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What To Watch Or Read To Prepare For DCU's Chapter 1: Gods And Monsters

James Gunn's announcement of the slate of movies and TV series for what he called DCU's "Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters" may have disappointed loyal Snyderverse followers, but it brought hope to millions of other DC fans. The stated agenda includes a "Superman" movie written by Gunn himself, a reintroduction to the Green Lantern Corps in an Earth-set "True Detective" type of show, and a Paradise Island TV series intended to familiarize viewers with the lore and political intrigue of Wonder Woman's homeland. For obvious reasons, all this news excited and intrigued plenty of folks familiar with the characters, worlds, and stories from DC Comics.

Having said that, DC's new slate has to convince general audiences who don't read comics to watch their TV shows and movies. For this group, it might be hard to understand the appeal of a show focused on a relatively unknown character like Booster Gold, an animated series based on the Creature Commandos, or a "Batman" film that revolves around his relationship with his newly discovered son Damian. This is why we have prepared a list of TV episodes, comics, and animated films that provide a great introduction to this new cast of characters, while also serving as the basis for some of the stories that are going to be told in this first chapter. Here's what you need to watch and read to prepare for the DCU's "Chapter 1: Gods and Monsters."

Creature Commandos

Originally, the Creature Commandos were created by writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Pat Broderick as an absurdly violent satire about a group of badly wounded soldiers who are modified to acquire the special abilities and the appearances of classic monsters. The first team, for example, had members resembling Frankenstein's monster, a vampire, and a werewolf. In the beginning, the Creature Commandos fought the Axis during World War II, but during their missions, they would also encounter dinosaurs, robots, and lost civilizations. 

James Gunn's version of the Creature Commandos seems to include characters from different eras and comics. According to the production image shared by the director, this team will feature Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein; Dr. Nina Mazursky, an amphibious humanoid resembling the Creature of the Black Lagoon; G.I. Robot, an android designed for combat; Doctor Phosphorus, a villain who can emit toxins and radiation; Weasel, a human-sized feral creature; and Rick Flag Sr., the leader of an early version of the Suicide Squad known as the Suicide Squadron. There was a 2014 "Creature Commandos" animated series that featured the classic team. However, those interested in learning more about James Gunn's version might prefer the 2011 comic series, "Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E." In this series by "Sweet Tooth" writer Jeff Lemire, Frankenstein, the Bride, Dr. Mazursky and others try to defend a town from a wave of monsters, only to discover that their true enemy lies in The Rot, a terrible group of entities representing death and decay.


Probably one of the most underrated characters to appear in DC live-action productions, Amanda Waller is a brilliant strategist who works for different government agencies in efforts to defend her country from superhuman threats. Waller can be cold and manipulative, but frequently manages to intimidate both villains and heroes to accomplish her goals. On film and TV, Amanda Waller has been portrayed wonderfully by the Tony and Academy award-winning actress Viola Davis. Sadly, as good as her performances have been, the writing hasn't always done a great job of reflecting the true power and moral ambiguity of the character. This might not be an issue for James Gunn's project, as the TV show will be written by "Watchmen" writer Christal Henry and "Doom Patrol" showrunner Jeremy Carver, who have demonstrated their ability to create engaging plots that revolve around dark themes and characters in search for redemption.

James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad," in which Amanda Waller shows how far she is willing to go for national security, would be an excellent introduction for those looking to find out more about the character. However, one of the best adaptations of Amanda Waller comes about in the celebrated 2000s animated show "Justice League Unlimited" where she's voiced by CHH Pounder. Ironically, Waller's best episode is a flash-forward to her retirement years. In the Season 2 finale, "Epilogue," Waller tells one of the most emotionally moving stories of the series, which perfectly exemplifies her ethics and spells out how she has more in common with Batman than you might assume. 

Superman: Legacy

Arguably the most anticipated project coming from James Gunn's announcement, "Superman: Legacy" feels like the true beginning of the new DCU. During his presentation, Gunn used an image from the critically acclaimed comic series "All-Star Superman" written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely, which suggests it'll be an important influence on the film. Morrison's story takes an already larger-than-life character and magnifies it to god-like levels, forcing Kal-El to face his mortality while using his superhuman abilities and knowledge to ensure that several seemingly impossible problems are solved before his departure. Those looking for a more accessible version of the story can watch the 2011 animated film of the same name, which ignores some subplots but maintains the essence of the relationship between Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and his nemesis Lex Luthor.

