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DC Studios Considers Making Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Superman an Elseworlds Tale

After Warner Bros. Discovery appointed James Gunn and Peter Safran to oversee DC Studios, some of the studio’s previously announced projects were thought to have been canceled. The news that Gunn would write and direct Superman: Legacy was seen as a bad sign for the Ta-Nehisi Coates-written Superman film. However, according to DC Studios’ co-CEO, that may not be the case yet.

In 2021, it was reported that Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of We Were Eight Years in Power, was writing a new Superman script centered on a Black version of the Man of Steel and set in the 20th century. At the time, there were few details about the project, but with J.J. Abrams attached as a producer, it seemed likely that the film would be part of Warner Bros.’ (prior to Discovery’s involvement) vision for the future of the DCEU, despite the recent shakeup.

With the Warner Bros. Discovery merger and the reorganization of the company, it’s understandable that James Gunn and Peter Safran wanted to start their era of IP stewardship with projects they developed. However, Gunn believes that Ta-Nehisi Coates and J.J. Abrams’ Superman film could exist in its own continuity outside of the studio’s primary cinematic universe, similar to how Matt Reeves’ Batman and Todd Phillips’ Joker films coexist.

In an interview with io9, Gunn revealed that despite both films being based on the same character, they are “totally unrelated.” He praised the project as “an exciting movie” and acknowledged that if the timing is right and the script is great, the Black Superman film could be made as an Elseworlds tale like Joker.

While Gunn’s comments do not necessarily indicate real momentum behind the Black Superman film, his mention of the “Elseworlds” imprint is significant. DC could use this concept to more effectively communicate to audiences how films like Joker and The Penguin fit into the picture alongside the new Robert Pattinson-free Batman movie the studio is working on.

Elseworlds movies could also provide a way for actors like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Henry Cavill to reprise their roles as Black Adam and Clark Kent. If this is the case, it is hoped that Coates and Abrams’ Superman will also be included on the production slate.

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