With all of the reorganization of priorities that came with Warner Bros. Discovery tapping James Gunn and Peter Safran to oversee DC Studios, it felt like some of the studio’s previously announced projects might have been taken off the table. News of Gunn writing and directing Superman: Legacy, for example, seemed like a bad sign for the Ta-Nehisi Coates-written Superman film, but according to DC Studios’ co-CEO, that may not be the case just yet.
Back in 2021, it was reported that We Were Eight Years in Power author Ta-Nehisi Coates was penning a new Superman script described as “a 20th century period piece” that would revolve around a Black version of the Man of Steel. While details about the project were thin at the time, J.J. Abrams being attached as a producer lent credence to the idea that it might actually come to fruition and be part of Warner Bros.’ (Discovery wasn’t part of the picture just yet) vision for the DCEU’s complicated future.
Between the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, the company’s internal reorganization, and the debut of the new DC Studios, it made sense that Gunn and co. wanted to kick off their era of IP stewardship with projects they developed. But according to Gunn, in the same way that Matt Reeves’ Batman and Todd Phillips’ Joker films have been able to co-exist in their own respective continuities outside of the studio’s primary cinematic universe, something similar could be worked out for Coates and Abrams’ Superman if the circumstances are right.
In a recent interview with io9, Gunn explained that despite their being based on the same character, Superman: Legacy and Coates and Abrams’ would-be film “are totally unrelated,” but he described the project as “an exciting movie” from what he’s heard internally.
“I know that Chantal Nong, who is the executive on that project, is extremely excited about it,” Gunn said. “So if it comes in and it’s great, which I haven’t read the script, and if the timing is right, that could absolutely happen. That’s totally unrelated. It would be an Elseworlds tale like Joker.”
Gunn’s “if”s and the fact that he hasn’t read the script yet don’t exactly inspire the most confidence that there’s real momentum behind the Black Superman film coming together. But his explicitly name-dropping the “Elseworlds” imprint — DC’s comics set in far-flung continuities and realities — at a time when the studio’s going all in on the multiverse by way of The Flash feels noteworthy because of what it could port for DC Studios’ going forward.
Up until this point, DC’s really just relied on fans to figure out for themselves which of its movies are meant to be canonical and which aren’t. But establishing an Elseworlds film presence could be a way for the studio to more effectively telegraph to audiences how things like Joker: Folie à Deux and Max’s The Penguin show are supposed to fit into the picture alongside the new Robert Pattinson-free Batman movie DC is also working on.