The comic book adaptations in live-action movies have been capturing the mainstream movie business for quite some time now, and DC Studios has played an important role in it. With the new appointment of James Gunn as co-CEO, DCU is looking for a reboot, and one name that looks promising for collaboration is Steven Spielberg.

Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg | Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Spielberg has been attached to a long-developing DC project called Blackhawks, a World War II-inspired team. After many years of development and obstacles, Spielberg’s new miniseries Masters of the Air re-ignited the possibility of reworking the unfinished project under Gunn.

Masters of the Air Shows Potential in Blackhawks

Masters of the Air
Masters of the Air | via Apple TV YouTube

Masters of the Air is set during World War II and revolves around the stories of American pilots. Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzmanin are the executive producers of the show, and the dramatic action scenes along with hard-hitting aerial combat have been compared to Spielberg’s previous works in Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers.

As the series Masters of the Air gets popular, speculations arise about the other incomplete DC project, Blackhawks. Blackhawks was based on a World War II team of pilots led by a Polish-born pilot known as Janos Prohaska. Their adventures filled with acts of heroism and bravery became quite a hit, and the team had crossovers with other DC superheroes such as Hawkgirl.

First, in the early 1980s, Spielberg was to produce and direct the live-action film Blackhawks, where Dan Aykroyd was to have the lead role. But this never materialized, and it was after many years, in the year 2018, that the project was revived again. This time, Spielberg had been ready to produce the movie and possibly even direct it, but the project was once again put on hold.

Masters of the Air has been acclaimed by critics and the audience and given an overall critical rating of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. Spielberg was successful in offering aerial combat episodes and character-based narratives, justifying the efforts to reconsider Blackhawks with James Gunn leading the DCU now.

Gunn is famous for choosing the less famous comic book characters and adapting them for live-action, and Blackhawks is a perfect match for that. Also, a grounded story about World War II pilots that is the basis of the Blackhawks concept is in tune with his plan to bring a fresh tone to the DCU.

Why DC’s Blackhawks Got Shelved?

Blackhawks | Credit: DC Comics

It has been a long and tough journey so far, just to get Blackhawks into consideration for the big screen. However, in a 2022 interview with Collider, writer David Koepp claimed that the main challenge was the lack of clear direction for Warner Bros. plans for DCEU.

We all think it’s very good. There were a lot of management changes at Warner Bros, so I think we’ve just been kind of waiting for that to settle down. And for them to decide what they want to do with their DC Universe.

But now, Warner Bros. seems to have a clearer vision, with James Gunn and Peter Safran leading the DC Studios. Apart from that, the COVID-19 pandemic and SAG-AFTRA strikes also played their part in the underdevelopment of the project.

Regardless, Steven Spielberg has had such a legendary impact on the world of film as a director and a storyteller. From Jaws and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Schindler’s List and Lincoln, and now with Masters of the Air, he has consistently pushed the boundaries of cinema, and his addition to the unfinished Blackhawks project will definitely bring something extraordinary for the studio and fans. 

Masters of the Air is now streaming on Apple TV+.

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