Accusations of nepotism have been directed at DC Studios Co-CEO James Gunn. This comes after the announcement he will officially direct Superman: Legacy, with his wife Jennifer Holland being cast in multiple projects.
James Gunn and Peter Safran were promoted as DC Studios Co-CEOs in late October 2022 by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, to take on a 10-year overhaul of DC films and other projects. But in just a few months, controversies and issues have arisen, from removing fan favorite actors in key roles to the unusual choices for the DC Universe slate.
On March 16, James Gunn confirmed that he would be the director for the DC Universe reboot of the Man of Steel in Superman: Legacy.
Yes, I’m directing Superman: Legacy to be released on July 11, 2025. My brother Matt told me when he saw the release date he started to cry. I asked him why. He said, “Dude, it’s Dad’s birthday.” I hadn’t realized. pic.twitter.com/ohQNV8nI4g
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 15, 2023
Prior to this confirmation, Gunn’s status as the director was only a rumor. But shortly after DC Comics writer Tom King apparently spilled the beans, James Gunn made it official through his social media channels.
Gunn added that the date was significant, as it will apparently coincide with his late father’s birthday. As the DC Studios Co-CEO pointed shared:
I lost my Dad almost three years ago. He was my best friend. He didn’t understand me as a kid, but he supported my love of comics and my love of film and I wouldn’t be making this movie now without him.
However, some DCEU fans commented that Gunn’s announcement seems to deliberately coincide with Zack Snyder’s teasers of his own regarding an upcoming event on April 28 to 30. Furthermore, these fans have called this out as proof that Gunn is abusing his position, giving himself both the screenplay and director’s reins for the big reboot of the DC Universe’s iconic superhero.
But these allegations do not end there. After the theatrical release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, fans again called out the DC Studios executive and filmmaker for casting his wife, Jennifer Holland, in the mid-credits.
Holland reprised her character as Emilia Harcourt from her appearances in The Suicide Squad (2021), Peacemaker (2022), and Black Adam (2022). Similar to her cameo in Black Adam, she serves as an agent for A.R.G.U.S. under Amanda Waller. Whereas the previous cameo had Harcourt oversee the imprisonment of Teth-Adam (Dwayne Johnson), this time she meets with Shazam (Zachary Levi) in order to recruit him for the Justice Society.
However, Gunn responded that these nepotism allegations are false. The DC Studios Co-CEO stated he only cast Holland in The Suicide Squad:
The only DC movie I’ve ever cast my wife in was #TheSuicideSquad. I had nothing to do with the casting of any other movie - anything else was shot a year or so ago while I was deep in Vol 3. But I know some of you are deeply in need of reasons to hate. https://t.co/HSGO4DzYer
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) March 17, 2023
On that note, Shazam! Fury of the Gods director David F. Sandberg clarified that the cameo was intended for Justice Society members from the Black Adam film and that the A.R.G.U.S. agents Emilia Harcourt and John Economos (Steve Agee) were last-minute replacements for the scene:
They were supposed to be Justice Society members but when that fell apart at the last minute we had to improvise. This happened way before Gunn became boss. I know a lot of people think it was his idea but it wasn’t. I’m happy we could use his characters since I love Peacemaker
— David F. Sandberg (@ponysmasher) March 17, 2023
Jennifer Holland has been active on TV and film projects since the early 2000s. The 35-year old actress had previously appeared in CSI: Miami, Cougar Town, American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009), American Horror Story (2012), and Brightburn (2019).
Starring Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, Adam Brody, Meagan Good, Rachel Zegler, Ross Butler, D.J. Cotrona, Grace Caroline Currey, and Djimon Hounsou, Shazam! Fury of the Gods is currently running in theaters.