With James Gunn and Peter Safran now at the helm of DC Studios, the DC Universe is set to head into an exciting new direction. The duo announced the DCU’s first ten movies and Max-exclusive television shows earlier this year, which will be part of a larger narrative dubbed “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.” Fans are definitely excited to see what those projects deliver on, but a lot of questions remain surrounding the superheroics of the larger universe. One particularly interesting question, especially given the way the previous DCEU cinematic universe shook out, is if and how the Justice League will be folded into Gunn and Safran’s DCU.
While there’s no telling exactly how the canon will play out, DC canon — and the things we already know about the DCU — could reveal a few fascinating options.
A New Frontier
Soon after the initial “Gods and Monsters” announcement, fans began to draw connections to one of DC’s most beloved miniseries — Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The very title “Gods and Monsters” is used in one of New Frontier‘s chapters, and Gunn conveniently shared a social media post acknowledging that fans should read or reread the book. The story, which is set in between DC’s Golden and Silver Ages, follows a massive ensemble of characters and their own challenges. Ultimately, the ensemble of characters join forces to fight The Centre, a primordial being that threatens all of mankind — and out of that event, they decide to properly form the Justice League.
While a New Frontier adaptation is not yet confirmed to be part of “Gods and Monsters”, there are definitely context clues hinting towards it — Lanterns will be uncovering an “ancient horror” on Earth with great significance in the larger universe, which could very well be The Centre. The Amazon-centric Paradise Lost and the Creature Commandos animated series, which is supposedly “too expensive” to execute in live-action could end up having connections to that lore as well. While spinning the Justice League out of a fight against The Centre would theoretically be fairly-straightforward, the epic and expansive nature of New Frontier would give it a decidedly-different flavor in the superhero space. Plus, that story would allow the vast majority of the team’s members to be firmly established in their own corners of the DCU — something that didn’t necessarily get to happen with the DCEU’s version of the team.
Another comic-accurate storyline that could work as a touchstone– and could even be adapted alongside a New Frontier-esque story — could be JLA: Year One. Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn’s twelve-issue series filled in the backstory of how Black Canary, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter joined forces as the first incarnation of the team, a piece of canon that was established post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. The story of JLA: Year One dove into a lot of narrative elements, pitting the team against new threats, and having them sporadically cross paths with Batman and Superman, who would eventually join the team years later.
We already know Superman (David Corenswet) and a yet-to-be-cast Batman will be cornerstones of the new DCU, and that they won’t be the very first superheroes to make a difference in their world. If Gunn and Safran’s canon wants to establish that the Justice League already exists on the periphery of the World’s Finest duo, beginning with a version of the JLA: Year One roster could be a fun way to do it. That would allow five less-ubiquitous heroes to be established in their own right, while Batman and Superman grow as characters who can join the team at a later date.
As I mentioned, it has already become clear that Corenswet’s Superman won’t be the very first hero in the DCU, with a quartet of other DC heroes cast in Gunn’s forthcoming Superman: Legacy. Mister Terrific (Edi Gathegi), Hawkgirl (Isabela Merced), Guy Gardner (Nathan Fillion) and Metamorpho (Anthony Carrigan) will all make appearances of some kind in Legacy, but apparently won’t step on the Man of Steel’s solo story. Outside of Mister Terrific and Metamorpho being a part of The Terrifics, these four heroes wouldn’t necessarily have a reason to be together outside of a massive world-ending event — unless they’re already a part of a Justice League.
Some have already begun to theorize exactly that, possibly suggesting that a number of DC heroes are already part of a Justice League, existing on the periphery of Clark’s story. Countless DC comics have leaned into the idea of Superman inspiring the larger superhero community — and him joining the fold of a nearly-fully-formed Justice League could be the way to do that. Just look at the beloved “Satellite Era” of Justice League of America, or the Justice League Unlimited animated series, both of which establish the team as a wide-ranging alliance of heroes who come and go on missions from their Watchtower satellite, as a touchstone for how to possibly do it.
How do you hope the Justice League is introduced in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DCU? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!