We’ve been here before: a movie studio, eyeing marvel studios‘ a ridiculous track record of success heralds an equally ambitious plan to go from zero to The Avengers and beyond in the next five to ten years. This is how the dark universe was born. It was the impetus behind A Bloodshot movie it was once meant to lead to moreand a similar DOA The Hasbro Universe which so far has only led to Snake-eyes. Another milestone was reached this week, as Marvel’s Distinguished Competition became the first company to boldly sketch out a cinematic universe. twice.

three months later The Suicide Squad And guardians of the galaxy writer-director James Gunn was announced as co-CEO of DC Studios alongside producer Peter Safran, the duo unveiled the first stage of their plan for the next 10 years of DC movies. This is the second time DC has done this, after the slow motion collapse of his initial plans in 2014, now colloquially known as Snyderverse. This song and dance is getting old, and Gunn’s preemptive burnout calling the first of his plan for DC movies and TV “Chapter 1: Gods & Monsters” is perfectly reasonable. It’s the worst way to introduce an audience to a “universe,” but companies still do it because they’ve cultivated the expectation among fans that they’ll be treated like investors. What if they’re expected to show up for a decade of movies? Maybe they are.

Move past the corporate entitlement that can come with a slate of superhero movies, and there’s some really promising stuff about the direction this week’s announcements are implying. Regardless of what one thinks of Gunn’s background, he’s something the mega-franchise era of superhero cinema hasn’t really had before: a true creative in the driving seat, making a lot of posts about the importance of telling stories first. It could be bullshit – all that thing might not unfold, crumble as if it crumbled the first time – but it East a little care here that we haven’t seen before. Gunn noted that only one film, Superman: Legacyhas a release date, and everything else will come when it’s ready.

Batman and Superman high five in space on the cover of Batman/Superman: World's Finest #1 (2022).

Image: Evan “Doc” Shaner/DC Comics

A Superman movie as Gunn’s opening salvo is a cheeky move. He’s historically the top DC comic book superhero that Hollywood has had the most trouble with, and articulating a massive plan to get it right seems like a pretty banana idea. For a Superman movie to succeed right now, it has to be differentand Gunn seems to realize this – “You can’t tell the same ‘good, bad, giant thing in the sky, good guys win’ story again.” he declared to the press present during the announcement of the slate.

If Gunn’s stated allergy to the formula holds true in the work, sticking the landing with a distinctive Superman movie could give DC Studios’ latest movies the license to be even bigger departures as they go. And the locations displayed are different, if only in the way they seem to be doing something the MCU can’t really do anymore: adapting comic books.

Gunn’s adaptation choices all depend on specific story arcs or characters with definitive touchpoints and little variance in their story. The pitch of the DCU Batman movie, The brave and the daringquote Grant Morrison’s tenure on the Batman comics and the Robin they presented to Canon. Supergirl: the woman of tomorrow is a direct sequel to the Tom King and Bilquis Evely miniseries (also our pick for one of the best comics of last year). The Authority, an acerbic super team that takes no prisoners, have largely endured in more or less the same form as they were introduced in Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s historical comic strip. And Swamp ThingThe deep roots of Southern Gothic and occult horror are inescapable since Alan Moore et al. reimagined a once basic monster into a now-legendary keystone from DC’s heyday of mature readers in the late ’80s to mid-’90s.

Supergirl flies with a young girl wearing a cape on her back through yellow and green clouds

Image: Tom King, Bilquis Evely/DC Comics

These are all picks that give Gunn and his brains enough room to put their money where they belong, as an array of idiosyncratic comics given to equally distinctive filmmakers could genuinely lead to a DC Cinematic Universe that seems really varied in tone and genre. It’s something the MCU is just too big to do right now, on every level.

At this point, the Marvel Studios films have their own dense continuity to honor, as well as an established house style and cosmology that all new installments must visually adhere to. At this point, the comics are stripped down to parts as they support the MCU, and it would be nice if its competitor stood out by doing the opposite – making movies that support the sheer variety of the story much more. longer and more varied than DC.

But what’s better might be something Gunn doesn’t announce: an Avengers-style crossover. There might be one in the bag that isn’t shared yet, as Gunn said it’s just part of the new DCU plan. Yet this omission, alongside the focus on stories and scripts, strongly suggests that the upcoming DCU is also more self-contained, more interconnected via cohesive characters coming and going and less per plot. Because that’s really the best way for a DCU to differentiate itself from Marvel: by delivering a varied lineup of movies with familiar faces that audiences can pop in and out without missing much. No sagas or phases – just a good time.