Jams Gunn and Peter Safran might be leading DC’s greatest heroes into a new cinematic universe, but their DCU isn’t completely abandoning the old DCEU that preceded it. At least three actors with major parts— Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, John Cena’s Peacemaker, and Xolo Maridueña’s Blue Beetle— are reprising the roles under Gunn. We don’t know exactly how he’ll explain their presence within the new story, but their involvement means these are the DCEU movies (and one show) you need to watch before the DCU kicks off.

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, John Cena as Peacemaker, Michael Keaton as Batman, and Xolo Maridueña as Blue Beetle
Warner Bros. Discovery

Suicide Squad

Warner Bros. doesn’t even want you to remember David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad. The studio basically remade the film in 2021 with Gunn’s DCEU debut The Suicide Squad. But despite that rewriting of antihero history, the film is still important to Amanda Waller’s story. It’s where Viola Davis made her debut as the ruthless, pragmatic fascist willing to kill anyone it takes to keep her country safe.

The Suicide Squad


Gunn’s soft reboot/remake/sequel hybrid not only saw Davis return as Waller, it also introduced Cena’s Christopher Smith to the franchise. Peacemaker made his debut alongside a group of fellow inmates tasked with a seemingly impossible mission. Considering both Peacemaker and Waller will have their own shows in the DCU, knowing everything they did before (even if those events are no longer canon) will give their new story more context.



The only DCEU television series will have major ramifications for the DCU. The show’s second season will follow Gunn’s upcoming 2025 Superman movie, which will feature the debut of David Corenswet as the Man of Steel. In addition to Cena, Gunn has also confirmed “Team Peacemaker” is coming with him to the new franchise. That means we will likely see the return of many stars from the show, especially those who also appeared in the two Suicide Squad movies. Gunn has already said Freddie Stroma will be back as Peacemaker’s unstable friend Vigilante. The best candidates to also reprise their roles in the DCU are Jennifer Holland as Emilia Harcourt, Danielle Brooks as Waller’s daughter Leota Adebayo, and Steve Agee as John Economos.

Even characters who died during Peacemaker‘s first season (or died at any point during the DCEU) could also come back, and we’re not just talking about Robert Patrick’s Auggie Smith as a memory like the show’s season one finale hinted. Gunn has said Peacemaker‘s first season is not canon for the DCU. However, “many strands” of the character’s story will remain the same or similar. That seems likely to be true of the new version of Waller and Xolo Maridueña’s Blue Beetle.

Black Adam

We promise we did not include Black Adam simply to avoid receiving a strongly-worded letter from Dwayne Johnson. The film marked the return of Davis’ Waller and the introduction of the Justice Society. She was the one who contacted Carter Hall about capturing Teth-Adam. She later sent Superman to meet/threaten Adam when he said no one on Earth could stop him.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods….End-Credits Scene

Warner Bros. Pictures

Zachary Levi’s second (and seemingly last) film as Billy Batson features a post-credits sequence that is likely to never get paid off, yet will still technically connect to the DCU. In the scene Emilia Harcourt and John Economos show up on Amanda Waller’s behalf to recruit Shazam into the Justice Society (a.k.a. the group without Wonder Woman).

The Flash

Warner Bros.

The Flash ultimately might not feature a single actor who will reprise their role in the DCU, but the movie might end up being the most important to understanding how Gunn’s cinematic universe will be all-new while still remaining elements of the one that came before it. In the film, Barry Allen learns he can change the past, present, and future by time traveling. By altering the past, he creates entirely new histories on perpendicular timelines of existence. That immense power can even change who someone is or when they exist. It’s how he ended up meeting three different Bruce Waynes, all of different ages and appearance, in the film.

Gunn has told fans they’ll need to wait and see how the DCU will be new and independent of the DCEU while maintaining consistent elements between the two. But he did say The Flash would “reset” the DCU, so the events of this film seem important to know.

Blue Beetle

Warner Bros.

Of all the DCEU projects to know about before the DCU, this one is the simplest. It marks the only appearance of Xolo Maridueña’s Blue Beetle. Gunn said that although the movie is not part of the DCU, Maridueña’s superhero is.

Until we learn if any other actors will also reprise their DC roles un Gunn and Safran’s cinematic universe, you can wrap up your DCU prep with Blue Beetle.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist who thinks we should get a new Batman movie every year. You can follow him on  Twitter and  Bluesky at @burgermike. And also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.