DC’s ‘Creature Commandos,’ Previewed in Annecy, Echoes James Gunn’s Unmistakable Voice

Continuity was the key word at the “Creature Commandos” first look held at the Annecy Animation Festival, as execs from Warner Bros. Animation pulled back the curtain on the first series developed and produced within Peter Safran and James Gunn’s DC Universe.

That continuity will be both narrative and stylistic, with the animated series playing as a direct follow-up to Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” and “Peacemaker,” while the creatures designed for animation will keep their same looks once they turn up in upcoming live-action offerings like the Gunn directed “Superman” reboot and the Viola Davis-led “Waller” spinoff.

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The DCU maestro launched the Friday presentation with a video introduction recorded from the Atlanta soundstage now doubling for Metropolis, once again relaying his vision for an interconnected, cross-media narrative universe spanning features, series and video games. But Gunn’s voice echoed throughout every element of the series presented in Annecy – and not only because he wrote all seven episodes.

In short, “Creature Commandos” builds on a familiar, trademark tone, marrying irreverence with a deeper love for all manners of monsters, outcast and rogues. And if Warner Bros. Animation VP Peter Girardi never mentioned that other integrated comic-book universe by name (simply mentioning that “Creature Commandos” actor David Harbour might have turned up in a different fantasy franchise before becoming Frankenstein for the DCU), the exec made a notable exception by namedropping “Guardians of the Galaxy” at several points.

One could easily see why, especially given the distinct musical identity outlined by Gunn in a creative memo, dated to 2022, and shared by the Warner Bros. execs onstage. The memo outlined the series’ thematic ambitions – describing the project as “dark, humorous but never goofy and unsentimental, [an] adult-themed show with political storylines” — while laying out a musical mood-board inspired by Gogol Bordello and The Dresden Dolls.

Though no finished footage was screened, an early storyboarded sequence saw that style in action. The sequence saw Rick Flag Sr. (voiced by Frank Grillo and bearing the actor’s full likeness, which makes sense, given Grillo’s role in season two of “Peacemaker’) getting into a row with his teammate Doctor Phosphorus (voiced by Alan Tudyk), and bearing the likeness of a radioactive burning skeleton, a look the creative team described as a “permanent special effect”).

The uneasy teammates squabble and tussle, eventually falling through the floor, all while set to the wild instrumentations of gypsy punk.

The second storyboarded sequence followed a more comedic beat, finding the single-minded G.I. Robot (Sean Gunn) bonding with fishwoman Nina Mazursky (Zoë Chao) in the doldrums between missions. Our Robot, you see, was programmed to kill Nazis, giving the character little use for off-time or small-talk while calling to mind similar socially-awkward figures Gunn has put to great use in prior work.

The Annecy panelists shared no more narrative details, focusing instead on character designs that wed earlier DC iterations with animation practicalities and the need for any of these figures to exist in live-action. Though creators Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke originally gifted their character The Bride with four arms, the figure now voiced by Indira Varma will have to navigate the DCU with a more manageable two.

At least there’s The Weasel – a character with an already outlandish look introduced in “The Suicide Squad” and a temperament that extends beyond the DCU and into the studio’s historic library. Beaming, the Warner Bros. brass described the character as a new Tasmanian Devil.

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