James Gunn is well aware of the backlash to the early creative decisions he has made as the new co-head of DC Studios. But he’s not backing down.
In a statement shared Monday on social media, Gunn addressed the “disrespectful outcry” over his and Co-Chairman Peter Safran’s vision for the DC Extended Universe. The “Suicide Squad” filmmakers, who were appointed to lead DC Studios in October, have been heavily criticized in recent weeks for making major changes to some of the production company’s most popular superhero franchises.
“One of the things Peter & I were aware of when we took the job as heads of DC Studios was a certain minority of people online that could be, well, uproarious & unkind, to say the least,” Gunn wrote in his statement.
“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.”
Gunn and Safran came under fire this month after reports surfaced that Warner Bros. Discovery had decided to scrap DC’s “Wonder Woman 3,” starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins. The scoop from the Hollywood Reporter noted that the new DC bosses were among the executives who made the controversial call to shelve the project.
Internet scrutiny of Gunn and Safran later intensified after Henry Cavill revealed that the duo had fired him as Superman — despite the actor recently announcing his return to the role at the studio’s behest before Gunn and Safran took over.
“No one loves to be harassed or called names — but, to be frank, we’ve been through significantly worse,” Gunn continued Monday in his statement.
“Disrespectful outcry will never, ever affect our actions. We were aware there would be a period of turbulence when we took this gig, & we knew we would sometimes have to make difficult & not-so-obvious choices, especially in the wake of the fractious nature of what came before us. But this means little to us in comparison to our jobs as artists & custodians in helping to create a wide & wonderful future for DC.”
A number of entertainment figures with ties to Warner Bros. Discovery — including Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”), Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”) and Zachary Levi (“Shazam!”) — supported Gunn in the comments section.
“The man in the Arena,” Golding posted along with a heart and punching emoji.
“Amen,” Levi wrote.
Elsewhere in the comments section, Gunn disagreed with a fan who accused the studio heads of making “the move to boot” Gadot from the “Wonder Woman” franchise.
“I’m not sure where you’re getting that we ‘booted’ Gal,” Gunn said.
Last week, Jenkins — who also helmed the first two “Wonder Woman” films — released a statement setting the record straight about the demise of the third installment.
“I never walked away,” she wrote. “I was open to considering anything asked of me. It was my understanding there was nothing I could do to move anything forward at this time.”
Both Jenkins and Cavill acknowledged in their remarks that the studio is going through a period of transition as a result of the recent Warner Bros. Discovery merger, and neither had anything negative to say about Gunn or Safran.
Wonder Woman “is an incredible character,” Jenkins said. “Living in and around her values makes one a better person every day. I wish her and her legacy an amazing future ahead, with or without me.”
“Superman is still around,” Cavill said. “Everything he stands for still exists, and the examples he sets for us are still there! My turn to wear the cape has passed, but what Superman stands for never will. It’s been a fun ride with you all, onwards and upwards.”
On Tuesday, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson informed fans in a statement that he had “connected” with Gunn and that his superhero character, Black Adam, would not be included in the new DC universe’s “first chapter of storytelling.”
“However, DC and Seven Bucks [Productions] have agreed to continue exploring the valuable ways Black Adam can be utilized in future DC multiverse chapters,” he continued.
“James and I have known each other for years and have always rooted for each other to succeed. It’s no different now, and I will always root for DC (and Marvel) to win and WIN BIG. … I have very thick skin — and you can always count on me to be direct with my words.”
Johnson’s Black Adam was among the newest additions to the DC Universe. The character’s first solo film hit theaters in late October — days before Gunn and Safran were named co-heads of the studio.
“After 15 years of relentless hard work to finally make Black Adam, I’m very proud of the film we delivered for fans worldwide,” Johnson said in Tuesday’s statement.
“I will always look back on the fan reaction to Black Adam with tremendous gratitude, humility and love. We did great.”