Warner Bros. made waves as they announced their DC-branded digital platform with “Young Justice: Outsiders” (the cartoon’s third season) and a live-action “Titans” adaptation, which will focus on Dick Grayson, Starfire, Beast Boy and Raven. Come 2018, the streaming service will extend DC Comics on the small screen beyond “Gotham” on FOX and the universe of the CW, which boasts the likes of “The Flash,” “Arrow” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
It also allows expansion past CBS’ “Supergirl” and if “Titans” is any indication as to how strong this focus will be, then we should be excited as the latter will boast mastermind writers who have shaped DC’s television scope in Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti. Akiva Goldsman (“Batman Forever,” “Transformers: The Last Knight”) is also involved, so it’s clear the service has big ambitions. That said, CBR decided to look at 15 shows we’d love to see streaming on it next year!
15. THE SANDMAN
“The Sandman” is a Vertigo property stuck in developmental hell. Last year Joseph Gordon Levitt pulled out of the Neil Gaiman series, eventually citing that he felt it was better off as a television series and not even as a trilogy as there was too much source material to adapt. That said, with Gaiman’s “American Gods” coming to STARZ, Warner Bros. should take note that Gaiman’s rich vision can indeed be fulfilled here.
It would be interesting seeing Morpheus, Desire, Death, Delirium, or any of the Endless in action in a world of dreams and nightmares. “The Doll’s House” is a great arc to condense but there are also single stories that would make a big impact. “Three Septembers and a January,” “A Dream of a Thousand Cats” (about what your cat is really dreaming of), or the Shakespearean “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” are examples. The overall narrative, as seen with the Rose Walker character, is a moving one stitching themes such as family and love together, which could rise to the epic scale of “Game of Thrones.”
14. RISE OF THE DEMON: RA’S AL GHUL’S ORIGINS
The dynasty of the al Ghul family really starts with Ra’s. We’ve often seen him and Talia, his daughter, intertwined into several comic book and animated stories involving Batman and Damian (the son of Bruce Wayne had with Talia). This usually links back to world domination with the League of Assassins, but wouldn’t it be great seeing how Ra’s rose to prominence as its head? We could learn more about his path to immortality, his warrior strength and just how he built his League.
One of the big things that could unfold here is how Ra’s came across and refined the Lazarus Pit as part of his quest for eternal life and power in general. We got a glimpse of this in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” and some more light has been shed on “Arrow” with his family dynamics, but we’d love to look further back into the saga of Ra’s as a man, starting out as an aspiring conqueror.
13. AMERICAN VAMPIRE
Adapting “American Vampire” could see the rise of the next “True Blood,” which was a big prime-time hit series on HBO. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque helmed a new take on vampirism for Vertigo, painting the turmoil and tragedy of Skinner Sweet, a new breed of vampire in a story that boasted conflict in the Old West. This story also touched on politics, covens from other parts of the world such as Europe, and dealt with the overall hierarchy of the species itself as new lines of the creatures evolved.
Sweet had to convert a woman, Pearl Jones, via his blood in order to save her life and this added to the flair Snyder created, helping to shape the dark, romantic aspect of the story. Apart from this love angle, there’s more than enough action, suspense, drama and of course, horror, to go around which could draw parallels to Showtime’s grand spin on the occult in “Penny Dreadful.”
12. DR. FATE
Whoever dons the mystical helmet of Nabu will be given the mantle, powers and wisdom of Doctor Fate, once deemed worthy that is. Kent Nelson was the earliest incarnation of this hero, following an archaeological dig that claimed his father. His lover, Inza, would also wear the helmet, as well as Hector Hall (who had ties to Hawk and Dove). In their journeys, they all thoroughly explored the supernatural realm of DC.
A series here could similarly touch on this world of magic and tie into characters such as Billy Batson, Black Adam and even the Wizard, Shazam. One of the later iterations would be a great focal point as it would add a degree of diversity to the show’s ranks. That’s Khalid Nassour, an American-Egyptian medical student, who took over the role recently in the comics. Fate represented the Justice Society of America and the Justice League, so he’s quite popular with comic readers, especially after his stock rose in the “Justice League: Unlimited” cartoons.
11. CASSANDRA CAIN
Cassandra Cain has quite an intriguing history that predates her stint as Batgirl. She was born to be an assassin and her past was refined thanks to the violence of David Cain, Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins. Batman eventually took her in and saw there was more to her than undercover or black-ops missions. Cassandra even had a human element to her thanks to her interactions with Oracle, which may even link to Grayson and the “Titans.”
