James Gunn Shares 10 Inspirations For ‘Superman’ Movie

Responding to fans on Threads, Gunn reveals inspirations in addition to the Donner and Christopher Reeve films.

Responding to fans on Threads, Gunn reveals inspirations in addition to the Donner and Christopher Reeve films.

james gunn superman inspirations


  • James Gunn’s Superman movie is inspired by the Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve films
  •  Other inspirations for the movie include various comic book storylines and adaptations, such as All-Star Superman and Superman: The Animated Series
  • The film will explore Superman’s journey to reconcile his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing in Smallville

It’s known James Gunn’s Superman movie is in part inspired by the Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve movies, so are there any other inspirations?

You bet! A fan asked Gunn on Threads what other sources served as inspiration for his take on the Man of Steel, where Gunn replied with ten responses in the form of images.

“Where do I start?” replied Gunn.

Let’s take a look…

What are the inspirations for James Gunn’s Superman?

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Golden Age Superman

The above is the back cover of Superman #1 published in 1939 (Action Comics #1 was first published in 1938).

The Golden Age Superman refers to the comic books during the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

It has recently been announced Gunn will be filming in the birthplace of Superman and home of Siegel and Shuster, Cleveland, Ohio.

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All-Star Superman

Per Gunn’s first official tease when the big DCU announcement happened last year, All-Star Superman is also serving as an inspiration for the movie.

The image above is from All-Star Superman #10 featuring Regan who is a teenage girl who was stopped by Superman from attempting commit suicide.

DC describes the series as: The complete 12-issue run of ALL-STAR SUPERMAN by Morrison and Quitely is collected in a single trade paperback!Witness the Man of Steel in exciting adventures featuring Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Bizarro, and more! Plus: Superman goes toe-to-toe with Bizarro, his oddball twin, and the new character Zibarro, also from the Bizarro planet.

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Max Fleischer’s Superman animated series

From the 1941-43 animated series, the first animated adaptation of the character, which consists of seventeen short films, each running around eight minutes.

The series was recently remastered last year for a blu-ray and digital release.

DC describes the series as: Max Fleischer gave the world’s first Super Hero his initial animated spotlight, producing 17 theatrical animated shorts from September 1941 to July 1943 that further elevated the character’s profile, and added many significant aspects to his canon – including coining many of Superman’s patented catchphrases and attributes. Well known radio actors Clayton “Bud” Collyer and Joan Alexander reprised their famed The Adventures of Superman radio show roles for the Fleischer/Famous Studios animated shorts as Superman/ Clark Kent and Lois Lane, respectively. Jackson Beck provided the voice of Perry White and the show’s primary narrator. Additional voices, many of whom had participated in the Superman radio program, were provided by Jack Mercer, Grant Richards, Julian Noa, Lee Royce, Max Smith, Sam Parker and Carl Meyer.

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Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is a two-part comic book storyline written by Alan Moore with artwork by Curt Swan.

It was published in 1986 as a special issue of Superman and Action Comics, serving as a farewell to the Silver Age version of Superman before the character was rebooted in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event.

The story also features Krypto who is said to be attached to Gunn’s DCU Supergirl.

DC describes the collected edition as: Legendary writer Alan Moore’s seminal Superman issues are collected in this title featuring beautiful art from Curt Swan (ACTION COMICS), Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN), and Rick Veitch (SWAMP THING)! Collects the two-part “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” from SUPERMAN #423 and ACTION COMICS #583 as Superman faces his greatest foes and his final battle! Also featuring the classic story “For the Man Who Has Everything” from ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #11, in which Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman fight the evil warlord Mongul for the fate of The Man of Steel, and DC COMICS PRESENTS #85, in which Superman meets Swamp Thing.

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Superman for All Seasons

Superman for All Seasons is a four-issue comic book miniseries written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale published by DC Comics in 1998. The story is compared to the Smallville TV which aired three years later in 2001.

DC describes the series as: Similar to the premise of the Smallville television series, this hardcover book takes a look at the life of a young Clark Kent as he begins to develop strange powers. Living in a small Kansas town, the boy who would grow to be the Man of Steel must come to terms with his true origin and his uncanny abilities. In this mythic tale, we witness the experiences and adventures that transform a simple country boy into the world’s greatest hero.

