James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DCU is shaping up faster than anyone thought. Deadline has heard that James Mangold is in talks to direct Swamp Thing, one of the films Gunn mentioned yesterday as part of his DCU slate announcement. Deadline stresses that these are very early talks and Swamp Thing doesn’t even have a script yet – which makes sense, as it’s the last of the projects Gunn revealed – but Mangold is a fan of the character and has wanted to direct a Swamp Thing movie for a while now. They also say that DC is keen on Mangold and have made him an offer. Mangold’s next movie is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, which will arrive in theaters on June 30, 2023, apparently with that atrocious title intact. After that, he’s set to direct a Bob Dylan biopic called A Complete Unknown with Timothée Chalamet in the lead role, but since Swamp Thing won’t be ready to shoot for a while, the timing shouldn’t be a problem. Mangold confirmed his interest via Twitter:
— Mangold (@mang0ld) February 1, 2023
I wonder if the DCU will replace, or at least match, the MCU as the high-profile gig filmmakers lust for in Hollywood. The MCU is still the biggest game in town, but its stock is tumbling as audiences are growing more and more disappointed, and the box office takes are dwindling, at least outside of Spider-Man movies. I’d also guess that Gunn and Safran’s focus on writing and creativity over release dates is enticing to artists – not to mention having a studio run by one of them as opposed to just a producer. Of course, a lot of that will depend on how successful the DCU is once it kicks into gear – which will be after this year’s films, none of which had much, if any, involvement from Gunn and Safran. Superman: Legacy must have a ton of would-be directors knocking on the DC Studios doors in a mad dash to be the next Jon Favreau if Gunn doesn’t take that one himself.
As for James Mangold, that suits me just fine. I’m not much into Swamp Thing, but it sounds like it could be a cool movie, and Mangold’s got a résumé that makes me happy whenever he signs up for a new project. Whether Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny tarnishes that remains to be seen, but I don’t think most people will blame him if it’s bad (unless it turns out he was lying about those rumors being untrue). He hasn’t directed a horror movie before – insert Dial of Destiny joke here – or any effects-heavy films; The Wolverine and Logan were superhero movies, but kind of pared-down and grounded, with Wolverine mostly facing human villains. But if he gets the job, I’ll be glad to see him give it a go.