With the recent announcement of not only a Superman/Batman movie, but also Warner Brother’s president Kevin Tsujihara dropping hints at a much larger slate of DC Comics based movies and shows coming our way, DC fanboys finally have hope of seeing other characters make it to the big (and small) screens after years of waiting.
And while this all might be true, there are still some characters from the DCU, many whom are very beloved, who probably won’t make it to live-action in any forseeable future. I should point out, this list is not an exclusively “they’re so lame, they don’t deserve a movie” list; many of these characters are flat-out great, in fact, but for various reasons they have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it to live-action glory.
Although one or two really are just that lame.
10. Power Girl
I’ve always been a big Power Girl fan ever since I was a kid, so it’s been a real pleasure for me to see her rise up the ranks at DC to, if not A-List status, then a list a solid B-lister. Having said that, there is a slim to none chance that Superman’s cousin from an alternate universe will ever make it to live action, for multiple reasons. Now, if Smallville were still on the air, this would be a whole different story, as that show seemed to have every DC superhero show up at least once to help “inspire” Clark to become Superman. And since Kal-El’s cousin Kara was already introduced on that show, in the form of actress Laura Vandervoort, there wouldn’t have been much to stop the producers from giving her a shorter haircut and introducing an alternate universe version of her, probably dressed in all white, and almost certainly with bigger boobs.
Alas, Smallville is no more, so if and when we see Superman’s cousin Kara again in live-action, it’ll be in a movie starring Henry Cavill’s Superman. And no doubt that version will be the classic Supergirl version, because that’s what’s expected from the general audience. Maybe it’s all for the best, because were Power Girl to be introduced, chances are certain aspects of her characterization and costuming would be different, or totally changed. (yes, I’m talking about the boob window) She’d be Power Girl in name only, and who wants that?
9. The Elongated Man
Possibly the only classic era member of the Justice League that I can almost 100% guarantee will not be in the future live action Justice League movie, or any future League movie for that matter. Ralph Dibny, who had the power to stretch his body due to drinking a compound of the drink “Gingold,” was first introduced in the early ’60s in an issue of Flash, before eventually joining the League at the Flash’s behest. Ralph Dibny and his wife Sue were kind of a Nick and Nora Charles/husband and wife detective team, just one where one member of the team happens to have had weird stretchy powers. On the subject of stretchy powers, they are just inherently goofy, and if Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four had received different powers from the cosmic rays, I’d think there would have been less inclination from movie studios to turn the Fantastic Four movies into something more sitcomy like they did.
But I digress. If Warner Brothers ever decided to make a movie about a stretchy hero, which would probably be a comedy,it would likely be Plastic Man, who is more famous and would therefore be their stretchy hero of choice. Even if Plastic Man weren’t more famous, truth be told, Elongated Man doesn’t really roll off the tongue and is a lame name.
The one clause I put in this entry is this; that while I highly doubt Elongated Man would ever appear in live-action, his non super powered identity of Ralph Dibny just might, even if it is just a wink and a nod to the character. Why have a generic detective appear in some future DCU adaptation, when you can just use Ralph? Regular audiences would be none the wiser, but long time comics fans would get a kick out of it. Just don’t expect him to be stretching his nose and saying “I smell a mystery!” at any point.
8. Metamorpho, the Element Man
Like a lot of the Silver Age characters on this list, Metamorpho, the Element Man is just too visually wacky and his power set just too… out there to ever really work in any live action setting. Originally appearing in 1965, Rex Mason was an Indiana Jones style adventurer who was hired by millionaire Simon Stagg to retrieve an ancient Egyptian artifact, the Orb of Ra. In one of the pyramids, Rex Mason was exposed to a radioactive meteorite from which the Orb of Ra was originally created, and he gained the ability to shapeshift and change himself into any element, or any combinations of elements. So he could make his hand into a mace made out of metal, and the other one a giant rock, for example. Unlike other DC shape-shifters like the Martian Manhunter, poor Rex couldn’t turn back into a normal human form, making him a full-time freak, Marvel style.
Metamorpho’s visual design is either totally genius or totally insane; he’s got one leg made of mud, another of crystal or liquid crystal, and his torso is half orange with scales and the other half a purple…something, perfectly symmetrical, and a chalk white head that looks like Boris Karloff as the Mummy (which I imagine was intentional). Metamorpho was popular enough to get his own series, and even a catchy theme song on a Justice League record album from the late sixties that was oh-so groovy. But it was all short lived, and in later years, Rex found himself wandering from team to team, never quite making it to the big leagues. He most recently appeared on an episode of the new animated show Beware the Batman, but even in animation his origin and look was heavily re-worked to make him more menacing and less cheesy. Almost everything about poor Rex seems untranslatable to live-action in our modern, cynical age, but it’s good to know he’s at least not forgotten, and appearing in cartoons still. The new “bad ass” Metamorpho might seem cooler to today’s kids, but he still doesn’t have an awesome theme song like sixties Metamorpho did.
