5 Things James Gunn Needs To Do To Fix the DC Universe

in DC, Entertainment

James Gunn walking with the Suicide Squad

Credit: Warner Bros.

James Gunn has a tall task ahead of him, as he will completely reset the DC Universe, starting with his Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters rollout. However, there is one film that is sneaking into his new DCU, which is Blue Beetle. Though everyone assumed that this would be the first film in his new plan, Gunn called Blue Beetle “the first DCU character.” He also stated that Superman: Legacy is his first “DCU Movie.”

James Gunn speaking at the Facebook F8 Developer's Conference 2017
Credit: Anthony Quintano via Wikimedia Commons

Related: James Gunn Knows How to Save Marvel and DC

Naturally, this confused everyone, including us. The issue that DC Studios has had since it began its attempted domination in the superhero space is that the company left continuity behind. Everyone wanted to catch up to Marvel, which would never work. The MCU had struck gold with Iron Man, and it was no looking back at that point. The post-credits scene of seeing Nick Fury and his introduction of the Avengers initiative had already jumpstarted what would dominate cinema for more than a decade later.

On the other hand, Gunn has been given the keys to a kingdom in complete disarray. From box office bombs to horrible news and rumors, DC has been in a tough spot. The former Marvel director must find a way to pull the company out of its years-long mediocrity. Here are five ways that Gunn can fix the DCU.

Ways James Gunn Can Fix DC

Go Back to the Beginning

Henry Cavill weighs in on 'Superman' direction
Credit: Warner Bros.

One of the biggest issues that DC is facing is continuity. There have been so many timelines mixed that it is time to forget about the Multiverse that DC can ultimately end up in and start over. We are not saying that DC needs to start over entirely with all new stories, which appears James Gunn is seemingly already doing. There needs to be a time when the heroes are established in their own worlds but have not yet met one another.

His first foray into the DCU will be Superman: Legacy. He has already cast Davie Corenswet as Superman and Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane. Further reports have indicated that Corenswet is meant to be around 31 years old when the film is released, which will also be the age of Clark Kent/Superman in the film.

Though some fans might be a little perturbed by this fact, it is a good way not to regurgitate Superman’s origin, which has already been done many times. Though Zack Snyder’s era of DC will always be criticized, his Man of Steel (2013) film accomplished the Superman origin story in a fresh and not daunting way.

We got to see Superman (Henry Cavill) grow right before our eyes, albeit much quicker than some had hoped it would happen. Still, we saw his life on Earth through flashbacks before he found out who he truly was. There was no need to figure out how he had these powers, as they were already within him. When he came upon the ship and found his father’s consciousness, he needed only to explain a few details that lined up what Kent already knew about himself.

That is where James Gunn needs to remain with the films that he is set to produce. He already stated that Superman: Legacy would not be an origin story, which is a good start. However, that must be the case for most of the heroes he will explore in his first round of films and shows.

Take what Matt Reeves has done with The Batman (2012). He allowed Robert Pattinson’s version of Bruce Wayne to be already involved in trying to stop crime in Gotham. We didn’t need to see his parents die to know what happened. However, Batman was still in his early days and did not know how to handle a villain like The Riddler. His naive way of approaching things was native to his second year fighting crime, which worked perfectly in the film.

James Gunn has an opportunity to allow the heroes to exist in their own bubble, for the time being, without rushing to the aid of their fellow heroes like in the Justice League. The world had no idea who Cyborg (Ray Fisher) was before he was immediately thrust into the Zack Snyder universe. Cyborg was a significant character in Teen Titans, but we mean in the live-action sense.

Gunn needs to completely forget what has happened previously and move forward without involving the actors, films, and storylines that came before he took over.

Forget the Past

Michael Keaton as Batman in The Flash trailer
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Related: ‘The Flash’ Is Officially Dead, Reportedly Pulled From Theaters

Whatever Zack Snyder was doing did not work. That is not a slight against the man; we believe he has made some great DC films. However, Peter Safran and James Gunn need just to trudge forward and forget that the DCEU even existed. Sure, The Flash already attempted to do so by erasing the DECU era, but even Ezra Miller needs to be gone.

Shazam 2 and The Flash bombed miserably at the theaters because people are tired of the old DC stories resurfacing. We cannot predict that Aquaman 2 will bomb in the same way its DCEU predecessors have, but things are not looking good for Jason Momoa’s presumed final romp in the DC space. What makes matters worse is that he has not yet been let go like his fellow Justice League alum.

Jason Momoa is a fantastic actor who pulls in numbers, so we imagine James Gunn might want to keep him around. However, the Aquaman movies are not the representation that Gunn should keep. They are still from a time that is now lost, so it is time to let them go.

Heavy rumors have been that Momoa would remain in the DCU, but he would end up in a role like Lobo. DC fans, including us, have been begging to see someone like Lobo appear. However, Momoa has already stated that his Arthur Curry will remain in the DCU. He could have just been overzealous with that remark, but if he was not—James Gunn needs to end it altogether.

We mean by “forget the past” that Gunn and the DCU need to sever all ties to previous films. Enough is enough. The mess that Snyder left needs to be swept up and done away with. For this new era of DC to work, Gunn needs to do a full reset, much like what happens in the comics. Allow for a new set of stories to take place, which don’t deal with origins, but deal with established heroes, eventually discovering there are more of them out there.

