How James Gunn’s DC Universe Is Avoiding The Trap Of Too Many Origin Stories

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James Gunn’s DC Universe is gearing up to revolutionize live-action superhero storytelling, taking a distinctly different approach from its predecessor, the DCEU.

James Gunn's DC Universe Charts a New Course


The new DC Universe, under the leadership of James Gunn and Peter Safran, is prioritizing world-building over delving too deep into superhero origin stories. Many new characters will be introduced as already-established heroes, marking a departure from traditional storytelling methods. DC Studios aims to carve out a unique and intricate universe, setting itself apart from both the DCEU and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Spending excessive time on origin stories can pose challenges for superhero franchises, but the DC Universe, spearheaded by co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran, is steering clear of this trap. The duo took the reins at DC Studios in November 2022, swiftly moving to reboot the DCEU into a fresh franchise rooted in DC Comics narratives. The new approach involves parting ways with actors like Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck and confirming ten projects for the inaugural phase, known as Chapter 1, titled “Gods and Monsters.” This signals Gunn and Safran’s commitment to avoiding common pitfalls in superhero storytelling.

In June 2023, Hollywood star David Corenswet was cast as Clark Kent, a.k.a. Superman, for the DCU’s first feature film, “Superman: Legacy,” slated for 2025. Preceding this, Creature Commandos and Waller shows, along with subsequent projects like The Brave and the Bold, The Authority, Paradise Lost, Booster Gold, and Lanterns, promise to expand the DCU’s scope. The diverse range of characters introduced in Chapter 1 underscores DC Studios’ emphasis on world-building, a departure from the approach taken by the DCEU.

The DCU’s Release Roster Builds Up Its World Without Origin Stories

James Gunn’s confirmation in January 2023 of ten projects set in the new DC Universe suggests a deliberate effort to focus on expanding the broader world rather than overly dwelling on individual heroes’ backstories. While origin stories will still be explored, many new characters are anticipated to be introduced as already-active heroes. For instance, “Superman: Legacy” portrays Clark Kent as a reporter, already collaborating with Rachel Brosnahan’s Lois Lane at the Daily Planet, indicating a shift away from focusing solely on childhood and early superhero experiences.

This approach extends to other iconic heroes like Batman and Wonder Woman. Matt Reeves’ Arkham Asylum-set series, confirmed as part of the DCU, will likely precede the introduction of the new Batman in “The Brave and the Bold.” Similarly, “Paradise Lost” will explore Themyscira and the Amazons before introducing Wonder Woman, ensuring that the worlds of Gotham City and Themyscira are fully established prior to the debut of their respective heroes. The same holds true for the Green Lanterns, the Authority, the Creature Commandos, and Supergirl, set to debut in “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.”

Why The DCU Is Better Off Avoiding Using Too Many Origin Stories

The DCEU faced criticism for emphasizing heroes without providing sufficient context to the world they inhabited. Gunn and Safran are actively steering the new DC Universe in a different direction, prioritizing the development of locations, events, and supporting characters before introducing superheroes. This strategic approach ensures that the DC Universe stands distinct from both the DCEU and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fostering a unique identity and avoiding replication. In an era where superhero projects are under heightened scrutiny, DC Studios’ innovative approach could prove to be a refreshing departure.