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Hot Gunn Summer: The future of DC Studios

| Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Anna Falk | The Observer

Before the release of Marvel’s “Iron Man” in 2008, if you asked someone on the street to name a superhero, you weren’t likely to hear much beyond Spider-Man, Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman. If you were to ask that same question now, there are dozens of heroes that the casual fan would know as a result of the influx of superhero media that has come out in the last decade and a half. No hero has received a popularity boost on the same level as the Guardians of the Galaxy, however. Originally an obscure team from the 1970s with a small presence in the wider Marvel universe, the vision of one artist turned the team of intergalactic do-gooders into the lovable, albeit morally gray, band of misfits that have become household names. That man is James Gunn.

Gunn’s work within the superhero genre demonstrates a love for the bizarre and the obscure. In his work with Marvel, Gunn not only brought the Guardians of the Galaxy to life but expanded the film franchise to the stars, establishing the cosmic societies hinted at in previous films. His previous work at DC fulfilled a similar purpose, revitalizing the “Suicide Squad” franchise with a soft reboot of the titular team, taking obscure characters from far reaches of DC Comics’ history and making audiences invested in their fate as they pursue an unwinnable mission.

Last May, James Gunn ended his stint with Marvel Studios with the finale of his “Guardians of the Galaxy” series. Before the film’s release, Gunn had already announced his next project, and it was bigger than just one movie, or even a movie series. James Gunn, alongside producer Peter Saffran, has been named co-head of DC Studios, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Though the studio’s first projects won’t debut for another two years, Gunn has already revealed a partial outline of what to expect from the company: Classic heroes such as Superman and Batman, alongside lesser known characters such as the Swamp Thing or the Authority, are receiving films.

Gunn will not only act as CEO for DC Studios but will continue to write and direct, starting with the upcoming “Superman: Legacy.” Over the summer, Gunn announced he had found his Superman and Lois Lane in David Corenswet (“The Politician”) and Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) respectively. However, Gunn’s love for the obscure hasn’t faded completely. Alongside the film’s central leads, Gunn announced the casting of four supporting heroes, whose presence indicates that this is not just a film to show a new Superman, but a new world of superheroes entirely. Alongside Superman, Gunn has cast Edi Gathegi as Mr. Terrific, Isabela Merced as Hawkgirl, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern member Guy Gardner and Anthony Carrigan as Metamorpho.

The characters Gunn has picked exemplify the title’s name: legacy. None of the four supporting heroes have been in a live-action film, but all hold deep ties to various parts of the DC comic universe. Terrific, Hawkgirl and Gardner all are legacy characters that took up the mantles of other heroes that came before them, and Metamorpho’s adventures are less heroic but focus more on science fiction, mystery and even horror. Regardless of who these characters are and the roles they play in the film’s story, what they represent is the greatest thing about DC comics. It’s a world as vast and varied as our own, and I have a feeling that with “Superman: Legacy,” James Gunn is ready to bring that world to life.

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