There is some evidence, however, that the title "Superman: Legacy" might be pointing at another Superman besides Clark Kent. The use of the term "legacy" and rumors about James Gunn looking to cast a younger actor in the role have led many to suggest the story could, in theory, revolve around Clark's son Jonathan Kent. But even if that's not the case, Jon Kent is fun to read about for its own sake. The best introduction to this character would be "Super Sons," a fun comic that sees Superman's son discovering his powers and teaming up with Batman's son, Damian Wayne. Finally, the comic "Superman: Son of Kal-El" tells the story of a grown-up Jonathan Kent taking the role of Superman. The story sees the young superhero finding his own identity as he realizes that fighting for truth, justice, and a better world sometimes requires aiding reporters and fighting dictators.


The Green Lanterns might not be as well-known as Superman or Batman, but they have only gained popularity since Geoff Johns revamped the team for modern audiences in the 2000s. The announced live-action "Lanterns" TV series will revolve around Hal Jordan and John Stewart, two members of the universal police force who originate from Earth as they investigate a mystery on their home planet.

In the DC animated film "Green Lantern: First Flight," Hal Jordan is recruited, trained, and sent to travel around space to investigate his first crime with the help of the more experienced Sinestro. The movie plays less like "Lethal Weapon," and more like "Training Day," in a surprisingly intriguing and violent plot that perfectly shows the threats Green Lanterns have to face every day.

Jon Stewart, on the other hand, is a U.S. military veteran chosen by the Guardians to replace Hal Jordan. While Jordan has a problem with authority, Stewart is more grounded and is depicted. As we see in "Justice League Unlimited," he's a mature superhero who thinks carefully before making a decision. DC also released an animated movie "Green Lantern: Beware my Power" featuring Stewart being recruited by the Guardians and investigating the disappearance of Hal Jordan. The movie only received average reviews as, despite borrowing from several well-known comic storylines, it fails to depict the most interesting aspects of this character: his ability to overcome loss in order to help others and solve conflicts.

The Authority

"The Authority" features a group of superheroes who aren't afraid of killing their enemies in order to protect innocent people. The comic tells how Jenny Sparks, a woman who can control electricity and used to be a member of a government-controlled superhero unit, starts putting together a team of individuals with superhuman abilities to protect the world from villainous threats. Based on the image displayed during his presentation, James Gunn's version of the team seems to reflect the original iteration of The Authority published by DC imprint WildStorm Comics in 1999. This team is composed of people like Jack Hawksmoor, who can acquire absolute knowledge of everything happening within a particular city; Midnighter, a Batman-like character who can predict his enemies moves; and Apollo, a man who is artificially given abilities similar to those of Superman, among others.

What makes The Authority different, though, is how dark their early stories get. Members of the team frequently succumb to more capable opponents, sometimes in gruesome and cruel ways. While the inaugural run of "The Authority" was ahead of its time on LGBT representation, its graphic images of city-wide annihilation proved a little too controversial for the post-9/11 media environment.  

In order to get familiar with The Authority, it's highly recommended to start with the first volume of the original run. WildStorm characters began appearing in the mainstream DC Universe in 2011, and those interested in a more contemporary, DC-centric iteration of the squad might enjoy Grant Morrison's "Superman & The Authority," which sees an older Superman form a team of superpowered beings like Midnighter, Enchantress, and Manchester Black, some of whom have a moral compass that's very different from Kal-El's.

Paradise Lost

While Gal Gadot's future as Wonder Woman in the DCU remains up in the air, interestingly, DC is producing a live-action TV series focusing on her homeland on the island of Themyscira. As James Gunn explained, the series will have a similar tone to "Game of Thrones," suggesting a heavy reliance on world-building, political conflict, and epic battles.

There are plenty of stories about the superhero's adventures on Paradise Island. The first arc of writer-artist George Pérez's definitive 1987 run on "Wonder Woman" comics — sometimes collected as "Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals” — sees the god of war Ares manipulating Hercules to take control of the Amazons, and Princess Diana's struggle to become the warrior eventually designated as Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman's and the Amazons' perseverance to fight a powerful adversary and free their home while protecting the rest of the world by extension makes the story particularly engaging.

On the other hand, "Wonder Woman: Dead Earth" by Daniel Warren Johnson is one of the most celebrated recent graphic novels featuring the superhero, but it takes place in a very different world from the one we might see in the DCU. It probably won't have much influence on the Themyscira-based series, but we nevertheless highly recommend it to any fans of Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns." Those looking for a more traditional and completely solid take on Wonder Woman can check out the 2009 animated movie simply titled "Wonder Woman" or, for that matter, the 2017 live-action movie starring Gal Gadot. 

