The Authority Movie Announced by DC, Possibly Their Most Violent Project Yet

DC Studios head James Gunn has kept his promise, by finally announcing some projects for the upcoming DC Universe franchise. Of all the things that Gunn and DC Studios co-head Peter Safran could've announced, virtually no one would've predicted that The Authority would be one of them – but that is indeed where we are! The Authority will be the first big team movie from DC, as well as a passion project for Gunn. However, if you know anything about the comic book lore surrounding The Authority, it could end up being the most violent project that DC has done yet. 

Speaking at the DC Studios presentation, James Gunn elaborated on what fans can expect from The Authority movie – starting with what it is! 

"The Authority. So this is one of my real passion projects, I've been working really hard on it with a writer, is we're starting to put together the entire story," Gunn said. 

He later elborated, explaining why DC Studios is going with this particular property

"Yeah, this is a big movie and I don't know how many of you know are familiar with The Authority... The Authority is a very different kind of superhero story. They are basically good intention, 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, whatever they want to do to make the world better. And we'll see how that journey goes for them. But as I said earlier, there's morally gray characters of which these are."

What Is DC's The Authority? 


The Authority was a superhero team spun out of another comic book series, Stormwatch, which was part of the independent comic imprint WildStorm before it was absorbed by DC. Writer Warren Ellis took over the series in Vol. 2, transforming Wildstorm Universe lore significantly. While writing the WildC.A.T.S./Alien crossover event comic in 1998, Ellis killed off a bunch of the Stormwatch characters he didn't personally create or want to use, taking the surviving characters (Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, Apollo and his husband Midnighter, etc.) into a new series, The Authority, in 1999. The Authority's main selling point was being a team that operated unilaterally, independent of politics, law, or ethics, doing whatever was necessary to complete their missions and/or goals. 

As DC Studios co-head Peter Safran explained, the questionable ethics of the characters are what make them exciting: 

"Yeah, we love that they think the ends justify the means, and they're the ones that decide what – They think the ends justify the means and they're the ones that decide what the right ends are."

In the case of The Authority comic series, timing really was everything. The series launched on a wave of anxiety about the end of the 20th century and start of the 21st century, with one character's arc (Jenny Sparks) literally ending with her death as 'the Spirit of the Twentieh Century.' The Authority would continue to resonate with comics fans in the early 2000s, as a reflection of the post-9/11 world, where "heroes" with harder edges dogmas were very much en vogue (see also: Jack Bauer). There is a lot more about the world socio-political themes of the times that The Authority either reflected or predicted, all while building a deep world and mythos.

(Photo: DC)

The Authority would spawn another spinoff (The Monarchy), while the main Authority series would attract some now-famous talent to work on it at different points: along with the original creative team of Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, Mark Millar and Frank Quietely (Jupiter's Legacy) worked on the book, as did Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets), Glenn Fabry (Judge Dredd), Grant Morrison (Batman, X-Men), Gene Ha (Justice League), Keith Giffen (Lobo), J.Mm. DeMatteis (Batman, Justice League, Superman) and Tom Taylor (Nightwing). 

By taking on The Authority, DC Studios is definitely leaning into its wide library of prestigous, creator-driven content – in this case, giving us something that is miles away from another Justice League movie. Of course, given how deeply woven The Authority was into the Wildstorm universe, this movie's announcement raises some big questions about whether a larger corner of the franchise universe is being carved out.