James Gunn confirmed that movies based on DC Comics’ Elseworlds line of stories are in production, prompting predictions of what is in the works.
DC Studios’ Co-CEO and Chairman James Gunn confirmed that the company is developing movies outside the DCEU based on DC Comics’ Elseworlds line of stories, leading to predictions as to just what he has in the works. The Elseworlds confirmation by James Gunn was delivered in response to a fan on Twitter, who asked if Gunn was “open to producing any Elseworlds DC projects that aren’t set in the DCU?” Gunn responded that not only was he open to it, but that it was already “actively happening.”
Gunn was likely referring to the upcoming sequels to The Batman and Joker, which are set in separate universes apart from the DCEU. However, it makes sense that Gunn would choose to lean into DC Comics’ multiverse to save DC Films, given the success of DC Comics’ diverse line of live-action television and film productions to date. While WB executives originally feared audiences might be confused by multiple versions of the same characters, the multiverse idea has been successfully introduced into both DC Comics’ Arrowverse and the MCU. This has opened the door for James Gunn to adapt other Elseworlds alternate reality stories for DC Studios.
Produced by Alex Ross and Mark Waid in 1996, Kingdom Come is perhaps the most popular Elseworlds developed for DC Comics. Set in the not-too-distant future, the story centers around a disillusioned Superman, who returns from a self-imposed exile to remind the world how heroes should behave. Fans have dreamed of a Kingdom Come movie for decades, though the closest it came to happening is Brandon Routh playing the Kingdom Come Superman as part of the Arrowverse Crisis on Infinite Earths event. A Kingdom Come movie is apparently part of James Gunn’s DCU plans, as Gunn posted Kingdom Come art on Twitter, along with the words “Making plans.”
The Golden Age
Published in 1993 by writer James Robinson and artist Paul Smith, The Golden Age explored the lives of DC Comics’ first wave of superheroes in the years following World War II, heading into the Cold War and the McCarthy Era. Smartly written and brutally illustrated, The Golden Age kept the memory of the Justice Society of America alive at a time when DC Comics was largely ignoring its past. With the Justice Society of America more popular than ever in the public eye thanks to their portrayal in both Black Adam and the Stargirl television series, an Elseworlds film based on The Golden Age makes sense.
Batman: In Darkest Knight
Written by Mike W. Barr with art by Jerry Bingham, the 1994 Elseworlds story Batman: In Darkest Knight was set on an Earth where it was Bruce Wayne who was chosen to be the first Green Lantern of Earth instead of Hal Jordan. The story was notable for the antagonistic relationship between Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon and a version of Sinestro who became as insane as the Joker. DC Films has been struggling to produce a live-action Green Lantern DCU film worthy of the franchise. An Elseworlds movie based on In Darkest Knight could deliver such a film and also offer the security promised by a Batman movie.
JLA: Created Equal
Written by Fabian Nicieza and illustrated by Kevin Maguire, JLA: Created Equal was set on an alternate Earth where a plague killed almost every cisgender male on Earth. This leaves Earth’s mightiest women forming a new Justice League, struggling to maintain peace while looking for a way to repopulate their world. DC Films had been working on several solo films focused on DC Comics’ heroines like Zatanna and Batgirl before being reworked into DC Studios. An Elseworlds film based on JLA: Created Equal could give those characters a prominent position and produce a heroine-focused movie before Marvel Studios makes an A-Force movie focused on the female Avengers.
Batman: Red Rain
Written by Doug Moench and penciled by Kelley Jones, Batman: Red Rain pit Batman against Dracula. While other stories explored the idea of Batman being just as monstrous as the villains he fought, Red Rain took that idea literally, with Bruce Wayne willingly becoming a vampire to gain the strength he needed to stop the threat of Dracula. One of the most popular Batman Elseworlds ever, Red Rain inspired two sequels,1994’s Bloodstorm and 1998’s Crimson Mist. While multiple Dracula movies are already in production, the idea of an Elseworlds franchise based on Batman: Red Rain is something both Bat-fans and horror enthusiasts could sink their teeth into.
Superman: Red Son
Nominated for an Eisner Award in 2004, the Elseworlds Superman: Red Son was based around a simple premise; how much would the DC Universe change if the rocket carrying Superman to Earth crashed in Soviet Russia rather than the American Midwest? While this Superman fights for “Stalin, socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact,” he is still the same noble figure who tries to do right for all the people of his adopted homeworld, even as the United States and Lex Luthor plot to destroy him. Despite already being adapted into an animated feature film, many fans still want to see Superman: Red Son recreated in live-action.
Legends of Tomorrow
Legends of Tomorrow explored the whole of the DC Universe, with a rotating team of heroes and villains united in the common cause of protecting the timeline. Legends of Tomorrow was canceled on a cliffhanger after seven seasons, prompting a massive fan effort to save the show. James Gunn voiced his support on social media on multiple occasions, saying he was “listening & open to everything.” With Gunn now looking to develop more movies and shows based on DC Comics’ Elseworlds, a Legends of Tomorrow movie could close out the Arrowverse and simultaneously establish a new DCU multiverse while giving the series a satisfying ending.
Will There Be A Marvel/DC Elseworlds Crossover?
With James Gunn having worked with both Marvel Studios and DC Studios, some have speculated that Gunn’s announcement means he might adapt one of the many Elseworlds stories where superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics were portrayed as being part of the same Earth outside the DCEU. While an adaptation of JLA/Avengers would be profitable and James Gunn undoubtedly capable of engineering such a story, it is highly unlikely the legal wrangling necessary to set up such a crossover will ever occur. The best fans might hope for is the rights for two heroes, like Captain America and Batman, being worked out for a single crossover movie.
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