7. The “New Blood” Heroes
Not everything on this list is from the Silver Age; the “New Blood” heroes, as they were collectively called, were all DC’s attempt at introducing a new breed of dark, hip and “edgy” heroes to the line, in a direct effort to capitalize on the heroes of Image Comics. This was back in 1993, during the height of the original Image Comics boom, and each of these characters was introduced in the crossover series Bloodlines. The bad guys in the Bloodlines series were a race of xenomorph style creatures, very much a rip-off of the movie Aliens, who killed humans for their spinal fluid. A small fraction of the alien’s victims survived and become super-heroes due to their ordeal. This storyline introduced a wave of “New Blood” super-heroes into the DC Universe, and seven ongoing series were spun out of the event: Blood Pack, Razorsharp and the Psyba-Rats, Hitman, Anima, Loose Cannon, Argus and Gunfire.
Of these seven, only Hitman, written by then up-and-coming writer Garth Ennis, had any staying power beyond a year. Within a couple of years, even characters within the DCU joked about just how lame the New Blood heroes were. Most of the Blood Pack were killed off in Infinite Crisis a decade later, used as cannon fodder in one of the giant battle scenes. With so many DC characters at their disposal, it is highly unlikely that DC would resort to using these ones again, who were bad cliches even in their own time.
6. Crazy Quilt
Batman has the best villains in the comic book medium; this is almost an inarguable fact. But that doesn’t mean some really lame nemeses haven’t made their way to print in the Batman titles over the years, all in the hopes of being the next Joker or Mr. Freeze. Crazy Quilt is a perfect example of one of these lame Bat-villains who just barely works in the comics, and would be seen as totally lame in a live-action adaptation, except maybe in the old sixties television series and they missed their chance.
Crazy Quilt was originally created not as a Batman villain actually, but as a bad guy for World War II heroes the Boy Commandos in 1946, and he was created by none other than Jack “King” Kirby. (Everyone has their off days, people. Don’t judge.) Eventually he was moved over to the Batman titles, where his back story was fleshed out. According to his origin story, Crazy Quilt was a famous painter who led a double-life as a criminal mastermind. He gave the plans for his crimes to his henchmen through clues left in his artwork. At one point, one of his henchmen double-crossed him and shot him, and he was blinded by a gunshot wound. He then volunteered for an experimental procedure that restored his vision, but left him unable to see anything but bright colors. For some reason, this made him go totally insane, although seeing the world in bright primary colors sounds kind of fun if you ask me. It would just make everything look like that movie version of Dick Tracy. Actually, I take it back – that would probably drive me insane too.
Crazy Quilt made a few more sporadic appearances over the next several decades, before the creators at DC decided that he was ultimately just too cheesy of a character to make work in the comics, which almost certainly means that the live-action universe will never use him either. A side note; a female version of Crazy Quilt was created for the comic Secret Six, but it seems that she was sent to comic book limbo by the New 52 reboot.
5. The Metal Men
The Metal Men is one of those Silver Age, wacky-ass concepts that make me wish that DC was owned by Disney and not Warner Brothers, as the Metal Men would make for a great Pixar animated film. The original 1962 concept of the Metal Men was that genius scientist Dr. Will Magnus, a pipe-smoking, non-super-powered version of Marvel’s Reed Richards, who creates a group of “living” robots based on different metals. The six robots were field leader Gold, strong guy Iron, the dumb but courageous Lead, the quick tempered Mercury, the shy Tin, and Platinum, who was in love with her creator Dr. Magnus.
Each of the group’s characteristics was cutely just like their namesake metals, and each member of the team possessed abilities that cleverly echoed the traits of said metals: Gold could stretch his form almost infinitely, Iron was super strong, Lead could block radiation by morphing into thick shields, Mercury could melt and pass through small spaces before reforming and Platinum could stretch,etc.
It was a cute idea, but by the nineties, it all got retconned into something creepier. In the Metal Men’s revised origin story,an accident in the lab transferred the consciousness of everyone that was there at the time – Magnus’ girlfriend, two other scientists, the janitor and even a pizza delivery boy – into the bodies of these robots, now known as the Metal Men. Here comes the effed up part; Dr.Magnus then erases their memories so they don’t remember their previous human lives – although he says he is working on a way to restore them to human form, he never does.This attempt to “darken up” a fun goofy concept is probably what a live-action version would be like, and I’m not sure the world needs a gritty and dark take on the Metal Men.
