Architect of the DCU and the writer and director of the upcoming Superman: Legacy film, James Gunn, recently shared his thought on the differences between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Universe.

(L-R): Karen Gillan, James Gunn, and Chris Pratt on the set of Marvel Studios’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3. Photo by Jessica Miglio. © 2023 MARVEL.

Gunn was asked by host Michael Rosenbaum of the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum show, “You’ve worked on Marvel and DC films. How do the two universes differ in terms of tone, style, and approach to storytelling. And what are some of the challenges and opportunities that come with working in each?”

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Gunn responded, “I don’t think you can — because relatively the MCU and now the DCU in film, which really doesn’t start. I mean the first DCU character, for sure, is Blue Beetle. And the first full DCU movie is Superman.”

“Now that that’s happening it’s relatively new. The same thing with Marvel. I mean even MCU is relatively new. So I don’t know if there’s any innate things about tone because I think that what both MCU and DCU need to do is to have a wider range of tones than they presently do. I think they work to do that, but I think they can do a better job of it,” he explained.

Director James Gunn attends the Seoul Fan Event for Marvel Studios’ GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 in Seoul, South Korea on April 19, 2023. Photo by Ho Chang.

Gunn then said, “The biggest, but but if you look at the MCU there are very few superheroes. There are very few traditional superheroes. There was never a guy with a secret identity until Spider-Man in the MCU. Their Cap was turned into a soldier even though he wears a mask. Iron Man outed himself at the end of the first Iron Man because they don’t want to deal with the secret identity stuff.”

In contrast he said, “So there is a bit more of a fantasy element to DCU because there are these larger than life superheroes and you can’t take that, you’re not going to make…I mean people are  going to do whatever they’re going to do in the future, but, for me, there’s Superman and Clark Kent. It’s like they’re two different characters and you have to find a way to deal with them that’s as grounded as possible within this world of DC.”

Justice League #1 (1987), DC Comics

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“One of the things I love about DC and excites me about is DC is that in a way it is another alternate history,” Gunn added. “It is Gotham City and Metropolis and Star City and Bludhaven and all these different places in this other reality. It makes it a little like Westeros in some way.”

“I love that about it. I love that we get to create true world building in DC. It isn’t just we’re throwing some superheroes on Earth. So I think that, right now, is one of the key differences,” he finished.

Gotham City as depicted by Mary Mitchell and Bruce Patterson in Batman: Gotham Nights #1 (1992), DC Comics

What do you make of Gunn’s comments about the differences between the Marvel Cinematic Universe and what he has planned for the DC Universe?

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    John F. Trent
    Founder and Editor-in-Chief

    John is the Editor-in-Chief here at Bounding Into Comics. He is a massive Washington Capitals fan, lover of history, and likes to dabble in economics and philosophy.