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Why James Gunn Should Fight for a Mature DC Multiverse

by John Paul
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A film franchise needs a unifying concept. Some people can’t get over the point when they are too lighthearted and irreverent with what were once serious topics. Now that he is shaping the new DCU, James Gunn must decide, among other things, what his version of the DCU will look like. One of the better ideas is to try and be more adult than the Marvel Cinematic Universe version.

To many, DC releasing a newer, more mature film world sounds like a fantastic idea. The effort has been made. However, Gunn may discover that attempts aren’t the focus anymore. We need decisive action at this point.

Zack Snyder’s Lessons for Us

Both praise and criticism of the so-called Snyderverse tend to be widely distributed. From the copper hues of “300” to the dreary alleys of “Watchmen,” Snyder has always had a negative sense of things. He has a dark, extreme mentality and is always prepared with interesting protagonists.

After being a red and blue-clad Boy Scout, Zack Snyder transformed Superman into a ruthlessly protective spouse who doesn’t give a damn about anyone else getting hurt in the process. Inflicting severe PTSD in Batman, he made him start physically branding criminals after his loss. This is a director who thinks heroes are beyond the need for heroics and is content to portray them as simple brutes. On the other hand, Snyder’s DC heroes felt more realistic. It showed the toll that kind of existence takes on people. To be fair, there was humor, but that was Whedon’s doing. Because of its take on its heroes, the Snyderverse stands in stark contrast to Marvel’s canon. It’s possible he’s onto something here.

Differentiating Maturity and Depression

Gunn can learn from Snyder’s accomplished writing style. This is the one thing that jumps out at you when thinking about the MCU. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, is a cynical jerk who enjoys life more when playing dress-up. Batman is a loner who adopts the identity of Bruce Wayne so that he can blend in. To the contrary, and this is where Snyder went off the rails, Batman does not have to go to such extremes. His story ought to serve as a warning of what might happen if PTSD is not addressed. The interesting thing about Batman is the company he keeps. Snyder fails to recognize that the people Batman chooses to stay around with reflect his growing maturity. To maintain continuity with the character, Gunn can use this.

For that matter, Superman is the same. Deep down, he knows exactly who he is and what makes him different from everyone else. However, he has experienced nothing but love and emotion throughout his existence. Snyder goes too far in his efforts to protect Superman, who adores his adoptive parents and is hopelessly in love with Lois Lane. By himself, he distracted Superman to the point where he forgot about everyone else. The protagonist must stay faithful to his roots. Superman does not despise people, so reduced human casualties should be his primary objective.

The version of Superman portrayed by Snyder was one we were meant to fear because of his unbridled power. However, Superman is the true hero. He may be uncomfortable in this role, but he can always count on Lois to be there for him when he needs her most. Or Wonder Woman; Batman would even use a witty quip to help a pal get back on his feet.

These people are realistic and driven by their own set of goals. They counteract each other and provide for one another, which is the key to their success. James Gunn can demonstrate, from a moral high ground, how an alien might become more human and how a possible psychopath can give himself a support structure, all without resorting to violence. That’s just what grownups do, after all.

In the Wake of James Gunn

A fatal mistake would be for Gunn to emulate Snyder or Feige. However, Gunn has his own credentials, including his previous work on Brightburn and The Suicide Squad, much like Snyder. This is how he envisions the superhero. Even if they’re bloodier, their appeal remains undimmed. In the same breath, they are completely alien and relatable. Peacemaker is a jerk at the beginning of The Suicide Squad, and he remains so throughout the series, which helps the character become a rating success.

We adore Spider-Man because he is just a giddy adolescent in tights, swinging around New York City. We can connect because it’s a goal shared by everyone. Yet we can empathize with Batman because we know the devastating impact the loss of both parents can have on a child. To put it bluntly, we get that some people tend to overextend themselves. A hero, however, is not someone like that. That individual is a rogue who accomplishes just enough good for the police and actual heroes to ignore them.

What will be Gunn’s next steps?

Gunn will design his cosmos to have any aesthetic or atmosphere he chooses. Assuming he can find supportive directors, this may be a massive boon for the project. A mature audience will undoubtedly be familiar with the source material. Therefore, he needs writers who are as well-versed in it as they are in the story. Perhaps to construct his world, he begins with minor characters and works his way up to the big three: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. It would be best if he ignored the pecking order and went in a completely new creative route that neither his predecessors nor his competitors would have predicted.



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