Looking into her journey could also see how she grows into Batman’s Outsiders, which acts as his personal secretive team. Batman’s relationship with her transcended that of mentor, becoming a father figure as well, which could add another dimension to how she’s depicted. Cassandra’s not often humanized in the books, so such a fleshed-out catalog of episodes could go a long way into giving us insight into her ambitions as a hero and balancing it with a haunted past she can’t seem to escape.
“WildC.A.T.s” was a popular ’90s property created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi for Image, but now its entire WildStorm universe is being revamped by Warren Ellis at DC. This is a grand opportunity to delve into the eternal war between the two alien species known as the Kherubim and the Daemonites. Kherubims are a human-looking race that came to Earth and integrated via breeding with humans. The world-conquering Daemonites were antagonists and could possess humans or exert mental control over humans, making them slaves.
A series like this could be similar to the old-school sci-fi flick “Alien Nation” as a gritty, no-holes-barred battle for the fate of the planet. Imagine seeing characters like the gun-slinging Grifter and the super-powered Voodoo leading the charge in a world of mistrust and deceit. Zealot, Ripclaw and Spartan, as well as teams such as Gen13, and last but not least, Stormwatch, can all tie in to make one epic cohesive universe where humanity may end up depending on aliens to survive.
9. BLUE BEETLE
Geoff Johns tried to bring a live-action solo series with Jaime Reyes (the latest incarnation) out but apart from test footage, nothing materialized. He appeared in “Smallville,” as did his predecessor Ted Kord, so now Johns could reignite the passion for this character and fully go into the updated history of the scarab that granted Beetle his powers being alien in origin.
Kord was supposed to appear in “Arrow,” but DC had other plans for him and didn’t grant permission. Could this be that big plan? Seeing Kord as Beetle with Reyes as his protege would be a great sci-fi teacher/student show, and it may even offer a door to link to the series that CW are putting out. The potential is also there to crossover with “Supergirl” as Max Lord is in that show, and we all know the villain’s history where he killed Kord. Reyes has been popular on the DC animation front too, so now’s as good a time as any. This has potential as a powerful legacy story that can even address Kord’s mentor, Dan Garrett.
8. RAVAGER: ROSE WILSON
“Ravager” would be a powerful emotional rollercoaster to adapt because the story of Rose Wilson has a lot of ups and downs. She is the daughter of one of DC’s biggest villains, Deathstroke. She also spent time training with the Teen Titans, as her father didn’t want her following his path, as well as being mentored by Batman and Nightwing. She was often caught between the dark and the light, and this series could deal with her early days as an assassin, even crossing over with “Titans.”
She was also linked with the Ravagers team, which was filled with metahumans from N.O.W.H.E.R.E (which was responsible for creating Superboy in the New 52), so the story can go into these super-powered experiments and their ambition to run away. The writers can even look at a potential clone saga that can tether her to “Supergirl,” which boasts Tyler Hoechlin as Superman. DC has a chance to interconnect their properties and make a cohesive universe, and with Ravager yet to make it into the animated movies, this is a golden chance to be seized.
“Fables” has a shot to succeed here just based on how well shows like “Grimm” and “Once Upon a Time” did. There’s clearly an audience for the subverting fairytales into dark, broody stories. This property was created by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina, and used artists such as Mark Buckingham to create its ethereal fabric. By now, fans are tired of hearing it’s going to be given the big or small screen treatment. The time for action is now because it encompasses murder mysteries, conspiracy thrillers, among other stories.
It really has a lot of material to pull from with characters such as the Big Bad Wolf, Prince Charming, Rapunzel, Pinocchio and Santa Claus among the many. It’s a vast story, but there are so many subplots to keep you roped in. Vertigo nailed it with this property and it would benefit from having a story told over a few seasons on the streaming network in order to allow for all of what Willingham’s team did with the comic to be absorbed properly by the viewers. It’s a beautiful book too, so the visual aesthetic alone would be worth it.
We’ve seen Bane’s origins on the big-screen twice, with “The Dark Knight Rises” giving him a League of Assassins background and making his venom drug more medicinal than what “Batman and Robin” did (the latter went a more comic-friendly and campy manner). But he’s more than just the brute who broke the Bat. He’s both brawn and brains, which should be highlighted more. We saw this recently in Tom King’s “I Am Suicide” Batman arc and, given Bane’s history with his villainous father (King Snake) and the Santa Prisca prison, an early look into Bane’s upbringing would perfectly illustrate how cerebral a mastermind he can be.
