David Zaslav Hails New DC Chief James Gunn: ‘Everybody Wants to Work With Him’

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav praised “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn during MoffettNathanson’s inaugural Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, questioning why the filmmaker and now DC co-chief was not put in charge of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“What we tried to do is get really great leadership. The philosophy of our company is we don’t want people to go to meetings, we want the people to do the work,” Zaslav said. “So when I was meeting with James Gunn and he was writing ‘Superman’ and he had written ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ — which is now a big hit for Marvel, which we’re happy about because Gunn wrote that movie and directed that movie — I’m looking at it and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Why isn’t this guy running [DC]?’ He grew up his whole life with DC, his whole life with these DC characters and he knows every one of them, they’re his family. He just wrote ‘Superman,’ which I read. This is the guy we want and everybody wants to work with him.”

Gunn and Peter Safran have been appointed have the co-CEOs of DC Studios, tasked with turning the comic book franchise’s cinematic universe into a force to be reckoned with. But during his time at Marvel, after “Guardians of the Galaxy” became a hit, Gunn told TheWrap that he consulted on nearly everything for Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige.

“I was consulting on everything. I was consulting on all the Marvel movies,” Gunn said on the “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” press tour. “Kevin would send me the script for ‘Spider-Man’ and I’d give my notes. He’d send me the script for ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Captain Marvel,’ and I’d give notes on all of those scripts. It was really as a friend and as somebody who was a part of the team and a team player.”

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Gunn wrote and directed “The Suicide Squad” for DC before making “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” and when he was offered the chance to run DC himself with Peter Safran, he leaped. Zaslav touted Gunn and Safran’s overarching plans for the DC universe during the conference.

“We got a 10-year plan. ‘Superman’ is written, we’re early now in casting. He and Peter Safran are the real deal. We worked really hard on ‘Flash’ and ‘Black Adam.’ ‘Flash’ is a fantastic movie, it’s coming out in six weeks. We like the slate coming up,” Zaslav continued. “Now, we think we made the turn on the motion picture business. We’ll see if we’re right. It’s a tough business. But now we have movies that we like, we have movies that when we test, they’re testing really well and we worked hard on them and so I have great belief in DC.”

In addition to “Superman Legacy,” other upcoming DCU projects include “Creature Commandos,” “Waller,” “Lanterns,” “The Authority,” “Paradise Lost,” “The Brave and the Bold,” “Booster Gold,” “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow” and “Swamp Thing.”

Described as “Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters,” this initial slate of 10 projects (which Gunn clarified doesn’t comprise the entirety of Chapter 1, just the first part) will introduce audiences to a completely unified approach to DC movies and shows, in contrast to the aborted Zack Snyder-steered series of DC films and various self-contained universes like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

“We’ve greenlit a number of projects and I think it’s one of the assets that was really underutilized and underdeveloped in the company,” Zaslav concluded. “And we also have this philosophy at the company of no content before it’s time. This year, we don’t want to put a movie out or a game out unless we think it’s our best work. Even if we do that, half the time or two-thirds of the time it’s not gonna work. But that’s the new cultural philosophy of the company. We’re a storytelling company, the best creatives fight to make our content the best it could be.”

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