Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 marks James Gunn’s swansong in the MCU, as he has taken the co-CEO position at DC Studios, where one of his first tasks is to write and direct 2025’s Superman: Legacy. There’s a hot debate among the fandom if Gunn is the right person to helm the new era of the Man of Steel – especially considering the fact he chose to not include Henry Cavill in this project and how his vision is effectively the antithesis of Zack Snyder’s. After watching the final instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy, though, rest assured that Superman is in the best of hands. Let’s take a look at the reasons.
Forget the humour – James Gunn understands the heart of comic book characters
Indisputably, the Guardians of the Galaxy films are among the funniest in the MCU. With quipping characters like Star-Lord and Rocket, the movies have never been shy of jokes or hilarious moments taking centre stage. While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 still packs the humour, its strongest characteristic is how poignant it is.
James Gunn doesn’t just pit the Guardians against a big bad for the sake of superhero shenanigans. The core of the story is how he forces the Guardians to dig deep and fight the internal conflict – the emotional turbulence within each of them. He unpacks why Rocket is the way he is, while also demonstrating how certain fears play a part in the behaviours of certain characters. In the end, it isn’t their powers, abilities, or even their pasts that make them who they are, but it’s what lies in their hearts and their true intentions. They don’t give up each other or a better tomorrow, because they refuse to quit.
In terms of Superman, this is also the most important characteristic. Everyone knows he’s one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe, but it isn’t his super-strength, speed, or laser vision that makes him a hero – it’s his heart.
Speaking about what he wants in the next Superman actor, Gunn told Variety: “The next Superman has to be someone who has all the humanity that Superman has but he’s also an alien. It’s gotta be somebody who has the kindness and the compassion that Superman has and be somebody who you want to give a hug.” He gets it.
It’s a pity that Chukwudi Iwuji had already been cast as Clemson Murn in James Gunn’s Peacemaker, because he would be the perfect actor to bring Brainiac to life based on his performance in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. As the High Evolutionary, Iwuji steals every scene he’s in, drifting between extreme levels of intelligence and wickedness. He is determined to make the world perfect — to get rid of all the perceived imperfections — and no being will stand in his way.
Sounds a lot like Brainiac’s general M.O, right? While there is no confirmation that Brainiac will feature in Superman: Legacy, he is an extremely important character in the mythos and could prove to be a valuable foil for the Man of Steel instead of having another film centre around General Zod or Lex Luthor.
Gunn has never been afraid of playing in space or with alien characters – so someone like Brainiac is right down his alley. Judging by how he wrote High Evolutionary for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, he has shown a good understanding of the logic that the Superman villain would possess. In fact, it would be surprising if Brainiac doesn’t feature in the new DCU at all.
Due to the abrupt nature of how the SnyderVerse was handled by Warner Bros., the audience never got to see another aspect of Clark Kent as a family man. In the comics, family has been vital to him – whether it be his time in Smallville with Pa and Ma Kent, or with Lois Lane in Metropolis. In both the current Superman comics and Superman & Lois TV show, Kal-El has demonstrated how being a good father, husband, and son is as important as being a superhero.
While Gunn’s Clark is likely to be younger and not necessarily be married with children yet in Superman: Legacy, family isn’t only blood related. In the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Gunn drives home the message that anyone and everyone can be family. Yes, people will argue and not get along all the time, but it’s their loyalty and desire to see the best for each other that will create an unbreakable bond.
In the same way, Superman: Legacy could learn from this approach in the way it approaches Clark’s relationships with everyone. He’s an alien on Earth, but he has people, such as the Kents, Jimmy Olsen, Pete Ross, or Lois, who will do anything for him, too. Like Dom Toretto said, “I don’t have friends. I’ve got family.”
Sergio Pereira is a prolific and recognised journalist and writer from Johannesburg, South Africa. His expertise encompasses the topics of comic books, film, television, and video games. For over 16 years, he has built up his reputation and knowledge in entertainment journalism by writing for and learning from the world's largest publications.
Sergio is also an accredited Rotten Tomatoes reviewer and has interviewed numerous celebrities, such as Andy Serkis, Ben Barnes, Idris Elba, Letitia Wright and Frank Miller. He is the author of the highly rated fantasy comedy novel The Not-So-Grim Reaper and numerous short stories. In addition, he is the co-writer of the South African crime drama film The Lifesaver. As a regular columnist, he contributes to Looper, Grunge, Screen Rant, Ranker, CBR, SYFY WIRE, IGN Africa, Thought Catalog and Fortress of Solitude.
For Sergio, all he wants in life is to see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles eclipse the Justice League as the greatest heroes of all time. Then, he will sleep peacefully.