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SYFY WIRE Superman

Report: Before The Suicide Squad, James Gunn was offered Superman

By Don Kaye
James Gunn

A soft reboot of Suicide Squad was apparently not the only project that James Gunn could have worked on for Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the studio laid out a few options for Gunn while courting him in the wake of his dismissal by Disney from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. One of those possibilities was apparently a new Superman movie.

The future of Krypton's last son has been in limbo ever since Justice League crashed and burned at the box office more than a year ago. But even before that, the underwhelming response to director Zack Snyder's take on the character — angry and brooding — in both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice more or less scuttled plans for a standalone sequel to the former and even cast doubt on whether Henry Cavill would continue in the role.

Gunn was reportedly not as interested in Superman as he was in Big Blue's pet superdog, Krypto, although the latter is said to be a part of a proposed Super Pets film. Either way, Gunn eventually chose to write and likely direct The Suicide Squad, which will be both a sequel to 2016's Suicide Squad and a relaunch of the property.

Would a Superman film written and directed by James Gunn have lifted the character out of his current cinematic doldrums? Based on how he handled the Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel, he certainly might have brought a more high-spirited tone to a new Kal-El adventure than the dour, joyless take that Snyder delivered (although the upcoming Brightburn, which Gunn produced, looks like an even darker variation on the Superman myth).

On the other hand, Gunn also likes to work with oddball characters on the fringes, with a more flexible moral code — which could bode better for the Suicide Squad gang of misfits than the universe's most powerful Boy Scout.

It looks like we'll never know how a Gunn-helmed Superfilm might have turned out, unless Warner Bros. Pictures and the director revisit the prospect again somewhere down the line. For now, the fate of Superman on the big screen is about as uncertain as his prospects in a room full of Kryptonite.