Let’s face it: DC’s live action movies are leaving much to be desired. Their releases are going at a snail’s pace compared to Marvel, and the possibility of a Justice League movie seems dimmer than ever. But with that weakness comes one great big strength: their animated movies. Bruce Timm and his crew has been churning out high-quality animated films that continually set a higher precedent than the last. From extremely dark films like Under the Red Hood to traditional origin stories like Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, to more experimental films like Batman: Gotham Knight, the animated universe is taking DC to exciting places.
So what’s next for the DC films of 2011? According to IMDb, we’ve got a lot to be excited about. We’ll see an All-Star Superman adaptation, a Green Lantern Corps origin film called Emerald Knights, and an adaptation of Frank Miller’s phenomenal Batman: Year One.
I won’t complain here; All-Star Superman is one of my favorite Superman graphic novels, and Batman: Year One is sure to be brilliant, as long as Kevin Conroy returns as Batman. But you’ve got to admit: all of the films include Superman and Batman, aside from the GL Corps one.
And to be fair, Supes and Bats are the most well-known DC superheroes; it’s probably safe to say that they not only have the most amount of material from which to make great movies, but they’ll also make the most money. But DC has such a wide range of heroes who don’t normally make the spotlight! Remember when the Justice League show was revamped to JL Unlimited, and we were introduced to the entire arsenal of DC heroes? That’s what I’d like to see in the overall DC animated film world; we don’t have to discard Superman and Batman completely, but some B or even C-list heroes should start nabbing the spotlight, if only because a) their characters are too much fun to miss out on, and b) they won’t get a live-action film in the near future.
So for 2012, I’d like to see some different heroes in the spotlight. There are far too many great heroes to choose from, but here are my top picks:
Update–I’ll extend this to the Showcase animated shorts as well; I’d rather see them in a twenty minute adventure than none at all, like the Green Arrow short. (And, note: there have been no shorts thus far featuring female heroes. What’s up with that?)
Green Arrow and Black Canary
The special edition of Apocalypse will have a short Green Arrow film, but Ollie’s too aweome for that; he and Black Canary deserve their own movie! Green Arrow has no superpowers, but his arsenal of trick arrows speak for themselves, while Dinah is an expert combat fighter with one knock-out voice. Not only are they a great couple (especially in the JL show), but it would give DC a chance to get out of Gotham and Metropolis. DC can adapt Dennis O’Neil’s Green Arrow: Year One with China White as the main villain, or move ahead and bring in Speedy. And if they want to go down a darker road like Under the Red Hood, Ollie or Roy’s drug addictions will definitely make it an adult film.
This should be self-explanatory: Halle Berry shredded all hope of a great live-action Catwoman movie, and we probably won’t see another one for a very, very long time. With that being said, it’s up to DC’s animation crew to redeem her legacy. Selina’s a morally ambiguous thief and that’s what makes her so much fun, though sometimes she’ll fight with the heroes, if Batman asks nicely enough. While this kind of movie will probably stick to Gotham, it could give the DC crew an opportunity to look at a different major villain (probably a crimelord, like Black Mask) or even some of the supporting members of the Bat-family, like Nightwing. And even though I wasn’t crazy about the New Frontier movie, I still think Darwyn Cooke’s art should be an influence here, or at least his story Selina’s Big Score, which is probably one of her defining origin stories. Oh yeah, and Adrienne Barbeau (the voice of Catwoman from B:TAS) should definitely reprise her role!
Before I start singing from The Little Mermaid, this is one of the more popular choices for DC’s next animated film. Aquaman has always been part of the Justice League (since their very first issue), but he’s also always been a secondary character. This is usually because the main JL plots take place on the surface, and rarely under it. Aquaman’s a lot like Green Arrow in that they’re both underappreciated, and all the more reason to give him his own movie. While I haven’t read a lot of Aquaman comics, I’d appreciate an origin story that includes the loss of his right hand (he usually has a hook) and some breathtaking introduction to the city of Atlantis. I’d probably prefer it if it doesn’t have Aqualad (unless he’s voiced by Wil Wheaton!), and my top pick for villain would be Black Manta (especially if he’s voiced by Michael Dorn).
I love the magical side of DC; it’s one of the reasons I prefer it over Marvel, and I’d love to see the crew have fun with a Zatanna film. Z is a unique character in that, like Dr. Fate, she isn’t really a traditional superhero; she’s a sorceress. Plus, she’s one of the few heroines who stands completely on her own, without a male counterpart (ie Hawkgirl or Batgirl) or even an immediate pairing (ie Black Canary or Barda). Even though Batman is the obvious choice to co-star, I think Dr. Fate would make a perfect counterpart to round out the two major players of the magicians in DC. And from a thematic point of view, would be great to see a DC film that isn’t challenging because of its dark themes, but is more mind-bending and perhaps introduces more philosophical elements, particularly if Z has to deal with demons or gods.
My last pick shouldn’t surprise anyone; The Flash is one of the main DC heroes who has yet to see his own film, and boy does he deserve one! A Flash movie would be a great opportunity to get into Central City and the Flash’s own rogue gallery–but obviously the biggest question here is, which Flash do you choose? There’s the original Barry Allen, or the modern age’s Wally West. Personally, I would pick Wally; his wisecracking personality on Justice League made him a favorite hero of mine, and this could work well as a lighter film–until the Flash needs to get serious and save the city! I also love how the Flash has all sorts of creative and usually humorous ways of dealing with problems using his speed, but his power is also one of the most dangerous. Speaking of which, instead of one major villain, I think the movie would benefit most from several minor villains, like Mirror Master, Nightshade and Captain Boomerang.
There are so many more great heroes that I’d love to see in the spotlight: Hawkgirl and Hawkman, Red Tornado, Huntress, Mr. Miracle and Barda…there are too many to choose from! Regardless, the future of the animated DC world looks bright, and hopefully some of these heroes will bask in the limelight sooner rather than later.