CREATURE COMMANDOS, THE AUTHORITY And More: What You Need To Know James Gunn’s DC Film Slate

Image montage via DC Comics

When it was announced back in October that James Gunn and Peter Safran would be taking over the films based on DC Comics for Warner Brothers Discovery, many fans who have been disappointed the the DC films of late let out a cry of joy over the news. I was not quite ready to hoot and holler just yet.

It’s not that I hate DC Comics and want their films to fail. I actually own more DC comic books than any other publisher. I lover their characters and the company’s history. And it’s not that I think Gunn is the wrong choice for the job. He seems to be a comic book fan and a great creative talent. I love his Guardians of the Galaxy films and I liked his take on The Suicide Squad so much that I recommended that he be handed the keys to the DCEU. Thanks for listening, WBD! Where’s my check?

However, James Gunn is still working for Warner Brothers Discovery. A lot of the issues with the DC slate of films came from Warner Brothers. And, if anything, it has gotten worse under the new regime. Discovery CEO David Zaslav seems to be more concerned with tax breaks and saving money that making quality films. His shelving of the Batgirl film, cancelling Doom Patrol and Titans, and just an overall attitude of trying to make money over spending money leaves a lot of DC fans worried. So, if James Gunn had a blank check and carte blanche to create his vision, yeah, everything would be great. But he doesn’t. And that is cause for concern.

But nonetheless, even though we have doubts, there is a sense of excitement about the future of the DC films, brought on by a number of tease from Gunn. And, also, a lot of questions. Will this be a reboot? Will it be a shared universe? What will happen to all of the films already scheduled? And what films and/or TV shows will in Gunn’s lineup.

Well, that was all answered today. Well, actually, yesterday. Gunn and Safran met with journalists yesterday, but the articles were placed under an embargo until today at noon.

So, what do we know? Well, to answer the above questions in order: if it will be a reboot, it will be a soft one. Several characters are getting new takes in the new projects, but there are characters from the old regime carrying over. The four films already on the schedule–Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom— will still arrive when they are supposed to. It will be a shared universe, but with darker films like Batman 2 and Joker: Folie à Deux being released under the ‘DC Elseworlds” banner. Which means they are tales from alternate universes rather than Gunn’s main line of DC projects.

So, what does Gunn’s Phase On–er–Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters involve? Well, something old, something new, something borrowed and something…gold. Or, if you prefer, green. Let’s take a look.

Creature Commandos-TV Series

Creature Commandos
Image via DC Studios/Warner Brothers

The Skinny:

Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Pat Broderick in the pages of Weird War Tales #93 back in 1980. Simply put, the concept is basically the Universal Monsters if they were drafted to fight World War II. Seriously. The first line-up featured a vampire, a werewolf and Frankenstein fighting Nazis. If that concept doesn’t appeal to you, then you just don’t have a soul. This version, which will be the stars of an animated HBO Max/Max TV show, is made up of characters that joined in later appearances of the team, and Weasel, because it is James Gunn’s sacred duty to keep his brother employed.

Why it makes me happy:

Out of all the projects announced, this is the one I’m most excited for, and not just because I was a fan of the concept, but because it shows that Gunn is leaving no stone unturned in choosing DC properties to adapt for the big screen. DC has a far deeper well-spring of IP to work with, not only with its homegrown properties but also with the characters the picked up of the years. Creature Commandos might lead the way for other oddball characters such as Binky and his Buddies or the Inferior Five. That gets me psyched.

Cause for concern:

Gunn is planning on casting voice actors in the series that could take over the roles in a live-action film or TV series in a future date. My question: why can’t it be live action now? The answer I come up with is that it might be too cost prohibitive to do it as live action. Gunn and Safran stated in their press conference that they don’t expect to have any problems getting money from the cheapskate David Zaslav. But this starting its life as a cartoon leads me to believe that might not exactly be the case. And it’s not the only project that makes me think that.

Waller-TV Series

Image via DC Studios/Warner Brothers

The Skinny:

Viola Davis returns in an HBOMax series that focuses on her Amanda Waller character.

Why it makes me happy:

Viola Davis is one of the greatest actresses of her generation. Amanda Waller is one of the best comic book characters created in the last 50 years. Even if all she does is read the phone book, it will still be worthy of a watch.

