Why Superman: Legacy Features So Many Other Heroes, According To James Gunn


When the latest casting news for "Superman: Legacy" dropped recently, revealing that Nathan Fillion will be taking up the mantle of Guy Gardner's Green Lantern alongside Isabela Merced's Hawkgirl, Anthony Carrigan's Metamorpho, and Edi Gathegi's Mr. Terrific, some DC fans were, well, surprised. What are all these other heroes doing in our story about a corn-fed alien boy and his lady love? Do we really need all these other folks, or will they just distract from DC's attempt to establish a new era of its cinematic universe?

DC Studios co-CEO and "Superman: Legacy" writer-director James Gunn addressed these concerns on Threads (via Collider), and his answer makes a lot of sense. "I've never used one movie to set up another movie," Gunn explained. "The characters are there because they help tell Superman's story better, not so we can set up separate projects in the franchise." Superhero film fans have been trained for over a decade now to expect stories to arrive in an incremental fashion, with select heroes receiving a standalone spotlight or origin story film before they meet up with other heroes (a la The Avengers).

Gunn isn't making this movie solely as a stepping stone

To start off the new phase of DC without that sense of slow-building anticipation might seem counterintuitive compared to what we're used to, but it could actually be a good thing. For one, it satisfies the complaint of plenty of moviegoers who have argued that the strategy of viewing movies as one puzzle piece of dozens has led to some total stinkers over the years — as well as the normalization of the frustrating idea that it doesn't really matter if one movie is bad, because at least it's teeing up another, better one. For another thing, it could help the DC universe remain durable over the years, as building movies in a more standalone fashion means there are fewer chances for a single flop or behind-the-scenes disaster to derail several years' worth of upcoming projects.

Still, if you're worried this movie is set to be a "Guardians of the Galaxy" or "The Suicide Squad"-style ensemble flick, it sounds like that won't be the case. "Superman and Lois are the very clear protagonists," Gunn wrote on Threads. He also noted that the world as "Superman: Legacy" imagines it will already be one in which superheroes are already present. "We're entering a world where superheroes exist and have existed for quite a while," he explained. "They're a part of one side of his world just like Lois and Jimmy are a part of another."

Don't worry, it's still all about Lois and Clark

While I can see why fans who have been inundated with "Justice League" and "Avengers-style team-ups might be craving a return to simpler times, this is also a fairly understandable choice. Marvel fans still constantly point out the plot holes in movies in which established heroes seem to act like they can't call up a super-powered friend for help saving the world, but that, too, is something we've gotten used to that we don't necessarily have to. We've most often seen Superman on screen in the context of his rather lonely origin story, but there are countless stories in which the hero teams up with others — including some featured in the comics that will reportedly influence the movie.

Fans who are hungry for a (no pun intended) super traditional Superman story might not be into the hero-filled new film that's shaping up, but the idea to shy away from a one-guy-only origin story might be a good one for the health of DC in the long term. Regardless of how it turns out, it'll certainly be unlike any "Superman" movie we've seen before. 

"Superman: Legacy" is set to hit theaters on July 11, 2025.