After departing Marvel in 1970, legendary comics creator Jack Kirby went to rival publisher DC Comics, and soon after started work on the "Fourth World," an ambitious project that spawned a variety of titles including 1971's New Gods. Although the project ended fairly quickly, Kirby gave audiences something different from the standard comic book fare of his day, and many regard the work as some of the best from one of the medium's greatest masters.
Warner Bros. has now entrusted award-winning director Ava DuVernay with bringing Kirby's world to the big-screen in the recently announced New Gods film, and that movie presents the studio with an opportunity to take the DC Extended Universe in a fresh, cosmic direction.
DC-based films have thus far shied away from fully leaning into the cosmic elements of their source material, though references do abound. Yet following the critical and commercial underperformance of Justice League, Warner Bros. would benefit from further developing its cosmic universe. With films like Guardians of the Galaxy and the heavily Kirby-inspired Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel has already shown the world that audiences are interested in well-told cosmic superhero stories, and that studio is already looking to further embrace its cosmic side going forward. Under DuVernay's direction, New Gods could launch a cosmic universe for Warner Bros. and DC.
Although the property is lesser known to those outside of comics, New Gods certainly could end up financially and critically successful, especially considering the clout that DuVernay brings to the project. If the film does succeed, it could become the first installment in a series of spinoff movies exploring the wider DC universe. Although the initial movie might have to limit its focus for adaptation to the big-screen, Kirby created so many fantastic Fourth World characters that deserve, and could carry, their own movies. New Gods could set up different characters for their own films, including Mister Miracle (currently the star of one of DC's most acclaimed comic book series) and Big Barda -- whom DuVernay already identified as one of her favorite superheroes in a tweet from December. Each movie and character has the potential to present something new to the superhero genre, and keep audiences entertained with stories on a cosmic scale for years to come.
There's also the question of how New Gods will connect to the rest of the DCEU. The initial announcement seems to indicate that New Gods will not connect to any currently established DCEU worlds. However, depending on the success of a New Gods-centric universe, Warner Bros. could opt to crossover some characters with the more terrestrial DCEU. Darkseid, who rumor has it was removed from Justice League (besides a quick mention by Steppenwolf, one of Kirby's Fourth World characters), seems like the most likely candidate for that treatment. Exploring Darkseid throughout New Gods and other films in that section of the DCEU could allow Warner Bros. to bring a well-fleshed out version of the character back into the fold in a Justice League sequel or future installments in the Man of Steel franchise. This may even have the added benefit of building hype for these movies, ensuring that they don't meet the same fate as Justice League.
DuVernay, fresh off of A Wrinkle in Time, is an immensely talented director, and possesses the kind of vision that might just lay the framework for a new direction that would see the studio head out on the cosmic path that could benefit so many different dimensions of the DCEU.