Warner Bros. Throws Shade at Disney, DC Won’t Be Like “Executive-Led” Marvel

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Marvel VS. DC, (left to right) Iron Man, Doctor Strange VS. The Flash, Supergirl

Credit: Marvel Studios, DC Studios, Inside the Magic

The two superhero media giants are at each others’ throats — again.

Henry Cavill as Superman in 'Black Adam' (2022)
Credit: DC/ Warner Bros.

Related: DC’s Choice of Robin for Upcoming ‘Batman’ Reboot Questioned by Fans

After the Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) merger last year, significant changes took place within the company, leading to the departure of Walter Hamada, the former head of DC. Taking his position are co-CEOs Peter Safran and James Gunn, a prominent Marvel director renowned for his work on the Guardians of the Galaxy series in Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy
Credit: Marvel Studios

It is important to note that despite his affiliation with Marvel, Gunn has previous experience in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), now known as the DC Universe (DCU), and has contributed to projects such as the highly acclaimed The Suicide Squad (2021). It is crucial to differentiate this film from the earlier Suicide Squad (2016), which featured Jared Leto as the Joker. Gunn’s deep passion for comic books makes him a suitable choice to lead DC Studios — however, Gunn’s appointment comes with its consequences, particularly for devoted fans of the pre-existing DC universe.

The Philadelphia Fiascos line up in 'Shazam! Fury of the Gods' (2023). Credit: DC/ Warner Bros.
Credit: Warner Bros.

As a part of the DCU’s new Chapter One – Gods and Monsters, James Gunn intends to undertake a largely fresh “reboot” of the previous DC Extended Universe (DCEU) more or less defined by Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017). Presently, the most information available pertains to the DC Universe (DCU)’s inaugural installment, Superman: Legacy, which was penned by Gunn (and seemingly finished) just prior to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike impacting the film industry. There have been rumors circulating regarding the casting of the main characters, Superman/Clark Kent and his partner Lois Lane. However, what we can say with more certainty is that Superman: Legacy will depict a younger Clark Kent as he navigates his role as Superman (no longer Henry Cavill) — which will be in contrast to the second planned reboot movie, new older-Bruce Wayne and “Bat Family”-centric, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, sans Ben Affleck. The new Batman film will follow a new Robin (Bruce Wayne’s biological son Damian Wayne from the DC Comics) and be directed by Ezra Miller vehicle The Flash‘s (2023) director, Andy Muschietti — and not tied to Matt Reeves’ Robert Pattinson-led The Batman (2022) series of films at all.

Warner Bros. throws shade at Disney (and Marvel Studios)

Now, it seems like the Warner Bros. Discovery executives are breaking their silence on the particular topic that is DC Studios, run by the newly appointed Gunn and his new slate of rebooted DC films, and DC characters.

Heroes of the DC Universe
Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Report: DC Gets Rid Of “Snyderverse”, ‘Justice League’ for Good

Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, recently sat down with Variety as “co-CEOs and co-chairpeople” of the Warner Bros. Film Group, and opened up about their approach to the lucrative DC Studios. It seems like the one superhero slate is more or less taken care of — and here, they deliberately mention of Disney’s Marvel Studios approach:

One set of movies that the two executives won’t have to worry about are those involving Batman, Superman and the rest of the Justice League. The executives say that in one of their first conversations with Zaslav they suggested they spin off DC Studios into a separate entity, as Disney did with Marvel.

In some ways, they are clearly copying Marvel Studios (think: elaborately plotted 10-year-plan), and in others they are claiming to blaze a new trail when it comes to big budget superhero movies.

De Luca expands, insisting that it’s Gunn’s “vision for these characters that makes the difference, and that “he lives and breathes them”. Then, the two WB execs take a clear shot at The Walt Disney Company’s Marvel Studios, for its “executive-led development,” in Abdy’s words — that the pair claim to deliberately shy away from.

But it doesn’t end there.

Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash trailer on the left and Robin Character on the right
Credit: Inside the Magic

Variety then discusses the phenomenon with studios like Marvel, where “junior film executives and hungry writers” all “want to do well and follow instructions”.

According to Abdy:

You end up with these scripts that don’t have a controlling filmmaker vision at the center.

However they also identify “a catch” — where “respecting filmmakers and giving them freedom and financial support can lead to great movies”. However, the fact is that it does not “always result in big hits” — something that has plagued the duo since they worked at MGM.

Ezra Miller suited up as 'The Flash' in the new 'The Flash' DC movie
Credit: Warner Bros.

Utilizing the filmmaker and affording them a level of creative trust can result in truly fantastic work — the project can have its vision fully realized when the movie or TV show (and its director) has room to stretch its legs. With that trust, DC Studios would be inadvertently (or perhaps, advertently) doing what Marvel Entertainment’s 2008 hit Iron Man did with its creators and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man/Tony Stark character. They would be cultivating that same “indie movie” approach, where creators can go with what really serves the plot and character — rather than gear their work primarily to executive meddling and focus groups.

Of course, all of this is just talk. We’ll have to wait and see if Warner Bros. Discovery truly delivers on its promises to let filmmakers breathe.

What do you think about DC criticizing Marvel? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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