Why is James Gunn Using the ‘Kingdom Come’ Superman Symbol for His Very First DCU Movie

Why is James Gunn Using the ‘Kingdom Come’ Superman Symbol for His Very First DCU Movie

Ever since James Gunn took over as co-CEO of DC Studios, he’s been very open and transparent about his vision for the DCU, especially regarding his first film in the new universe — Superman, and the fresh Kingdom Come twist on it. On February 29, 2024, the date which also coincides with Superman’s birthday, Gunn announced that he’d finally begun filming and revealed the new title for the film while ditching Superman: Legacy. In the same Threads post, Gunn also revealed the first official look at his version of the Superman symbol. With its thick lines and a jagged “S,” it was clear that the design was heavily inspired by the 1996 Kingdom Come comic run.

However, for fans familiar with the comic lore, there’s a bit of confusion (and maybe even some worry) around this choice. Kingdom Come isn’t your typical Superman story, and it certainly wouldn’t be the most obvious pick for a fresh DCU launch. So, what’s the deal with the Kingdom Come symbol? What does it imply for Gunn’s version of the character? Here’s everything you need to know about the new Superman symbol, its origins, and its implications for the upcoming movie.

‘Kingdom Come’ is a Story About a Retired Superman

Superman of Earth-22

For those who aren’t familiar, “Kingdom Come” is a four-issue Elseworlds story set in a future where society has soured on superheroes’ “no-kill rule,” favoring a newer generation of heroes who are more willing to use lethal force. In this world, the idea of the old-fashioned hero has become outdated, and the so-called “superheroes” are no different from the villains they’re fighting. Depressed, alone, and tossed aside by time, Superman gives up on humanity and retires.

This future is very much like the world of The Boys, where superheroes are motivated by fame, self-interest, or hired as mercenaries by governments. But eventually, an aged Superman comes out of his self-imposed exile to reassemble the Justice League and remind the world what it truly means to be a hero. Now, Kingdom Come is undoubtedly one of the best Superman stories ever written, but it’s an odd choice for a first film. It presents a very dark and mature take on the character, far removed from the optimistic Superman we know and love. Plus, fans just got a taste of a brooding Superman with Zack Snyder’s version, and it wasn’t exactly a hit.

If James Gunn didn’t know his comic books, we’d say he was just using the Kingdome Come symbol because it looked cool. But that’s not the case; Gunn is a comic nerd and a pretty big one at that. All the way back in December 2022, just one month into his reign as DC Studios co-CEO, he posted a picture of the Kingdom Come Superman with the caption “Making Plans.” So, there’s clearly more to it than just a cool design.

The New Superman Symbol Is More Than Just a ‘Kingdom Come’ Copy

Brandon Ruth as a version of the Kingdom Come Superman

While the new Superman symbol obviously draws inspiration from the Kingdom Come suit, it’s more than just a carbon copy. First off, the Kingdom Come design features a black and red color scheme, reflecting a darker, more cynical Superman. Gunn, however, keeps the classic red and gold color scheme, assuring us that his Superman will be the familiar beacon of hope we’ve come to adore.

Another key difference is the outlining of the symbol. Both classic and Kingdom Come suits have a red pentagon border, but Gunn’s version breaks the mold with a gold outline. This is reminiscent of Superman’s very first comic book appearance and the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940s. It suggests Gunn is digging deep into Superman’s roots, which aligns perfectly with the movie’s synopsis.

The synopsis released says that Superman is a story about Clark trying to balance his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He grapples with this dual identity, striving to be a symbol of hope in a world that often pushes back. He remains the embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way, driven by human kindness even when the world perceives it as outdated.

The World of ‘Kingdom Come’ Meets the Clark Kent of ‘All-Star Superman’

Kal-El from Earth 22

The movie’s synopsis, when paired with the symbol choice, starts to paint a clearer picture. Basically, from the looks of it, Gunn is doing a reverse Kingdom Come story, where the world is already filled with superheroes before Superman even enters the scene. This explains the multitude of confirmed superhero characters, such as Guy Gardner, Metamorpho, Hawkgirl, and Mr. Terrific, slated to appear in the movie. Instead of coming out of retirement, Gunn’s Superman will be joining the cynical superhero world for the first time and showing the people what it means to be a real superhero.

Further evidence of this comes from Gunn’s other inspirations. He’s declared All-Star Superman as the biggest influence on his movie, which is a comic about Clark’s unwavering love for humanity and his positive impact on everyone around him. Recently, on Threads, Gunn even shared a list of all the different Superman media he’s drawing inspiration from.

In fact, the second image on the list was a page from All-Star Superman where Clark saves someone by convincing them not to commit suicide. It’s a great example of Superman’s most important power — his heart and compassion — and that’s what Gunn seems to be focusing on for his upcoming movie. Also, check out why we believe that James Gunn should give Birds of Prey one more reboot.

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