Ever since DC attempted to launch a cinematic universe with 2013’s Man of Steel, the internet has had opinions. For some, Zack Snyder‘s brooding approach signaled a more mature take on superheroes, a welcome contrast to the MCU. For others, his movies lacked the intelligence or sophistication to justify his rather humorless take, an unwelcome contrast to the MCU. Even as Snyder moved away from the center of DC movies, allowing directors such as James Wan, Patty Jenkins, and David F. Sandberg tell in-universe stories, while Matt Reeves and Todd Phillips got to pursue their own visions with The Batman and Joker, the internet chirped on.
So it should be no surprise that the establishment of new heads of the DCEU has earned a range of responses from the internet. It’s long been known that new head of Warner Bros./Discovery David Zaslav has been looking for a Kevin Feige-type figure to guide the DCEU, and decisions such as shelving Batgirl have only raised the need for a strong hand at the wheel. But few expected Zaslav to choose James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy MCU movies and of The Suicide Squad, and producer Peter Safran to get the job — least of all, people on the internet.
Some were thrilled with the decision, praising Gunn as a director with both a creative vision and a true love for the characters, as evidenced by his use of C-listers Groot, King Shark, and Peacemaker. “They needed a fan who’s also a great storyteller to run this company like Feige. Gunn is both and more,” wrote one @DanielRPK. Although some have worried that Gunn’s irreverent and sometimes crude approach to superheroes may clash with squeaky-clean characters like Superman and Wonder Woman, user @D4hz4hn reminds fans that Gunn “himself turned down doing a Superman reboot when WB first hired him.” In fact, several users echoed this sentiment, suggesting that Gunn and Safran will give the job to the right creators, rather than having Gunn do everything himself.
Given Gunn’s work with other fan-favorite projects, some immediately called for DC Universe heroes to crossover with other characters. Spider-Man and Fantastic Four comic book writer Dan Slott posted a screenshot from an old team-up between Scooby-Doo and Batman and Robin, asking, “what are the chances of getting a live-action version of THIS?” Many saw this change in leadership as an opportunity for seemingly canceled projects to see the light of day, which lead to calls for more Harley Quinn movies starring Margot Robbie, Top Gun: Maverick‘s Glenn Powell as Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and, of course, a cut of Suicide Squad from original director David Ayer.
For some, the most compelling crossover requires Gunn to build on the connections he formed while making the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. “Kevin Feige said ‘never say never’ to a Marvel and DC crossover,” user @blurayangel mused. “Will we ever see The Avengers with The Justice League!?” Against these hopeful thoughts, many others saw Gunn’s switch to DC as a betrayal best expressed with wrestling memes.
Of course, because neither Gunn nor Safran is Zack Snyder, the news angered a vocal contingent of the internet. Many of the most popular posts attacking Gunn and defending Snyder launch unsubstantiated charges about serious crimes, which won’t be repeated here. However, those who chose to simply use the hashtags #bringbackzacksnyder or #restorethesnyderverse preferred to describe what they love about the director’s approach. Pointing to Henry Cavill’s recent return as Superman, user @Signs2323 says, “I want him and Zack together again.”
At the same time, several have pointed out that the rivalry between Gunn and Snyder comes entirely from the fans, as Gunn wrote the script for Snyder’s first feature Dawn of the Dead. “It’s time to get the band back together,” wrote @MoviesThatMaher, complete with a photo of the two filmmakers together.
But of all the reactions, none showed as much wisdom as @NicholasJLevi, who pointed out “Best thing about James Gunn running DC films is that Jared Leto will likely never return to the Joker.” Surely, the user means that this move keeps Leto free for more Morbius sequels. What else could bring peace in our time?