The Marvel Cinematic Universe is currently in the midst of experiencing potentially its most important year yet, but another comic book movie franchise has been experiencing changes of its own too – the DC Extended Universe.
Now, with a markedly different set of upcoming projects, a new Batman and a new direction, WB might finally be able to mount the challenge they hoped Man of Steel would in 2013. Here are the DC comics they should look in order to make it happen.
1.Batman And The Monster-Man
There are a whole host of Bat-books that should inform Matt Reeves’ upcoming interpretation of the Dark Knight, but none more-so than Matt Wagner and Dave Stewart’s Batman and the Monster Men.
Until recently, it was rumoured that Reeves’ Batman film would take place early on in the Caped Crusader’s career, which contrasted heavily with Zack Snyder’s Dark Knight Returns-inspired interpretation of the vigilante. Such a move would’ve necessitated Ben Affleck’s exit from the role, and low and behold, last month, that very thing happened.
It depicts Batman just after the events of Year One, but with the added wrinkle of him encountering his first ever ‘supervillains’. It’d be a fascinating dynamic to explore on screen, especially since fans tend to forget Bruce only became Batman to fight not the mob and not the eccentric characters he’d encounter later in his time as the Dark Knight.
2.Suicide Squad:From the Ashes
Dubbed simply ‘The Suicide Squad’, this new iteration of the team will supposedly leave behind most of the first film’s cast in favour of a brand-new lineup. Will Smith is out as Deadshot, Idris Elba is in, and while it’s still unconfirmed as to whether or not Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn will appear, given the renewed focus on the character, one would expect her to feature in one way or another.
Again, as with Batman, there are plenty of brilliant Suicide Squad stories Gunn could look to for inspiration. Perhaps the best, though, would be From the Ashes, a comic helmed by Suicide Squad creator John Ostrander.
The main problem with the first film (apart from the jarring soundtrack and cumbersome editing), was that it didn’t really justify the Squad’s creation. Pretty much any super-team could go ahead and deal with a public world-ending sky-portal, whereas the Squad are usually deployed to handle more covert matters. How better to go back to basics, then, than with the original creator’s based book?
3.Deathstroke: The Professional
Put simply, Priest’s Deathstroke is genius. The character may not be the first one you associate with genuinely clever storytelling, but the character’s Rebirth years have been nothing short of spectacular, imbuing the villain with a hefty dose of espionage fiction, politics, and even some feuding with the Dark Knight himself.
Enter Cosmic Odyssey, a 1988 series written by Jim Starlin and drawn by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. It is Starlin’s name, however, that’ll make those Infinity War comparisons immediately apparent, as the writer also helmed the saga that’s currently inspiring the MCU’s cosmic-based Avengers films.
Just like Infinity Gauntlet, Cosmic Odyssey brings together some of the biggest names in the DC Universe to tackle a whole new threat, with the New Gods, Batman, Superman and Green Lantern just some of the names involved. With that in mind, if WB look to bring the Justice League back together in the future, this is the comic they should look to.
5.Aquaman By Peter David
Peter David, gave Aquaman a whole new makeover from 1994 onwards. Visually, audiences can probably already see comparison’s between the writer’s version of the character and the one portrayed on screen by Jason Momoa, but there’s another element that’s completely missing: the hook hand.
Look, love it, or just plain old hate it, the hook hand makes Aquaman look like a bonafide warrior. Given how the DCEU has leaned into that interpretation so far, and also how Momoa would probably own that look and then some, Aquaman 2 should make the bold decision to lop his hand off and replace it with a mechanical spear.
See? The nineties weren’t all that bad after all.
6.Batgirl: Year One
A Batgirl film featuring Babs was announced a few years ago with Joss Whedon originally at the helm. However, Whedon soon exited the project and a new writer was brought onboard – Christina Hodson, who penned Bumblebee for Paramount as well as the script for Cathy Yan’s aforementioned film.
Given the last time audiences saw Barbara Gordon onscreen came in 1997’s Batman & Robin though, it’s perhaps inevitable that the upcoming film will be an origin story. Fortunately for readers and Hodson, there’ve been loads of brilliant stories that have chronicled Gordon’s burgeoning years as a crimefighter, including the aptly titled Batgirl: Year One.
Recent forays into the character’s time as Batgirl worth mentioning include pretty much everything Gail Simone has done with Barbara, as well as the Batgirl of Burnside books helmed by Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr.
7. MISTER MIRACLE
At the core to this series was the conflict between the planets of New Genesis and Apokolips, the former ruled by the ostensibly benevolent High Father, and the latter by the indisputably tyrannical Darkseid.
Elements of the Fourth World were already shown off in Justice League, but audiences haven’t seen anything yet. There’s a really compelling conflict to examine between these two immortal civilisations, and at its core in recent years has been two perspectives – Scott Free’s and Big Barda’s.
In order to achieve a truce between Apokolips and New Genesis, the two leaders decide to swap their children (because obviously). Darkseid’s boy becomes Orion, while High Father’s son, Mister Miracle, heads to Apokolips, where he is then tortured for the rest of his days at Granny Goodness’ orphanage.
Eventually, he falls in love with Big Barda and escapes to earth, which is where Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ series comes in. It’s haunting, honest, and though not nearly epic enough to inspire an entire film, embodies the relationship between Scott and Barda perfectly.
8.The Sinestro Corps War
The Sinestro Corps War may not necessarily be a Hal/John story, but it’s the kind of one that should form the basis for WB’s Green Lantern reboot. It’s the very definition of epic, and with Sinestro a pretty charismatic villain, DC have all the components in place to make something truly special.
9.Supergirl: Being Super
Written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by the ludicrously talented Joëlle Jones, Being Super focusses on Kara as a teenager, adjusting to the challenges of High School, all while discovering her own powers. It’s easy to see how it could work on the big screen, and if Supergirl is set to play as big a role as has been rumoured, you won’t find a better place to start than there.
10.Justice League: New World Order
Justice League: New World Order might not be the most blockbuster League tale going, but it did bring the group back in a uniquely brilliant way. It also featured a definitive lineup, comprised of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. It’s the exact lineup WB should look to emulate in the future, but with the League ostensibly on hiatus, that future could be a long way off.
In any case, New World Order presents the perfect template to bring a whole new version of the Justice League into being. It doesn’t matter if there’s no Superman, Flash or Cyborg (it does matter if there’s Martian Manhunter though, let’s be honest), what is paramount is that it gets to the core of what makes the League so fascinating.
They aren’t just another group of Super-Friends with ridiculous powers, but a team with a proper legacy. That never really shone through in Joss Whedon’s film, but with this kind of story informing a potential revival, WB could make the world fall in love with the team on the second go.