5 Major Ways James Gunn's DC Will Differ from Zack Snyder's DCEU

By David Thompson Posted:
James Gunn, DC logo, Zack Snyder, Justice League characters, Joker

The DC universe at Warner Bros. is about to experience some major changes under new DC Studios co-CEO James Gunn, straying away from previous projects by director Zack Snyder.

Hired back in October 2022, Gunn and producer Peter Safran have been given the opportunity to fix the cinematic DC universe and take it in a new direction from the DCEU, where Snyder directed three and a half films.

Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom are the only remnants of the old regime left, so starting in 2024, Gunn's impact will become more tangibly noticed.

It's no secret that the executives at Warner Bros. want to see changes made to one of its most valuable IPs, especially when its rival studio Disney turned Marvel into one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood history.

1.) A Lot More Than Just Movies 

James Gunn, Creature Commandos

Since the DCEU's beginning in 2013, there's only been one project that hasn't been a feature film. Ironically, it was James Gunn's Peacemaker series, a spin-off of The Suicide Squad starring John Cena.

The new DCU will have a plethora of new series, the first being the animated Creature Commandos, expected to stream on Max sometime in 2024.

Other upcoming DC Studios TV series include Waller, Peacemaker Season 2, Booster Gold, Paradise Lost, and Lanterns.

Gunn also promised that some future DC video games would be canon in the DCU, but none are currently in development (or have been announced).

2.) Not a Hard Reboot (Actors & Characters)

The Flash, John Cena, Peacemaker, Aquaman

Even though many at the time would have been interested in seeing it, Christian Bale's Batman was not featured in the DCEU. Man of Steel kicked off an entirely new universe with no ties to the past.

The DCU will have some ties, including Viola Davis' Amanda Waller, John Cena's Peacemaker, and Sean Gunn's Weasel.

Many characters will be recast, starting with new additions David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan as Superman and Lois Lane, respectively. 

3.) A World Where Heroes Already Exist

James Gunn, Justice League, DC logo

The DCU begins its journey with Gunn's Superman: Legacy, establishing a setting where the audience is aware of the presence of other superheroes in the universe

In contrast, DCEU launched with Snyder's Man of Steel, initially telling the audience that Superman was the sole superhero until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice unveiled Batman's (Ben Affleck) longstanding vigilante history.

Among those already existing heroes are Isabela Merced as Hawkgirl, Edi Gathegi as Mister Terrific, Nathan Fillion as Guy Gardner/Green Lantern, and Anthony Carrigan as Rex Mason/Metamorpho, all set to appear in Legacy.

4.) Creative Flexibility, Not Attached to a Release Date

Justice League, DC logo

James Gunn has made it clear that DC Studios projects will only go into production with a completed script: 

"We’re not going to be making movies and putting hundreds of millions of dollars in a film where a screenplay is only two-thirds of the way done and we have to finish it while we’re making the movie."

He added that if the schedule has to shift, then it will adjust accordingly, unlike the current regime which has set dates that the film must make. This was most famously on display during the awkward baton handoff between Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon working on 2017's Justice League.

Seemingly, Gunn wants to avoid creators like David Ayer and Snyder having their own versions of films that are released in theaters.

This strategy should also reduce reshoots, which the MCU is known for; both The Suicide Squad and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had minimal reshoots.

Meanwhile, within the DCEU, Aquaman 2 has undergone significant reshoots while being delayed multiple times.

From a studio standpoint, this is precisely what those focused on the bottom line (cost and return on investment) want to hear as reshoots typically can cost additional tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

5.) A Story-Driven Writers' Room

Justice League, DC logo, James Gunn

James Gunn is first and foremost a writer and someone who truly cares about the character within each and every story. For this new endeavor, he has assembled a team of writers to construct the road map for each DCU Chapter, beginning with Gods and Monsters.

While the DCEU did have creative minds like Walter Hamada, Zack Snyder, and Patty Jenkins, there was never a team like this set in place.

The primary purpose of the DC Studios committee appears to be constructing a cohesive framework for the overarching narratives woven through the movies, series, and even video games.

The roster of this creative committee is Tom King (comic book creator, Batman & Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow), Christal Henry (Watchmen), Christina Hudson (Birds of Prey), Drew Goddard (The Martian), and Jeremy Slater (Moon Knight). 

The first DCU project will likely be Creature Commandos in 2024, but the new universe kicks off in theaters on July 11, 2025 with Superman: Legacy.

- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.