Forget The DCU, Just Make Better Movies From DC Comics

By Chris Snellgrove | Published


Right now, we’re gearing up for James Gunn to properly launch the DCU with his Superman film next year, and many of us breathed a sigh of relief that some upcoming sequels (The Batman 2 and Joker 2, respectively) are still going forward despite existing outside the new cinematic universe. However, the success of those films and the general superhero fatigue that Marvel fans know all too well have led me to a simple conclusion. Instead of focusing on a Marvel-esque cinematic universe of his very own, James Gunn should ditch the DCU and focus on creating better movies adapting some of the best DC comics.

Marvel Is Dying, Why Copy Them?

The main reason I think Gunn needs to let the DCU go is, ironically enough, something that Marvel has been illustrating all too well lately. Originally, the DCEU was Warner Bros’ attempt to copy the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU had been building an interconnected series of films since 2008, and it culminated in Avengers: Endgame, a successful blockbuster hit that felt like its victory had been earned because there was over a decade of films leading up to its release.

However, even as the rushed and sloppy DCEU died a slow death right in front of us, a funny thing happened: Marvel started falling off in a way that nobody (certainly not parent company Disney) could have anticipated. The nonstop glut of new MCU movies and television shows (courtesy of Disney+) ended up triggering what we now call “superhero fatigue.” 

Fans Are Tired Of Homework

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Basically, not only do new Marvel projects no longer feel special, but fans chafe at the idea that they basically have “homework” to do before properly enjoying something. For example, fans needed to watch one movie and three completely different TV shows to understand what was happening in The Marvels.

Now, even as James Gunn is gearing the DCU up, we’re seeing the MCU getting diminishing returns from movies like Eternals, Quantumania, and The Marvels. Ironically enough, fans did show up for Gunn’s most recent Marvel entry, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. That movie had perhaps the least “homework” required, and fans loved it, as long as you watched the first two theatrical films (and the optional Christmas special), you could follow along.

The Best DCEU Movies Were Standalones

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While Snyder bros don’t want to admit it, this was also a lesson that the DCEU was trying to teach us. Attempts to forcibly create a cinematic universe as quickly as possible with movies like Batman v. Superman fell flat. Meanwhile, the movies that thrived were mostly standalone features like Aquaman and Wonder Woman; now that movies outside the DCEU such as The Batman and Joker proved to be big hits, it seems clear that fans don’t want an interconnected cinematic universe so much as they simply want good stories built around interesting characters.

No More Glorified Cameos

deadpool marvel

Put these ideas together and the answer is simple: Warner Bros. and Gunn need to ditch the DCU concept and just create good films. If some of the characters and actors intersect, that’s fine, but we need to stop building movies around glorified cameos meant to sell toys. If Gunn is willing to do this, it allows for more directly adapting some great DC comic stories that might otherwise never be adapted.

It Would Open The Door To Classic Stories


For example, it’s difficult to adapt Batman: Death in the Family in a cinematic universe because we’d need a series of movies where Robin is introduced and has adventures before he is tragically killed by the Joker. If Gunn drops the DCU and just focuses on standalone movies, we could have such a film almost right away, and if the studio needed to cast someone else as Batman, most fans would be fine with it (hey, who doesn’t love a good debate about which Bat is best?). 

Such an approach would also let us get live-action adaptations of classic comics like All-Star Superman or Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, stories that would never fit within the DCU because they are effectively tales of the Man of Steel’s last adventures.

The DCU Is Coming Regardless

James Gunn DCU

As wise as we think this course of action is, we doubt Warner Bros. will suddenly drop the DCU concept they have spent so much time and money developing. We’re also a tad nervous to even suggest changes because rumor has it that if you accidentally frighten David Zaslav, he’ll destroy another beloved TV show or promising film. If anyone needs us, then, we’ll just be in our little Elseworlds alternate reality where WB finally started listening to the fans instead of spending billions of dollars cranking out the Hollywood equivalent of cinematic gruel that even Darkseid wouldn’t feed to his mindless minions.