Co-Chairmen and CEOs of DC Studios Peter Safran and James Gunn dive a bit deeper into the next generation of DC films and television series, and how the new core continuity will work.
Fans are still reeling from the massive amount of DC Universe reveals announced this week, including the first 10 interconnected films and HBO Max series serving as Chapter 1 of the new continuity. Co-Chairmen and CEOs of DC Studios Peter Safran and James Gunn have also shared key insights for each announced project, as well as explained some of the process behind how the new core continuity was built.
“Here at DC, we have Metropolis, Gotham, Themyscira, Atlantis, Bialya… This is the world that we’re creating,” Gunn explained. “We’re coming into a world where superheroes exist and have existed for some time in one form or another, and that’s the universe. We are telling a big, huge central story that is like Marvel, except that I think we’re a lot more planned out than Marvel from the beginning because we’ve gotten a group of writers together to work the story out completely.”
Of the upcoming slate, Safran explains, “Many of the following projects are already being worked on, but we’re remaining flexible and we’re going to adjust because we’re never going to put a project into production before the script is right. This is a general timeline, but there will be flexibility within it.”
James Gunn: The first series that we’re doing, and I’ve already written the entire series, is Creature Commandos. This is an animated TV series and this is art from the animation company that’s doing it. Creature Commandos is based on the great team from DC.
What we’re doing with the DCU is we’re having animation tied directly into live action. Television, movies and games all intertwine within the same universe. We’re going to cast actors that are going to be able to play the characters in this, as well as in other things, some of which we’ve already cast. I’ve written all seven episodes of this show and it’s in production now.
Gunn: Viola Davis is coming back as her character, Amanda Waller. This is also going to have some of the Peacemaker team in it as regulars on the show. This basically follows up Peacemaker. We have two great creatives working on it: Christal Henry, who was a writer on Watchmen, and Jeremy Carver who created Doom Patrol. They have this incredibly marvelous story worked out that I think is really fantastic.
Peter Safran: This series will sit between Peacemaker Season 1 and Season 2.
Safran: (This) is really the launch of the DCU. The first two projects are an amuse-bouche for what’s coming up with Superman: Legacy. James is currently writing it. We’re hoping that he will direct it. It’s not an origin story. It focuses on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. Superman represents truth, justice, and the American way. He is kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned.
Gunn: With our stories, we want to take it away from good guy vs. bad guy. There are really good - almost saintly - people and Superman is among them. There are really terrible villains like Gorilla Grodd or the Joker. And then there’s everybody in between them, so there are all these shades of gray which allow us to tell complex stories.
Safran: Our next project is another television series. We call it Lanterns and it is starring two of our favorite Green Lanterns - Hal Jordan and John Stewart. It’s going to be with HBO Max, as all of our series are that we’re going to talk about today. It is more of a True Detective-type mystery with our two Lanterns. A terrestrial-based mystery -
Gunn: - that leads into the overall story that we’re telling throughout the different movies and television shows. We find this ancient horror on Earth, and these guys are basically supercops on “Precinct Earth.”
Safran: The story is going to weave back and forth between the films and the television shows. Peacemaker is a good example of how that works, and that’s what we’re going to do with this big overarching story that we’re telling.
Gunn: This is one of my real passion projects. I’ve been working really hard on it with the writers and we’re starting to put together the entire story. This is a big movie. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Authority. They’re WildStorm characters. WildStorm was a comics imprint that was bought by DC that I really love. We’re moving a lot of these WildStorm characters into the DCU.
The Authority’s a very different kind of superhero story. They are basically good-intentioned, but they think that the world is completely broken and the only way to fix it is to take things into their own hands, whether that means killing people, destroying heads of state, changing governments -- basically, whatever they want to do to make the world better. We’ll see how that journey goes for them.
Safran: This is a Game of Thrones-type story about Themyscira/Paradise Island, home of the Amazons and the birthplace of Wonder Woman. This involves all of the darkness, drama and political intrigue behind this society of only women.
Gunn: It’s an origin story of how this society of women came about. What does it mean? What are their politics like? What are their rules? Who’s in charge? What are the games that they play with each other to get to the top? I think it’s really exciting.
Safran: The events really take place before Diana’s birth.
The Brave and the Bold
Gunn: This is the introduction of the DCU’s Batman. It is not Robert Pattinson. It is not Ben Affleck. We’re working with Robert on The Batman – Part II with Matt Reeves, and we’re working with Ben Affleck, who has been a part of our team trying to bring things together and he really wants to direct one of our projects. We’re excited for him to do that.
This is a story of Damian Wayne, who’s Batman’s actual son that he didn’t know existed for the first eight to ten years of his life. He was raised as a little murderer and assassin. He’s my favorite Robin. It’s based on the Grant Morrison comic run, which is one of my favorite “Batman” runs. We’re putting it all together right now.
Safran: This is going to feature other members of the extended Bat-Family. Just because we feel like they’ve been left out of the Batman stories in the theater for far too long.
Safran: A total fan favorite, as you know. A loser from the future who uses his basic future technology to come back to today to pretend to be a superhero.
Gunn: I think of it as basically the story of a superhero’s imposter syndrome. How do you deal with that? (It’s about) how he tries to use this future technology to be loved by the people of today and what is really at the base of that. It’s a character story that’s going to be a very different type of show, and we’re talking to an actor about it now.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
Gunn: This is based on Tom King (and Bilquis Evely)’s wonderful comic. Tom has been one of the architects of this entire situation. He’s been one of the guys in the room with us, along with four or five other writers. I love his take on these characters. He just turns them slightly to be something very unique.
In our story, we have Superman who was sent to Earth and raised by incredibly loving parents. Kara was on Krypton. She was on a piece of Krypton that drifted away from the planet and she lived there for the first fourteen years of her life in a horrible situation where she watched everyone around her die. So, she’s a much harsher and more f*cked up Supergirl than you’ve been used to thus far.
Safran: The final film we wanted to talk about is Swamp Thing. We bring it up because it’s important to point out that in these stories, although they’re interconnected, they’re not all tonally the same. Each set of filmmakers bring their own aesthetic to these films, and the fun is seeing how these tonally different works mash up in the future.
This is a film that will investigate the dark origins of Swamp Thing.
Gunn: We are actually developing a few other things as well, but for one reason or another, we can’t say them. This is the first batch of stuff, but there may be a couple of surprises to come.
For the current Chapter, it sems only Creature Commandos will be animated. When choosing the mediums of each process, Gunn explained, “It depends on the story. We’re going to give every story what it deserves. Some things we know. Superman is definitely something we know we’d like to be PG-13, so I’m going to make sure it is. Other things, like the Waller TV show, are a little bit more mature. And we have other things that are aimed a bit more at young women or at kids that are still within this world.” Safran added, in terms of animation, it’s sometimes just a fun way to introduce characters or introduce stories that would frankly be too expensive to be done otherwise.”
The duo has also revealed that the new continuity will include some of the animated movies from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Gunn states, “Some of that stuff will continue as Elseworlds, but a lot of other stuff we’re starting to bring into animation with (Warner Bros. Animation President) Sam Register so that we’ll have things that are connected with this.”
For those wondering how frequently the upcoming projects will be released, Safran estimated, “two movies and two HBO Max series per year,” meaning Chapter 1 would span approximately two and a half years.