4 Major Differences Between Marvel And DC Boss Jobs
The hierarchy of the DC Universe has officially changed. Walter Hamada resigned as chairman of DC Films and director James Gunn (guardians of the galaxy, The Suicide Squad) and producer Peter Safran (Aquaman, Shazam!) will be co-CEOs of newly christened DC Studios.
This is a major step forward for media conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery and its CEO David Zaslav. After taking full control in April this year, Zaslav tried to cut costs (like scrapping Leslie Grace’s Batgirl) and put DC’s biggest character front and center (Henry Cavill appearing in black adam).
The job search was described as DC looking for his “Kevin Feige” — an executive in charge of a cinematic universe. WB’s search led them to Gunn, an MCU veteran with more than eight years working with Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.
While there are many similarities between Gunn’s new DC position (under a four-year contract) and Feige’s day job at the mcu, it is not an exact replica. Here are the main differences between the leaders of DC and Marvel Studios:
1.) Gunn stays behind the camera
Kevin Feige was a successful producer before the MCU started, but never made a movie behind the camera. James Gunn mainly used his skills in the roles of writer and director during his time in Hollywood. Wisely, Warner Bros. Discovery doesn’t strip him of what brought him here.
Gunn will continue to direct films for DC Studios, although nothing is confirmed yet. It may stretch, but the clear favorite is The Suicide Squad 2 or the second season of Peacemaker.
As the creative head of the newly formed studio, it’s unclear who Gunn will report to for his own films. Unlike his job at Marvel, where he pitched ideas to his executive creative team (including Feige), Gunn could approve his own ideas. In fact, he could collaborate with the co-presidents and CEOs of Warner Bros. Pictures Group, Michael DeLuca and Pamela Abdy.
Gunn still working as a director bolsters his character and world-building efforts for DC’s future, leaving the business to his producer counterpart.
2.) Story first, box office second
Peter Safran makes money for Warner Bros. for a decade. He produced the incredibly profitable Conjuring franchise ($2 billion in total worldwide gross) and has recently been involved in the DCU. He worked as a producer on both Aquaman movies (The lost kingdom releases at Christmas 2023), The Suicide Squad, Peacemakerand both Shazam! movies (Fury of the gods released on March 17, 2023).
Gunn’s goal isn’t primarily about making money, it’s about creating a universe that creatively connects while producing quality individual films. A formula that Kevin Feige has mastered for 14 years.
Marvel executive Louis D’Esposito would be the closest comparison to DC Studios’ Safran, but he’s not a perfect match. Feige’s power and control are unmatched at Marvel. In 2019, he became Creative Director of Marvel Comics, Television and Animation.
While D’Esposito primarily focuses on the business side of production, Feige’s role has no boundaries at Marvel. David Zaslav hopes to get the most out of his executives, honing Gunn’s storytelling skills, while Safran locks in on results and makes the biggest profit.
3.) Total Control… Sort of
Two of the most successful DC films released in recent years are those of Todd Phillips Joker and Matt Reeves The Batman. Both take place outside of the DCEU in their own unique universes. R-rated Joker (starring Joaquin Phoenix), originally slated to be a one-off for the studio, grossed over $1 billion. It’s more than Steel man, batman versus supermanWhere Justice League. A sequel is now on the way with Phoenix and new addition Lady Gaga.
Fixing what isn’t broken is not James Gunn’s job. In other words, Phillips will likely report to Abdy and De Luca, not Safran or Gunn. The same probably goes for Reeves and his growing Batman universe (including one to come penguin HBO Max series with Colin Ferrell).
This compartmentalized universe building is unlike anything at Marvel Studios and is a major difference between the two comic book movie studios.
One of the most famous characters of all time, Batman, has been scattered. Robert Pattinson, Ben Affleck, and Michael Keaton could all feature in future DC movies. The last two would appear in 2023 the flash and other DCU projects, while the first develops within Gotham City Matt Reeves skillfully crafted in The Batman.
Considering Warner Bros. commitment and trust in Reeves, Gunn is unlikely to have a say in what happens in these movies or shows. However, having James Gunn on hand as someone to collaborate with is another possible advantage of DC Studios moving forward.
4.) Redirect a universe
Gunn’s biggest challenge is supporting a cinematic universe that has four theatrical releases in 2023 that it has nothing to do with. Back in 2008 there was an idea Kevin Feige really hoped to bring comics to the big screen with a cinematic universe culminating in avengers feature films.
Warner Bros.’ efforts with DC Films didn’t go as well as Disney and Marvel Studios. There’s no doubt that Gunn just got back to some incredibly difficult work that the other filmmakers didn’t want (ahem, Dan Lin). On paper, being paid millions of dollars to browse some of the biggest superhero IPs in the world sounds like a creator’s dream. However, the formerly known DCEU is in shambles and in need of a savior.
Zaslav and company. I hope Gunn is the guy to turn the ship around and really compete with Marvel on the big screen. The pressure is on, and there’s plenty to be hopeful about given Gunn’s comic book movie track record. Anticipation is high to see which movies and characters will be greenlit under this new regime.
Warner Bros. reportedly heard pitches and read scripts for a new Superman movie starring Henry Cavill. A new rumor supports the idea that Man of Steel could be one of the first films to start production for DC Studios.
It can take years to achieve a clear vision visible to fans, especially with the premiere of Supergirl in Andy Muchestti. flash, and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Superman movie set to enter production for WBD yet.
Confused and complicated, but essential for the future of Warner Bros. Pictures and (arguably) its most untapped intellectual property.