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Kingdom Come

Not only is Kingdom Come an inspiration for the movie but that is where Gunn came up with the “S” symbol for the new David Corenswet suit.

Gunn recently confirmed Alex Ross’s design was behind the new symbol (see below).

DC describes the series as: In the near future, the DC Universe is spinning out of control. The new generation of heroes have lost their moral compass, becoming as reckless and violent as the villains they fight. The previous regime of heroes—the Justice League—returns under dire circumstances, which sets up a battle of the old guard against these uncompromising protectors in a conflict that will define what heroism truly is. 

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Silver Age Superman

The above image is from the Silver Age Superman years, where “The Superman Family” is described as an unofficial name given to Superman and his various allies, with “Team Superman” also being another unofficial name for the group.

The Silver Age of Comics occurred during the late 1950s through the 1960s. In regards to Superman, the Silver Age saw the Man of Steel’s powers increased including the ability to fly, shoot heat vision from his eyes, and blow freezing breath, with near invulnerability.

Gunn could also be referring to the perceived large cast of the movie (see below) as potentially “The Superman Family.”

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Action Comics (New 52 – 2011)

DC Comics relaunched with the “New 52” in 2011 which saw Grant Morrison offer up a reimagined take on the Man of Steel in his Action Comics #1, where Morrison took the Man of Steel back to his early roots in Metropolis.

Morrison’s take focused on Superman as a champion of the oppressed and downtrodden.

DC describes the Vol. 1 collection as: The first collection of GRANT MORRISON’S epic run on ACTION COMICS, with art by RAGS MORALES, ANDY KUBERT and more! • In these startling tales, the people of METROPOLIS turn on their new champion! Plus, the SUPERMAN of today and the LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES must save the jeans wearing Superman of five years ago! • Collects ACTION COMICS #1-8.

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Superman: The Animated Series

Superman: The Animated Series is from legendary creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini that aired from 1996 to 2000.

The art was similar to the classic comics, and the look, tone and feel is thought of as one of the best adaptations of the characters ever to exist.

The series combines aspects of the Golden Age and Silver Age versions of the character, including the work from comic book creator John Byrne.

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Superman the Warworld Saga

The above image is from Sean Lewis, Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Daniel Sampere’s Action Comics #1035 published in 2021, which is a apart of the “Warworld” event.

Worth a note is that the Superman “Warworld” story features The Authority who are confirmed for Gunn’s movie.

DC describes the TBP as:

After learning of an enslaved race with mysterious ties to Krypton, Superman and the Authority leave earth and travel across the galaxy to liberate Warworld. Think it’s that simple? Think again.

With Superman captured on Warworld and banished to the lower catacombs, he’ll need to team up with other enslaved gladiators to turn the hordes of Warworld against their masters. As the Warworld Saga reaches a breaking point, battle lines are drawn between the two towering forces at odds: Mongul and Superman.

Which heroes will survive the conflict and what will be the fate of the citizens of Warworld?

This volume collects the full Warworld Saga: Action Comics #1030-1046, Action Comics 2021 AnnualAction Comics 2022 Annual, Batman/Superman: Authority Special #1Future State: Superman: House of El #1, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1-2, Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1

james gunn superman david corenswet suit

What is James Gunn’s Superman about?

The flick lies into theaters on July 11, 2025.

The cast includes David Corenswet as Clark Kent and Superman, Rachel Brosnahan is playing Lois Lane; Isabela Merced is Hawkgirl, Nathan Fillion is Green Lantern Guy Gardner; Edi Gathegi is playing Mister Terrific; María Gabriela de Faría is playing The Engineer; Anthony Carrigan is Metamorpho; Skyler Gisondo is Jimmy Olsen, Sara Sampaio is Eve Teschmacher, Terence Rosemore as Otis, Wendell Pierce is Perry White, with Nicholas Hoult as Lex Luthor. 

Sean Gunn is also playing Maxwell Lord in the DCU, though it’s unconfirmed if he will be in SupermanMilly Alcock is also playing Supergirl rumored to first appear in Superman prior to her solo Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow film.

DC describes the film as telling the story of Superman’s journey to reconcile his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing as Clark Kent of Smallville, Kansas. He is the embodiment of truth, justice, and the American way, guided by human kindness in a world that sees kindness as old-fashioned.

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