Warner Bros. Discovery announces that filmmaker James Gunn and his producing partner, Peter Safran, will lead DC Universe, its film, television and animation division. What does this unpredictable move mean for the company? Kim Masters and Matt Belloni investigate it.
The search for a Kevin Feige for DC
Kim: We’ve talked, more than once, about DC Comics’ quest, David Zaslav, head of Warner Bros. Discovery, to find his own Kevin Feige, which are words he put in his own mouth. There is only one Kevin Feige, and he runs Marvel. He has a team around him, but there is a vision and it is his and he is the architect and the contractor and he built it his way. There is no other Kevin Feige for DC.
Contrary to what I was predicting, I thought by default they would cast Mike De Luca and Pam Abdy, the heads of the Warner Bros. Film studio, who were initially not going to be given the DC properties, but then just having some time. terrible to find someone.
Warner Bros. surprised everyone
Kim: They announced James Gunn, the filmmaker, and his producing partner, Peter Safran, to direct DC. I dont know [if] that is totally clear because sometimes we are very skeptical, and I admit that I am reflexively, to some extent, and not just reflexively skeptical.
Why not put a creative person in charge?
Kim: [Gunn] he is creative. He is respected and well regarded. He has been very successful. He obviously did Guardians of the Galaxy. He did “The Suicide Squad.” He is immersed in this world and has many fans. So you could say, “Why not put a creative in charge?”
Read more: Filmmaker James Gunn makes a video game.
Mate: And it’s not just creativity. It’s a creative team with Peter Safran, who is an experienced producer and executive.
I think what Warner Bros. Discovery is doing here is signaling to the community that this is [a] DC work, which has been an ungrateful [one] because he always compares himself to Marvel. They are putting a creativity that is going to have credibility with the fans. Fans love this, if you look at social media they like this choice. And there is going to be a so-called adult in the room to make the trains run on time as well and draw up a strategic and business plan for this division.
A coordinated and supercharged plan across all DC platforms
Mate: Remember, this isn’t just movies. They want DC to have a coordinated plan across platforms, which, to an extent, they already have with Walter Hamada, who just left, but they want that to be supercharged.
They want to try and compete with Marvel for real and that means shows on HBO Max. It means shows in their linear networks. It means movies. It means games. It means consumer products. All this with a creative vision of James Gunn, and with a business vision of Peter Safran.
DC has been too fractured
Kim: One of the reasons DC can’t be Marvel is because it’s been through too many iterations already, without someone like Feige at the helm. Then you have the Zack Snyder version, who had his own very dedicated fans. And now, you have Matt Reeves doing the Batman stuff. And you have Todd Phillips, who got into Joker. (I don’t think he wants to expand into a larger DC Universe, but he’s got that corner with a sequel to come. Big hit, Oscar winner for Joaquin Phoenix.) So you have all of that. You have JJ Abrams out there, maybe, or maybe not doing something.
It’s been too fractured, and you already have these great filmmakers in the mix. We talked about it recently.
“Sorry, what did you say?”
Kim: I’m trying to visualize the calls when they were told that a person they could [have] loved and respected, his skills and, “James Gunn is now in charge of this.” There must have been these moments of saying, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Mate: That’s going to be the challenge here, exerting some level of control over these filmmakers who may not want to take notes from someone they consider a peer. But that’s a surmountable challenge, and obviously they have the full weight of the Warner studio behind them, and presumably people can co-exist to some extent.
DC movies are already on the catwalk
Mate: The bigger question is that it takes a couple of years to effect real change at the movie studio because they already have the next two years of DC movies on track. They are ready to go.
They have “The Flash” for next summer, which has its own problems with Ezra Miller. They have the sequel to “The Aquaman,” which is the sequel to a huge hit, but will he be able to replicate that?
And beyond that, you’re going to have to find out, okay, Henry Cavill just announced that he’s going to do another Superman movie, “What does that mean?” There is no script. They have to realize that.
Black Superman can still happen
Mate: The JJ Abrams project, where there will be a black Superman written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, that’s another one.
Kim: I don’t expect that to happen, honestly. sorry to say.
Mate: It can still happen. Who knows?
Kim: Who knows? I’m not defending, but I’m just looking at the world at what we’ve seen with Zaslav.