Gunn and his co-CEO Peter Safran have recently unveiled their new DCU slate to the world with ten wildly varied projects. From Superman: Legacy to Swamp Thing, this new franchise will explore all corners of the DC universe in something of a soft reboot from the old regime.
While this endeavor will span movies, games, and TV to develop more brand consistency, comics, as they always have, will remain a separate entity telling their own stories. Although Gunn has already confirmed he has been working with the comics side to develop some sense of coordination.
And now, following the full slate announcement, the DC Studios boss has touched on how some of these legendary tales from past decades will be influencing his story going forward.
5 Comics That Inspire James Gunn's New DCU
In a recent tweet, DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn followed up on his announcement of the DCU's first ten movies and series with a list of comic stories that will inspire these early projects in Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters.
Gunn clarified that these comics won't necessarily have their storylines adapted for the DCU, but rather "the feel, the look, or the tone" will influence the team:
"We're talked a lot about Woman of Tomorrow, but these are more of the comics inspiring DC Studios and the new DCU in these early days. That doesn't mean we're adapting all these comics, but that the feel, the look, or the tone of them are touchstones for our team. Check 'em out!"
1.) Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow (Tom King)
James Gunn was clear from the get-go that Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow would be inspired by Tom King's 2021-22 run of the same name. In fact, King himself has even been closely involved in some of the early writing work at DC Studios.
The unique sci-fi take on Supergirl features Kara Zor-El, who, unlike her cousin Kal-El, grew up on a chunk of Krypton and spent the early years of her life watching everyone around her perish in terrible ways.
2.) The Authority (Warren Ellis)
Warren Ellis' The Authority saw a new team of heroes rise from the ashes of the government-controlled team Stormwatch to defend Earth from global threat. But this new group now operated outside the bounds of government control, and as their name implies, now answer to their own authority.
This take on the team had a drastically different approach to crimefighting from other superhero teams, having a more cynical approach to the world. The Authority was violent and brutal, doing things as they pleased.
3.) Batman (Grant Morrison)
Grant Morrison's had a long seven-year run with the Dark Knight that will now inspire The Brave and the Bold. Perhaps the most influential moments from this series will come from his Batman and Son era which finally introduced Bruce Wayne's son Damian into the main continuity.
Morrison's comics also included the Batman RIP storyline which saw the Dark Knight believed to be dead. During this time when Wayne was thought to be gone, certain members of the Bat Family pushed to become the next Batman, with the mantle eventually going to Dick Grayson.
The DCU could perhaps replicate this storyline in some way in order to set up a new Batman that isn't Bruce Wayne, thus helping to differentiate it from Robert Pattinson's franchise. Although, since Wayne eventually turned out to be alive in that story, he could still return down the line.
4.) All-Star Superman (Grant Morrison)
All-Star Superman may be among the Man of Steel's most famous runs ever, and now it seems placed to influence Superman: Legacy. This story saw an older Superman dying due to overexposure to the Sun, and with the DCU's Superman expected to be younger, its influence will likely be strictly in tone.
Writer Grant Morrison's approach to the 12-issue series was to create a new and universal take on Superman without "re-doing origin stories or unpacking classic narratives," while also offering "a total update, rehaul and refit" - advice Gunn will likely be taking closely on board to reinvent the character.
5.) Swamp Thing (Alan Moore)
Alan Moore's Swamp Thing threw aside much of the character's past to turn him into a true monster and leaned into the horror aspects, something the DCU flick is soon expected to do - and it may have even already found the director to do so.
How Comics Will Influence The DCU
Just as Marvel Studios and Kevin Feige have done with the MCU, James Gunn will undoubtedly be looking to take varying degrees of comic influence with the DCU. And that may be for the best in order to please comic readers while also telling fresh and surprising stories.
Some, such as Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, appear placed to be a more direct adaptation, as is indicated by writer Tom King's own involvement. But something like All-Star Superman will probably only influence Legacy in tone and its aim to create a fresh take on the Man of Steel.
Most comic readers will ultimately agree that these four DC comics are regarded among the greatest to come from the superhero giant in recent years. So, this undoubtedly sets a good precedent for the stories that the DCU team will take queues from in the years to come.
Gunn has rarely been one to lean too heavily into comic accuracy, as can be seen by his unique versions of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad. But while his own scripts may stray further from the comics, that doesn't mean he won't allow other creatives to stay closer to the source.
The DCU will properly kickstart with Superman: Legacy which hits theaters on July 11, 2025.