Gunn is currently in the midst of preparing a reinvented vision for Warner Bros.' (WB) super-powered brand, with names like Superman: Legacy, Creature Commandos, and Waller set to kick things off for the franchise in the coming years.
The hiring of The Suicide Squad director (along with producer Peter Safran) came after years of mismanagement of the brand, diminishing financial/critical returns, and the lack of a clear, cohesive vision.
That is why it was exciting for fans to see Gunn brought on to shepherd a new era for the series, as it seemed his "powerful vision and blueprint" would enter the world unimpeded by studio meddling.
WB Reportedly Meddling With James Gunn's DCU
Despite what fans may have thought, it looks as though James Gunn and Peter Safran do not have the full power over the new DCU as some had assumed.
According to reporting from Variety, things remain unclear on how much control Gunn and Safran have over the super-powered franchise, especially when it comes to streaming content on the WB-owned Max streaming service.
Unlike their Marvel counterpart, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, WB and Max remain "creatively involved with the DC slate"
While Feige remains fairly autonomous atop the Marvel Studios brand, Gunn and Safran's tenure at DC Studios has reportedly been much more collaborative on the TV front.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as Variety noted sources familiar with the subject describe the partnership between the DC Studios co-CEOs and Max executives Sarah Aubrey and Casey Bloys as "seamless."
This report seems to contradict Gunn's previous comments when he firmly told fans that "DC is separate from Warner Brothers" (via Comicbook Resources) and that the studio would not be meddling with the DCU brain trust:
“No, they don’t. DC is separate from Warner Brothers as of a couple of months ago.”
Does James Gunn Need Total Control Over DC?
This news is going to come as a shock to some DC fans for sure. For as long as James Gunn has been in his new role at the blue brand, it was assumed it meant that he (and Peter Safran) had total control over the super-powered franchise.
That was the pitch initially. Warner Bros. was looking for a creative team to sit at the top and present it with an "eight to 10 year plan" for both stories in and out of the DCU.
This comes after nearly a decade of Warner Bros. tripping on its own feet with the brand. It wanted a fresh start, and James Gunn looks to be the guy to do it.
However, with all this said, the DC faithful shouldn't get too perturbed over the idea of these select few WB executives coming in to collaborate with the new DC Studios head.
Things have reportedly been going "seamless[ly]" between the two parties, so right now, there is no cause for worry.
But that collaboration can also be a slippery slope. Just as long as these smaller partnerships within WB remain exactly that, things will be okay.
If the Holywood giant starts to stick its foot in the door more forcefully, overriding creative decisions from the DC Studios heads, there will be problems.
All fans can hope for is this remains a collaboration on the WB side of things, and Gunn/Safran can hold the keys to the kingdom at least creatively without studio interference.
James Gunn's new DCU is set to kick off in 2024 with the animated Creature Commandos series.