Probably the most repeated phrase from the public regarding the DC Universe that Peter Safran and James Gunn have come up with is “Well, we’ll see.” Except for two very opposite extremes (Zack Snyder fans and James Gunn fans), most of the audience is expectant and cautious. After all, all we know are the titles and some of the comics they will be based on and it is too early to make any kind of conjectures about its quality (despite the fact that some people have already decided that ‘Paradise lost’ is going to be horrible, for reasons that are not lost on anyone).
However, DC’s biggest problem is what it always has been: his eternal enemy, Marvel. Despite a phase 4 that has not satisfied everyone, Kevin Feige is at cruising speed and his films have gone from being events to routines that we do not want to take away. Seeing what’s new from Marvel is almost like buying bread, something we take for granted that we are going to do without thinking. Gunn’s job is complicated: enter the collective ideology as his replacement and that the public that has gone to the movies almost exclusively to see Feige’s films and his family change The Avengers for The Authority. It will not be an easy road, but it has several points in favor. And it is that, How can DC be different from Marvel (and beat them along the way)?
As much as we love Marvel, and each movie tries to have a different genre (heist movies, espionage, space opera) at the end almost all have the same tone: It is easy to know that a film is yours by seeing how the events unfold, with that touch between comedy, action and epic that has worked so well for you. We all know what we are going to, with its small variations, when we go to see a Marvel tape. However, Gunn and Safran have the opportunity to change everything in their vision for DC.
Some fear that James Gunn’s arrival at the superhero top job means that all movies will be ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, but the director and creator is smarter than all that and he knows that his style has as many followers as detractors. That is why it is most likely to do what its competition has not been able to (or wanted to): leave creators free to do their work within narrative and visual terms. Proof of this is that he has already compared some of his series with ‘Game of Thrones’ and it seems that he has given James Mangold command of ‘The Swamp Thing’. Those who are tired of the “Feige method” but do not want dark and gloomy characters can have what they found here.
crisis on infinite earths
If there is a word that creates restlessness and expectation in the DC world that is “Crisis”. And not because of the lack of money, but because they are the pivotal moments of his Universe: ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, ‘Final Crisis’, ‘Infinite Crisis’… It is a name that comics have never used in vain, and one of the aces up the sleeve that is kept after this first phase. The formation of the justice league it would only be a preamble to a space-time mess that Marvel is unwittingly preparing the public for.
Marvel is currently educating generalist viewers who they don’t know about the science-fiction clichés about interdimensional travel and preparing them so that mythical or forgotten characters can make their appearance at any time. But in this, as much as Feige has come before in the cinema, DC is the true teacher: ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ changed the world of comics forever and Gunn is aware that the mere mention of the name can resurrect the universe in case his proposal doesn’t end up working. The only con is that it was already used in the CW universe, but it can always be renewed.
One of the reasons why Marvel has ended up hooking the public is the creation of a whole world and the interaction of the different characters throughout the movies. Knowing what has succeeded in the House of Ideas, Gunn has a chance to create a universe that feels more real and alivein which the heroes, as in the cartoons, can appear without this implying an event.
That’s not to say that all movies are ‘Civil war’: the protagonist remains the same, but if you need help The rest of the characters in the universe may appear to lend a hand. How is the friendship between Batman and Superman going to be understood if they are not seen together except in macro-events? It has to be outlined little by little, and that it requires that the crossover become routine and not detract from the rest of the film. We’ll see if Gunn has understood.
We all know the publisher’s main trio: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. We also know some secondary characters like their families, Aquaman, Flash or Shazam. But from there the mainstream public is unaware of the existence of Green Lantern, Zatanna, Martian Manhunter or Booster Gold. DC has a golden opportunity to create new myths just like Marvel did with characters that then did not sound like anything to people outside of comicslike Iron Man, Guardians of the Galaxy or Doctor Strange.
With the announcements that Gunn has made, there are already those who announce his sure failure with ‘The authority’ or ‘Supergirl: woman of tomorrow’, but It’s always better to take a risk than get stuck between Batman and Superman movies.. After all, there were also those who believed that Aquaman could never be made as a movie because it would be ridiculous and it ended up raising more than $1.1 billion.
gods among humans
The name of phase 1 is very defining: gods and monsters. And it is that in the classic DC universe, many of its main superheroes are not simple people with capes and more or less special powers. What is Superman but a god? And Wonder Woman? Darkseid? The New Gods? While Marvel has traditionally lowered its superheroes to more normal affairs (Thor is literally a god, but more concerned with Earth than Asgard), in their competition there’s often more risk to the universe.
If in Marvel we are used to seeing heroes like Hawkeye, Spider-man or Captain America, who are still normal people with tights, in DC you don’t have to start from the street and work your way up to a mega-epic like ‘Avengers: Endgame’. Directly, in his first film, the fate of the world may be in danger. And from there, go up: only with the Green Lanterns could you set up your own universe of space battles, struggles for power and charismatic characters. DC can set the bar very high, and by the time Marvel wants to release ‘Nova’, make it sound like old news.
Obviously, Gunn and Safran will also have to face a lot of problems, starting with the increasingly notorious (this time) superheroic fatigue and ending with the fans themselves who will long for Snyder’s more serious times. Everything is still up in the air, but personally I am sure that DC has an opportunity to revive interest in its superheroes. We’ll see if he doesn’t waste it.