The arrival of The Guardians of the Galaxy Christmas Special is our second partial look at James Gunn’s iconic characters from Marvel Studios since Avengers: Endgame. It’s also the first of a kind of two-part endgame that leads into the final film. But Batman’s new boss has just smuggled the DC hero’s name into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There are moments in the Holiday Special where the Wardens join the fight against the great evil of Phase 4: Grief. In particular, Peter Quill mourns the loss of Gamora, which is doubly painful because her “past” version stayed in the future, but not with them. It’s a funny, cartoonish one Guardians of the Galaxy Adventure but heaviness is in the air by Knowhere. The team bought the Celestial Head from the Collector (who apparently survived Thanos) and are making it a place for those who were expelled after the Blip. But before Gunn leaves that sandbox to head up the newly renamed DC Studios, he put Batman in the MCU. Fittingly, it’s an actor who brings the Dark Knight into the House of Ideas, Kevin Bacon, no less than “Introduction.” But it wasn’t just the man from Tremble introduced – it was the idea that DC Comics existed in the reality of the MCU.
How do Batman and DC Comics fit into the MCU?
Technically, this isn’t the first Batman reference in the MCU. in the eternal, calls Gligamesh Karun, Kingo’s valet, “Alfred”, a clear reference to Batman’s butler. The Child of Phastos also mentions Superman. But in a world of “super” people, “superman” is a thing that humans would reasonably come up with on their own. So when Kevin Bacon tries to pretend he’s a “real” hero while talking to Drax and Mantis on the way to Knowhere, one of his choices is Batman, who he clarifies is Bruce Wayne. So how does this work?
Did DC Comics evolve in the MCU like it did here, with Joe Shuster, Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane creating two of fiction’s most important characters? In the scene where Mantis and Drax are at the Chinese Theater, there are (for obvious real-world reasons) no people dressed as DC characters. But if they were that iconic, shouldn’t there be? Maybe they were conveniently off-screen, or maybe DC Comics was getting started after Wonder. After all, Captain America had comics during WWII.
Perhaps the DC Comics character either died out or was even created after the heroes appeared in the MCU. It makes sense. Storytellers invent fictional government agents, soldiers, police officers, or any number of real-world professions that make for good heroic action movies. It might even mean it was called a Kevin Bacon movie X-Men: First Class about a fake hero team formed after the Cap comics fell out of popularity. And this is how James Gunn could get his DCU and MCU crossover.
Of course James Gunn smuggled Batman into the MCU – he wants a DC crossover
Even before appearing at DC Studios, James Gunn wanted DC and Marvel to cross paths. But there are a lot of obstacles, especially considering how the comic collaborations have gone. At Reed Tucker’s slugfest, the author explained how squabbling over dialogue and fights nearly brought the project to failure on several occasions. A multiverse Avengers vs. The Justice League: The Dawn of Money would also put up an uphill battle to not be the worst kind of film-by-committee. But since DC Comics exists in the MCU, why can’t Marvel Comics exist in the DC Universe?
With Gunn at the helm of DC Studios, Marvel references will likely become commonplace. Peacemaker might talk about his “spider sense,” or Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam will say something about people not liking him when he’s angry. However, if they discover that Marvel characters exist in the DC Universe, it could work as a cheat crossover. It would not be unthinkable that one or more of the Guardians of the Galaxy Cast will appear in a future Gunn DC film as her character from the films. Conventional wisdom holds that Warner Bros. and Disney would never work together. However, that was the same thought that said Spider-Man would never make it into the MCU. Gunn is leaving Marvel Studios with much goodwill.
To see Kevin Bacon’s Batman reference, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special is currently streaming on Disney+.