DC at a Turning Point: James Gunn Pitches Secret Movie, Dwayne Johnson Flexes His Superman Power (Exclusive)
DC is witnessing a dramatic land grab by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, even though it doesn’t have a permanent leader.
Johnson is promoting his vision for the future Black Adam versus Superman movie ,, with his words inspiring fan desire to see Henry Cavill as the red-caped hero. While Matt Reeves is working on expanding his The Batman universe universe universe, J.J. Abrams is still involved with his own plans.
And The Hollywood Reporter can exclusively report that James Gunn, the filmmaker behind Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy movies as well as Warners’ DC-based The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, is angling for his own new DC project (or two).
Sources tell THR Gunn and Peter Safran are in talks to Warners about a mystery movie. (Safran is already a producer on Shazam!) , its sequel, and Aquaman , the movie’s sequel. )
Warners did not respond to the request, but one insider observed that a carving of the comic book company’s intellectual assets was taking place. This person says that DC is definitely in play. Depending on how you view the studio from outside or inside, how much play is possible.
While it isn’t clear what hero or teams Gunn is targeting, and the writer-director would focus on a second season of Peacemaker first, the studio’s eyes are very much on Superman. Warner Bros. David Zaslav, Discovery CEO, and Pam Abdy ,Warners’ heads of Warner Bros. Pictures Michael De Luca Warners have a strong desire to resurrect the Cavill version of the hero. Charles Roven is currently producing the project Man of Steel and is looking for writers. There is a wishlist. Christopher McQuarrie was the one who guided the Mission: Impossible movies. McQuarrie worked with Cavill on the 2018 installment, Fallout, but sources say no official outreach has been made nor may it be feasible, as the director is working on the next back-to-back Impossible installments.)
Johnson has Superman plans of its own and has made it clear that he wants to make a Black Adam movie versus Superman. This desire has been reinforced more often in the run up to Adam HTML1. He is referring to his surprise appearance at the end Adam ,, with the actor essentially stating that Cavill will be appearing. Insiders wonder if these calls are meant to boost the movie’s opening weekend box-office numbers or to maneuver Superman onto a chess square or both.
Johnson is, regardless of the circumstances, at the center Cavill’s return home to DC. This was not without its drama. Dany Garcia, Johnson’s former wife and producing partner at Seven Bucks Entertainment, is Johnson’s manager. Cavill is represented by Garcia.
Superman and Cavill were not originally planned for Black Adam . The idea was born during a round reshoots earlier this year. However, Hamada, an executive who for the past four years had worked hard to move DC beyond an era in which one filmmaker, in this instance Zack Snyder, could have an inordinate amount and command an entire slate for many years, nixed the appearance. Hamada had his own Superman plans, one of them involving introducing a Black Superman with a multi-decade-spanning story by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Johnson turned to De Luca, Abdy and Hamada, who agreed. The scene was shot in mid September after a furious round of negotiations before Labor Day. Warners insisted on a deadline.
In Gotham City, Reeves is quietly planning his own expansion. Reeves is developing a sequel to his The Batman, which grossed a respectable $770.8 million worldwide when it was released in March. Already, a series spinoff that focuses on Colin Farrell’s Penguin will be filming next year. Reeves is still plotting. Reeves is currently meeting with directors and writers to create movies. These movies will focus on Batman rogue’s gallery. This includes both established and less well-known characters, such as Clayface, Professor Pyg, and Scarecrow. All of these projects are still in the early stages.
It is not clear where the Superman moves leave Abrams. However, Coates is still on track for producing the movie centered around the last son of Krypton. This feature would exist in a separate universe from any DC movie continuity, similar to Todd Phillips Joker movies. The mega-producer had a few setbacks when some of his DC shows — based in the supernatural corners of DC and featuring characters such as Constantine and Zatanna — were scrapped at WBD’s HBO Max streaming service. They are being sold to other streamers. He isn’t out of the game, and is another Hollywood power in the mix, vying to get a piece of DC pie.
All of this takes place as Hamada, who did not attend the Adam premiere in New York Oct. 12, packs away the final personal effects from his Burbank studio lot office ahead of his last day some time this week. The executive is not even taking a producing deal with the studio, a move that is traditional amongst execs who are being let go but given a soft landing and a courteous “thank you for your service.” To many, that action speaks volumes about how rough the transition from the AT&T era to Discovery under Zaslav has been, including the controversial cancellation of the Batgirl movie in August.
It takes place in the shadows of the complete failure of the search to find a new leader. After months of searching, Zaslav came close to hiring executive-turned-producer Dan Lin for the role of DC chief, but talks fell through. Lin was part of Zaslav’s intention to oversee all things DC film and series. He would also have been a traffic cop for the IP.
De Luca, a fanboy who has a deep understanding of comic lore and a deep knowledge of fanboy culture, is still in charge of DC. He has been meeting with filmmakers and made decisions about Joker2 ,, the Lost Kingdom and The Flash ,. Rumours abound about his potential role as a permanent or even exclusive supervisor of DC. Johnson expressed his interest last week in helping to guide the search for a DC boss.
“As an advisor, I believe that the best position I could have for DC is one where I can help. DC is my favorite place. It’s in my blood,” Johnson told Variety on the Adam red carpet. “In the spirit to grow up with DC Universe. I’m here for you .”
The search continues, even though IP is being taken off the board by powerful players.
One insider says, “Right now it is the Wild West.” “Everyone is trying grab as much as possible. This is exactly what happens when there is no leadership.
One Warners insider refutes the notion of a leadership vacuum. He says the studio is moving forward on many fronts and is not stopping. The studio is focusing on its A-list characters and planning for the next wave. A scriptment for Wonder Woman 3 by Patty Jenkins is expected imminently and a script for a Flash sequel is already written — by Aquaman scribe David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick — in case that movie, to be released June 23, 2023, does well. (The film stars controversial actor Ezra Miller, who in August met with Warners leadership after a string of arrests and bad headlines, and today pled not guilty to a felony burglary charge.) It puts Superman’s big stars back on the screen, with Reeves’ The Batman sequel in the works.
According to reports, De Luca and Abdy want more things in development and more runway items ready to go. This is a contrast to Hamada who had a more focused approach.
Johnson is one of those people who wants to move beyond DC’s A list.
As he told the New York Times for a profile published Monday: “It’s the safer bet to continue to invest in the I.P. The world knows. The Justice League — Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman (Flash), Aquaman. That I can understand. It took convincing for the studio to see beyond the Justice League into the DC Universe. There are some really cool characters there. You just have to give it a try and trust the investment.