Sunday, 7 July 2013

Top 10 DC Superheroes Who Deserve A Film - #10-6

We've talked about the use of superheroes in cinema before, last time in a fairly negative light when talking about long term impact to the industry. While it's true that there are big problems which can arise from the film, something which was focused upon was how it could boost a hero's popularity. Even a bad film gives them a greater degree public knowledge and can draw new attention to their comics. As such here's a short list of the ten heroes who deserve a film of their own, but will likely not get it. 
Why ten rather than five as we had with the Avengers? Because thus far we have potentially three heroes in total with films in the same universe, and even that's uncertain as Green Lantern and Batman might be getting rebooted. At the moment Marvel has everything from Doctor Strange to Ant-Man planned for sometime in the next few years.

Just remember one thing: This isn't a list of those who deserve a film the most, it's the ones who deserve one but are very unlikely to get one. Furthermore those with confirmed plans for an on screen appearance are not being counted here, hence why Wonder Woman isn't immediately listed as first place.

Also please note i'm not counting Wildstorm or Vertigo heroes on this list, just those who had been with DC for decades. Why? Mostly because beyond a few fringe exceptions they've been given a less than stellar treatment in the comics. That and their limited appearances means films wouldn't have much to build off of their new incarnations.

10 - Power Girl

Who Is She? 
One of the several surviving kryptonians performing superheroics, Power Girl was originally the Supergirl of Earth 2. Following the collapse of the multiverse and alternate dimensions during Crisis on Infinite Earths, she was left residing alongside the modern day Superman and heroes. Since then she has been a prominent member of several incarnations of the Justice League and Justice Society of America.

Why Does She Deserve A Film? 
Besides having all the powers of Superman? The fact she often seems more human and is more willing to show power when needed. Her solo series which came about at the end of the previous DCU (at least while Justin Grey and Jimmy Palmiotti writing) contained a fairly robust cast of allies, villains and goals for further writers to work off of. Furthermore, she's been used in both ultra-serious and more humorously light-hearted arcs without any major character alterations, meaning she would offer a lot more creative freedom than other characters.

There's also the added fact she's more willing to display her power than Kal-El, using it to either deal with irritating problems or take advantage of them upon learning her foe's durability. One of the more desperate scenes of her comic featured the character removing a villain's arm, knowing she could easily heal from it within minutes. At the other end of the comedic spectrum, there's dealing with a flasher via freeze breath.

Why Won't She Get One? 
The first obvious one is the costume. I'll be the first to say I don't have a problem with it in the comics (admittedly the only problems I had with her New 52 one was the symmetry and patterns rather than lack of visible skin) but it's hard to imagine a live action series with it. First of all getting an actress to accept the chest window but then fight in it? It's hard to see it happening.
Furthermore her convoluted background could easily put off many film writers and it's hard to differentiate her from Supergirl without going into detail. Something which will probably result in executives going "Hey, let's just use Supergirl instead."

Finally, it would be hard to see writers capturing many parts of what made her solo series work and got her so many fans. Mostly because... well, here's her comic in one page:

Yeah, you know writers would want something a lot more serious and would have difficulty integrating the fourth wall breaking text boxes.

9 - Captain Marvel Shazam

Who Is He? 
Even by the standards of comics, Captain Marvel is a character who embraces escapism. The alternate identity of Billy Batson, a young boy, Captain Marvel is his alternate identity empowered by the world's magic. Chosen to be its champion due to his moral standing and optimism, Batson can instantly transform to and from his forms by summoning lightning from the sky. At which point he seemingly ages by several decades and gains super strength, flight, speed, stamina and intellect.

Why Does He Deserve A Film? 
Well, it's kind of already been done and proven he can star in a film quite easily. Superman/Shazam! The Return of Black Adam is one of the best regarded animated films from DC in recent years, which served as an origin story for the character. The character's main strength is that he's as much of a powerhouse as Superman, but has a closer connection to magic, mysticism and is (supposedly) even more of a boyscout. A figure who for many years was opposed to the needless darkening of any and all characters to show they are fo reals yo. This would allow him to appease audiences who disliked the darker elements of Man of Steel and take a new direction not seen thus far with the DC film universe.

It also helps that he has one of the more popular background villains in the DCU, Black Adam. A character who has ranged from everything from a monster, to a tragic villain, to an anti-hero in his various depictions over the years. Given how much audiences want to see fights between beings of great power, it wouldn't be hard to use him to draw in people.

