Filmmaker James Gunn and his partner, Peter Safran, just unveiled their plan for DC movies, the unit they now oversee at Warner Bros. Discovery. They are calling it “Chapter 1: God and Monsters,” which will focus on larger, well-known characters propping up minor ones, a strategy Gunn has used in making “The Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker.”
The plan, however, still has to carry over in-production franchises, and Gunn criticizes WB management. Kim Masters and Matt Belloni banter on what this all looks like. Plus, they explain the blending of Paramount+ with Showtime streaming services.
This segment has been edited for length and clarity.
DC’s new plan
Kim Masters: “Batman,” “Superman,” “Wonder Woman,” all these big properties that Warners for years has done various iterations of has never quite managed to match Marvel and has really, really wanted to. Along came Gunn, in very colorful language, talking about this new plan.
Matt Belloni: We will omit the F-words, but he really took aim at the previous management of DC and said, “That's all over. We're having one unified story throughout the DC Universe.”
Belloni: The problem is, it wasn't like this was an unprofitable venture. It just wasn't Marvel. Now they are dropping all of that and they're just mimicking Marvel.
They are calling it the “Chapter 1” of their universe, not “phase one” like Marvel uses, so they're trying to be a little bit different, at least, [but] he's coming out guns blazing. It's just when you do that, you've to deliver and they really haven't delivered yet.
#FireJamesGunn is a thing
Masters: There's a whole big group of SnyderVerse fans who love Zack Snyder's vision and are already gunning for James Gunn on Twitter. “Fire James Gunn” is already a thing.
There are a lot of people in the Warner Bros. Discovery world who probably wish that James Gunn would stop doing this kind of thing. He's been tweeting. He's been talking. I guess he's going to be what he is, and we have to hope that it works out for the parent company.
Belloni: He's being very specific in criticisms. This whole Henry Cavill thing where he's claiming that the previous regime “dicked [him] around.” [But] current heads of Warner Bros., Pam Abdy and Mike DeLuca, they're the ones that let the Rock put Henry Cavill into “Black Adam,” and they specifically overruled Walter Hamada. So he's weirdly criticizing the current leadership of Warner Bros. while ascribing it to the past leadership.
Masters: We know the current leadership of Warner Bros. wouldn't have minded being in charge of the DC Universe, so maybe there was a little conscious or unconscious shot at that.
Masters: They can't kill off all the other previous things. You have Todd Phillips in the process of making his sequel to “Joker.” James Gunn can't jump on that, nor can he jump on the Matt Reeves’ “Batman” movie, his second one, following “The Batman.”
So they are calling that “Elseworlds.” I think that's a funny thing to do, to just explain why they don't have control over absolutely everything.
Belloni: They also have this “Fash” movie coming out later this year mired in controversy over Ezra Miller. But they made a point of saying, “It's the best DC movie that they've ever released, and it's so great. It's a reset.”
But how much does it comport with what their vision is for DC in the future? And will these actors still keep portraying these characters beyond this one movie? We don't know that yet because we haven't seen who's going to be casting all these future DC movies.
It's funny that they have to deal with these movies that are coming out this year and next.
Paramount+ with Showtime
Masters: Paramount, the parent company, has created this blending of Showtime and Paramount+, the streamer. They have given it the rolls right off the tongue name, Paramount+ with Showtime.
Belloni: It's right up there with FX on Hulu.
Masters: So if you are subscribing to Paramount+, you are now subscribing to Paramount+ with Showtime, but if you have Showtime as part of your cable bundle, you also have Paramount+ with Showtime? That's a different version?
Belloni: It's a little complicated because Showtime was hampered by these agreements with the cable companies that carry Showtime. They obviously didn't want Showtime to go away, and they have subscribers to that channel, so what they're doing essentially is, they're saying Showtime linear will exist, but it's going to be Paramount+ with Showtime, and some of the Paramount+ programming will also air on the linear channel.
But the focus for the premium content is going to be on Paramount+. That is what the company cares about. That is where they're going to put all their resources, and I think we're going to see significant layoffs and significant lack of ambition in the Showtime content.
Masters: Eventually Showtime will go away, but at this moment, it's a confusing world, not only in terms of what each company is offering, but which ones you want to subscribe to and where it's going to go.