Cause for concern:

We are getting another new Superman, another new Batman, and yet Viola Davis is returning on the role she originated in the prior regime. Gunn hinted that The Flash would explain all these inconsistencies, but it already is hella confusing.

Superman Legacy-Film

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

He is Superman. If you do not know the character, you probably have not indulged in pop culture in your entire life. Congratulations on getting out of that hyperbolic chamber you have been in since you were born. This will be either the third or fourth film version of Superman DC/Warners has given us, depending on whether you consider Superman Returns a full reboot or not. This time around, it features a younger Supes dealing with his Kryptonian heritage and his human upbringing.

Why it makes me happy:

It is James Gunn handling Superman. And it looks like it will be a lighter version than the Zack Snyder version. No, this won’t be an in canon Brightburn 2. That automatically makes me excited from the get-go.

Cause for concern:

If any project is going to garner the ire of the Snyderbros, it is this one. Man of Steel was his opus and Gunn’s version could cure cancer and not make them happy. And speaking as someone who has been the target of some of that, I can tell you it will get really, really tiring. For sane people, there might be a bit of reboot burn out going on here. Myself? I’m not a fan of examining Krypton. I prefer any Superman movie to have one Krypton scene where they put him in a rocket and that’s it.

Lanterns-TV Series

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

If you are one of the people who blotted out the memory of the 2011 Green Lantern film out of your mind, and why wouldn’t you, let me offer you a refresher. The character is a space cop who keeps the universe safe with a green power ring that allows its wearer to create pretty much anything they can imagine. This version, Lanterns John Stewart and Hal Jordan take part in a True Detective like story that has them investigating an Earth-based mystery that will have wide ranging ramifications on the DCU films. This version replaces another series that was going to run on HBOMax that had a more spacefaring bent.

Why it makes me happy:

Playing up the “space police force” aspect of the character is a great idea. I’ve always thought that making a Green Lantern into a crime procedural would be an interesting take on the character.

Cause for concern:

Not to beat a dead horse, but going from a likely space opera to a far cheaper Earth-based crime drama seems less a logical stylistic choice than a way for WBD to nickel and dime their DC Comics slate. I just hope that the cost-cutting stops there.

The Authority-Film

Image via DC Comics

 

The Skinny:

This concept got its start at Image Comics. It is a reworking of the Image comic book, Stormwatch. It came over to DC Comics when Jim Lee brought his Wildstorm imprint from Image to DC. Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch then passed along to Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, The Authority was a grim deconstruction of what would happen if superpowered teams actually existed in the real world.

Why it makes me happy:

The Authority was one of the best things to come out of the dark morass that was the comic book industry in the late 1990’s. It pushed boundaries, helped make its creators superstars, and featured the first gay marriage in comics. If you regret not have a grim and gritty Batman and Superman to watch anymore, then you will love this film. Midnighter and Apollo are thinly veiled pastiches of those characters, respectively, and are grim and gritty as heck.

Cause for concern:

The team had its glory days when it was separate from the DC universe. It’s storylines usually involved the running afoul of the world’s governments at one point or another. That is not something that will really work in a shared universe. Either that plot point will be chucked or it will become a plot point for the entire DCU film slate. The film might be a hard R film unless the film is watered down. The series was full of gore and adult themes. For instance, Apollo kills a Giant Man stand-in by flying through his head. Yeah, one of their storylines had them facing off against Marvel pastiches. I would love to see if that makes it to the big screen in a DC film.

Paradise Lost-TV Series

Image via DC Studios/Warner Brothers

The Skinny:

Wonder Woman, the best part of the DCEU universe, is missing so far in this reboot. However, her presence will be felt in this prequel miniseries, which promises to show the Game Of Thrones-like political intrigue that went into the formation of Themiscrya.

Why it makes me happy:

To be honest, this is the one project I am looking forward to the least. Now, don’t think of me as a member of the He-Man Woman Haters Club, but a Wonder Woman-adjacent project thaht definitely will not have Gal Gadot and more than likely will not have Patty Jenmkins leaves me cold.

