Hope. That’s the feeling most fans were left with following the announcement of Warner Bros. Discovery’s slate for the DCU (DC Universe). Following a decade of inner turmoil over what to do with their largest property, creative conflicts, a revolving door of leadership, the studio finally has a clear path forward with James Gunn and Peter Safran at the helm of DC Studios.
The announcement of ten new projects across film and television, falling under the designation Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters, offer up a great variety of characters and tones, showcasing the vastness of the DC Universe. One of the big takeaways was Gunn’s confirmation that this is not the Gunnverse, and while he is in a leadership position and helping build towards a larger story, the projects won’t all carry his aesthetic or perspective. The closest point of comparison for the DCU would be looking at the DC comics rack at the comic book store in which classic superhero storytelling, horror, humor, crossovers, and alternate realities all have a place in making DC what it is.
Naturally, with so much to unpack, the announcements brought their own share of questions, considerations, and speculations:
Is the DCU a full reboot?
The end of the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) is upon us. So, is the DCU a reboot? It doesn’t appear that simple, or be a hard and fast rule. While rumors of a full-reboot last year brought about concern over status of the four remaining DCEU movies, it seems they stand a chance of being grandfathered into the new DCU, providing their box office success undoubtedly.
This year sees the release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle and Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. Shazam has no strong ties to the DCEU so could easily fit within a new continuity should Gunn and Safran decide to move forward with this take on the character. The same goes for Blue Beetle, which will introduce Jamie Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) without the baggage of having belonged to a previous universe.
The Flash, which Gunn called one of the greatest superhero movies he’s ever seen, seems like the film that will do the heavy lifting, closing out the DCEU that started with Man of Steel (2013) and ushering in the DCU. It appears The Flash will lead to a soft reboot, allowing certain recastings to take place (Batman and Superman), removing certain events and films from the timeline, while also allowing the aspects that worked for audiences and Gunn to continue forward.
So, by the time we reach Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom in December, Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry may have no recollection of being part of the Justice League or the battle against Steppenwolf and will be operating in an entirely new DC landscape.
Which DCEU cast members will stick around in the DCU?
While Jason Momoa has teased his involvement in another DCU project, which is heavily rumored to be Lobo, it appears he may actually retain the role of Aquaman. Safran confirmed plans for a third Aquaman film — and Gunn said actor will not play two roles — so we can presume Momoa will remain the DCU’s Aquaman for the foreseeable future (unless he is indeed playing Lobo instead of Aquaman). As for others?
As it stands at the moment, Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck are out of the DCU, though Affleck has had discussions with Gunn and Safran about directing a project. Zachary Levi and the rest of the Shazamily’s continuation in the DCU will likely depend on the reception to Fury of the Gods. Ezra Miller, said to be in a much better place than they were a year ago following a stretch of legal troubles, also has a chance of continuing as the Flash in the DCU. And with the Amazons-centric series, Paradise Lost, announced as a prequel to Wonder Woman (2017), it seems possible Gal Gadot will remain the Princess of Themyscria, though we suspect Wonder Woman 1984 will be retconned from continuity given Gunn’s comments about the first and second movie contradicting each other. And with Viola Davis returning as Amanda Waller in her self-titled series, Waller, expect the surviving cast members of The Suicide Squad (2021) and Peacemaker (2022) to make their way into the DCU as well, meaning another round of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is all but guaranteed.
Basically, Gunn and Safran will be retaining what worked, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. As much as I enjoyed Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck’s take on Superman and Batman, they, along with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor and Jared Leto’s Joker were easily the most controversial aspects of the DCEU for critics and audiences. As such, it makes sense from a business perspective to move on from those depictions of the characters.
How will Elseworlds Enhance the Brand?
Despite the goal for a cohesive DCU, there is, thankfully, room for filmmakers to explore DC’s most iconic characters outside of the confines of continuity with Elseworlds. Named after the DC Comics imprint that allowed comic creators to tell stories outside of continuity and reimagine the characters of DC as they saw fit, Elseworlds allowed for some of comics greatest stories to told: Gotham by Gaslight, Superman: Red Son, Superman & Batman: Generations, JLA: The Nail and Kingdom Come. Any upcoming film or television project that doesn’t contribute to the ongoing narrative of the DCU will fall under the Elseworlds label.
Filmmaker Matt Reeves will continue his The Batman saga across film and television, without having to worry about making Robert Pattinson’s Batman fit-in with the DCU, or make sacrifices in terms of what characters he wants to use because they are being used elsewhere. And the same goes for Todd Phillips Joker: Folie a Deux, which will see Joaquin Phoenix reprise his role as Arthur Fleck and bring in Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. TV series like Teen Titans Go! and Superman & Lois will also fall under this label.