Why Won't He Get One? 
While a decent character in his own right, and given to the right author, Captain Marvel has no end of problems when it would come to appealing to a mainstream audience.
Just for starters consider the copyright problems if they wanted to keep calling him Captain Marvel (Marvel's agreement with DC meaning they are only permitted to use "Shazam" in titles and major material). Then consider the problems of who you would cast to play Billy Batson. Finding a decent child actor who could pull off the character would be difficult and they wouldn't remain young for very long, meaning it would be hard to build up a trilogy of films or sequels. Then consider the problems of trying to sell the idea of him to mainstream audiences, the ones people felt Thor would be too outlandish an idea to be accepted for many years.

Then you have the whole mess of which continuity you stick with. Captain Marvel and Shazam (the New 52 guy) are extremely different characters and are going in very different directions. Both have their problems with Captain Marvel being criticised for being "too good" and too optimistic to be relatable, while Shazam is an unlikable jackass no one wants to root for in many of his comics.

8 - Zauriel

Who Is He? 
First appearing in Grant Morrison's acclaimed run on JLA, Zauriel is a fallen angel. Becoming too involved with the human he was tasked with guarding, and having learned of the ambitions of archangel Asmodel to conquer Heaven, he was given mortal form and sent to earth. Joining the Justice League soon afterwards, Zauriel  faced down every threat from Lex Luthor, to the Spectre, to an ancient superweapon of long dead gods. At one point single handedly saving reality when those ruling Heaven attempted to restart creation in the hopes it would destroy the aforementioned superweapon.

Why Does He Deserve A Film? 
Besides Wonder Woman, Zauriel would serve as an effective role similar to Thor in a Justice League film. A figure linked to the gods from a distant land, exiled and attempting to make a new life from the ruins of his old one. He'd be an opportunity to explore the realms beyond earth and those of science fiction, opening up the way for battles against demons and literal godlike figures. One of the things JLA was best remembered for was the team battling against dire, world-shaking threats rather than simple bank raids and he'd give films that chance. Audiences wouldn't need to wait for a team-up film to explore this either, as Zauriel himself was shown personally facing down terrifying figures more than once. Compared to Azmodel, the destruction Zod inflicted upon earth was minute at best.

Despite this, in terms of character and storylines Zauriel could quite easily be adapted for both street level or  biblical wars without any real necessary changes to his character. A film could easily be set with him protecting the city he calls his home by focusing upon his exile or connection with humanity if need be. All that would be required is a decent author to helm the script and a director who knew when and when not to stick to established fact.

Why Won't He Get One? 
Lack of public awareness. The guy might have been in comics for twenty years now, but most audiences seem to be confused if you bring up anyone besides Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman when it comes to DC Heroes. Even those who took a starring role in the Justice League cartoon seem to be barely known half of the time, and it seems a lot of average people only know about the Flash thank to Big Bang Theory. Unlike the three big names, it would be difficult to get backsides in seats by name alone. Furthermore like many on this list, trying to sell the idea of Zauriel could be difficult, and that's without considering failures of films with angelic themes of late. Legion anyone?

A further problem would likely be studio interference. Given some of the things which were said about Green Lantern's behind the scenes problems with executives, trying to turn it more and more into what they thought Iron Man was, it's not hard to imagine the same thing being repeated again. Especially due to the Thor comparisons which become more and more obvious the closer you look at their basic plots.

7 - Guy Gardner

Who Is He? 
One of the five green lanterns devoted to protecting earth and the sector surrounding it, Gardner has a long and difficult history with the members of the corps, especially Hal Jordan. Ever a maverick and more prone to showy displays of power than many of his kind, Gardner tends to favour the least subtle of approaches and willingly takes just about any reward which comes his way. Despite being loud, brash and ginger as they come, he manages to find a way to stay on the side of heroes and do the right thing.

Why Does He Deserve A Film? 
Out of all the Green Lantern corps members, Gardner is the most well established in terms of personality and has an easy basis to work off of. Much as I might like Kyle, Hal and Jon; they lack Guy's larger than life persona and the more varied elements of his character. While he definitely lacks subtleties and is far from the most mature of characters at times, he's simple enough not to screw up and works better with the lovable jerk appeal the Green Lantern film was trying to go for.