Fix Continuity

Batman (Ben Affleck) and The Flash (Ezra Miller)
Credit: Warner Bros.

The biggest reason fans have abandoned all hope from the past DCEU era of DC movies is that the continuity was all over the place. Let’s head back to Batman v Superman (2016), for starters. No one quite knew why Snyder was even attempting to bring the Flashpoint Paradox storyline to that film. There was a moment when Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) appeared in the Batcave to Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). He mumbles some incoherent nonsense before disappearing.

This is precisely our point for those who may not know what the Flashpoint Paradox storyline is. The classic DC comic story occurs when Barry Allen travels back in time. However, he mucks everything up and changes the DC universe completely. Sound familiar?

Going back to our point about forgetting the past, DC did this same story again in The Flash. Though a lot of people are casual superhero fans, they also know when they are being fed a story, they have already seen before. There was no need for The Flash to return and try to redo a story that did not work in the first place.

James Gunn needs to establish continuity first and foremost. We would even argue he shouldn’t go the route of the post-credits scene and jam-pack more heroes into their first solo films. Granted, that might be the only way he can start building out his grand universe, but just because he can do it does not mean he should.

DC has suffered enough for having these confusing storylines appear and disappear without fans knowing what is truly happening. Gunn should stick to one cohesive plan, which may not involve intertwining storylines initially.

He stated that one of the films he plans to release is Swamp Thing, written and directed by James Mangold. The Swamp Thing character is one of the richest in the entirety of DC, but that is because he was more of a self-contained hero that was focused on curing the planet. He did not necessarily need to interact with other DC heroes, as his own cause was far beyond what people like Superman would understand.

The Alan Moore-written Swamp Thing comics are pure Shakespeare, and those are the types of stories James Gunn needs to adopt in his own DCU take on this character.

Don’t Overproduce Films

the flash ezra miller warner bros dc studios
Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: DC Is Facing a Huge Superhero Problem That Will Reportedly Cost $1.1 Billion

One of the glaring issues that Warner Bros has had with the DC films of the past is that they are all overly produced soulless stories. We know how harsh that sounds, but we must call it as we see it.

Zack Snyder was all about dark and brooding storylines that no longer fly with anyone. Though some did work, like Man of Steel, not everything has to be about a tortured hero trying to decide between life and death. Sometimes we need a good-natured film that hits on the marks of emotion, humor, and heart. Take the Guardians of the Galaxy films. James Gunn offered a storyline that hit those marks, leading to one of the biggest franchises within the greater MCU.

The more recent DC films have been precisely the wrong kind of material that people want to see. You can add as much CGI and fighting as you want, but that is not the recipe for success. The trailers alone tell us that Shazam 2 and The Flash would be these types of movies.

We hate harping on how good Man of Steel was, but it took a long time for Clark Kent to come into contact with beings from his home planet finally. When he did, the action truly took place. However, he existed in everyday life on Earth before facing otherworldly threats.

Look at what happened with Black Adam. Though Dwayne Johnson is a huge star, the film was just an overproduced action-filled film that did not go anywhere. Sure, Henry Cavill appeared in the film as Superman, but the force-feeding of the story and Johnson’s attempted coup of the DC universe led to that film bombing as well.

That could be the saving grace for James Gunn and his DCU reset. We are not saying that CGI will not play a massive part in his films, as it’s hard to capture superheroes otherwise. However, it’s okay to go back to using real sets, allowing the story to trump action, and genuinely building heroes we can all identify with.

Don’t Go Too Obscure

Creature Commandos official promo
Credit: DC

James Gunn is the kind of finding obscure heroes to cover, but we fear that obscurity might be an issue. Again, we understand that most fans who watch superhero movies aren’t the sort who read every comic. There are far too many arcs even to try to make a dent in the long-standing mythos of someone like Superman.

The good thing is that Gunn understands that DC needs its core heroes, and he is already focusing on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman property. However, going after heroes like Booster Gold and the Creature Commandos could be too far out there to bring in casual fans. Even hardcore comic readers might not have picked those comics up and wanted to keep reading.

Gunn is taking a risk by incorporating some of the lesser-known DC heroes, though it did work out with the Guardians of the Galaxy, so it could also work out this time. We just fear that the same formula used at Marvel will not be treated with the same respect and acceptance by DC fans.

We know Blue Beetle will take a new direction by not focusing on Jamie Reyes having to save the world immediately. That sounds like it could work, which might be why Gunn is allowing the film to remain in the confines of the DCU. Still, with the recent box office woes DC has experienced, we will be cautiously optimistic about the film.

James Gunn at SDCC the flash dcu
Credit: Flickr

Related: James Gunn’s First DCU Film Won’t Copy Current Box Office Failures

We would like to state that we have faith in James Gunn and his vision, but it is hard to want to buy into his game plan fully. DC has been a mess for as long as Marvel has been successful. So far, no one has pulled the company out of mediocrity, but we hope that Gunn can do so. Warner Bros also needs a win, and unless Gunn’s movies strike some gold, we could see another creator take his place shortly.

Do you think James Gunn can save DC? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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