The expansion of Warner Bros. Pictures’ cinematic universe based on DC Comics heroes and villains continues, despite some well-publicized difficulty matching the critical and commercial success of its Marvel Studios counterpart. That hasn’t stopped the studio from making bold moves, though, and the latest project just might be the most ambitious so far: A New Gods movie directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Ava DuVernay.
The director of this month’s A Wrinkle in Time adaptation, DuVernay has agreed to helm an upcoming live-action film based on legendary comic creator Jack Kirby’s New Gods, a massive group of cosmic characters that debuted in 1971.
According to Variety, the New Gods movie is intended to establish an even larger universe of characters with big-screen potential beyond the Earth-based heroes of its Justice League movie. In the DC Comics universe, the New Gods are a group of immortal characters who reside on two warring planets, New Genesis and Apokolips, and possess tremendous power and technology far beyond the scope of anything on Earth.
The history of the New Gods in DC Comics continuity includes the two worlds brokering a tenuous peace when the leaders of each world agree to each send their first-born child to the other world. The treaty does little to sate the ambition of Apokolips’ powerful leader, Darkseid, whose immeasurable strength, willpower, and single-minded desire to subjugate the universe eventually made him one of DC’s most dangerous villains.
The studio has been laying the groundwork for the introduction of the New Gods across several films in its DC Extended Universe, with Justice League featuring the general of Darkseid’s army, Steppenwolf, as its primary villain. Prior to that, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice included a dream sequence in which Batman sees a vision of Earth ruled by Darkseid and his armies.
DuVernay’s attachment to the project is particularly significant, as she becomes just the second female director to helm a major superhero blockbuster, following Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. She previously made Hollywood history by becoming the first African-American woman to direct a live-action movie with a budget of more than $100 million when she helmed A Wrinkle in Time. That film has earned more than $48.3 million worldwide in the first week of its theatrical run.
In late 2017, DuVernay might have dropped a hint about her involvement with a New Gods movie when she responded to a question on Twitter asking her to name her favorite superhero.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) December 27, 2017
The director responded with “Big Barda” — a female character from the New Gods universe who was originally one of Darkseid’s most lethal warriors, but rejected his philosophy and fled Apokolips after falling in love with the son of the New Genesis leader.
Prior to directing A Wrinkle in Time, DuVernay received an Academy Award nomination for directing the 2016 documentary 13th, and a Golden Globe Award nomination for directing 2014’s Selma. The latter film was also a Best Picture nominee at the 2015 Academy Awards.