A few years back, a live-action Metal Men was actually announced, to be directed by Men In Black director Barry Sonnenfeld, but nothing ever came of it, and maybe Warner Brothers wisely decided that some things are better suited for animation than live-action. Recently a Metal Men animated short was made for Cartoon Network’s DC Nation, and animation would seem to be the best fit for the Metal Men’s sensibilities. Someone needs to go make that happen.
4.The Legion of Super-Heroes
First off, before anyone in the comments section points this out, yes I am aware that three members of the Legion, namely Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy, have appeared in live-action before, on Smallville. But they never used their superhero names, and never appeared in costume nor were seen fighting crime in their own 31st-century time frame. So I’m just not gonna count it.
In the comics, the Legion has been published since 1958, with the current comic book series’ finale issue this year marking the end of fifty-five years of continuous publication. The premise of the Legion is this: a very large group of teenage heroes from various worlds gathers together as one massive team, inspired by their historical idol Superman. The Legion pre-dates the Justice League and all the Marvel teams, and for many years were among DC’s highest selling comics. In fact, many things that Stan Lee and Marvel get credit for creating in comics was done by the Legion first, like relationship drama between the various heroes; and many of the super powers first attributed to the X-Men and Fantastic Four were actually displayed by Legionnaires first.
There was an Invisible Kid before there was an Invisible Woman, Saturn Girl was a powerful female telepath before Jean Grey, Phantom Girl was phasing through walls decades before Kitty Pryde, and Timber Wolf was in many ways the first Wolverine. Marvel took a lot of these concepts to the next level for sure, but the Legion did it first. Nevertheless, by the early ’90s, the utopian future of the Legion had become pass?, and the book was relegated to cult status, selling only to aging fans and becoming increasingly irrelevant to younger audiences, till DC finally pulled the plug this year.
It is because of this that the Legion will almost certainly never get the proper treatment, either on television or in movies. But there are other reasons. First off, with the notable exception of Star Trek, bright and shiny optimistic futures for humanity are seen as things of the past. No one believes that will happen anymore, sadly. A future like that would almost be impossible to render for a television series, and even a movie version would still break the bank. Secondly, there are something like twenty-five members at any given time. Chopping it down to a manageable number would make it less a “Legion” and more of social club, defeating the purpose of even calling them by their name.
There is one place where the Legion concept could, in fact, flourish, and gain a whole new generation of fans: in animation. In fact, for two years a Legion of Super-Heroes animated series ran on Kid’s WB network, and probably would have continued if the network hadn’t closed down. Everything about the Legion is both animation friendly and kid friendly, even the goofy names like Cosmic Boy and Matter-Eater Lad, and hopefully Cartoon Network revives the concept at some point.
3. The Doom Patrol
Debuting in 1963, this group of freaks, feared and shunned by society, are gathered together by their wheelchair-bound genius leader, to protect a world that fears and hates them. Sounds familiar, right? Well, I’m not talking about the X-Men, although everything above applies to them too. I’m talking about the Doom Patrol, the “most bizarre heroes of all!” who debuted a full three months before the X-Men did. Now, for years Stan Lee has claimed that this was all just a big coincidence, great minds think alike and so on. Neither comic series set the world on fire during the sixties to be honest, and the Doom Patrol was probably the lesser loved of the two even back then, getting canceled a full two years before the X-Men did.
Of course, when the X-Men went on to great fame with their 1975 revival series, DC followed suit with a Doom Patrol revival in the same vein…but it didn’t work. They kept trying, but by this time, X-Men was a name brand, and the poor Doom Patrol just seemed like a shameless rip-off to those not in the know, despite the fact they actually came first. The only Doom Patrol revival that ever really had success was writer Grant Morrison’s four-year run on the book in the early nineties, which was a complete deviation from the standard superhero fare at the time and truly bizarre. Morrison realized that if Doom Patrol was to survive as a concept, it would have to be far removed from any similarities to the X-Men franchise. Unfortunately, not long after Morrison left, DC kept reviving the Doom Patrol as a more standard superhero title, and it kept failing because of it. If people want to read X-Men, they’ll just buy X-Men.
