Movie Reviews

Which Old DC Movies Are Canon In The DCU

James Gunn has announced the first projects of his new DCU, all of which comprise a chapter he calls “Gods and Monsters.” While Gunn’s most exciting announcements included several films and HBO Max TV shows, he also shed some light on the standing of the already existing DCEU in the new DCU canon, including the four films that are slated to be released in 2023, beginning in March with Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Although it appears as though multiple projects from the infamously troubled DC Extended Universe will indeed be wiped out of canon, there are several films therein that will remain a part of the DCU moving forward.

James Gunn seeks to replicate the MCU’s success with DC, completely reinvigorating the franchise that has been in dire straits for several years. It was announced in late 2022 that he and Peter Safran would be taking over complete control of DC’s future films and series, leading to a series of high-profile changes that included the controversial rebooting of Henry Cavill’s Superman only weeks after his long-awaited return in the post-credit scene of Black Adam. Nevertheless, Gunn and Safran have always maintained that certain elements of the DCEU will remain in their rebooted franchise, a claim which they seem to deliver on in the first announced projects for the DCU.

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The film that began Gunn’s relationship with DC was The Suicide Squad, a pseudo-sequel turned soft reboot of 2016’s poorly received Suicide Squad. It would appear that Gunn’s first DC project will remain canon following the announcement of Waller, which will see Viola Davis return as Amanda Waller following her multiple appearances in the DCEU. The project is also confirmed to include the members of Team Peacemaker, most of whom were introduced in The Suicide Squad. As such, it seems a safe bet that all of James Gunn’s prior DC projects, including Peacemaker, will remain canon when the DCEU is converted into the DCU over the next several years.

The Suicide Squad also connects to several DCEU movies, mostly through Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. While Robbie’s character remains one of the DCEU’s biggest successes and will therefore likely remain in the DCU, it is unclear if each of her film appearances will remain canon. Birds of Prey, for example, could seamlessly fit into the DCU without too many ensuing plotholes and, being an essential part of Harley Quinn’s story, would go a long way in establishing her character in the new franchise. Suicide Squad, however, will likely be overwritten despite it originating Robbie’s version of Harley Quinn, especially given the film’s mixed reception and closer ties to DCEU heroes like Ben Affleck’s Batman.

The largely disconnected nature of the DCEU makes the Shazam! franchise easy to convert to the DCU. During his announcement, James Gunn referred to the Shazam! films starring Zachary Levi as being in their own corner of the DCEU, having had very little connection to any other DC films in recent years. Gunn seems to indicate that Shazam and his films will be retconned to be a part of the DCU entirely, with this change probably having little to no impact on either film in the franchise. As such, this year’s Shazam! Fury of the Gods will remain a must-see project, carrying with it hints of the forthcoming DCU’s tone.

Despite being burdened with the controversy surrounding its star, The Flash remains vital to the DCU reboot. The film, which has remained trapped in development hell for years, stars Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen as he travels the Multiverse and encounters several familiar heroes along the way. Gunn confirmed that The Flash “completely rests the DC Universe,” possibly confirming theories that the film will adopt a Flashpoint storyline to reboot the franchise and seemingly dispelling rumors of Miller’s recasting. As such, The Flash not only remains canon but may become the most important film in the DCEU’s final lineup, marking the transition between the original franchise and James Gunn’s new DCU.

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Although the public has only been treated to glimpses of Blue Beetle’s DCU design so far, the character’s debut film will hit theaters in August 2023. The very limited discourse surrounding the film led to rumors that it would potentially follow in Batgirl‘s footsteps with a late-term cancelation, James Gunn has dispelled such theories once and for all. In his announcement, Gunn excitedly detailed Blue Beetle’s character while explicitly referring to the young superhero as being a “part of DCU.” As such, it wouldn’t be surprising if promotional material for the film began in the not-too-distant future, finally giving the world its first look at Blue Beetle.

Capping off DC’s 2023 projects and acting as the final film in the pre-James Gunn DCEU, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom appears to remain a part of the DCU’s canon. Gunn gave very few details about the forthcoming Aquaman sequel other than to indicate that it will lead into the first batch of DCU projects in 2024 and beyond. This news comes amidst reports that Jason Momoa would be recast as Lobo the Bounty Hunter in the DCU, leaving the role of Aquaman to be recast. Now, it appears as though both Aquaman and its upcoming sequel will remain at least loosely tied to the new DCU.

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