Summary

  • James Gunn criticizes the DCEU for lacking consistency, a problem that he aims to solve in the upcoming DCU by providing oversight and interconnected threads.
  • Which DC projects were connected and which took place in their own world wasn’t always clear, which is something the new DCU aims to fix.
  • The MCU is starting to mirror the DCEU’s issues with oversaturation and confusion on what is necessary viewing, as recent Disney+ shows introduce characters and plots integral to the wider MCU.


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As James Gunn gears up to reinvigorate DC’s cinematic presence, he has leveled some criticisms towards the DCEU that are also presently applicable to the MCU. James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU will kick off in earnest with the release of Superman: Legacy as the two new DC Studios CEOs look to rectify the mistakes made by the DCEU. Criticisms towards DC’s first cinematic universe are plentiful – though far from all-encompassing – and largely concern the residual effects of lacking one thing that the MCU has always had.

James Gunn addressed the failure of the DCEU in a recent exchange via Threads, explaining that he believes the cinematic universe lacked consistency. This is something that he, similar to the MCU’s Kevin Feige, intends to overcome by providing oversight for the vision and interconnected threads of the DCU. He also said, however, that there was generally “too much” going on, with little to indicate what was part of the DCEU and what wasn’t. Unfortunately, even with Feige’s oversight, this is something that the MCU has begun to mirror. Gunn’s posts can be read below:

“Yes. One of the problems with DCEU content in the past was there was no real consistency within the universe itself. This never meant – & I never said, as this is how we always envisioned it – all animated & video game content would be in the DCU. I did (& still) say MOST tv & film will be in the DCU with the occasional Elseworld tale (like Matt’s The Batman), but it will have to be exceptional. Never mentioned streaming services but I like more people able to watch DC stories.

And in addition there was just too much live action stuff happening and people weren’t sure what was connected to what because there was too much of it and it wasn’t labeled. I doubt anyone is going to wonder why Robert Pattinson isn’t in Merry Little Batman.”

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The MCU Release Strategy Mirrors The DCEU’s Canon Confusion

Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani) at home in The Marvels

In the earliest days of the MCU, the interconnected cinematic universe comprised movies alone. This began to expand with the likes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., yet while the TV series took place within the MCU, it did not become necessary viewing for anyone wishing to keep abreast of the wider narrative. This meant that casual viewers never felt out of the loop, while the show helped to enrich the MCU experience for more avid viewers. All this has changed as recent Disney+ shows have begun to introduce characters and plot points that are integral to the wider MCU.

This mirrors the oversaturation that Gunn believes helped to bring down the DCEU, as well as the lack of clarity on what is and isn’t “necessary viewing.WandaVision and Ms. Marvel, for instance, are must-watchs before watching Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and The Marvels, respectively. Moon Knight and What If…?, meanwhile, can be comfortably skipped by anyone who doesn’t have the time or inclination to keep up with every MCU release – especially given that Marvel has ramped up movie release schedules to three per year. Then there is the arrival of Sony’s Venom in the MCU, sparking confusion over whether Sony’s Spider-Man Universe is also relevant.

How The MCU Can Make Its Story Clearer

Kingpin (Vincent D'Onafrio) covered in blood in Echo trailer

Thankfully, Marvel has already begun taking steps to clarify the future of the MCU. Chief among these is the introduction of showrunners to its TV series, starting with Daredevil: Born Again, and the fact that it will begin to reduce how prolific these releases will be. This suggests that Daredevil: Born Again will mirror the first Daredevil show aired on Netflix which, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was purely an enriching experience without being integral to the wider MCU.

Another step in the right direction is the introduction of the Marvel Spotlight banner. This will comprise Marvel productions, starting with Echo in January 2024, that feature heroes and stories that bear no impact on the wider MCU narrative whatsoever. This directly mirrors Gunn’s intention with the Elseworlds productions – which include Joker and The Batman – by clearly earmarking projects that will not be necessary viewing to keep abreast of the MCU as a whole. Generally, however, it looks as though the MCU could stand to significantly reduce its output to reinvigorate the fan base once more.

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