If there is one near-impossible wish in the minds of most comic book live-action fans today, it would be a big screen crossover between the DC and Marvel cinematic universes. There is one guy who just might have the slightest possibility of making that happen: James Gunn, director of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming The Suicide Squad film.
Read on for what Gunn had to say regarding the chances of a DC and Marvel collaboration in the future.
DC vs. Marvel in the comics
Casual fans might be surprised to learn that DC Comics and Marvel Comics have had a long history of crossovers through the printed page.
The very first official crossover of DC and Marvel properties happened in a one shot treasury edition titled Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (January, 1976) with Gerry Conway doing the writing chores and art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano.
That was soon followed by later collaborations Superman and Spider-Man (July 1981), Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk (September 1981), and many others over the next couple of decades.
In 1996, the two companies would go beyond just a team-up of characters or teams. DC versus Marvel was a 4-issue series that pitted the entire universes’ stable of characters against each other, with the most popular ones having a voting system for fans to determine who would win. The highlights included battles between Superman and the Hulk, Batman vs. Captain America, and Wonder Woman vs. the X-Men’s Storm. Due to the fan voting nature of the outcomes, some results were questionable, such as the more grounded Wolverine winning against the intergalactic mercenary and Last Czarnian powerhouse Lobo.
But it didn’t stop there. Part of the DC versus Marvel series was a series of one-shot issues that combined characters into a single being. Thus, the likes of Super-Soldier (a combination of Superman and Captain America), Dark Claw (Batman/Wolverine), JLX (Justice League/X-Men), Spider-Boy (Superboy/Spider-Man) and more came into being. This would later be followed by two Access mini-series (All Access and Unlimited Access) which used the character named Access that both companies own as a bridge to the two superhero universes.
The last big collaboration between DC and Marvel properties was the highly popular JLA/Avengers. Written by Kurt Busiek and with art by George Perez, the 4-issue comic series had the most popular and powerful teams of the two universes fighting each other and eventually teaming up to save their realities from the cosmic madman, Krona.
After JLA/Avengers in 2003, no new DC and Marvel comics collaborations have emerged since.
James Gunn’s Thoughts
In a live interview, James Gunn gamely answered the potential of a DC and Marvel collaborative effort. The director names the characters he believes would be fun to work on in a crossover, specifically identifying two that he has worked with in both Guardians of the Galaxy and The Suicide Squad:
Well I would be really happy to do a Harley Quinn and Groot movie. That would be exciting for me.
Answering the question posed regarding the possibility of an actual live action crossover of the biggest properties in the DC Entertainment/Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios/Disney stables:
And not only have I thought about that but I've actually talked about that to the heads of both Marvel and DC, but, you know, it's like, they -- you know, everybody's open to everything, but whether anything would ever happen, who knows? But the idea of being able to bring Marvel and DC together in a movie is, that would be really fun for me.
He mentions that the bigwigs in the two companies are not against the idea, and even dream about it:
And I know it's exciting for even the heads of Marvel and DC to think about Kevin Feige over at Marvel and Toby Emmerich over at Warner Bros. You know, it's something we all like to dream about.
Gunn continued, noting the probably legal concerns that have to be resolved for a DC/Marvel cinematic crossover to happen:
Whether we could ever get through the barrage, the Berlin Wall of lawyers we would need to get through to ever make something like that happen, I don't know, but it would be a blast.
Will we ever see a DCEU/MCU project in the future?
James Gunn posed the interesting prospect of a true live-action effort between DC and Marvel cinematic universes. With both companies already exploring multiverses in their respective backyards, the mechanics are there.
WandaVision, Loki, and the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on the Marvel side and Crisis on Infinite Earths from the CW, Superman projects, and the 2022 The Flash film on the DC universe side all play with the concepts of alternate realities and different timelines.
But as of this time, it is highly unlikely. While the key personalities such as creators, directors, and the heads of each companies’ relevant studios might be enthusiastic with the idea, it is ultimately up to the executives to give the nod. Even then, expect a long period of negotiations of what can and cannot be done with the characters.
It’s one thing for Superman to knockout punch Thor senseless in a comic book story. It’s another thing to have that happen in live action where both companies would like to have their billion-dollar properties be on equal footing. But if it ever does happen, expect that director James Gunn would certainly be one of the instruments to bring such a project into reality.
Produced by DC Films, Atlas Entertainment, and The Safran Company, and written and directed by James Gunn, The Suicide Squad will be smashing its way into theaters and on HBO Max on the same day, August 6, 2021.