James Gunn’s DC Cinematic Universe Will Never Happen

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

james gunn dc

While it had some high points (like Wonder Woman and The Suicide Squad), the DCEU also had some serious stinkers (like Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad). The weight of all this cinematic baggage sank DC’s first attempt to create a shared cinematic universe, but fans have high hopes for James Gunn’s upcoming DCU. Gunn is one of the best superhero directors in the business, but here’s a harsh truth: thanks to everything from tax writeoffs to superhero fatigue, Gunn’s DC cinematic universe will never happen.

DC In Hands Of Moviegoers

James Gunn DCU james gunn dc

Oh, sure, we’re going to see that first wave of movies come out…at this point, there’s too much corporate investment and public excitement to shelve something as big as the next Superman film.

However, the future of James Gunn’s entire DC cinematic universe is going to rest in the hands of moviegoers. Based on recent trends, it seems likely superhero fatigue will keep this new DCU from going up, up, and away from the failures of its predecessor.

Marvel Ruined Chances For DC

james gunn dc

Ironically, the performance of the MCU is a major part of our prediction that James Gunn’s DC universe is already dead. It was the runaway success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe that prompted Warner Bros. to rush in (with too much enthusiasm and not nearly enough preparation) with their own DCEU.

For a time, Marvel regularly created hits at the box office, and the financial success of movies like Captain Marvel (which earned over a billion dollars at the worldwide box office) meant Warner Bros. was eager to shamelessly copy their competition and simply hope for the best.

Some Box Office Bombs

And with James Gunn’s DC plans could stand to look at it this way. Marvel began losing a step here and there to the point that the average person is quite happy to tell you they are burned out on the MCU.

Certainly, Marvel’s own box office proves that is true: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which some thought might be a blockbuster hit, raked in a depressing $476 million. The biggest evidence of superhero fatigue, though, was when The Marvels (a sequel to the insanely successful Captain Marvel) earned only $205 million, a tiny fraction of the gross the studio was hoping for.

Superhero Fatigue

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What does The Marvels have to do with James Gunn and the imminent failure of his cinematic universe? Everything: this sequel is certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, had huge audience buy-in courtesy of the first film, and had generally good word-of-mouth.

It was in the perfect position to succeed and still managed to fail because general audiences are just this sick of superhero cinema, and that bodes ill for Gunn’s new DCU no matter how good the writing, acting, and directing are.

Warner Bros. Shelving Movies


Even if superhero fatigue wasn’t such a prevalent threat, the biggest threat to the success of James Gunn’s DC cinematic universe might be his own studio. Under the leadership of David Zsaslav, Warner Bros. had shelved various titles including Batgirl and Coyote vs. Acme.

That last one might not sound superhero-related, but get this: James Gunn worked on the story and produced the film, which featured Peacemaker star John Cena. Frankly, if the studio is willing to throw away its best films from its brightest talents just to get a tax write-off, there is no reason to believe they will treat Gunn’s new endeavor any better.

Back To The Drawing Board?


This is one of those cases where we hope to be wrong, and we’d much rather eat some humble pie in shame over this prediction than see another failure like the DCEU.

At this point, though, it looks like even if James Gunn’s DC cinematic universe has the best films ever made in this genre, they are unlikely to be released and less likely to make a profit.

At this point, the studio may be better off going back to the drawing board and focusing on standalone universes like The Batman than flush another few hundred million down the toilet.

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