Saving the Legends

James Gunn's first DC update could be great for Legends of Tomorrow fans

It isn’t much, but for fans of the fading Arrowverse, there’s a glimmer of hope in James Gunn’s reign as co-chair of DC Studios.

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The DC Universe finally has a hero in James Gunn. The director is making big promises, but can he keep them?

On November 1, Gunn, who made A-listers out of obscure comic book characters like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Peacemaker, began his job as co-chair of DC Studios. Less than a week into his reign, he’s made a big promise and signaled to fans that their voices are being heard. It’s a promising start for Gunn’s relationship with DC Studios, although whether actions will follow the words remains to be seen.

On November 6, Gunn tweeted that he ended “a long, creative weekend” by reading “many tweets” from DC fans. He specifically cited the hashtags #SaveLegendsofTomorrow (from fans who want another season of the eccentric sci-fi series Legends of Tomorrow) and #ReleaseTheAyerCut (from fans who want director David Ayer’s cut of 2016’s Suicide Squad released a la Zack Snyder’s Justice League).

“The majority of these requests were enthusiastic & respectful,” Gunn said. He then explained that while he’ll be less active on social media due to the demands of his new job, there are big plans for the broader DC Universe. Gunn added:

Although our ability to interact on Twitter has been lessened due to the workload of our new positions, we are listening & open to everything as we embark on this journey, & will continue to do so for the next few years. But all our initial focus is on the story going forward, hammering out the new DCU, & telling the Biggest Story Ever Told across multiple films, television shows, & animated projects. We invite all of the DC fandoms from across the multiverse — and everyone else as well — into this new universe. We can’t wait to reveal more.

Within his first week as co-chair of DC Studios, James Gunn acknowledged fans of seemingly overlooked DC shows like Legends of Tomorrow.

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While Gunn is being cautious about saying what DC properties are getting attention, his acknowledgment is the best update fans of the sputtering Arrowverse have heard in a long time. The once-dominant family of DC shows on The CW has been powering down with sweeping cancellations and finales. Batwoman and Legends of Tomorrow were axed, while Arrow, Supergirl, and The Flash have all hit, or are hitting, their final episodes. No new spin-offs have been announced, which means the Arrowverse will essentially end when The Flash airs its final episode next season. The CW itself was sold in August, and its future as a network is bleak.

Legends of Tomorrow, which Gunn specifically mentioned, ended earlier this year. The sci-fi show starring secondary Arrowverse characters hopping through history wasn’t renewed after it aired its Season 7 finale in February, leaving its fans hanging on a cliffhanger finale with no hope for resolution.

HBO Max is theoretically the ideal new home for any DC show, especially the Arrowverse. But Warner’s new CEO David Zaslav has expressed disinterest in streaming as a cornerstone, preferring it exist tangentially to theatrical and TV releases. Landmark decisions like canceling the nearly-completed Batgirl proves just how dedicated Zaslav is to putting streaming on the backburner.

Starting with Arrow in 2012, the “Arrowverse” on The CW was a popular franchise that started wrapping up in 2020.

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The future of DC has never looked more uncertain. Even in a year with a popular new Batman movie, the release of Dwayne Johnson-led Black Adam, the return of Henry Cavill as Superman, and all kinds of sequels ready to release — including Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — it’s unclear what’s in store for the long term. The Arrowverse in particular isn’t so much on life support as in hospice.

Gunn’s tweets indicate a clearer, more focused vision for DC’s immediate future. This could mean the revival of the Arrowvesrse, though fans should temper expectations.

The most telling information Gunn alluded to is in his fourth tweet, where he mentions “hammering out the new DCU” and “telling the Biggest Story Ever Told.” Gunn might be hinting at another grand multiverse project. Maybe it’s a second adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which can (again) encompass the vastness of DC’s film and TV history, remapping everything into a single, easy-to-grasp continuity.

A multi-part TV version of the seminal 1985 comic book crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths aired in 2019 and 2020. Is Gunn cooking up a new version?

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Marvel is undertaking a similar project. When Disney acquired 20th Century Fox, the film and TV rights to properties like the X-Men and Fantastic Four came back under Marvel’s control, which has meant a slow-but-inevitable reintroduction of these characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In 2026, Marvel will release Avengers: Secret Wars, whose comic book namesake involves multiple realities colliding with each other and producing epic battles that decide the fate of the universe.

DC has broadly lagged behind trends innovated by Marvel. But, with the multiverse on both studios’ minds, it’s not hard to imagine the Arrowverse enjoying a minor revival through whatever comes of Gunn’s plans. This could mean a revival movie, a limited series, or full-blown season renewals. It could also mean nothing. It all depends on what Gunn’s creative goals are, and how they help achieve Zaslav’s bottom line.

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