisely for Marvel.
Fired over a decade ago, Gunn was called to DC, where he directed “The Suicide Squad” and created the “Peacemaker” series. On the horizon he has “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” scheduled for May of next year.
Peter Safran was Gunn’s manager for years, before honing his talent as a producer. With an eclectic curriculum, especially in independent cinema, he scored a great goal by directing the series “The Conjuring” and its derivatives, in addition to signing the production of “Aquaman”, “Shazam!” and, of course, “The Suicide Squad”.
With this resume, Gunn and Safran complete the role of DC’s guardians. The first deals with the creative aspect of the universe; the second is more versed on the corporate side. It’s a union that finally promises to get the publisher’s superheroes out of the mud they find themselves in, especially in film.
Badge on the chest, the duo now have a herculean job ahead of them. The first of them is to chat with the whole class that is currently working on a DC project to then find some meaning in the mess. Obviously the first one they need to call for coffee is Dwayne Johnson.
There is no star today more enthusiastic about selling his fish than Johnson. Over the past few months, his full-time job has been to become the face of “Black Adam,” the anti-hero’s film debut.
In recent weeks, however, the artist formerly known as The Rock has hinted, even without leaving between the lines, that he would somehow be at the forefront of a new DC.
Okay, its merits are not few. The biggest one was perhaps rescuing Henry Cavill as Superman. A legacy of the Zack Snyder-conceived universe, Cavill’s version of the Man of Steel started reasonably well with, errr, “The Man of Steel”, but derailed in “Batman v. Superman” and “Justice League” – that one disaster with two bad versions.
Gunn and Safran’s job now is to understand how “Black Adam” fits into the new plans that aim to unify this universe – and, as a table, tell Johnson to hold back his enthusiasm. Starting from scratch is no longer an option as, right off the bat, they’ve inherited Cavill and his version of Superman.
Gunn has already shown that it is possible to create a soft reboot with “The Suicide Squad”. The 2021 film was a failure in theaters, but not because of its undeniable quality, but because it was released not only in the midst of the pandemic, but also simultaneously on HBO Max. Still, Gunn created an original story, without giving up some elements of the terrible “Suicide Squad” of 2016.
The world presented in “Black Adam” now needs to dialogue with the three other films that share the same chronology and are already in line to be released: “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”, “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and “The Flash”. The latter has the added bonus of a headache named Ezra Miller, who spent much of his pandemic getting into trouble with the law.
DC’s new boss encounters are also expected to include Patty Jenkins, currently developing Wonder Woman’s third adventure. One thing is for sure: if Gunn and Safran were already at the head of DC, an aberration like “Wonder Woman 1984” would never have gotten off the ground.
The unknown is still the conversation with Matt Reeves. “Batman” didn’t fire up the box office, but it had a decent enough career that its director could develop a series of spinoffs, both in film and in streaming, with the microcosm of Batman. My guess is they’re going to pull the handbrake and reevaluate the options.
Even because we have Henry Cavill as Superman, accompanied by Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman) and, come on, Ezra Miller (Flash). If Ray Fisher’s future as Cyborg is to have no future, what does Batman look like in this configuration?
Does Ben Affleck come back, who was already in the clubhouse? Are we left with Michael Keaton, scheduled to make his return as the Dark Knight in “The Flash”? Is there room to consider Robert Pattinson?
Doubts, doubts. But, you know what? At this point, I believe that having that kind of doubt is even healthy, considering that, until two weeks ago, DC’s heroes were totally adrift. It’s better to follow the decisions made by those who understand not only this universe of superheroes, but also modern pop cinema, than to see adventurers in and out of the game.
A change has already been for the better. When he finally confirmed his return as Superman, Henry Cavill stressed his willingness to see the hero on an adventure tempered by optimism.
The image he shared features a Man of Steel wearing a brighter-colored uniform, putting aside Zack Snyder’s misguided shadows. Even the “s” hair showed up. James Gunn likes superheroes. The campaign for the red underpants over the pants starts now!