Op-Ed: DC Cannot Survive Another Universe Reset

in DC, Entertainment

zack snyder, dwayne johnson, and james gunn

Credit: ITM

Blue Beetle is currently in theaters, and it’s one of the last two movies that is part of the former DCEU. Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. James Gunn said that Blue Beetle would be “the first DCU character,” but “Superman: Legacy is the first DCU movie.” This confusing continuity has plagued DC for years, and it’s precisely why many DC fans have practically given up on the franchise—including myself.

James Gunn walking with the Suicide Squad
Credit: Warner Bros.

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

I have been a longtime fan of DC Comics, as I grew up reading Batman comics. Batman was my first superhero obsession, and it remains that way now. I consistently and constantly read Batman comics and watch every live-action and animated show or film. For those who might not know it, DC stands for Detective Comics, which began with Batman.

Despite my bias towards DC’s Golden Boy (yes, it’s Batman, not Superman), I have been a fan of DC properties since I was a child. It began my fandom of superheroes, and I happily took in Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the rest. However, despite loving the franchise so deeply, I have become increasingly less excited every time a new DC film is about to be released.

DC Cannot Survive Another Universe Reset

The lack of excitement has everything to do with the direction the media company has taken these past ten years and the lack of continuity. I understand what Zack Snyder was attempting to do, but whether it was higher-ups at Warner Bros. or directly moving away from the source material—it has been a mess.

This mess has grown so large that many DC fans count themselves out in seeing anything the comic giant produces. Take The Flash, for instance. I will say that the reason for the film bombing has everything to do with people not wanting to support Ezra Miller, and they are not wrong about that.

Miller was accused of heinous crimes like grooming, kidnapping, and child endangerment. Despite Warner Bros. making the actor apologize for their crimes, it wasn’t enough for most people. Again, I completely understand that.

Then again, DC fans might just be over having to decide if any film released by DC Studios is even worth watching. The proverbial rug seems to be pulled from under our feet when continuity within the universe is beginning to be established.


Henry Cavill as Superman
Credit: Warner Bros.

Snyder had his DCEU, AKA Snyderverse, though it was ripped away when he exited Justice League for a family tragedy.

He created Man of Steel (2013), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Justice League (2017).

I will happily defend Man of Steel all day, as I feel it is one of the best Superman films we have been given in a long time. Though people complained about the rushed origin story, I thought it was a perfect way to show the dichotomy of Kal-El’s life. He is an alien from a faraway planet who must adjust to life on Earth.

His struggle begins at a young age when he discovers that he must hide his immense power for fear of what will happen. This leads to his father sacrificing himself so his son may live a somewhat normal life. He also breaks his rule of no killing for the greater good, which adds an even deeper layer to the already complicated character.

However, Man of Steel was ahead of its time, and I don’t believe audiences were ready for a darker take on The Last Son of Krypton.

The bigger issue then reared its ugly head. The MCU had already been going since 2008 when Iron Man (2008) broke onto the scene, and by the time Man of Steel was released in 2013—Marvel had already dropped The Avengers (2012).

Instead of DC rightfully moving on with its own plan, Warner Bros. likely told the company to hurry up and catch up to what the MCU was producing. The problem with this is that DC is not Marvel. There was no need to hurry up and introduce the Justice League.

Man of Steel set the stage for what became the origin story for Superman, and there could have easily been a solo Batman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and even Martial Manhunter movies before Justice League was formed. Instead, we got this rush job that was Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which mashed together this cavalcade of heroes and stories in a sloppy fashion.

Elements of stories like Flashpoint Paradox, The Death of Superman, and characters like Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and Doomsday joined the same film. They became hopelessly intertwined so that the Justice League could be vomited onto the world.

Snyder attempted to make something special, which was seen when the Snyder Cut of Justice League was finally released in 2021. The unfortunate aspect is that the damage was already done when he exited the film and Joss Whedon took over. DC fans can blame Whedon all day, but the issue began with Snyder already.

Fans began to lose interest in what was being built because it was nonsensical. I agree, as I wanted a fully formed universe, much like what the MCU had produced—instead comprised of my favorite DC characters. What we got was the blame changing hands from Snyder to Whedon and back to Snyder.

Between 2013’s Man of Steel and 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League, Warner Bros. had attempted to retcon their continuity issues by releasing Suicide Squad (2016), Wonder Woman (2017), Aquaman (2018), and Shazam! (2019), Birds of Prey (2020), and Wonder Woman 1984 (2020).

Some films were connected, others were just singularly focused, which added more to the confusion that I was facing with the overall nature of the DCEU. I was already wildly confused and simply did not care to keep up.

The Snyder Era officially ended with the Snyder Cut, and the dissent for most DC fans was already well ingrained. I, myself, was ready to call it quits. That is not to say that some of the listed films and a few surprises weren’t delivered. Wonder Woman, Shazam!, and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (2021) were fantastic, but it was too late.

Dwayne Johnson’s DC Takeover

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam dc
Credit: Warner Bros.

Related: Dwayne Johnson Finally Reveals What Stopped His DC Takeover

Dwayne Johnson was the next person who wanted to take a big slice of DC. I commend him for even trying to make Black Adam a known hero. DC fans know him as a villain who constantly battles Shazam!, but Warner Bros. couldn’t even get that aspect right. They could have had Johnson appear in Shazam! via a cameo, but that was far from what occurred.

