As Hollywood gets ready to go on break, James Gunn and Peter Safran‘s initial vision for the first wave of DC Studios film in the all-new DC Universe has been communicated with the big bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery. Since then Gunn revealed that a Superman film, written by him, will be a top priority for the new studio while indicating that he and Safran plan to share part of the new slate with fans sometime early in 2023. While we wait to find out what the game plan is, here’s a Christmas-time wish list of what we’d like to see.
Richard John Grayson
For too long DC’s takes on Batman have made the mistake of robbing Batman of one of the most important relationships he’s ever forged. Dick Grayson hasn’t made an appearance in a live-action Batman film since 1997’s Batman and Robin and instead has been shuffled off to streaming land where some half-assed version of him exists on Titans. Gunn has said Batman is an important part of the stories DC Studios wants to tell. Dick Grayson is an important part of Batman’s stories. If DC Studios wants to be taken seriously by fans of Batman, this is a huge first step.
The Brave and The Bold
The Brave and The Bold is the Marvel Team-Ups of DC Comics, but to a lot of readers, it calls to mind one of DC’s most beloved pair of bros: Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. 2023 will see the oft-delayed The Flash film finally hit theaters, CW’s The Flash is ending following its 701st season and there’s been exactly one terrible live-action version of Hal Jordan to date in 2011’s Green Lantern film. Given that it’ll be a few years before DC Studios’ new slate starts rolling out, pushing out a new version of Barry Allen might not be as big of a deal as it seems in 2022. Even though he’s been out of the spotlight for a while, Hal Jordan probably doesn’t need an entire film’s worth of origin. Give these two a buddy film and get them involved in the bigger narrative ASAP.
The Snyderverse certainly could have used more J’onn J’onzz, a character who was nearly criminally underutilized over the last decade. J’onzz, better known as Martian Manhunter, has been around since the Silver Age and is an OG Justice Leaguer. Moreover, including him in the first wave of films allows DC Studios with someone who can narrate whatever version of the history of the DC Universe they wish to tell because, over his 225 million years, J’onn J’onzz has seen some things.
The League, the Whole League and Nothing But The Leauge
If Gunn is making a shared cinematic universe, there will ultimately be a Justice League. Not too many people outside of Gunn and Safran know what they have in mind for the first wave of films, but it’s likely that at some point, a League will come together and there’s no reason that it can’t be comprised of the original 7. Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman may or may not need solo projects ahead of a Justice League film because they’ve all been more recently present than Superman, Martian Manhunter and Green Lantern; alternatively, maybe all 7 original members need solo projects. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the 7 OG JLA members have NEVER shared the screen in live-action and that’s something we’d like to see Gunn remedy in the near future.
The Hall of Justice
The Justice League is coming and they need a sick HQ. The Hall of Justice, which is based on the real-life Union Terminal building in Cincinnati, Ohio, has never been in a live-action DC film. By the time the new slate reaches the end of its first arc, it would make sense for the heroes to have established an HQ and this one is as iconic as it gets.
Some Off-Beat Heroes
The Trinity will likely be the foundation of the DC Universe. Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern will likely be there, too. Hopefully, Martian Manhunter makes the cut. However, if there’s one thing Gunn should be proud to carry over with him from his time at Marvel Studios, it’s the fact that he took a group of off-beat, unknown heroes and turned them into a globally recognized brand. So bring on Metamorpho! Throw Red Tornado into the mix. Plastic Man probably has some free time on his hands. What’s Animal Man up to these days? With the ability to introduce characters not only in films but also through streaming series, get some of these off-beat heroes into the mix. 3 years ago, nobody knew who Peacemaker was and now fans are eagerly antipating the second season of a streaming series starring John Cena as the butt of an ongoing joke.
The OG Leaguers can’t do it all themselves (they totally can, but they never do), so throw some of these guys into the mix and give them a shot at becoming beloved by a new generation.
A Lex Luthor That Can Be Taken Seriously
This one is tough because while Gunn and Safran will want to break away from the stigma of the Snyderverse’s absurd take on Luthor, there’s arguably no more sensible villain for DC Studios’ first wave of films than Luthor. The character has been done to death on TV and in films, but never in a way in which he posed a threat to the entire Justice League. He doesn’t have to be the villain of Gunn’s Superman; in fact, he probably shouldn’t be. However, establishing him and then letting him grow into the type of character that could be powerful enough to threaten the entire league would set him apart from any previous version. And that version of the character probably includes…
The Legion of Doom
If anyone has the balls to bring this ridiculous team of villains together, it’s James Gunn. Though numerous iterations of the team have since appeared in the comics, the OGs first appeared in 1978 in the 16-episode Challenge of the Superfriends animated series that aired on ABC. The original team, which operated out of Darth Vader’s helmet, aka the Hall of Doom, was led by Luthor and consisted of rogues from all of the principal Leaguers galleries. Bizzaro, Black Manta, Brainiac, Captain Cold, Cheetah, Giganta, Gorilla Grodd, Riddler, Scarecrow, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy and Toyman all plotted to take over the world and failed again and again. DC Studios may not be able to pull all 13 of these baddies together and it doesn’t have to. But a JLA vs Legion of Doom movie would certainly garner some attention and one-up Marvel Studios in the sense that they have somehow failed to put together a live-action Masters of Evil 14 years in.
There’s so much more that Gunn and Safran should try to accomplish as they build out the DC Universe, but the hope is that they’ll have the time necessary to do so. Great live-action versions of the JSA, The Question, The Spectre, the Green Lantern Corps and Damian Wayne all deserve to exist. But those characters probably don’t get the treatment they deserve without a solid foundation in the first wave of DC Studios’ slate. A safe, solid slate with some surprises thrown in. Let’s get it done, DC Studios.