James Gunn posts photo of DCU Brain Trust set to lead DC Studios

James Gunn shared a photo of the architects of the DCU including Peter Safran, Chantal Nong Vo, Jeremy Slater, and Christina Hodson, just to name a few.
Warner Bros. "Blue Beetle" Los Angeles Special Screening
Warner Bros. "Blue Beetle" Los Angeles Special Screening / Kevin Winter/GettyImages

On Jan. 2, appointed studio executive (co-CEO/co-chairman) at DC Studios and writer-director of Superman: Legacy, James Gunn, showcased a welcome message he posted on Threads for 2024, revealing who are the architects of the DCU following its re-launch.

Aside from head honchos, James Gunn, and the officer in charge leading the studio’s management is co-CEO/co-chairman Peter Safran, (EVP) Executive Vice President of Production Chantal Nong Vo, Jeremy Slater, Christina Hodson, Drew Goddard, Christal Henry, Tom King, and VP of Creative Development Galen Vaisman.

These members in that picture make up both the writers’ room and studio execs in charge of the entire tapestry within the DCU and DC Elseworlds moving forward. This is what Gunn said on Threads:

"“2023 what a year! A lot of my favourite moments I can’t post because of spoilers but here are a few from getaways to premieres to writers rooms to publicity tours to spreading my dad’s ashes in Ireland. 2023 was a year of hard work and incredible challenges – but so many wonderful moments within all that. Family, friends, dogs, and films forever. Thanks to everyone who made this year so great.”"

What’s the difference between DCU v DCEU?

It appears that Gunn and Safran may be going for a hard reboot as opposed to a soft reboot due to every single entry in 2023, from Shazam! Fury of the Gods to Blue Beetle, imaginable, bombing at the box office. Not even the 2023 sequel to 2018’s Aquaman could save it. Last year Gunn said:

"“Even though this is all a connected universe, it’s really important to me that the individual writers and directors on the projects give their own self-expression to it, just like they do in the comics. Everything doesn’t always look the same. Everything doesn’t always have the same expression. Different artists bring remarkably different looks, feels, and tones. This is not the Gunnverse.

I want each project to have the feelings of the individual artist that’s working on it and to give them a lot of freedom – as long as it works – to create something special because what I’ve found through Marvel, what wasn’t exciting was when movies were tonally the same. What was exciting was when you had something like Guardians come out and everyone was like, ‘How is this raccoon going to be dealing with this God of Thunder? That’s going to be weird.

But then when you actually see the mash-up happen, that’s what makes it so fun. So, to see seemingly tonally incongruent things come together is part of the fun of all this.”

As it stands, the James Wan helmer currently sits at $279.5 million worldwide box office against an approximate $210 million production budget. It’s safe to say, unfortunately, Warner Bros. and DC Studios didn’t catch lightning in a bottle again with the Jason Mamoa frontrunner, as unlike The Lost Kingdom, the original film did $1.152 billion against an estimated $180 M budget.

The difference between the DCU that I foresee and DCEU is rather than auteurs setting a precedence for its stylistic nodes of a franchise with a filmmaker-driven approach which DC Studios (formerly DC Films) then attempted to amend by treating every subsequent film as a standalone film with a loose connection to the larger world ala James Bond.

In hindsight, it seems Gunn is laying the foundation down for their interconnected universe to be seamless but formless. While living within the ground rules set by a DCU bible Gunn and Safran presented to David Zaslav, artists still have free reign (within reason) to play in their sand castle.

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