Your DC keys may finally catch up with your Marvel collection if Warner Bros. Discovery’s latest DCEU gamble pays dividends.
It’s been said that David Zaslav, the controversial executive over WBD who has been demonized for his budget-slashing ways that culminated in canceling Batgirl, has wanted a Kevin Feige-type figure to steer the DCEU. Apparently, he’s found just that. Tuesday, he announced James Gunn and producer Peter Safran as the co-chairmen and chief executive officers of DC Studios. That effectively puts them in charge of all things DCEU from movies and television all the way to streaming and animation.
With Henry Cavill back in action as Superman, Ben Affleck apparently returning to Batman’s cape and cowl, Matt Reeves’ expanding The Batman universe, and Black Adam’s massive success, the news of Gunn and Safran taking the reins at DC Studios (formerly DC Films) continues the wave of positive vibes between the brand and its audience. It lends itself to a positive outlook for the DCEU, which could give those key issues the Marvel treatment, but it’s not without risks.
Considering their track records, both separately and as a team, the Gunn/Safran hire could be the answer DC fans have been looking for.
Gunn established himself as one of the premiere voices in the MCU with 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, one of Marvel’s highest-rated films, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Although GOTG Vol. 2 was less than impressive, his foray into the DCEU has been stellar so far. His mature and bloody takes on The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker season one were action-packed, hilarious, and brutally charming. Of course, it helped that Warner Bros. Pictures gave him the creative freedom to bring his visions to life, something filmmakers have criticized Marvel for not doing.
As for Safran, he’s most noted for producing both The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, and he’s also worked as a producer on Shazam! and Aquaman. That leads us to the real gamble in all of this, and it happens to be the same issue plaguing Marvel’s Phase Four: too much satire.
Basically Safran’s entire career has been in comedy, and the same can be said about the majority of Gunn’s projects.
While superhero satire can be great entertainment when done correctly, it doesn’t belong in every project, something Marvel Studios has seemingly forgotten with its increasingly sitcom-based formula. As DC fans, what we don’t want is for everything to become a version of Aquaman and Shazam!.
From the outside looking in, the silver lining here is more Gunn than Safran. Although the famed writer/director leans into the absurd comedy and appreciates the whacky side of superheroes, his projects always have a dramatic heart nestled within the action and slapstick. That could lend itself to better movies and series than we’ve seen from many DCEU affairs. We just don’t need them to all be cookie-cutter action-comedies.
On the bright side, Gunn’s creativity should lend to allowing more freedom for other writers and filmmakers. While he will be there to steer the ship, hopefully his influence will give the DCEU what it needs: parity and expression. Probably the biggest worry is the notorious WB executives. They have a track record of ruining directors’ visions and making for box office bombs.
Hopefully, they’ll give Gunn and Safran just enough autonomy so their vision for the DCEU can come to life.