Cause for concern:

This film seems to be one part answering questions no one really wanted to know the answers to, and one part getting some Wonder Woman content into Chapter 1. If done right, I’m sure the show will be fascinating. But most things being described as Game Of Thrones-like usually only resemble the final season.

The Brave and the Bold-Film

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

We will be getting our 7th Batman in 33 years with this film, which tells the story of a Grant Morrison story from the comics where Batman meets his illegitimate son, Damian Wayne, who will eventually become his new Robin.

Why it makes me happy:

When I first read the film’s title, I was really happy. I immediately thought that it would be adapting the comic book of the same name.  The Brave and the Bold was one of my favorite comic books as a kid. When I was reading it, it was a team-up book where Batman would join another DC character and go on an adventure. That would be a great way to get more DC comics on the big screen. But, alas, it is not. It is, however, going into a territory that has not been covered as of yet, in films–Batman as a father.

Cause for concern:

If constantly being rebooted was a problem for Superman, it is an absolute dilemma for Batman. Complicating matters further, is that the Robert Pattinson Batman will still be a going concern and if Batman is introduced in the Joker films, you might have three Batmen in films at the same time.  If that wasn’t enough, this film would jump over two other Robins–Jason Todd and Tim Drake–that fans would have liked to see. And, if it follows the comic book, it will mark the return of a villain that has already appeared in in a Batman film already (SPOILER: Damian’s grandpa is Ra’s Al Ghul and his mom is Talia)

Booster Gold-TV Series

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

Booster Gold is one of the most interesting characters DC comics created in recent history. He is Michael Jon Carter, a college student in the far-flung future whose promising football career is ruined in gambling scandal. Kicked out of college, the only work he could get is as a security guard at a museum for superheroes. One night, he decides to steal some superhero weaponry to go back to our time and become a superhero as a way to pursue fame and fortune.

Why it makes me happy:

Booster Gold is one of my favorite characters. He has grown quite a bit from that description above, and there are a lot of layers that could be explored in a TV series. The character has flirted with film and TV adaptations in the past, and I hope he makes it to the finish line this time.

Cause for concern:

At one point, Booster Gold became the protector of the timeline. If they go with that plot point, the show might garner unfavorable comparisons to Marvel’s Loki.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow-Film

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

Supergirl is Superman’s cousin. I’m sure that pretty much everyone should know that.

Why it makes me happy:

This film is inspired by a Tom King written miniseries that gives a more morose Supergirl who, unlike Superman, was old enough to see the destruction of Krypton as it happened and watched her loved ones die in front of her eyes. King is one of the best writers working in comics today.  And his story presents Supergirl in quite a different light.

Cause for concern:

I guess WBD likes Supergirl better than Batgirl, right? Supergirl is arguably more known than Batgirl, however that might work against her. She has a film appearance that was completely horrible and a TV show that was extremely well regarded.

Swamp Thing-Film

Image via DC Comics

The Skinny:

Alec Holland was a scientist working on a bio-regenative formula in a lab in a swamp. When gangsters sabotage his lab, Holland is doused in his formula and set on fire. He runs into the swamp in attempt to save his life. What comes back out is the Swamp Thing.

Why it makes me happy:

Surprisingly, Swamp thing is a DC Character that has appeared in other media more than just about any DC hero outside of Batman or Superman. The film is supposed to explore the dark origins of Swamp Thing, which I hope means that we will be getting an adaptation of Alan Moore’s run on the comic.

Cause for concern:

While Swamp Thing has been adapted into films and TV before, they haven’t been faithful to the comics. The 1980s films were campy and over the top. The TV series were received not terrible well.  This means this film while it has a low bar to succeed, it also has a history of disappointing.

Other Projects:

Gunn has said that there will be more films in Chapter 1. Let’s briefly speculate what these other projects will be.

  • New Gods: Considering the title of the chapter is Gods and Monsters, it seems like the perfect time to revisit the New Gods for a film or TV series.
  • Spectre: If there was a DC character that straddles the line between God and Monster, it is the Spectre.
  • Sequels to their upcoming slate: If the next four films do well, you have to know that they will get sequels. Wouldn’t Shazam! Versus the Monster Society of Evil sound good as a part of this chapter?

 

 

 

 

Avatar für William Gatevackes
About William Gatevackes 1988 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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