DC’s upcoming movie “Justice League: War” is the company’s first attempt at adapting a New 52 storyline for animation. While I have enjoyed a lot of what the New 52 has to offer (the only series I buy on a monthly basis, in fact), I was a bit taken aback when I head they would be adapting “Justice League: Origin” as a movie. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with the story, it’s just that with all the story-lines that have been published over the past decades, why would they want to adapt something that hasn’t even existed for two years. Then there’s also how they’ve replaced Aquaman with Captain Ma…sorry, Shazam, for the movie. Not a good choice, in my opinion. Aquaman benefits from appearing in this story way more than Shazam does, and besides, who wouldn’t want to see that panel where Aquaman summons a gigantic shark to eat some Parademons animated with full motion. Try calling Aquaman stupid now, haters!
Still, I haven’t been (mostly) disappointed by DC’s animated movies yet, so I have hope that the movie will end up being good, and while I hope that they adapt older story-lines after this movie has been released, here are my top 5 ideas for New 52 storylines would benefit from animation treatment. Spoilers are ahead for anyone who hasn’t read these stories.
1. Aquaman: The Trench/The Others
Yeah, I said it! It’s about time Aquaman gets some movie treatment, especially since we’ll probably never see a live action version. With the New 52 relaunch, Geoff John’s was able to work his magic and not only make Aquaman relevant again, but also cool. I’ve combined the story-lines in the title because The Trench only lasted about four issues, so they would need to involve the other story featuring Aquaman’s former adventuring pals somehow. Maybe make it so the Trench are the creatures Black Manta unleashes to distract Aquaman and friends while he goes searching for the ancient Atlantean relics.
And please, for the love of God, don’t make change this into an origin story! Everyone is tired of them, and it’s easy enough to provide background on Aquaman through a credits montage or flashbacks during the movie. And the way the story ends, it would be the perfect set-up for a follow-up movie. Specifically…
2. Throne of Atlantis
While I was enjoying the Justice League before, it was while I was reading this that I felt that the series had hit its stride. I loved the sheer power of the Atlanteans fighting the superheroes and the conflict Aquaman felt having to fight those who he had a biological connection to. This movie would also serve as a sequel not only to the Aquaman movie listed above, but to “Justice League: War.” Since Aquaman won’t be included in War, this would serve as an excellent way for him join the Justice League.
Since we know at the end of the story he goes back to Atlantis to take back his throne as king, we would see an Aquaman quite similar to the one we saw in the 2000s Justice League cartoon. Oh, and did I mention there’d be kick-ass cameos from other heroes? Hawkman bashing in Atlenteans with a mace; who doesn’t want to see that?
I admit, this would be an extremely tricky sell as a movie, especially considering how gory the comics were. For those who don’t know, Rotworld was a cross-over between Animal Man and Swamp Thing where the two heroes are tasked by their respectful natural forces (for Animal Man the Red, for Swamp Thing the Green) to make sure the forces of the Rot don’t overrun the Earth. Spoiler, the Rot ends up overrunning the Earth…kind of. Actually, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are thrown into a future where the Rot has turned almost every person on Earth into undead monstrosities.
The problem with adapting this for a movie (gore aside) is that with both series, the story added up to almost 40 issues, including annuals. Unfortunately a lot of the set-up issues would have to be condensed and their origins would have to be barely present (cue opening credit sequence). Still, for anyone who’s read the story, this was one amazing story that Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire teamed up on, and I could honestly see the movie being rated R if they kept all the violence from the books. Which they naturally should, of course. It’s undead superheroes, after all.
4. The Shazam back-up feature
Two words: origin story. Before anyone starts yelling at me, I do realize that I’m contradicting my above statements. I stick by them, though: people are sick of origin stories…that we’ve heard before. Here’s the thing: if it’s with a character that no ones heard before, why not do an origin story? The amount of times I’ve had to explain to people where the word Shazam comes from is ridiculous.
The New 52 Shazam story that was seen as a back-up story in “Justice League” was the revamped origin of how Billy Batson got his powers. I’ll be honest, I was pretty neutral about the character before, but something about the story just popped for me. One thing that I liked about Geoff Johns’ re-telling is that there is more of a focus on magic to separate the comparisons between Shazam and Superman. Shazam’s not only capable of flight and super-strength, but can even manipulate electricity to a degree. We also get his two most dangerous enemies to contend with: Black Adam and Doctor Sivana. The story already reads like a movie, why not adapt it as one?
However, if there’s one thing that I would definitely like to see, it’s when Billy lends his powers to his adoptive brothers and sisters to form his own personal Shazam army. Juveniles with the powers of gods kicking Black Adam’s ass sounds pretty captivating.
5. The Court of Owls
Yes, another Batman movie. Yes, we have seen probably way too many of these, but as the creators of “Beware the Batman” would say about their show, “This isn’t another Joker story.” This was the opening arc of the main “Batman” title that brought the character to a whole new level. In it, he faces off against the Court of Owls, a secret society that has been present in Gotham since its inception, but have only been considered a legend. When the Court decides to target both Bruce Wayne and Batman, it leads into an extremely personal conflict with the Caped Crusader that forces to reevaluate his interpretation of how Gotham City works…plus assassins dressed like owls who attack the city at night. We also get to see the New 52’s version of Owl-Man in the form of mayoral candidate Lincoln March, who later claims that he is Bruce’s long-lost brother. Regardless of those implications, the climactic fight between those two is very spectacular.
Normally I would want DC to focus on other characters, but this was one of the few stories DC published in the New 52 that earned critical acclaim. Scott Snyder’s writing and Greg Capullo’s artwork produced a story that was not only fun to read, but also very cerebral at times. With great new villains, most of Batman’s supporting cast being involved somehow, and Bruce Wayne almost plunging into the depths of insanity, it’s only natural that it should be adapted. Hell, I’d advocate for this plot as a live-action movie!
These are only my ideas, of course. Let me know what you think in the comments below!