How DC’s Elseworlds Fits Into the New DCU Timeline
James Gunn, co-CEO of DC Studios, recently gave fans their first sneak peek at the future of the DC Universe. The filmmaker introduced what he calls Chapter 1 of the DCU, titled Gods and Monsters. He also highlighted several projects that will be part of Chapter 1, but emphasized that there are still more projects that will make up this and further chapters of the DCU. Among the projects announced were Waller, Superman: Legacy, The Brave and the Bold, Lanterns, and Swamp Thing.
Gunn revealed that staples of DC Comics, such as Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman, will be getting re-introduced to the DCU in the future. However, her also promised to continue exploring current staples of the DCU, like Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who has remained a constant despite DC’s numerous shake-ups. Lastly, the DCU will also be exploring some new figures that aren’t as well-recognized, such as the Creature Commandos and Wildstorm’s The Authority.
Surprising to some was Gunn’s ambitious plan to connect all DCU media, including the films, TV shows, animated projects, and video games. Part of that plan is to have the same actors portray the characters across live-action films, animated shows, and games. However, this doesn’t mean that every single DC-inspired project will be connected to the DCU. To maintain continuity, Gunn revealed that any project that takes place outside of the main DCU timeline will be categorized as DC Elseworlds.
What is DC Elseworlds?
Essentially, DC Elseworlds is an opportunity for filmmakers to create DC projects without being restricted to the DCU continuity. For example, Matt Reeves’ The Batman and associated Batverse (i.e., the Penguin series on HBO Max) would be considered a part of DC Elseworlds. It is a universe that exists outside of the DCU, so it won’t be impacted by the events of the mainline franchise. It will also allow Robert Pattinson to continue portraying Batman, even as the DCU gets a new, separate Batman. Similarly, Todd Phillips’ The Joker is a part of DC Elseworlds; it exists outside the DCU continuity and separate from Reeves’ Batverse.
While Gunn is employing the Elseworlds label for non-DCU films, he didn’t invent the term. DC Elseworlds is also a publication imprint under DC Comics. It functions in almost the same manner as it will for the DCU, in that it includes comic book tales of DC characters that are not canon in DC Comics. Even though he didn’t invent it, it was still pretty clever of Gunn to translate DC Elseworlds from the comic book realm to the movie realm.
Additionally, DC Elseworlds actually has a lot of potential to give the franchise an edge over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU has only just started exploring the idea of producing stories outside of the main timeline with projects like What If …?. However, it has taken years to achieve this, let alone building up to a complex multiverse. The fact that the new DCU is creating a place for non-canon storylines at the onset of its first chapter is a smart move.
In addition to The Batman and Joker, Gunn confirmed that the animated series Teen Titans Go! has migrated under the umbrella of DC Elseworlds. The new label also bodes well for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and J.J. Abrams’ Black Superman project. While the project has been in development since 2021, Henry Cavill’s initial return as Superman in Black Adam had fans concerned about the future of the project. Now, Coates and Abrams are free to create their own version of Superman, while Gunn creates the DCU’s new canonical Superman. DC Elseworlds means that DC’s rich characters can have many versions, iterations, and storylines regardless of the inter-connected DCU.
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
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