While this matter of branding may not seem like a big deal on the surface level as the DCEU also had these out of continuity stories, Elseworlds clears up a lot of audience confusion and fan debates over whether Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker should exist in Matt Reeves’ Batman franchise, or whether the CW DC TV actors should crossover into the movies. A lot of useless noise and arguments will be cut down by this simple categorization, while also setting clear expectations for audiences and filmmakers who partake in what Elseworlds has to offer.
What can the DCU Learn from the MCU, and how is it different?
Gunn, the director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy films, has a lot of familiarity with how the MCU operates. His claim that the DCU isn’t trying to be the MCU tracks in terms of his other comments about staying true to the DC characters and the comic book source material. Simply put, a situation like Black Adam where the characters were made a bit too analogous to Marvel characters won’t happen this time around. But the structure of the DCU, in chapters instead of phases, is clearly reminiscent of the MCU. But hey, if it’s not broken, why fix it? The MCU has inarguably had great success with the organization of its universe and strict sense of continuity. Of course, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants the DCU to be on a similar playing field. But Gunn can also avoid some of the critiques that have been pinned to the MCU over the years.
The DCU doesn’t need to have a house style in the way MCU projects sometimes (but not always) do. There’s a chance for a more visible sense of authorship in their film and television projects. While Marvel Studios tends to go for fresh-faced indie directors, DC Studios might go the opposite direction and aim to work with more experienced filmmakers, as veteran director James Mangold taking on Swamp Thing showcases.
With the market already saturated with comic book projects, the DCU will have to work a little harder to make sure what it is offering isn’t just something that audiences have already gotten or can get from the MCU, which at this point in time is a far more trusted brand than DC. Projects like the animated Creature Commandos, a prestige Green Lantern series, and a film based on The Authority are all surprising choices that will help the DCU feel fresh.
How can Superman Legacy sell audiences on Superman again?
Gunn and Safran referred to Superman Legacy, written by Gunn and dated for July 11, 2025, as the true start to their DCU, and obviously there’s a lot riding on the film. If Superman doesn’t work, the rest will crumble. Described as a film that will see Superman dealing with his “Kryptonian heritage and human upbringing,” a retelling of the origin story will be avoided. Audiences all know Superman’s origin well by now, so Legacy has an opportunity to see Clark Kent and Superman fully established in the world. As interesting as it was to see Superman approached as a god, with his alien heritage being a cross to bear in the DCEU, Legacy has a chance to explore a Superman who’s a little closer to earth and has a personal life as Clark Kent that he enjoys as much as being a superhero.
One of the aspects previous Superman films have never taken full advantage of is his extensive rogues gallery. Audiences have seen Zod and Luthor numerous times, and while there’s always room for Luthor as a supporting player, this new franchise could do a lot in terms of bringing adversaries like Metallo, Parasite, Livewire, Mister Mxyptlk, Machester Black, Silver Banshee, Conduit and Brainiac into the mix. Part of the reason Batman is as popular as he is comes down to how his villains have been utilized. The upcoming comic book relaunch of Superman by Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell is taking this approach to Superman’s villains, reimaging classic characters and making them feel like real threats to Superman again, and Legacy stands a strong chance of being influenced by this book.
Do We Need Two Batmen?
Brave and the Bold will bring yet another Batman actor to the big screen. Batman is just as integral to the DCU as Superman. But Reeves obviously has his own specific, character-driven take on the character that would be a real shame to lose. As such, it makes sense for the DCU to introduce its own take on the Caped Crusader. While some audiences may groan at the thought of more Batman, there’s the simple fact that Batman sells. Look at any listing of DC’s current publications and there’s no doubt that Batman keeps DC in business. Audiences aren’t going to turn their noses up at two Batman franchises, especially if they’re distinct.
While Reeves’ series is an epic crime saga centered around a grounded take on a young Batman that explores the psychological aspects of Bruce Wayne, and the conspiracy laden political intrigue of Gotham City, the DCU’s Batman will be a more colorful take on the character, inspired by Grant Morrison’s run on Batman which brilliantly blended aspects of ’50s and ’60s Batman with a modern approach, and introduced Batman’s son, Damian Wayne.
Morrison’s Batman fully committed to Batman as a globe-trotting superhero rather than simply a Gotham-based vigilante, and borrowed aspects from Bond in giving Batman a global network of enemies from criminal organizations The Black Glove and Leviathan. The books were comprised of characters we haven’t seen in Batman films before like Flamingo, Professor Pyg, John Mayhew and Simon Hurt. The DCU exploring Batman as a father, and taking away some of the Frank Miller associated tenets of Batman will clearly separate that depiction from Reeves, and will allow the full potential of Batman to be explored across two franchises.
While more plans for the DCU will come to light as the films start to roll out, along with the announcement of further projects, there’s a lot to be excited about as this new universe takes shape.