In many respects while he also has far more failings than other Green Lantern characters, Gardner still manages to personify its chief strength: Willpower. His entire history is littered with moments of losing his powers, being crippled and beaten down only to rise up again. He gets kicked out of the corps - He steals Sinestro's ring. Parallax destroys his ring - He gains natural in-built weapons (we'd reached the 90s by this point). He loses his DNA based abilities due to Parallax again - He rejoins the Green Lantern corps. 
By this point it seems unlikely even death itself could keep him down for long.

Finally, Gardner's role as a member of the Honour Guard would allow for more galactic based stories. Many people criticised how the 2011 film was focused so much on earth, so with a role not tied to earth and devoted to "thinking outside the box" there would be a lot more potential for alien stories.

Why Won't He Get One? 
Mostly because there's already been one attempt at a Green Lantern film and that failed. Even considering it broke even and the dissonance between audience and critic opinions, it's hard to see Warner Bros. approaching the comics once again any time soon despite reports of a reboot. They had their one big chance and it didn't work out, so convincing them to try again with a secondary character from the comics is going to be an uphill battle to say the least. The best people could probably hope for is for him to show up in a similar capacity to Hawkeye in Avengers, a major character to be sure but one who is clearly much more in the background than others.

6 - Zatanna

Who Is She? 
One of the DCU's most recognisable spellcasters, Zatanna is a long standing character with ties to the Justice League, Batman and John Constantine. Serving as both a stage magician and master of magic, her abilities range from those of pulling rabbits out of hats and turning enemies into birds, to seeing the future via tarot and resurrecting Metropolis. While often overshadowed by others in team books, many of her solo stories show her being more knowledgeable and capable than many are let on - Foreseeing Barbra Gordon's future and easily taking down Batman himself when she realised the world couldn't risk his death.

Why Does She Deserve A Film? 
Mostly because it could tie in extremely well with many other DCU films and there is a wealth of story potential behind her powers. Many people criticised how Man of Steel left much of Metrolopis destroyed so having her perform rebuilding would be a nice touch. Something allowing for Superman to be let off of the hook as we saw before, but with the irritating thoughts collateral damage getting in the way. Even ignoring that her presence would allow a film to show a hero taking down villains without just shooting/punching/blowing them up and being more inventive with their skills. Think of some of the scenes from Now You See Me then give them Iron Man's budget to work with, it'd be one hell of a thing to behold.

It would also be a chance to actually get some decent magic on the big screen with the superhero universes. As Iron Man 3 completely ignored the mystic elements of one character and Thor seems to lean more towards advanced science over magic, it would definitely be something decent and an edge the film DCU could use. Making itself seem bigger and more loyal to its source material, while also delving into using less known villains of magical origins. Given her style of skills and abilities beyond the energy blasts and beam wars Doctor Fate and Madam Xanadu seem to be portrayed using, Zatana feels like the right character to open the way to this aspect of the world.

Why Won't She Get One?
As mentioned before, Zatana is related to many teams and other characters. As such it seems likely she would be reserved for a supporting role or side character over the protagonist of her own film. Even then some studios might look at her powers and consider them too cartoonish for use, something not helped by the fact she normally uses spells by speaking them in reverse. A detail which would cause fans to cry "Betrayal!" and let loose the interwebs trolls of war if abandoned, but might be hard to take seriously by other audiences if kept.

The voice itself would be another potential problem. Taping her mouth shut or silencing her is something done to weaken the character at about the same rate kryptonite is used against Superman. It's a cheap way to disable her and it would be a cop-out if the villains exploited it, but it would also make them look like morons if they didn't.

Despite her powers Zatana also doesn't have the strongest rogues gallery, lacking villains with enough real threat to challenge her. With so many people excited to see Bane or the Joker in the Dark Knight Trilogy, a good antagonist obviously matters and lacking one is a definite shortcoming here. While writers could easily borrow one from another character, it wouldn't be the same as giving one with an established history.

So that's the first five superheroes who deserve their own film. In a few days time we'll be covering the final five and concluding this little list.
If you have your own choices you'd like to suggest or arguments against some on this list, please says so in the comments. I'd be interested to hear which characters other comicbook fans feel deserve their time in the spotlight.

Part two can now be found here.

1 comment:

  1. I think the villain problem with Zatanna can be solved with a simple change in attitude. Take for example the flying tiger form marvel. If you don't know the flying tiger is a guy in a glider suit that sometimes fights the avengers. Sounds silly right? let me rephrase this is a guy who takes on the AVENGERS in nothing but a glider suit and sometimes wins.