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Why James Gunn and DC’s Upcoming ‘Gods and Monsters’ Chapter Might Be Good News for…Marvel?

It’s finally here: DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran officially announced the roadmap for the first part of their revamped DCU, which they’re calling Chapter One: Gods and Monsters, an epic name if ever there was one.

Among the flashiest entries to the line-up is Superman: Legacy, which Gunn is writing himself, and will show Clark Kent balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. Gunn also personally outlined The Authority, an extremely violent comic of the same name that will incorporate some of DC’s Windstorm imprint.

Also coming is a Swamp Thing movie, investigating his dark origins, The Brave and The Bold, which will follow Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul, a Green Lantern series on HBO Max…and much, much more. Two movies a year and two HBO Max series a year, to be exact.

It’s an extremely exciting slate.

It’s also exciting that James Gunn is at the helm creatively. He’s an incredibly talented storyteller and can do no wrong in the eyes of the fans. Sure, that used to also be the case with Taika Waititi before he laid an egg with Thor: Love and Thunder, but only the harshest of cynics would focus on one bad egg and project from that that James Gunn is also doomed for future failure. Seriously, why are we always talking about eggs? It’s always about the price of eggs with you.

We mentioned a stinks-like-a-rotten-egg Marvel movie and that was intentional, because that’s where we’ll pivot this article. Marvel’s Phase 4, which encompassed Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as Eternals and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, among others, has been quite the stinker overall.

Sure, there is a tiny sliver of people who think the MCU’s Phase 4 has been good. They are weirdos. But it is important to acknowledge that Phase 4 fans exist. You’ve probably never met one in real life, as they are impossibly rare. Like Led Zeppelin fans who don’t care for II, they are statistical anomalies. Ironically, they are very active on Reddit and in other social media spaces.

FIRST: So, a revamped DC is good news for Marvel because…competition is good. Marvel needs a slap of cold water on their face, a call to action to roll up their sleeves and get back to the storytelling that made MCU Phases 1-3 the greatest commercial achievement in cinema history.

Remember, Stan Lee’s nickname for DC was the “Distinguished Competition” in his letter columns during the heyday of the creative back-and-forth between Marvel and DC in the Silver and Bronze Age. But DC movies have been anything but distinguished for the past several years and clearly has cultural issues among corporate leadership. Is James Gunn and Peter Safran enough to correct that culture and lead the DCU to better creative offerings? I sure hope so because increased competition can serve to drive Marvel creatively as well.

SECOND: A revamped DC is good news for Marvel because…it forces Marvel to double-down on their core audience. Even before DC leaned in hard with decidedly adult fare like Peacemaker, they had already waded in the edgelordy grimdark pool of the Snyderverse.

The announced titles of Chapter One: Gods and Monsters make it clear that DC is doubling down on that more mature tone and the tastes of James Gunn support that. Heck, I remember when the slogan of 80s DC comics was “DC Comics aren’t just for kids!”

Sex and violence sells, an economic reality the leadership at Warner Brothers obviously understand. Yet our culture is awash in gun violence, pornography, and hate, along with the associated heightened levels of cynicism, depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. If you spend even a little time in nerd online communities, you’ve noticed there are a lot of fist-pounding, froth-brewing, anxiety-riddled nerds out there. I’ve at times felt like I should contact a trusted adult, because things haven’t felt safe in nerdlandia lately. Rather than joy in nerddom, we’re far too often seeing misery.

While the cynical Alan Moore acolytes will flip their tables and stomp their feet that there isn’t enough of the darker, more mature comic book media, DC is producing plenty, thankyouverymuch. Sure, they will ring the bell that Marvel is being “Disneyfied,” but with the man-childs being served by DC, Marvel has a wide open market to target families, teenagers, and tweens, customers who coincidentally also buy plenty of action figures.

Sure, give ’em what they want with Deadpool, but be open to a Daredevil that is more Waid than Miller and more gosh-golly, All-American films like Captain America: The First Avenger, rather than the deconstructionism we saw with Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

Do we need more of the earnestness of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker? Heck yes we do. One of my greatest joys was watching through Phases 1-3 with my 12-year-old daughter and Marvel sticking with that soft PG-13 formula is an opportunity to provide a counter to the Distinguished Competition.

In closing, it was an exciting announcement from DC. Millennial-aged comic movie goers should rightfully be stoked with the announced slate and all fans of good stuff should be hopeful that James Gunn is at the helm. But DC’s announcement should bring into focus that Marvel should focus on their core audience: teenagers, families, and tweens.

Regardless, the increased competition will give us some good stuff some DC while also (I hope) lighting a fire under Marvel that inspires them to roll up their sleeves and return to the heights of Endgame.

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