The Brave and the Bold

The DCU's new Batman will be introduced in a live-action film that tells the story of Bruce Wayne discovering he has a young son named Damian who has been trained for years by the League of Assassins to become an unstoppable murder machine. In order to prevent him from killing people, Bruce decides to make him his new Robin, but will soon realize that Damian's rebellious and overconfident personality complicates things. The film, titled "The Brave and the Bold" is based on Grant Morrison's tenure as the "Batman" writer, which began in 2006. 

Aside from Morrison's fantastic if sometimes confounding run with "Batman" comics, another excellent way to get to know how Damian thinks and operates is the Peter Tomasi comic series "Super Sons," which sees Damian trying to recruit Superman's son, the young and naive Jonathan Kent, to help him investigate different threats. The constant bickering between the aggressive and well-trained Damian and the emotionally vulnerable but physically powerful Jonathan makes this a surprisingly fun and lighthearted comic that tries to answer the question: Could a reformed child assassin and a kid raised by Superman work together and save people without the assistance of their successful parents? There's also the DC animated film "Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons" which sees the pair fight the classic Justice League villain Starro, who was also featured in James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad."

Booster Gold

When Marvel decided to film a movie based on one of its B-list characters, nobody expected "Iron Man" to become a blockbuster success and lead to the production of the MCU. The fact that James Gunn was able to turn an unknown team like Guardians of the Galaxy and a C-list character like Peacemaker into a successful film and TV series respectively should be enough proof that the director understands the potential of lesser-known superheroes. This brings us to "Booster Gold," a live-action TV series about a 25th-century disgraced athlete who decides to steal technology that gives him superpowers and a time machine to travel back to our time to become rich and famous.

The character has had many memorable appearances in comics, from his partnership with Ted Kord's Blue Beetle in the comedy-oriented and critically acclaimed "Justice League International," to his more serious reunion in "Blue and Gold." Curiously, one of the best adaptations of the character comes from Season 10, Episode 18, of "Smallville," titled "Booster." On it, Eric Martsolf gives one of the most loyal characterizations of a DC comic character on either film or TV, making Booster Gold both relatable and annoying for the audience, as they discover his true origin and heroic potential.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow

Based on Tom King and artist Bilquis Evely's critically acclaimed graphic novel, "Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow" tells the story of Kara Zor-El joining a girl on a galaxy-crossing journey for justice and-slash-or revenge. The mini-series received tremendous praise from readers and critics, and while its self-contained nature might make it a terrific fit for a film adaptation, it's not necessarily the best pick for someone looking for a "Supergirl: 101"-type reading experience. None of "Woman of Tomorrow" takes place on Earth, and it's pretty light on other established DC characters apart from significant but short guest appearances from Krypto the Superdog and Comet the Super-Horse.  

Luckily, there's been plenty of media depicting Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El — she has a prominent part in "Justice League Unlimited," and more recently she's had her own live-action series in the form of the CW's "Supergirl." For a shorter introduction, it might be helpful to watch the animated movie "Batman/Superman: Apocalypse" which sees the superhero learning to live on Earth and fight Darkseid with the aid of the Dark Knight and her cousin of steel.

Swamp Thing

We can expect a live-action horror film based on Swamp Thing to go in a very different direction than the rest of the announced TV series and movies. Swamp Thing has been around since the early '70s but didn't quite hit his stride until writer Alan Moore took over the book in the 1980s. Moore added a philosophical, ruminative element to the environmental horror aspects of the character and his world. The first arc breaks from tradition by establishing that Alec Holland — Swamp Thing's erstwhile human identity — is dead, and the bog monster simply contains Alec's memories. Moore also introduced the villain Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man, who went on to appear in 1997's infamously embarrassing "Batman & Robin," of all things.   

If Alan Moore's "Swamp Thing" run — one of the greatest comics of all time — is unavailable for some reason, a more conventionally action-packed option would be Scott Snyder's early 2010s run of "Swamp Thing," in which the protagonist has to use his abilities to establish a balance between forces representing animal life, plant life, and death. There's also the 2019 "Swamp Thing" series originally produced for the now-defunct DC Universe streaming service. Though difficult to find and only one season long, it was praised for its visuals, character chemistry, and engaging depiction of action and horror.