On the surface, there is nothing about the Doom Patrol that wouldn’t work as a live-action film. In fact, the concept would make for a pretty great movie or television series. However, because of the stark similarities to the X-Men, it is highly unlikely that the Doom Patrol will ever see the live-action light of day, despite occasional reports that a live-action version is happening or a script is being written. To the general audience, it will seem like a rip-off of X-Men, much like how John Carter seemed like a rip of of Star Wars despite being one of the many things that influenced Star Wars in the first place. With all the DC properties that Warner Brothers owns that aren’t similar to Marvel ones, why would they take a chance on something so similar to one of Marvel’s signature properties? It doesn’t make much financial sense, so Warners will probably leave this one on the back-burner indefinitely.
2. Zauriel (and Asmodel)
One of the cooler contributions to Grant Morrison’s seminal run on Justice League during the late nineties was the addition of new member Zauriel, a Guardian Angel who gave up his role as guardian for falling in love with woman he was assigned by God to be watching over. Eventually joining the Justice League, he was essentially the new “winged guy” during a time when Hawkman was considered “toxic” due to his frazzled continuity.
The addition of Zauriel, who was loosely based on the Biblical ideas of Heaven having four “Hosts” of Angels (in the comics, it was the Eagle, Bull, Lion and Human Hosts, and Zauriel was of the Eagle Host) was a genius move on Morrison’s part. Both DC and Marvel have used Greek, Roman and Norse mythology to excellent effect in their superhero titles over the years, and Grant Morrison just took the next logical step and used ancient Judeo-Christian mythology as his source material. One of the coolest moments was when Zauriel’s nemesis, the rogue angel Asmodel of the Bull Host, fights Superman with all his Heavenly might…and Superman wins. It’s a badass moment that exemplifies why Morrison’s run on JLA was so great. And it’s a moment that we will almost certainly never see recreated in live-action.
Unfortunately, the fact that these stories used aspects of Judeo-Christian mythology as just that, mythology, is what will keep these characters from ever making an appearance on the big or small screen, or probably any medium outside of comics, ever. Warner Brothers would be terrified of the potential mass protests and boycotts that millions of Americans would do over the idea of Superman fighting an angel, or even the suggestion that one of God’s angels would go bad (despite the fact that millions of Christians believe in Satan, a fallen angel, but that’s neither here nor there). It just wouldn’t be worth the huge financial risk to them. So for now, if you wanna see Superman fight an angel, I highly suggest picking up a trade paperback of Grant Morrison’s JLA, because odds are that’s the only place you’ll ever be able to see it.
1. B’wana Beast
There is a really good chance that you have never heard of B’wana Beast. Most people haven’t. There’s a reason for that. Created by Teen Titans and Doom Patrol creator Bob Haney and Justice League of America artist Mike Sekowsky in 1967, B’wana Beast was really Mike Maxwell, a big game hunter in Africa, who possessed a helmet and elixir which granted him his powers (the word “B’wana” is a Swahili word meaning “Boss”, and was often used in old Tarzan movies, incorrectly, to denote white men. Something I’m pretty sure DC’s target pre-teen audience was very unaware of). One of his powers was that he could mentally control the African wildlife to do his bidding. Okay, that’s like an Earthbound Aquaman; that’s not so bad. But his other power is just…creepy. He can take two separate animals, like say, a gorilla and a giraffe, and fuse them into a weird hybrid animal to do his bidding. Like I said…pretty dang creepy.
Everything about B’wana Beast was lame, from his stupid helmet, to his powers, to the fact that DC created a hero set in Africa who was American and white. Even by 1967, this had to have raised some eyebrows over how politically incorrect that was, even if politically incorrect wasn’t even a word yet. B’wana Beast made only three appearances in Showcase Comics, a kind of “try-out” book that DC used in the Silver Age to test reader interest in new characters (both the Barry Allen Flash and the Hal Jordan Green Lantern came from Showcase originally). DC had to have been embarrassed by ol’ B’wana Beast, as the character all but vanished after his initial three appearances, and didn’t appear again until the mid eighties, where he was a background character in various DC mini-series like Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the late eighties, Mike Maxwell ceded his powers and name to an actual African character, who renamed himself “Freedom Beast.” Mike Maxwell was killed off not too long afterwards.
Between the lame powers, stupid helmet, and racist nature of the character, I’d say B’wana Beast has the least chance of any DC hero, past or present, of making it to live-action glory. Funnily enough, over the past decade, the character has made an appearance in three different cartoons – Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and most recently, Teen Titans Go. Each of these shows pretty much played up how lame he was as a character, but he’s now made more appearances in cartoons than he ever did in his original sixties comic book run.
Honorable Mention: Krypto the Superdog
Yeah, if you think that Henry Cavill is gonna be flying along with a white parson russell terrier with a little cape attached to his collar anytime soon, then I really don’t know what to tell you. It ain’t happenin’.
Previously by Eric Diaz: