The Good, The Bad and The “Meh” of James Gunn’s DC Universe Slate

It’s been quite a while since James Gunn became the co-head of the DC Universe and there have been quite a number of ups and downs since then. From creating hits like The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker to controversial moves, such as firing Henry Cavill from his role of Superman, fans have been scrutinizing what he’s been doing. But what we haven’t gotten yet was actual plans for the entire DC Universe. I mean, the reason why Warner Bros hired him was so he can become the Kevin Feige of the DC Universe and steer it all in one direction.

Just recently, we finally got a general roadmap of James Gunn’s plan for the DC Universe. He’s calling the first chapter of his plan Gods and Monsters, which does seem apropos for the slate of film and television projects that are coming down the pipeline. It looks like he’s looking really long term as he mentioned that they’ve mapped out around ten years of stuff! That’s a lot but we’re just going to focus on the first part, the Gods and Monsters part of his long-term plan.

Some of the projects are exciting, others feel like bad decisions and the rest, well, I just didn’t care for them. So, let’s check out the good, the bad and the “meh” of the upcoming slate of movies and television projects coming up in the DC Universe.

The Good

Superman: Legacy might warrant the reboot of the character

A lot has been said regarding how Warner Bros and James Gunn has handled Henry Cavill. I mean, the guy gave up playing The Witcher (because of creative differences with Netflix but that’s another story) to return to play the Man of Steel! But I do get the sentiment even if I do disagree with it slightly. James Gunn probably wants a clean slate with Superman so he’s not put in a box when it comes to how the Last Son of Krypton will fit in his vision of the DC Universe. This is why I’m excited for Superman: Legacy.

I do believe James Gunn’s interpretation will be more in line with how most comic book fans envision Superman. While he is the most powerful person on the planet, he still thinks of himself as one of us because of his humble upbringing of the Kents. When I think of Superman, I do picture him flying around and doing super feats and we do get that in the new movies. What’s missing is Clark Kent’s caring attitude. He almost seems like he’s disconnected with humanity in the later films, which should definitely not be the case. I mean, Superman can overpower someone any time of the day. But he also has the power of great empathy, which is what I want to see on film in the future.

As Superman: Legacy is being written by James Gunn, I’m confident he’ll inject a little more humanity into the DC Universe’s version of The Last Son of Krypton. It’s something that’s been missing with the character. But I’m still expecting him to show some really bombastic superhero action as well. It’s a win-win.

Lanterns isn’t exactly the buddy cop movie I wanted… but I’ll take it

I’m really glad we’re finally getting a new Green Lantern live-action project. The mere fact that they’re going to try to erase the travesty that is the 2011 movie starring Ryan Reynolds gets a thumbs up from me automatically. However, there’s a little more to Lanterns than just being a live-action television series. Not much is given regarding this project aside from Hal Jordan and John Stewart being the Green Lanterns in question. I honestly wished it would’ve had Hal Jordan and Kilowog or even Guy Gardner. Heck, I wish they really went all retro and have him pair up with Green Arrow! That would’ve been a hoot.

I do understand why they picked these characters, though. It’s supposed to be greatly connected to the greater DC Universe storyline so having two Green Lanterns and not just one paired with a guy with a bow and arrow does make it seem bigger. Also, it’s supposed to be something like a detective series so having Hal Jordan and John Stewart, two very straight shooters, does set the tone well. It may not be the one I wanted but it could be the one I need.

The Brave and The Bold might finally have a live-action Robin that isn’t a joke

To be fair, there have only be two live-action Robins on film so far. And it’s usually just Dick Grayson, which does seem unfair to the ones who have become Bruce Wayne’s ward and Batman’s sidekick later on. Still, both iterations have, for the most part, sucked. And they haven’t really done a version showing off the best and most capable Robin, Damian Wayne. We’ve seen him in the cartoons and he’s been done very well in general. So I’m hoping his first live-action entry, The Brave and The Bold, will show non-comic book readers how good the character is. The biggest problem I can see is having to explain his origin. Like I said, not many people are familiar with Damian Wayne and his complicated history of being Batman’s biological son who was trained to be a highly skilled assassin.

However, despite this hurdle, I’m incredibly excited for The Brave and The Bold. This will be the DC Universe’s official Batman and Robin so I’m hoping they put in a lot of effort with their introduction. If it does it really well, maybe we can forget all about how we all accepted Ben Affleck as Batman… because you know they’re going to be recasting the Caped Crusader for this feature.

Booster Gold better be as good as gold

The concept of a loser from the future travelling back to the past with some ordinary tech for his time to become a superhero and gain popularity is unique and oddly relatable. I’m glad it’s a live-action television series because this could be one hilarious story if done right. It also leaves a lot of room for character development for Booster Gold. He can begin the series as a bumbling idiot just in the superheroing business for fame and fortune and eventually learn how to become a real hero with noble intentions. We can all get behind that, right? Sure, we did get that story in Justice League Unlimited. But this time, we can devote several episodes to that!

I’m mostly excited for this because I do love me some Booster Gold. While he’s mostly written as comedy relief and trying out a lot of get rich quick schemes, I just like the character because it does show he’s human. He’s super flawed and doing it for all the wrong reasons. But there’s also something about his tenacity of trying to be a hero that’s endearing.

The second coming of Swamp Thing

I never did get to watch the Swamp Thing television series but I have heard some good things about it. The series might have been cancelled but it looks like, much like the titular character’s origins, is getting a second chance at life with a feature film. I’m very curious which route they’ll take with it. Will they go for the modern body horror of the series or will they follow the more mystical path, adding elements like The Green? I hope they’ll go for the former and not the latter. After all, that’s partially what people liked from the television series.

This might seem like the furthest thing from a grand DC Universe featuring colorful superheroes but I do like the risk being taken with Swamp Thing. He’s popular enough to be recognized by the general public and the cancelled TV series does ensure it has a hardcore fanbase waiting for his return. Oh, and why not have a horror themed film set in the DC Universe? Live a little.

The Bad

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is not something I’m looking forward to

We can all agree the very first live-action Supergirl film was terrible. Not for lack of trying but because… well, actually, it did look like they weren’t trying that hard. Well, they’re getting a second crack at it and, honestly, I’m super afraid for it. I actually liked the new Kara Zor-El storyline as told in Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman series, with Supergirl leaving Krypton as a teenager, which makes her much older that Kal-El. But, thanks to some suspended animation shenanigans, she arrives on Earth much later than her cousin. Now, the roles are reversed, with Superman being the adult and taking care of the teen Supergirl.

Well, while we are getting this version of Supergirl, we’re flash forwarding much further into her career as a superhero. James Gunn mentioned this new movie will be based on Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow and it is far removed from what normal fans are familiar with. Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is a lot more serious as Kara Zor-El is a lot more jaded, having to live in Superman’s shadow all this time. And, while it could be fun as it is a planet hopping adventure, is super dark as Kara gets embroiled in a revenge arc akin to True Grit.

I do see the appeal of the plot but this will be the first introduction to Supergirl for a lot of casual fans. Having to jump in something as hardcore as this seems like a misstep. This could be remedied if they pepper her appearances here and there but, as this will be her first big solo adventure, putting her in some revenge plot just seems wrong to me.

Creature Commandos isn’t exactly DC’s version of the Guardians of the Galaxy

James Gunn managed to pluck a relatively unknown Marvel superhero group and made them one of the most popular comic book characters out there. So it is possible he can do the same with Creature Commandos, which is essentially a ragtag group of monsters who fight crime. This is, so far, the only animated project that was announced, which is weird, because I do recall some Creature Commando animated shorts being released before.

I will say making this a cartoon is a good idea but I just don’t think Creature Commandos will be a hit as the tone could be all over the map. Also, why didn’t they select other better known groups? There’s Checkmate, an offshoot of the Suicide Squad. What about Metal Men or the Birds of Prey? Or a World War II epic with the Blackhawks? What about something really out of left field like the Freedom Fighters? I do feel like James Gunn is trying to make another Guardians of the Galaxy and, if Creature Commandos becomes at least half as big as that Marvel superhero group, then more power to him.

They Authority doesn’t deserve my respect

I do like how James Gunn is not only looking at DC’s legacy superheroes like Superman, Batman and even Creature Commandos, but also taking chances with their acquisitions. I totally forgot DC bought out Wildstorm comics a while back but James Gunn didn’t as he is making a movie based on The Authority, a groups of super powered beings who are willing to do anything for justice, even if it does mean to have to cross a line or two. This could mean they might have to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Superman and, possibly, lead to the formation of the Justice League.

Like Creature Commandos, The Authority isn’t a widely known team but they do have potential. My biggest issue is that they’ll get their own movie and I just feel they would be better suited as a television series. Besides, I don’t think fans would be eager to watch something akin to a dark version of the Justice League if, you know, haven’t formed the actual Justice League yet. While there is potential here, it also means this has the potential to flop as hard as Marvel’s The Eternals. And that’s not a good thing, is it?

That loser Waller is getting her own series?

I do like the Amanda Waller in theory but the live action version with Viola Davis never really clicked for me. This is because she’s supposed to be this mastermind but would do really idiotic things. Things like hire her underqualified daughter, which led to the expose of Task Force X, nearly unleashing an alien starfish with the power to enslave minds and employ an ancient enchantress who nearly destroyed the world, leading to one of the worst movies in the DC Universe. Let’s never forget that last part!

So, what’s this series going to be about? Her bungling something again and now she has to fix it? How can I root for a character who’s done so many dumb things? I mean, the comic and cartoon version slipped up now and again but she always had a contingency plan. In the DC Universe, she comes up with some half baked plan only for things to go awry. No thanks!

The “Meh”

No one here ordered a Paradise Lost series, did they?

Paradise Lost may seem like a good idea but the reason why I’m not so interested in it is because they really didn’t give any details as to why I’m supposed to be excited for it. From what I’ve seen, it’s supposed to take place way before Wonder Woman and will show the origins of the Amazon and Themyscira. That seems intriguing but, at the same time, boring. Why? There’s no Wonder Woman! It’s all going to be about the formation of this all female society and how Hippolyta became queen of the Amazons. Right now, that’s the story and, while they might kill it on the execution, I’m just not all that intrigued by it right now.

On the whole, I’m very cautiously optimistic with what James Gunn and company has in store for us. It’s all in the planning stage and I do expect my excitement for these projects, even the ones I think are bad ideas, will go up once they show us who’s going to be in it and actual trailers. Right now, I am eager to see what they have in store for us in the future.

What are your thoughts on the future of the DC Universe? Which of these projects are you excited for? Let me know in the comments section below!

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