Johnson, instead, turned Black Adam into an anti-hero of sorts. It wasn’t a bad idea, but his attempted DC takeover was far misplaced. Johnson recently admitted what occurred in his attempts to make Black Adam a franchise of its own, which it could have easily been. Johnson is a megastar, and the film did make some decent money. However, he explained that the regime had changed again, leaving him on the outs.

I completely understand what he means by that, as the basis of this article is highlighting that fact. Johnson came in at the wrong time, right when Warner Bros. Discovery was emerging and looking to appoint someone to clean up the mess Snyder’s era had left behind.

Johnson’s attempted takeover made a mess of the franchise again, leaving fans confused about why Black Adam was not moving forward, even though he had brought Henry Cavill back as Superman. Even Johnson tried to make sense of the continuity issues by allowing Superman to cameo in his film, thus opening up a world of possibilities.

The issue is that DC was changing over, and Johnson introduced Black Adam at the crucial fork in the road for DC. They needed someone to take the reins and right the ship.

That person is James Gunn, who is once again resetting DC as the DCU. Disney and Marvel had initially fred Gunn for some horrific tweets he sent years ago. This led to Gunn jumping over to DC and releasing his brand of the Suicide Squad. The Suicide Squad was a hit film and far more well-received than David Ayer’s trainwreck of a film in 2016.

This was enough of an audition for Warner Bros. Discovery to hand Gunn the keys to the kingdom. However, while Gunn has been working his way into creating a plan with co-CEO of DC Films Peter Safran, he has had to weather box office bombs like Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash.

Again, DC fans continually have a bad taste in their mouth from the DCEU, and The Flash and Shazam 2 are part of that. Everyone can blame whatever they want on the box office failures, but no one cares about DC right now. The heavy continuity issues have plagued the company; it’s time for this full reset.


James Gunn at SDCC dc
Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

I am ready to see what James Gunn can do, but I am also cautiously optimistic about the future. Gunn’s comments from the beginning of this piece have already worried me. Gunn was unwilling to commit Blue Beetle as part of his DCU because he had no creative control over it.

He likely did not want to take ownership of the film in case it bombed like Shazam 2 and The Flash. The man is already being blamed for DC’s failures, even though he has barely taken over.

Thankfully, Blue Beetle reportedly only cost $104 million to make, and it has currently made $52 million. It might end up being another bomb that James Gunn can brush off. He did not claim that it was part of his reset.

I am honestly unsure if I want to see the film until it releases on streaming. What is the point if Gunn claims it has no meaning to his DCU? I hear good things about the film and star Xolo Maridueña, but at the same time—I want to wait until Superman: Legacy is released in 2025.

I want the DCEU to disappear, much like many DC fans do. We need continuity that makes sense and a world that is built upon itself, not a world that is rushed and disrespects the great legacy of Detective Comics.

The constant shifting of creators “running” things and the lack of continuity have jaded me. I love superhero movies and DC, but I, quite frankly, don’t care to see Blue Beetle. That is where I and many DC fans exist right now, tired of figuring out which direction the franchise is taking and what movies matter in the overall grand scheme of things.

Time after time, I have been confused by the tactics of Warner Bros. The one DC film that I was generally excited about was Batgirl, which David Zaslav canceled. It would have brought back Michael Keaton as Batman and Brendan Fraser as Firefly. Fraser’s comeback film, The Whale, landed him a Best Actor Academy Award.

Warner Bros. Discovery could have bragged that Academy Award winner Brendan Fraser and Academy Award Nominee Micahel Keaton were in their Batgirl film, but they instead destroyed it.

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

Then there are the rumors that Keaton was meant to have his own solo movie, which could have been Batman Beyond. I don’t know how accurate these rumors are, even in the entertainment writing world. Honestly, I am glad that those movies aren’t happening right now. Keaton may have returned in all his glory in The Flash, but I am sad that is where he was used.

It would have been amazing to see Michael Keaton brought back to a film that genuinely matters. Gunn is reportedly a fan of Terry McGinnis and Batman Beyond, so there is hope he might want to adapt that in his future DCU plans.

James Gunn is working on his Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters slate. This release slate includes five movies and five shows that will interweave together to create a grand universe that DC fans will be proud of—which is the hope.

So far, the films are Superman: Legacy, The Brave and the Bold, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, The Authority, and Swamp Thing.

While I am excited to see these films, I am also worried. Sasha Calle played a fantastic Supergirl in The Flash, though she is unsure if she will get a call to reprise the role for James Gunn and the DCU.

Gunn has already recast Henry Cavill, as David Corenswet will take on the role in Superman: Legacy. Gunn might not call Calle and choose to recast the character in his own universe, which is fair. Still, there are moments or actors that fans are generally excited about, and Calle was one of the shining aspects of The FlashGunn doesn’t owe DC fans anything apart from a functioning franchise plan, so he is well within his right to recast everyone.

Despite rumors that Gal Gadot is returning as Wonder Woman, I am fine with him blowing up the whole franchise completely. I want to see a new-look DC.

However, this is the last time for me and most DC fans that we will believe in DC studios. People have already thrown in the towel, which the previous three releases are proof of. I might be speaking too soon about Blue Beetle’s box office haul, and I hope it can make for an exciting comeback story, but it is likely just collateral damage to the overall mess that DC is right now.

All Star Superman comic panel DC
Credit: DC Comics

Related: James Gunn Canceled the Most Requested DC Movie

Though it’s unfair to place such a burden on James Gunn’s shoulders, he had to have known what he was walking into. DC fans are fed up, including myself. Should this new DCU bomb, I plan to completely walk away from the live-action universe. I know most fans will, too.

What do you think about the current state of DC? Is time running out? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!


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