James Gunn says DCU will be inspired by animated series

James Gunn, DC Studios Co-CEO, confirms the new DCU will take inspiration from the animated series such as JLU and Young Justice.

DC Studios Co-CEO and filmmaker James Gunn says past DC animated series will inspire the building of the new DC Universe.

DC Studios James Gunn Justice League Unlimited Animated Young Justice FEATURED

The DC Universe has barely begun in earnest and yet there are already an increasing number of speculations directed at it. Gunn’s announcements of the Wonder Woman 3 script being canned and replacing Henry Cavill as Superman have not been met with the universal support from the DC fandom.

But perhaps this bit of news that the DCU will be taking inspiration from the popular animated versions may help ease fans’ outrage? Read on for the details revealed so far.

The DC Studios co-CEO confirmed to a fan on Twitter that he drew inspiration from DC animated shows like Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice when planning the path of the DCU with Peter Safran.

Gunn did not go into further specifics in replying to the query to the fan’s question mentioning the Justice League and Young Justice animated series. However, fans of the two animated series based on the DC Comics properties should have an idea of what the implication means.

DC Studios James Gunn Justice League Unlimited Animated Young Justice JLU
Justice League and Justice League Unlimited served as the culmination of the DCAU (DC Animated Universe) that began with Batman: The Animated Series.

Gunn and Safran have been making widespread waves as co-CEOs of DC Studios since taking the reins in early November 2022. While fans initially expected Gunn's DCU to continue where he is. The DCEU/Snyderverse is closed, it was recently announced that Henry Cavill is finished as Superman and that the DCU will be taking a different direction that does not have a room for Cavill’s version. Understandably, this has led to many fans resistant and even resulting in angry reactions on social media.

However, Gunn defended the management’s decision to replace Cavill. As he is writing the screenplay for a younger Clark Kent, the director and top executive at DC Studios elaborated that they are making choices based on what is best for the characters and the story:

Our choices for the DCU are based upon what we believe is best for the story & best for the DC characters who have been around for nearly 85 years. Perhaps these choices are great, perhaps not, but they are made with sincere hearts & integrity & always with the story in mind.

Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice are very popular iterations of the DC properties in animated form. As many DC fans contend, while Marvel Studios has been consistently successful with their live action films, DC has been knocking animated series and movies out of the park for the longest time.

Justice League Unlimited (which actually began as simply Justice League) is viewed as the culmination of the "Timm-verse" that began with Batman: The Animated Series. Justice League Unlimited brought back Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman and George Newbern taking over the Superman chores from Tim Daly. They joined with other talented voice actors such as Susan Eisenberg (Wonder Woman), Carl Lumbly (Martian Manhunter), Michael Rosenbaum (Flash), Phil LaMarr (Green Lantern), and Maria Canals-Barrera (Hawkgirl) and a stellar rotating roster of voice talents for a total of 5 seasons (2001 to 2006).

DC Studios James Gunn Justice League Unlimited Animated Young Justice SIDEKICKS
While the animated series had their dark moments, JLU and Young Justice (pictured) had a light and hopeful tone. Will the DC Universe live action films under James Gunn follow suit?

While Justice League/Justice League Unlimited took liberties with interpreting the DC Comics superhero universe, most fans consider it as the most definitive and accurate portrayals outside of print. Even Zack Snyder’s Justice League took cues from stories explored in the Timm-verse, such as Darkseid’s interest in enslaving Superman and a dark vision of a totalitarian rule under the Man of Steel.

Meanwhile, Young Justice is a more recent animated series that explores the younger heroes in the DC Universe. Premiering in 2010 on the Cartoon Network, Young Justice originally ran for 2 seasons until 2012 before being revived in 2019 and is currently running its fourth season.

While both animated series had their dark moments, they are considerably lighter and more hopeful in tone than the Snyderverse or even Gunn’s own DC projects such as The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker. Could this tone translate to the developing DC Universe under James Gunn and Safran as well? We will have for the DC Studios executives to finally reveal their slate in full detail for the answers to that.

Justice League/Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice are both available for streaming through HBO Max.

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.