Who are ‘The Authority’? This is James Gunn’s most dangerous project for DC

Can you imagine that, instead of a cult series, The Boys Was it a movie with a blockbuster budget? sure to James Gunn That idea has crossed his mind, since one of his projects for DC He also bets on an ultraviolent deconstruction of the superhero genre. We talk about The Authority, a film that the boss of the study has described as “one of his passions” and that can go much further than the most intense dreams of Zack Snyder.

Though he still doesn’t have a director or cast (let alone a release date), Gunn says the morally dubious supergroup whose collection appeared in 1999 is heading apace to the screen. “I’ve been working hard with the writers and we’re starting to shape the story,” he explains, assuring that the film will present us with “a very different kind of superhero story.”

If Gunn has his way, The Authority It may be one of the biggest knockout hits for the reborn DC. And also the jump to the cinema of a way of understanding superheroes that triumphed in a big way during the turn of the century, and that now (for better or worse) is much less present in cartoons, although its influence continues to kick in.

Created by the writer Warren Ellis in 1996, the supergroup released its own title in 1999, winning the love of readers more edgy thanks to his propensity to transgress limits. For example, the presence of openly LGBT characters in the cast, their willingness to play with the clichés of the genre, or the fact that their presumed heroes were huge bastards who didn’t shrink from extreme violence.

“They mean well, but they think the world is rotten and the only way to fix it is to take charge,” James Gunn explained when announcing the project. “Whether it means killing people, assassinating heads of state or changing governments, they will do it to build a better world.”

Antiheroes of the turn of the century

Gunn also noted that Authority members are “morally gray.” Something that points to the origins of the team, the result of an era in which creators and readers were fed up with blameless characters who defended the established order. Following in the footsteps of Frank Miller, Alan Moore and other great ones, the most advanced comics of the turn of the century, bet on antiheroes and irresolvable dilemmas as a way of getting the genre out of its drowsiness.

This sounds very nice, but it is only one side of the coin. Although your rights now belong to DC, The Authority was born within Wildstorm, the indie publishing house created by the cartoonist Jim Lee. And, as was often the case with independent labels at the time, their issues offered the reader what the majors they did not dare to give him: sex, blood and swearing. Just what is necessary for a teenager to come over commenting on the latest issue on IRC.

Image from 'The Authority'.
Image from ‘The Authority’.

Thus, the Authority ended up earning the nickname of “anti-Justice League”, not without reason For example, her star characters were both parodies of Superman Y Batman, in the way of Apollo (a gym piece so good it seemed silly) and Midnighter (a psychopath fond of pulling rennet backbones). Which, to top it off, formed one of the first gay couples ever seen in a comic of heroes in pajamas.

Likewise, the team had as many deconstructions of Iron Man (Engineer), Hawkgirl (Swift) and the Doctor Strange (this… Doctor). All of them with severe anger control problems, egocentrism and drug addiction. Faced with these paragons of virtues, figures such as the leader of the group, Jenny Sparks, and the urban wizard jack hawksmoor They were even normal, no matter how much they conformed to the cliché of antihero so common in the comics of the 90s and the two thousand.

With such wickerwork, the Authority passed through the world like Attila’s horse, leaving a trail of devastated cities and crushed civilians. Something due to their lack of scruples, and also because their list of enemies included characters even worse than them. In this list, by the way, came to appear the very God, some such American people suspiciously similar to avengers from Marvel… and, although in that way, a certain Kryptonian dressed in blue.

Fucking around with Superman

Although Wildstorm was absorbed by DC in 1999, the Authority was not fully integrated into the publisher’s mainstream continuity until 2011. Now, before that year, a few crossovers could be read, whether they were official (the two clashes between the group and Wolf that took place in 2004 and 2005) or unofficial.

In fact, one of the most remembered stories of The Authority it is not such, but a parody in which Superman gave them the octopus. His title was What’s so funny about Truth, Justice and the American way of life? (2001) and in it joe kelly, the future creator of Ben 10, pitted the Man of Steel against a group of grisly anti-heroes called ‘the elite’. You could say louder, but not clearer.

The comic was so popular that it had an animated adaptation. (Superman vs. The Elite, 2012). Also, some of his characters like Manchester Black (an undisguised fusion of Jenny Sparks and Jack Hawksmoor, two members of the Authority) have reappeared as villains in other ‘Supes’ stories.

In 2021, in addition, the screenwriter Grant Morrison wrote Superman and Authority, a crossover that (for greater anger) put the original group face to face with their parodies in the Joe Kelly comic, and that was extended in the regular series of the character. All of this, in a nutshell, means that the possibility of a big-screen encounter between the Authority and DC’s mainstream characters isn’t far-fetched.

Will James Gunn dare to go that far? Is it his vision of The Authority a deconstruction of what was already, in the cartoons, a set of archetypes turned upside down? At the moment, the thought of seeing Apollo, Midnighter and company starring in their own film is as exhilarating as it is unsettling: as DC fans know all too well, the words ‘dark’ and ‘grown-up’ can be a recipe for disaster.

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Who are ‘The Authority’? This is James Gunn’s most dangerous project for DC

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