Thursday, 18 July 2013

Top 10 DC Superheroes Who Deserve A Film - #5-1

Welcome to part two of the list. If you missed things last time then feel free to see the previous part here, which outlines the beginnings of this list along with initial choices. The list has been rewritten slightly due to some revelations and last minute edits, but things have mostly remained the same here.

That done, here's the Top Five DC Superheroes Who Deserve A Film.

5 - Batgirl (Cassandra Cain)

Who Is She? 
One of several figures to bear the title of Batgirl, Cassandra Cain had a far darker history from the others of her kind. Trained from an early age to be a part of the League of Assassins by her father, she was taught to read body language and brought up specifically without speech. Something which was hoped to give her an edge in picking out targets. This backfired when she was horrified beyond words upon reading the body language of her first target as he died. An event which traumatised her to the point of refusing to take another life. Arriving in Gotham she managed to gain the trust of Batman and his allies in spite of her past. Despite a lack of any metagene, many of her abilities have been considered superhuman in nature and well above that of even physical perfection. Something suggested to be the result of her mental state.

Why Does She Deserve A Film? 
Due to her unique nature and history, there is a great deal of story potential behind the character. While she has connections to Gotham she is not innately tied to it and has often had series set beyond its borders. She could be utilised in many of the cities less seen in the DCU's adaptations such as Bludhaven. We briefly saw in The Dark Knight how Batman dealt with infiltrating and attacking his foes across the world. Imagine a story with a character doing just that, but with fewer resources and on a much larger scale.

Furthermore she's a character with a history and events which would resonate far more clearly in the universe if the League of Assassins were introduced than we saw with Bruce Wayne, and one who might be forced to take a darker path. To give another comparison with the Nolan trilogy, the League of Shadows mostly served as a background role. In Batman Begins they were mostly behind the scenes, with Batman targeting the crime bosses working for them.
Imagine films in which Batgirl was disassembling the organisation as she fought it, taking it down piece by piece. Each time showing more of how it operated and her father's reactions upon learning who was disrupting his operations. It would be a very different film from before and one fitting of her character.

Why Won't She Get One? 
Mostly because of the recent changes in the canon. With Barbra Gordon once again being Batgirl, Cass has been pushed by to a side role elsewhere serving as a member of Batman Inc. (a network of funded crime-fighters working across the world). This means that if they did go for a film it would likely not be her wearing the mask.

A further problem is that thanks to a distinct lack of research by certain writers, much of her character was changed beyond recognition. Infamously after reappearing following one of DC's major Crisis events, she was suddenly a villain spouting long monologues and with little resembling her previous character. The damage control done did little to help things and many details which did make her interesting were lost. This lack of uniqueness in the majority of her appearances would work against her, and likely cause writers to just use the better known Batgirl.

4 - Vixen

Who Is She?
Mostly one of the DCU's background characters, Vixen has none the less played a role in a large number of events throughout the universe's history. Having taken part in Identity Crisis, Final Crisis, the events of Blackest Night and other events besides she's familiar with big events. Similarly she has fought crime and superheroes on a much more basic level, alongside the Justice Society among other groups.

What makes Vixen stand out his her powers, able to mimic the skills and powers of a multitude of beasts from her animal totem. This can range from gaining the swimming skills and sonar ability of a dolphin to gaining the endurance and amrour of an abalone. Many of these are enhanced to a superhuman level, the latter example allowing her to withstand punches from superman.

Why Does She Deserve A Film?
Many people are likely already typing "why choose her over Animal Man?" As much as I might like him, Grant Morrison's impression of the character is the most iconic one for the character; something which carries a number of problems. The foremost is that while the story is great, many films of a character seek to immediately replicate or take elements from the most popular tales. The run he is best known for has Morrison's problem of being balls out insane, something which might put off film creators and audiences alike. Both in how they might be accepted and how well many of the fourth wall breaking elements might be adapted.

Vixen by comparison has a well defined character but without as much baggage, having a relatively well developed character but mostly playing out as a side character. This would allow for her to have a film which wasn't taking elements from major plotline, see the problems of that in the Green Lantern film, but hopefully making the best use of the character. Her connections to Africa would also allow for us to have stories set outside of the United States at long last, or perhaps taking a different tone from before. Especially considering her involvement with the Suicide Squad and conflicts with figures beyond traditional criminals or superheroes.

