James Gunn is a new creative lead and co-CEO of the DCU, a move that should come as no surprise despite The Suicide Squad’s disappointing box office performance. Gunn and his co-CEO Peter Safran took over as leaders of DC Studios on November 1, 2022, a decision that binds Gunn to the DC Universe for the next four years. However, Gunn’s collaboration with the MCU will continue through two previously announced projects, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Gunn’s past contributions to the MCU are highly regarded. Still, after the release of his next two Marvel projects, Gunn will be able to focus exclusively on guiding DC Studios’ future.
Gunn’s extensive comic book knowledge and witty, witty stories led to critical acclaim. Suicide Squad’s run at the box office isn’t a reflection of Gunn’s true abilities with DC Studios, as his impressive work with big-budget productions highlighted by his affinity for character-driven storytelling is always on point. bodes well for the future of DC. Gunn takes on the lead role at a pivotal time for the DCU. The box office success of Black Adam has reinvigorated the franchise after theater attendance slumped during the pandemic, but Dwayne Johnson’s involvement as Teth-Adam moves forward is uncertain. Henry Cavill’s return as Superman in Black Adam bodes well for Gunn, as he plans to keep the members of the Justice League at the center of the saga. With the recent turmoil surrounding Batgirl’s cancellation and WB’s merger with Discovery, Gunn’s new role marks the start of a more unified vision for DC moving forward.
The Suicide Squad box office isn’t a true reflection
Much of the rift surrounding Gunn’s announcement as creative lead at DC centers on The Suicide Squad’s poor box office performance. The film grossed just under $170 million worldwide against a production budget of $185 million. Factoring in the additional costs of promotional efforts totaling over $100 million, the film was a colossal commercial failure. Attributing this lackluster box office display to Gunn is unfair, however, especially since the film was released during the ongoing pandemic and straight to HBO Max. Simultaneous streaming had a significant impact on 2021 box office performance, with cinema-exclusive films performing much better.
Suicide Squad reviews and reactions were generally good
Unlike some other DCU films, initial reactions to Gunn’s The Suicide Squad have been relatively positive. The film scores a respectable 90% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, with a similar 82% approval rating with audiences. Those scores are a big improvement over David Ayers’ Suicide Squad film just five years earlier, scoring 26% with critics and 58% with audiences, respectively.
It was reported that David Ayers’ wishes for 2016’s Suicide Squad were snuffed out, giving impetus to another cut of the film, similar to Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Gunn did not commit to plans for the Ayer Cut of Suicide Squad, instead stating that he is focused on “the story ahead, hammering the new DCU and telling the greatest story ever told through several films, television shows and animated projects. That’s a strong sign for DC, as Gunn’s accolades with The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker point to his potential as DC Studios’ new creative leader.
Peacemaker proves Gunn is the right choice
Peacemaker is a pleasantly surprising entry in Gunn’s catalog. The series is a spinoff of The Suicide Squad, chronicling the backstory of John Cena’s titular antihero. While Peacemaker is an intriguing figure in his own right, Gunn’s deft ability to pull off otherwise unknown characters and give audiences compelling reason to care about them is evident. The eclectic group that eventually form the 11th Street Kids are the beating heart of the series, as Gunn’s affinity for newfound family dynamics shines through once again.
James Gunn is the creator of Peacemaker, which allows his vision to shine through both behind and in front of the camera. Gunn is the director of five episodes, with writing credits on all eight entries. Gunn’s comedic flame pervades a series with surprisingly mature undertones of loss, grief and family trauma. Gunn also manages to incorporate several relatively obscure characters from the comics into a largely self-contained story, solidifying Peacemaker as a successful first foray into television for the DCU.
James Gunn has proven himself in the MCU
Gunn’s track record with the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies is solid. Gunn was a perfect fit for the inherently whimsical Watchmen, and his directing style fits the tone of the MCU well. While the first two Guardians films were by no means the centerpiece of the Infinity Saga, they excel at highlighting the unique qualities of each member of the motley group. While James Gunn’s new role at DC leaves the future of Guardians of the Galaxy in a state of uncertainty, his acute focus on the heroes of his stories rather than the villains makes him the perfect choice to usher in an era. more consistent for DC.
Why Gunn’s GOTG Movies Make Him the Perfect Choice
Historically, the villains of Gunn’s comic book adaptations leave something to be desired. Ronin’s portrayal is somewhat creepy but entirely one-dimensional. Ego the Living Planet raises the bar as a more compelling adversary but is ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of the MCU. Starro the Conqueror’s larger-than-life presence in The Suicide Squad is not the talking point of this film. Likewise, Judomaster, the White Dragon, and Goff in Peacemaker aren’t Gunn’s primary focus.
Instead, Gunn focuses on a hero-focused approach to his projects. There’s a common theme present in Gunn’s comic book adaptations, a strong emphasis on the collective spirit. The Guardians, The Suicide Squad, and Peacemaker movies all feature that same core, with richly crafted, easy-to-root characters. Hopefully, Gunn will allow individual directors the creative freedom to shape their own adaptations for the franchise’s future villains. For now, however, the heroes of the DCU are in good hands with James Gunn.
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