He has a lot of depth to his story, as he was imprisoned and then took the venom serum as an experiment which gave him his strength. In addition to this and his familial conflicts, Bane’s religious hardships left him fighting off a lot of inner demons, which eventually manifested and drove him to constantly crave domination and control. Such a comprehensive story could parallel what Fox did with Bruce Wayne’s origins on “Gotham.”
Zatanna fans were treated to Serinda Swan playing the character in “Smallville,” and she appeared yet again in “Young Justice,” reminding us that DC’s magical realm was still a big part of their universe. She took off in “Justice League: Unlimited” years ago and her popularity grew into a purported role in the delayed “Dark Universe” movie Warner Bros. was planning. While we hold our breath, Zatanna would be a great candidate to bring to life here to show how she evolved as a mage.
She also ties into Constantine, who was recently seen on the CW after his solo series got canned at NBC. Matt Ryan voiced the character in the “Justice League Dark” animated movie, so this series could be a prequel to that or actually follow them after they re-established their romantic link. Zatanna’s journey with her family into the world of the occult would make an interesting story too, linking to characters like Dr. Fate, Swamp Thing and Deadman.
4. UNKNOWN SOLDIER
“Unknown Soldier” focuses on war and has potential to be one of DC’s grittier shows, along the lines of series such as “Homeland” and “24,” and films like “The Green Zone.” It deals with a mysterious bandaged soldier who undertakes covert missions to not just protect America, but the greater world. In fact, it usually entails a lot of clashing philosophies and politics, ranging from the Middle East to, as Joshua Dysart wrote in 2008, Africa.
Dysart’s run dealt with child soldiers and a war-torn Uganda, but this character has also had stories rooted in Afghanistan, which all touch more on the real-world side of things. In the New 52, this iteration of the soldier was brought in by Amanda Waller to join her Suicide Squad, so there’s potential there to have him in the television universe as a mercenary for hire. He represents the fallen soldiers out there whose names don’t make it into the light and garner glory, so that alone creates room for a thought-provoking sociopolitical piece on the adage that one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.
3. THE QUESTION
The Question rose to popularity in “Justice League: Unlimited” as Vic Sage, an investigator obsessed with conspiracies. He was exposed to chemicals in his comic origins, and he had to eventually use a special mask which rendered him faceless, adding spice to his obsession for the truth in a world of metahumans. One of the key personnel he encountered was detective Renee Montoya, who took up the role from Sage when he died of lung cancer in “52.” Montoya’s story as the Question would then dovetail into a romance with Batwoman (Kathy Kane).
Sage, however, remains the more iconic version of the character as he was brought back with the Trinity of Sin in the New 52 alongside Pandora and the Phantom Stranger (a.k.a. Judas Iscariot). He was given a new magical background here, a big step up from when he was a cynic who often questioned the authority and politics of both heroes and villains alike. This is a chance for a detective drama with super-powered individuals wreaking havoc and trying to cover it up.
2. LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
Fans have long clamored for the “Legion of Super-Heroes” to continue their time travel journeys, which we first got a taste of on screen in “Smallville.” The Legion used a flight ring as they dipped in and out the time-stream to help safeguard the future. We actually saw these rings teased in “The Flash” and “Supergirl,” and a series here could connect the team to the latter series, especially now that Superman is in play.
The show could follow their early source material where they were influenced by Superman in his teen years, and even attach itself to the likes of Brainiac 5 (a future member) as SyFy’s “Krypton” is now poised to expand the mythos of the alien planet. Hailing from the 30th and 31st centuries, we’re eager to see the likes of Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl help shape these stories, because they’re big players in the cosmic scheme of things. They even got major airtime via a cartoon that saw them face Imperiex and we’d love to see an action-packed cross of “Looper,” “Timecop” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
1. Y: THE LAST MAN
This Vertigo title focused on Yorick, an escape artist, and his pet capuchin in a world thrown into disarray when all males aside from them were suddenly rendered extinct. Yorick, the only survivor, was seen not just as the key to the future, but also as a key cog into understanding what wiped out the Y-chromosome. This TV adaptation of this book has been stuck in development hell, too, but given how deep the overall story is to condense, why not aim for the digital streaming route?
A series here would flesh out Yorick’s story properly as he encounters several people that range from family to friends to lovers, in a story of discovery and deceit. It’s a psychological drama masquerading as a full-on sci-fi ride, which is one of Brian K. Vaughn’s most emotive works to date. Director DJ Caruso and one of his favorite collaborators, Shia Lebeouf, wanted to bring it to the big screen, but even if they’re no longer interested, given what we’ve seen from “Preacher” and “Outcast,” a few seasons with some solid network television talent would more than suffice.
Let us know in the comments what shows you’d like to see on DC’s digital service!