Movie Reviews

James Gunn's Superhero History Proves The DCU's Superman Can Fix A 47-Year-Old Movie Problem

Summary

  • Live-action Superman movies have had either too little or too much action.
  • James Gunn’s proven talent in directing action sequences bodes well for
    Superman
    , which will likely balance its action with drama.
  • Superman’s cast is filled with powerful metahumans who can participate in exciting fight scenes.



James Gunn’s Superman will likely fix a solo movie problem the Man of Steel has had since DC’s first live-action Superman movie 47 years earlier. James Gunn’s 2025 Superman movie will kick off the new DC Universe alongside Creature Commandos, and it will prove how different the DCU will be from the defunct DCEU, not only within its plot but also in terms of quality and creativity. Bringing with it a new beginning, James Gunn’s Superman can establish a more consistent style for all future DC projects to mimic.

Despite his status as DC Comics’ biggest star, Superman hasn’t had much luck on the big screen, or at least not as much as Batman. While Batman has appeared in thirteen live-action theatrical movies played by eight actors, Superman has only starred (and co-starred) in nine live-action movies, played by three actors so far. Superman’s gallery of villains has gone largely unexplored as well, and only Christopher Reeve’s version of the hero has moved beyond his early superhero career during his solo movies. On top of that, all Superman solo movies released so far share one big action problem, which James Gunn’s Superman could finally fix in 2025.



Superman Movies Have Been Unbalanced In Terms Of Action

Live-Action Superman Movies Have Had Too LIttle Or Too Much Action

Superman’s immense power naturally makes any story starring the Man of Steel a little more difficult to craft than usual. After all, Superman can technically punch his way to victory against most antagonists. Most Superman stories put special focus on the drama in order to solve this issue. However, almost every live-action Superman movie has overcompensated, severely restraining their action sequences in both scope and duration. Action scenes in Richard Donner’s Superman movies were very basic due to the technical limitations of the time, and Superman Returns had very few action sequences because it paid homage to the previous Superman movies.


Related

Why Richard Donner’s Superman Is Still The Best One (In Movies AND TV)

40+ years later, Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie remains the gold standard filmmakers look to for inspiration when adapting the Man of Steel.

Years later, Man of Steel overcorrected with its action-packed third act, with Superman and Zod destroying most of the DCEU’s Metropolis. The excessive destruction in Man of Steel‘s climactic fight earned the film plenty of criticism and raised questions about Superman’s care for collateral damage. To this day, Superman’s apparent carelessness in his Man of Steel battles remains one of the 2013 movie’s biggest points of contention. It also stands out due to Man of Steel‘s rather slow and emotional first half preceding the infamous Metropolis battle.

What The DCU’s Superman Can Take From James Gunn’s Filmography

James Gunn’s Superhero Projects Have Given Each Action Scene Its Due


David Corenswet's Superman with John Cena's Peacemaker and Bradley Cooper's Rocket Raccoon in James Gunn's Marvel and DC Superhero Projects
Custom Image by Nicolas Ayala

James Gunn’s Superman can avoid the previous Superman movies’ action problems and deliver a well-balanced and consistent level of action. Fortunately, Gunn has already proved his talent for directing action scenes in five superhero projects before. The Guardians of the Galaxy movies are famously lighthearted and comedic, yet their fight scenes are particularly memorable due to their innovative choreography, high-quality VFX, and outstanding soundtrack. For instance, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s opening sequence is a highlight of the movie, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s hallway fight raised the bar for high-budget, VFX-heavy long-take fight scenes.


Similarly, Harley Quinn’s prison escape and Peacemaker’s fight against Rick Flag in The Suicide Squad make use of visually stunning extradiegetic VFX and creative camerawork, respectively. The former incorporated 2D and 3D animation in live-action to represent what Harley Quinn sees in her mind while she fights, and the latter included a shot of Rick Flag and Peacemaker fighting seen on the reflection of Peacemaker’s helmet, which required very subtle but ambitious CGI and camera movements to hide the camera while showing the action. Peacemaker season 1 also featured exciting fight scenes that appropriately mixed R-rated comedy with brutal violence.

Each of James Gunn’s action scenes carries a well-defined meaning as well. For instance,
Guardians of the Galaxy
‘s final battle establishes a family bond in the Guardians, and Rick Flag’s death in
The Suicide Squad

starts a quest for redemption in Peacemaker’s journey.


Superman’s Cast Suggests The DCU Movie’s Action Will Be A Focal Point

Superman’s Supporting Characters Are Remarkably Powerful And Have Potential For Exciting Battles

James Gunn's Superman Legacy and Other DC Heroes

Part of why previous live-action Superman movies haven’t been able to balance action and drama is that Superman has had few villains to fight. Superman would obliterate any human villain like Lex Luthor if he wanted, and as Man of Steel proved, Superman can destroy a whole city trying to defeat his similarly-powered enemies with brute force alone. It seems like James Gunn’s Superman has the perfect solution to this problem, as Superman‘s cast features multiple supporting metahumans who can participate in several fight scenes alongside or against Kal El.


Whenever Lex Luthor isn’t tormenting Superman psychologically, María Gabriela de Faría’s The Engineer can also pose a physical threat to Superman and his superhero allies. The Engineer, Hawkgirl, Mister Terrific, Metamorpho, and Guy Gardner are all DC characters who haven’t had the chance to shine on the big screen before. Therefore, any opportunity these supporting metahumans get to showcase their superpowers and abilities in James Gunn’s Superman will make for an exciting complement to the first instance of Superman and Lex Luthor’s conflict in the DCU.

Superman Legacy Comic Cover

Superman (2025)

Cast
David Corenswet , Rachel Brosnahan , María Gabriela De Faría

Release Date
July 11, 2025


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