James Gunn and Peter Safran are DC Studios CEOs

James Gunn and Peter Safran will be the heads of the rebranded DC Studios, in a surprising development as part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s overhaul.

Suicide Squad and Peacemaker filmmaker James Gunn and veteran producer Peter Safran have both been tapped by Warner Bros. Discovery to be the equal heads of DC Studios.

James Gunn and Peter Safran will be the heads of the rebranded DC Studios, as part of Warner Bros. Discovery’s overhaul. (Images: DC Studios/Warner Bros. Discovery)

It seems the long search for a Kevin Feige-like figurehead for the DC Comics film and television projects for Warner Bros. Discovery has come to an end. But no one in the industry predicted that it would be two people taking the helm of the former DC Films division.

What does this mean for the future of the DC Extended Universe? Find out everything known about this unprecedented move so far.

The news broke across entertainment news and social media, such as The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline.

According to the reports, both James Gunn and Peter Safran will be co-chairman and co-CEOs of Warner Bros. Discovery’s division for DC Comics IPs for movies and television. On that note, DC Films is being changed to DC Studios, echoing their rival Marvel Studios for Disney, as previously reported.

Based on the reports, it seems Safran was being considered as early as the search for a Kevin Feige-like studio head started. Safran was one of the voices being consulted at the time Dan Lin was the top choice for the position. After Dan Lin declined the offer, Safran was again placed in consideration. However, Safran would not accept it unless someone else would be the creative arm.

James Gunn and Peter Safran previously collaborated on The Suicide Squad (2021, pictured) and HBO Max's Peacemaker (2022).

Enter James Gunn. Aside from Gunn’s prior experience with working on superhero projects with both Marvel and DC, Gunn and Safran have a mutually beneficial working relationship. The two already collaborated on The Suicide Squad and HBO Max’s Peacemaker series.

Official WBD announcement

In a memo issued by David Zaslav to the internal staff at Warner Bros. Discovery, the company’s CEO announced Gunn and Safran’s new positions:

We are thrilled to announce that two of the industry’s most talented and experienced filmmakers, James Gunn and Peter Safran, will be joining our team on November 1 in the new roles of Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of DC Studios, overseeing the overall creative direction of the DC Universe across film, TV, and animation.

Zaslav mentioned that the two will be reporting directly to him, while also working closely with the rest of Warner Bros. Pictures, particularly Mike De Luca and Pamela Abdy. Moreover, the CEO emphasized the importance of the IPs from the DC Comics source material and giving them the proper attention they deserve:

One of the great strengths of our company is our unmatched collection of IP that includes many of the most beloved superheroes of all time… Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and now Black Adam, to name just a few. For over 60 years, these and other DC characters have captivated and inspired generations of fans around the world… and as stewards of the iconic franchise, we feel a real responsibility to preserve and expand the DCU for the enjoyment of future generations.

Zaslav continued by giving insight on why the pair of Gunn and Safran were selected to take up the reins of DC Studios, based on their prior success:

James and Peter have extensive experience in the superhero genre having brought some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Universe’s most popular characters to life in hit films and series, including: Marvel’s blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, and DC’s highest grossing movie, Aquaman; Shazam!; The Suicide Squad, and the spin-off series for HBO Max, Peacemaker.

The full transcript of David Zaslav’s internal memo can be found on the Deadline report.

Under the new DC Studios umbrella, all DC IPs for film, television, and animation will be overseen by Gunn and Safran, from concept to production.

Meanwhile, Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy congratulated Gunn and Safran for their new role in steering DC Studios projects:

We could not be more excited to have James Gunn and Peter Safran join the team and assume the leadership of the DC Universe. James is a brilliant filmmaker and storyteller and Peter is a tremendously successful and prolific producer and to have them both committing to work together to forge this new era for DC is a literal dream come true.

It is interesting to note that Zaslav, De Luca, and Abdy use DC Universe in their terminology in reference to the brand, instead of the previously established DC Extended Universe. It could mean that DC Films being rebranded to DC Studios will also lead to a rebranding of their cinematic universe. However, it could also simply mean that they are referring to the entire spectrum of projects that will be based on DC IPs.

After all, the DC Extended Universe is considered separate from the continuity of Todd Phillips’s Joker and Matt Reeves’s The Batman. In their new position, James Gunn and Peter Safran will oversee all of these under DC Studios.

What about Gunn’s Marvel projects?

With Gunn’s ascension as an executive for DC Studios, where does this leave his Marvel Studios projects? Reportedly, the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be his last Marvel projects.

Gunn is apparently done directing both. The holiday special is scheduled to air on Disney+ on November 25. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is on target for its theatrical release on May 5, 2023.

Once Gunn’s new role as a DC Studios executive becomes effective, he will be exclusive for only Warner Bros. Discovery and DC Studios. Meanwhile, Peter Safran’s The Safran Company will be run by its current president of production John Rickard.

After the box office success of Black Adam and the return of Henry Cavill as Superman, it seems Dwayne Johnson’s line of the hierarchy of power in the DC Universe will change has become prophetic in the literal sense.

James Gunn and Peter Safran will officially begin as co-chair and co-CEO of DC Studios on November 1, 2022.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.