No Characters Are Off The Table For James Gunn's DC Universe, Clashing Tones Are Part Of The Plan

The hierarchy of power in the DC Universe is actually changing, just not the way Dwayne Johnson imagined.

Peter Safran and James Gunn have finally unveiled the first stages of their multi-year plan for DC Studios, and there is a lot to be excited about. There are bold new takes on Batman and Superman (including the live-action debut of Damian Wayne!), as well as both Swamp Thing and Booster Gold — the best hero no one has ever heard of — making the jump to the big screen. Even Weasel is coming back to haunt everyone's nightmares.

It is a brave new world for DC, and a radically cool slate from Gunn and Safran. This is clearly different than just a copy of Marvel, building up the biggest heroes before a team-up finale. It is also rather different from the Snyder-verse and how it started with a team-up before branching off. Instead, we get a varied and diverse slate of heroes, along with a rather enticing and curious title for this chapter of the DC saga that is shared with an underrated animated movie from Bruce Timm.

But while the fresh takes on the heroes joining this new version of the DCU are interesting, we still know very little about who's actually starring in, writing, and directing most of these projects. And with that comes the question of how this universe will look and feel. Will it be tonally uniform like the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Well, fear not, because Safran and Gunn have made it incredibly clear that this won't be a "Gunn-verse" — meaning, any and all characters and tones are welcome. (Yes, even Condiment King.)

Not the Gunn-verse

Speaking at a press event attended by /Film's Jenna Busch, James Gunn and Peter Safran answered questions from journalists about their newly-unveiled DC Universe slate, including where there are any characters they're not allowed to touch — like Joker. "No one is off the table!" they replied simultaneously and without hesitations. "[Joker] is under us too," Gunn added. "Everything is under us."

DC has been infamous in the past for limiting the characters that could appear in certain mediums based on whether they were being used elsewhere. It's understandable to a degree, with the company hoping not to have clashing views (and presumably, clashing toy designs) of their characters. This is why Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern have gone decades in-between live-action appearances on the small screen, and also why Harley Quinn and the rest of the Suicide Squad were dropped from The CW's "Arrow" TV series when David Ayer's "Suicide Squad" movie was put into development.

Thankfully, they've started to relax a bit in recent years, allowing Batman to pop up in live-action TV shows like "Batwoman" and "DC's Titans" (where he even did the Batusi!), and Superman to appear in the Arrowverse's "Supergirl" series prior to leading his own show, "Superman & Lois." Though the news is kind of unexpected, given that Safran and Gunn have the keys to the entire DC kingdom and are already thinking multiverse, it is exciting nonetheless to know that they can dig deep into the full gallery of characters in the DC Universe.

'Seeing seemingly incongruous things coming together is part of the fun'

Perhaps more exciting was James Gunn's answer to the question of whether the new DC Universe will share a distinct and uniform look. "Even though this is all a connected universe, it's important to me that the individual writers and directors that are on the project give their own self-expression to it, just like they do in the comics," Gunn answered, once again emphasizing that "this is not the Gunn-verse."

Rather, Gunn intends to follow the precedent established by his "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, which looked and felt distinct from the rest of the MCU, yet their characters could interact with superheroes from other films. "Seeing seemingly incongruous things coming together is part of the fun of this," he added.

Comics are different, and part of what makes them great is getting to see different artists interpret the same characters and worlds in vastly unique ways. By that same token, giving filmmakers permission to experiment with the tone and look of their DC movies is the only way having someone like Booster Gold exist in the same universe as Swamp Thing and Superman can make sense. We can worry about the big team-ups later; for now, let us just enjoy these wild characters the way they were meant to be appreciated.