Ever since DC Studios co-president James Gunn announced on social media that three actors would be returning in the new DCU era, there’s been no shortage of confusion (and snark) over the question of what does, and doesn’t, count in terms of past movies… and I don’t get it.
For those who missed it, Gunn revealed that even after this December’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom — the final installment of the current DC cinematic continuity — Xolo Maridueña will continue playing Blue Beetle, while Viola Davis will continue to play Amanda Waller, with John Cena also set to play Peacemaker moving forwards. This led to a number of posts from fans on social media asking if it meant that Blue Beetle, The Suicide Squad, and Peacemaker were officially part of the new continuity that starts with 2025’s Superman: Legacy. (Well, kind of; but we’ll get to that in a minute.)
In addition to genuine confusion, others have been keen to point out that the idea of a reboot that grandfathers in earlier stories echoes the confusion of DC’s comic book reboots; 2011’s 'The New 52,' however, was a full-scale relaunch of the entire publishing line… except the Batman and Green Lantern comics, which carried over portions of their previous storylines. As one poster joked, “I’ve got no idea what’s supposed to be in continuity and what isn’t, which means James Gunn has really captured the spirit of DC comics.”
The thing is… it’s really not that complicated, especially given that Gunn has already given a pretty definitive statement on the subject, writing, “Nothing is canon until Creature Commandos next year - a sort of aperitif to the DCU - & then a deeper dive into the universe with Superman: Legacy after that. It’s a very human drive to want to understand everything all the time, but I think its okay to be confused on what’s happening in the DCU since no one has seen anything from the DCU yet.” He continued, “yes, some actors will be playing characters they’ve played in other stories & some plot points might be consistent with plot points from the dozens of films, shows & animated projects that have come from DC in the past. But nothing is canon until CC and Legacy.”
Just because we’re going to see actors return to roles doesn’t mean that their earlier films (and/or shows) are part of any wider continuity; in terms of story, nothing “counts” until the debut of Creature Commandos on Max in 2024. (You can keep track of the upcoming DC movies and shows right here.) While that might be trouble for some who are particularly continuity-minded and want to make sure that everything can be neatly filed away, think of it this way: all of the actors who are crossing between continuities are simply going to be playing multiversal versions of their old characters who look very like each other in different realities.
It’s tempting to look for clues as to what’s to expect in the new DCU — I do it myself all the time — but when the person responsible for that new universe says that bluntly that there’s no there there when it comes to the pre-existing on-screen material, it might be time to listen, if only to save yourself the time and the trouble.
Of course, when Creature Commandoes debuts, all bets are off. And there are always the comics to mine for information…
So, what can we expect from the new DCU? Glad you asked: here’s everything you need to know about the first wave of projects on the big and small screens.