Why Won't She Get One?
Besides being a largely unknown side-character in the comics, nearly every version of her history has been depicted playing second string to bigger name heroes. Both her DCAU and Brave and the Bold self were often used only as love interests, as such if she's not held in reserve for a team film then there's a good chance she'd be added as a love interest as another character. As a result she wouldn't be given the chance to be the hero of her own film or focus character.

Another problem is that due to her African background, some of her powers might be considered derogatory. Borderline racist or overly simplistic, focusing upon the African wildlife better known to the world rather than the nations themselves. It's an accusation with very shaky footing, but one which is repeated by a portion of comics readers in more than a few places. It's not hard to imagine studio executives seeing this and deciding that if such opinions already existed they could generate a massive backlash upon themselves.

3 - Firestorm

Who Is He? 
Something of a legacy character, Firestorm has had more than one incarnation with different people merging into a single being to create Firestorm. Among these were Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch, both of who wielded the hero's powers for a considerable amount of time. The character was often used as a commentary in the nuclear arms race when he was introduced in the early 80s, and later on given more mystical aspects as a fire elemental.

Firestorm's actual powers are alchemical in nature, capable of changing the elements and chemicals which make up objects. This is done via rearranging the subatomic particles and their atomic composition, meaning he can literally turn lead into gold or someone's hair into methane.
The most recent incarnations had the characters separately forming their own powers, but merging into a greater creature known as the Fury.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Primarily for two reasons: The first is that the exact nature of Firestorm's powers makes him stand out from many of his kind, both due to being a merger of human beings and Fullmetal Alchemist style matter manipulation. Many people are used to seeing Superman's enhanced strength, eye beams, the martial arts skills and physicality of a multitude of characters, but not something like this. Someone who can adapt their entire environment around them, corrode criminal's guns, even alter the air they breath into something to knock them unconscious. He would be an opportunity for writers to break out and truly start using superpowers in inventive ways.

The other is due to the way the character (specifically Jason) was written when he was reintroduced in 2004 was with a sense of humour. Something more in line with Spider-Man and less straight faced than the more successful DC films before now. It would help add more variety to the universe and offset some of the deadly seriousness of the Batman and Man of Steel films.

Why Won't He Get One?
Due to the financial success of the Amazing Spider-Man, the DC films might either end up aping the film's style and convert Firestorm into more of a Peter Parker character. No matter how well it fitted with the actual characters of the superhero or the storylines. It would depend heavily on how things go and what DC would have to contest with in a potential competition with Marvel. It would also likely equate to studio interference with the direction, something which is rarely a good thing.

The other problem is that Firestorm as a character has had multiple origins. It would be hard to truly include each character his fanbase supports and the studio would have to choose which incarnation to support. The most obvious of these is the New 52 version as it involves both primary protagonists, yet is a major departure from the classic idea behind the character. Also making an origins story more difficult as a result of how Firestorm has evolved within the current comics. With no single, relatively united fandom to rely upon he might be ignored in favour of bigger or more reliable DC characters.

2 - Aquaman

Who Is He? 
King of the seas, ruler of Atlantis and founding member of the Justice League; Aquaman is one of the biggest names in the DCU. Combating multiple threats alongside and behind the backs of the JLA, Aquaman is seen combating threats both within the oceans and beyond them. Within the JLA he has served as their expert in things mystic more than once, and while not a specialist like Zatanna he has fought gods, angels and giants a multitude of times.

Along with super strength, heightened durability, the ability to breath water and command of one of the most advanced military forces on the planet; Aquaman has telepathy. Usually utilised to command everything from plankton to the spawn of Cthulhu, he can quite happily throw swarms of megalodons at people he takes on. This is ignoring its uses against non-marine brains, which range from erasing memories to giving people seizures.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Because he's one of the single most powerful figures on earth with a long history, series of antagonists and a strong supporting cast. Even more so than the likes of the Flash or Green Arrow, Aquaman has a strong base to work from and a number of characters personally involved with him. He was exiled from his kingdom, his half brother was driven insane and is now one of his worst foes, even he and his wife Mera have a long conflicting history. In the hands of a good writer this wellspring of plot hooks, writing opportunities and angles to work off of. The same sort of thing which worked well with the Spider-Man mythos in the comics until someone decided he should make a deal with the devil, or even in Sam Rami's trilogy.

