The Authority Is James Gunn's Passion Project In The New DC Universe

The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe has been greatly subject to change since James Gunn and Peter Safran took over as co-chair and co-CEOs of DC Studios in 2022. The future of DC Studios hinges on Gunn and Safran's collective vision, leaving folks in anticipation about the fresh slate of superhero projects that are set to grace our screens soon. Well, the wait is over folks: Gunn and Safran announced detailed plans for their DC Universe at a press event attended by /Film's Jenna Busch, and they include Gunn's DC passion project, "The Authority."

While Safran confirmed that "The Authority" will be a movie, Gunn explained that he has been "working really hard" on this project, which features superheroes that are complex and morally ambiguous:

"So this is one of my real passion projects. I've been working really hard on it with the writers, we're starting to put together the entire story. [...] Yeah, this is a big movie and I don't know how many of you are familiar with The Authority. Wild Storm characters; Wild Storm was a comics imprint that was bought by DC that I really love, we're moving a lot of these Wild Storm characters into the DCU. And The Authority's a very different kind of superhero story."

Gunn and Safran also spoke about how these Wildstorm characters, who have now been integrated into the DCU, have flexible moral compasses, allowing them to take matters into their own hands in a corrupt, broken world. While calling them "basically good-intentioned," Gunn noted that the members of The Authority are not above killing or demolishing state hierarchies to bring about change by any means necessary.

What kind of heroes are a part of The Authority?

James Gunn's decision to adapt Wildstorm comics characters is a solid one, as these under-the-radar superheroes deserve to have their own stories realized on the big screen. Seeing as the members of The Authority have never been rendered in live-action before, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce a fresh breed of superheroes who do not care how extreme their methods might be, but focus instead on realizing their desired outcome. 

Created by Bryan Hitch and Warren Ellis (the latter of which has some serious allegations of sexual misconduct against him), The Authority made its first comic book appearance in 1999. You could fairly described The Authority as the Anti-Justice League, as its members brandish a brutally pragmatic stance and view the world through a cynical lens. Gunn went on to explain this stance in great detail:

"They are basically good-intentioned, but they think that the world is completely broken and the only way to fix it is to take things into their own hands. Whether that means killing people, destroying heads of state, changing governments [...] whatever they want to do to make the world better, and we'll see how that journey goes for them. But as I said earlier, there are morally gray characters, which these are."

In the comics, the formation of The Authority itself was a means to deal with the dire state of the world. After the UN-sanctioned Stormwatch was decimated, Jenny Sparks took it upon herself to gather a group of renegades (both former Stormwatch members and new faces) to deal with enemies without any political strings attached. Members include Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, Angie Spica, Jeroen Thorndike, and Shen Li-Men, among others.

Why The Authority deserves the spotlight

The fact that James Gunn himself is passionate about bringing the stories of "The Authority" to life is welcome news, as parts of the original comic book series truly shine in terms of their narrative ingenuity and character mapping. To begin with, members of The Authority have a brutal, uncompromising notion of crime-fighting, which could potentially be an interesting component of the refashioned DC Universe.

To give you an idea of how thoroughly brutal the gang is, consider the events of "The Authority: Revolution #12." The storyline has The Authority squaring off against the villainous Henry Bendix, and the conflict is feverishly vicious, culminating in Midnighter ripping out his spine without hesitation. The Authority does not play around when it comes to punishing baddies — anything goes when the fate of the world is at stake.

Moreover, several aspects of the "Authority" comics would simply be cool as heck when adapted for live-action. For instance, the group's headquarters, the Carrier, is basically a sentient spaceship that is capable of bending the rules of space-time for its own convenience. Their presence also paves the path for crossovers, where this rather morally-gray band of heroes might have to team up with a string of idealistic DC counterparts, leading to interesting juxtapositions in terms of tone, intentions, and world-views. A ton of epic team-ups have already occurred in the comics, such as the one featuring Midnighter, Apollo, and Martian Manhunter in the re-launched "Stormwatch" issues. 

In essence, The Authority sounds promising, and Gunn's upcoming project might just be the very thing that reinvigorates a universe chock-full of super-powered beings.