DC Studios Is Not Marvel 2.0, It's Better According to James Gunn

At long last, DC Studios has a production slate. The first earnest try from Warner Brothers to replicate the magic of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, studio co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran unveiled the first batch of projects from the outfit. Along with the slate unveiling, the executives made sure to explain how their plan is different from the extended storytelling output from Marvel Studios. At a press event at DC headquarters, Gunn made sure to point out the DCU is far from "Marvel 2.0."

Gunn is not interested in just copying what he did and saw at the studio that made him a household name. Instead, the Guardians of the Galaxy director wants to take the knowledge he has accrued through years of studio filmmaking at Disney, Warner Bros., and elsewhere, and apply it to help establish a sustainable DC Universe.

"A lot of people think is going to be Marvel 2.0 and definitely, I learned a lot of stuff at Marvel," Gunn admitted. "I think that we have a lot of differences. I think that one of the reasons why I love DC is that it really is another universe. It's an alternate world. With Marvel, generally, it's New York, Chicago, San Francisco….Here at DCU, we have Metropolis, Gotham, Themyscira, and Atlantis and all of that is another fictional universe, and this is the world that we're creating."

Gunn then added the overall DCU is much more planned out than its MCU counterpart, with one singular story being told across the entire Chapter. While the Marvel Cinematic Universe was largely started at the dawn of a superhero age, the DC Universe is in the midst of it when viewers will first tune in.

"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," Gunn added. "We are telling a big huge central story that is like Marvel Studios, except for I think that we're a lot more planned out than Marvel did from the beginning, because we've gotten a group of writers together to work that story out completely. But we're also creating a universe that is like Star Wars where there's different times and different places, different things, or like Game of Thrones, where characters are a little bit more morally complex."

Of course, one of the first things that is going to come up is the idea of a shared universe. Marvel has mastered it on film, while DC had great luck with it on TV with Greg Berlanti's Arrowverse on The CW. But with some roles being recast, others seemingly not, and movies like Joker: Folie a Deux and Constantine 2 carrying on movies from outside the shared universe, it's clear that the DC Universe is a work in progress.

"I started [Guardians of the Galaxy] with a story of what that trilogy was, where it started and where it ended," Gunn explained. "That story is just the smaller version of doing this. I've been inside a company that did very well. It's very different than us. Marvel didn't have everything completely worked out ahead of time, but they did a lot of things really well -- one of which is not giving up. I really love that about Kevin [Feige] and Lou [D'Esposito] and the old gang -- that I've seen them turn bad movies into okay movies, okay movies into good movies, and good movies into great movies as because they do not f---ing stop. They give it whatever it needs to make it as good as it can possibly be until the 11th hour, and there'll be editing the day before the premiere. A lot. Too much."

"We have a lot to prove," Gunn added. "It's going to be up to us to show the audience what our universe is, how this is connected, to clearly demarcate what is the DCU and what is Elseworlds, and to move like that going forward."

"It's going to take a while, it's going to take a bit of explanation, but we're very confident that by the time Superman: Legacy comes out, that people will understand that what they'll understand and what the DCU is," added co-CEO Peter Safran.

That is a process that Gunn and Safran know they have to commit to, so that their DC Universe will feel more like a cohesive whole than the various false starts that Warner has attempted over the last few years since Justice League's failure.

"It's really important to me" to make the continuity accessible, Gunn said. "I just dealt with it was with Guardians as being, I want people to understand the story, no matter who walks in. If somebody turns on the first episode of Booster Gold, even if it's connected to something else, I want them to understand what's going on. I want somebody who, if Superman's in The Authority, and they go and they watch The Authority, I want them to be able to understand what's going on in The Authority without seeing Superman. What's important for me, is to make these movies work in and of themselves, and by themselves, and not have them be completely dependent. Now, there's always going to be small confusions and things when you tell a big story like this; that's unavoidable. But for the most part, it's really important to me that each individual project is understood by somebody going to see it, so that it's good enough that then they'll go 'Oh, I gotta go VOD Superman,' or watch it on HBO max or wherever."

The first official DC Studios film, Superman: Legacy, is due out July 2025.

What DC Studios project are you looking forward to most? Let us know your thoughts either in the comments section or by hitting our writer @AdamBarnhardt up on Twitter to chat all things DCU!