Furthermore, despite what people think he has the ability to hold his own against just about anything thrown at him and frequently combats gods in order to protect the earth. Once a year, every year, without fail he teams up with Etrigan the Demon to stop Great Old Ones from launching invasions onto the planet.

Furthermore, if DC is trying to work their way towards a Justice League film then he would be a definite character worthy of throwing into the mix. Both as a founding member and someone who could truly make use of big battle set pieces with his own abilities, as shown here.

Why Won't He Get One?
Due to a certain very old cartoon and vast number of internet jokes which refuse to die, no one can take him seriously. Even a surprising number of comics fans these days unfortunately.

Another issue would be his environment. It would only make sense to set the story at sea, but it would be hard to truly write a plot in the depths of the ocean and weigh heavily upon the CGI budget to have a film there. 

1 - Martian Manhunter

Who Is He? 
Commonly considered the Justice League's "Swiss army knife" J'onn J'onzz is one of the last of his kind. One of the original inhabitants of Mars, his species was wiped out in a disaster which rendered the entire planet barren. One later revealed to have been unleashed by his brother Ma'alefa'ak, which targeted any being with telepathic capabilities. Heading to earth Manhunter remained among the humans since that time, using his natural abilities to combat crime and fight alongside the Justice League's multiple incarnations. 
Often his battles have led him to combat other survivors of his kind, or other sentient species who occupied his world. Either due to desires of conquest over humanity or outright insanity as a result of what took place.

Many compare Manhunter with Superman in his abilities and it's easy to see why. Along with super strength, enhanced endurance and flight, he has x-ray vision and the ability to fire energy beams from his eyes. Unlike him, Manhunter is a telepath of considerable strength and shapeshifting abilities. Ones which allow him to do everything from increase his size to that of a skyscraper, disguise himself as other humans and even transform into utterly alien shapes.

Why Does He Deserve A Film?
Largely due to his skills and experiences. While he might have multiple superpowers, Manhunter is an accomplished detective and someone often relied upon to piece together mysteries. Either via scanning the minds of those suspected to have committed a murder or crime terrible enough to warrant invading their minds, or his own deductive skills.
The Dark Knight might be known as the world's greatest detective, but few to none of his films actually allowed him to utilise such abilities. Either the plan was told to the audience or he found it out through his own mistakes. The only real occasion of detective work coming from examining a bullet hole with a level of bad science which would make CSI blush. It would again allow for a different approach to superhero films and do something beyond what we've seen in the cinema before.

Furthermore, unlike Superman he witnessed the death of his world first hand. Understanding how everything fell to bits and had a much closer connection to the disaster itself. Some even blame him for what happened due to his connection with Ma'alefa'ak; all of which gives him far more character than being the last survivor of a world he never really knew. There's also a considerable link with Darkseid which could be worked with, with his invasion being effectively the cause of the Martian extinction. All of which work extremely well in developing the film universe beyond just earth.

Why Won't He Get One?
Most likely due to the many comparisons which can be made with Superman. He's an alien who fled to earth, the last of his people, the others of his kind left are hostile to him, he's an outsider; much of this sounds the same. In fact when it comes right down to it, many elements sound exactly like what we just saw in Man of Steel. Repeating something seen so soon in a genre is something which would possibly drive away potential audiences, especially if the creators did opt to use other martians as the antagonists.

A further problem would be the whole alien angle. The Superman films were always able to give the audience a direct connection with the hero thanks to him growing up on earth, knowing their customs and for the most part dodging around the more alien aspects of krypton. With a Martian Manhunter film they would need to balance out aspects of his alien nature and attitudes while not distancing himself enough to lose all audience sympathy, something not easily achieved. A detail which would likely put off any interest which there might be in the film from studios when there are far easier and more popular heroes to adapt to the big screen.

So that's the top ten list. There were a few others like Black Canary and Red Tornado which would have been added if it were longer, but here are the ones which ended up being listed. Bare in mind this is just a personal opinion. If you have your own choices or object to someone being put there, please feel free to say so in the comments section.

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