The Old Carries into the New
Characters Continuing in the New DC Universe
For fans of superhero movies... well, actually, how many of us still exist? Oh, for a long while the genre felt interesting, an absolute must seen genre with new filmed coming out every couple of months. Marvel certainly was at the forefront of the genre, crafting their Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. and making a series of films that put asses in seats. But then Phase III ended with Avengers: Endgame and it's felt like the House of M has been floundering ever since. Phase IV was tedious. Phase V isn't starting much better.
Of course, when we're talking about superhero failures we need look no further than the DC Extended UniverseStarted as DC Comics' answer to the MCU, the early films in the franchise stumbled out of the gates, often mired in grim-dark storytelling and the rushed need to get this franchise started. Eventually, though, the films began to even out, becoming better as they went along. Still, this franchise has a long way to go before it's true completion for Marvel's universe.. DC rushed their superhero franchise out the door too quickly, bungled it, and lost all the good will of fans and general audiences alike. Their last few films have tanked at the Box Office (Black Adam, Shazam!: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, and recently released Blue Beetle), and the company is desperate for any way to reset. To get a win. To not fail so hard over and over and over again.
As fans (and former fans) of the genre will know, DC brought in James Gunn and Peter Safran to run their new DC Universe, a reboot of the DCEU that, they're hoping, will reset audience opinion on the DC films and will let them build a new cinematic universe to rival the MCU. It's a good strategy, in some respects, for a couple of key points. For one, it's not like DC can do any worse right now, realistically, so a reboot and a restart might sway people to give DC another chance. And, at the same time, with the MCU adrift DC can smell blood in the water and they want to strike now to get their own franchise going again.
To that end (as we've covered before), Gunn and Safran have their slate of planned projects and they're going to use them to showcase the fresh, improved, and totally new DCU. Well, mostly new. As was just recently announced, a few characters from the DCEU will be making the move over to the DCU. Why? How? Well, it's comic book logic, of course, but it also kind of makes sense.
Gunn got to come in and do a soft-reboot of the Suicide SquadA team of villans forced to work together to do heroic things, the Suicide Squad is a team that works because of their darker motivations (and the fact that the team rotates in large part because they aren't expected to come back time and again). with, well, The Suicide Squad. Since then, he's been steadily inserting his ideas into the DC franchise, with his characters showing up elsewhere, and his TV project Peacemaker being one of the highlights of the recently works of the franchise. Considering he's basically built up his own little corner of the DCEU it makes sense that he'd want to keep it going into the future. He has a vested interest.
What this means is that two characters are absolutely guaranteed to continue into the new DCU, and this is straight from Gunn himself: Amanda Waller, as played by Viola Davis, and Peacemaker himself, played by John Cena. Waller has shown up in a number of films (and the show), always in shorter roles and cameos, and whatever anyone has said about the works around her they've always praised her performance. Bringing her over makes a lot of sense. Meanwhile, everyone absolutely loves John Cena's Peacemaker and there have been fans hungrily, eagerly asking for a season two, so this is an absolutely no-brainer move bringing him along for the ride.
There is one curious inclusion that I think most of us wouldn't have expected at all: Blue Beetle, as played by Xolo Maridueña, will make the move over as well. This is curious as the film was billed as part of the DCEU, even if it was basically a stand-alone work. It also didn't do all that well in theaters, although much of the blame for that rests with David Zazlav, the head of WB Discovery. It was his decision to move the film from an HBO Max direct-to-streaming release and into theaters, and then to spend another $30 Mil in the process to make it "theater ready". They could have kept the film on streaming only and then it wouldn't have been another in a long string of bombs for the studio (making only $125.2 Mil against it's bloated $104 Mil budget).
But apparently Gunn really likes the film, and the character, and sees big things for Blue Beetle (and Xolo Maridueña) going forward. Maybe he's already come up with plot lines for the hero in his upcoming slate of films and wants to keep the character around for that. Maybe he figures people will move on from this first Blue Beetle release and will embrace the character once he's properly settled into the new universe. Who knows what the thought process is exactly, but we have a third guaranteed character in the new continuity.
Now, the inclusion of these characters does imply that other associated characters are likely to make the move as well. If Waller and Peacemaker are making the move, likely all of Taskforce X (who showed up in both The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker) will carry over as well. All of the family associated with Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle will likely carry over as well (assuming they show up at all whenever Jamie does). But there are other characters that maybe will be here? Possibly?
Considering she's been in a number of works of the DCEU, not all of them successful, but her character has always been praised, I think there's probably even odds that Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn returns. She's said at times she's done with the character, but considering her cultural cache has been raised considerably due to Barbie, and that was also made by Warner Bros., I could see them luring her back for another round as the Clown Queen of Crime for the right price... if they're willing to pay it. A Gotham City Sirens film with Robbie in the lead, headed by Barbie director Greta Gerwig? That seems more possible than it did six months ago, for sure.
Obviously until Gunn says anything else any future casting is speculation. He has said, however, that once Creature Commandos (2024) and Superman Legacy (2025) come out, we'll all have a better idea of the new state for characters (and who will be playing them) in the DCU moving forward. If nothing else, though, I'm just glad we're getting a break. there have been three films in the DCEU this year, with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom still to come before 2023 is done. The fact that we're only getting one project, a TV show, in 2024, and then not another movie until 2025 shows that DC is at least taking the pace of this reset seriously.
And hey, with Waller and Peacemaker making the move, now we know for sure Gunn's sensibilities will continue on in the DCU for some time. That's a real win, for sure.