Love it or hate it, the Snyderverse is no more, and the DC Universe (underwhelmingly named, some might say) is now under the leadership of DC Studio’s co-CEOs Peter Safran and James Gunn. While the Safran-Gunn era officially kicks off in July 2025 with the release of Superman: Legacy, The Flash, set to release in 2023, looks to reset the old DC Extended Universe and introduce viewers to the new DCU.
5 Reasons Why DC Doesn’t Need a Connected Movie Universe to Succeed
While it is unclear where in the new universe the pre-Safran-Gunn DC movies such as Blue Beetle and Aquaman 2 fit in, rumors suggest that they will be a part of the new DCU.
Recently, Safran and Gunn announced their 10-year plan for the DCU, unveiling ten new projects that will exist in a shared universe similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, unlike the MCU, DC Studios plans to continue creating “elseworlds” movies, such as sequels to Joker and The Batman. These announcements were a breath of fresh air, as DC should not feel pressure to connect all their films. Instead, they should focus on establishing strong and independent movies with unique storytelling and thoughtful quality.
The best movies are often those that stand on their own, not those that rely on sequels or connections to other films. These movies are made with heart and have a unique approach to their characters, such as The Batman’s take on Gotham City. The sheer volume of Batman films and reboots should be enough to prove that a connected universe for icons like Batman is not necessary. Instead, DC should focus on re-establishing their characters on their own before combining them into a shared universe.
Limiting comic book characters to one definitive interpretation is not necessary. Fans should be open to different interpretations of characters, as this can lead to fresh takes on old stories. DC has almost a century of stories and characters to choose from, and it is time for other characters to have a chance to shine. Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman have all carried successful films on their own, and other characters can do the same.
In the end, DC should not feel pressure to create a connected universe for all their films. Instead, they should focus on creating strong and independent movies with unique storytelling and thoughtful quality. By doing so, they can establish characters that exist separately before linking them into a larger universe. DC has a large list of iconic characters that they can draw from, and they should not limit themselves to one universe in comics, animation, or live-action. A shared universe is not necessary for the DCU to succeed, and it is time for other characters to shine.
Like it or not, the Snyderverse is gone and the (underwhelmingly named) DC Universe is here, led by DC Studio’s co-CEOs Peter Safran and James Gunn. While the official start of the Safran-Gunn era is not slated to begin until July 2025 (with the release of Superman: Legacy), 2023’s summer blockbuster, The Flash, looks to reset the old DC Extended Universe into the new DCU. Not much is known about the in-universe location of the pre-Safran-Gunn DC movies still to be released post-The Flash (that is a handful to take in), such as Blue Beetle and Aquaman 2but rumors revolving around the two projects suggest that they will indeed be stories told within the new DCU.
Recently, Gunn and Safran have come out with a series of announcements regarding the DCU and their 10-year plan for the franchise of films. The duo publicized 10 new projects which have since been met with excitement, anticipation, and hype, as they are all to be in a shared universe – much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, unlike the MCU, a key component of further announcements was the continuation of “elseworlds” movies such as sequels to Joker and The Batman.
These two side-sequel announcements were a breath of fresh air from the plans to create a shared universe. DC Studios should not feel any pressure whatsoever to connect its films, and should first establish characters that exist separately (or at least as far away as possible) from one another before linking all the varying pieces into cinematic (and televised) superhero crowding, and should only mix characters from separate franchises if they absolutely have to.
Strong, Independent Movies Derive from Unique Storytelling and Thoughtful Quality
Think of any movie that has an overwhelmingly positive reception from audiences (maybe even critics, too). Is this film meant to link with 20 others? Is it simply meant to incite sequel interest one-to-three years later? Did it fail to deliver heart, originality, or what viewers were truly looking for? Was it only made as a cash grab or to retain rights to certain intellectual property? The answer to these questions is almost certainly no. Obviously, there may be a few exceptions, but the large majority of movies made for the above reasons are not classics and are forgotten just as quickly as they came.
Now, think of the opposite type of movie. The iconic sort that can hold its own with the best of the best. These types of classic movies are made with heart, and they are almost instantly recognizable. The CGI or technological quality may not be the best (pending budget), but the methods of storytelling, the dialogue, and the independent nature of the film set it apart from the rest. The Batman was a great film, not because of its reliance upon Superman, Wonder Woman, or the last chapter of Titansit was great because of its unique approach to its character, Gotham City, and the filmography and score.
Speaking of Batman, has any superhero – or character for that matter – given audiences as many hours of entertainment in just as many interpretations? Perhaps someone like James Bond comes to mind, but is every version of 007 really on par with the likes of Keaton, Bale, Affleck, and Pattinson (sorry, Adam West)? The sheer volume of Batman films and reboots should be more than enough to demonstrate to DC Studios that a connected universe for icons such as the Dark Knight is not necessary.
In fact, it could be argued that a shared universe (especially a rushed one) could only bring down the likes of Batman (think of the heavy criticisms of Justice League and Batman v Superman). At least, for now, the plan is to re-establish these characters on their own before placing them together.
More Than One Interpretation of a Character Can be a Good Thing
What if Heath Ledger’s Joker was only meant to mimic Jack Nicholson’s, and Michael Keaton was ordered to just copy Adam West as the Caped Crusader? What if comic book writers were handed no creative leeway whatsoever? Fans and audiences would have no fresh takes on a 90-year-old story. Batman would have remained the same. Dozens of iconic moments and characters would never have come to life. So, why should any version of a comic book character be the definitive one?
Of course, fans can pick who they believe is and has been the best. But why limit the interpretive pool to just one? Obviously, this isn’t an issue if DC Studios is wiling to continue its side projects – but how many will be green-lit? Are Joker 2 and The Batman 2 all audiences get outside a mainstream DCU Batman for the next 10 years (at minimum)? Will the animated universe have everything connected as well? What if the DCU’s Batman is weak? Poorly received? One bad movie, or actor, could bring the DCU crashing down.
One Weak Link Can Bring the Whole Thing Down
Why is the DCEU being rebooted in the first place? Whether people agree or not, it is primarily due to the money that the darker-toned Snyderverse was not bringing in. Even if one is of the mindset that the DCEU films are the best possible interpretation of the characters, money speaks (and the stats are quite publicly available). Even Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, thought to be indestructible just a few years ago, seems like it could fall apart at any moment due to the poor audience reception of recent films. But Marvel has what DC has yet to build – a long history of quality and positive reception inside a shared universe.
So much pressure has now been placed upon Superman: Legacy to perform at the highest level critically and commercially, but it is needless pressure. Had DC not committed to this large, connected Universe, then a potential bust (fingers crossed that Legacy is amazing) would not impact future releases so much, giving them shorter leashes and wiggle room to “fail,” or better yet, be innovative and unique!
Large List of Iconic Characters
DC has almost one-hundred years of stories and characters to choose from, and most of these heroes have stood alone for a majority of their prints (unless created intentionally to be on a team). The comic book giant should not limit itself to one universe on its colored pages, nor should it in animation, nor live-action. Wonder Woman can carry a film (or series) all by herself.
The Amazonian Princess, Batman, and Superman have proven this over the years, and it is time other characters had their chance to shine. It may, and probably will, lead to a massive team-up against an impossibly strong enemy, but for now, the DCU does not need a shared universe to succeed.