Just what exactly is it that the Marvel Cinematic Universe did to thrill fans and critics that the DC Extended Universe didn’t? In a word, buildup. Marvel Studios built up to The Avengers by setting the ground work in movies focused on solo characters. But even more importantly, Marvel built to its mega-team film by kicking things off with a less-popular character.
Now, Iron Man was by no means an unpopular character before the movie, but he wasn’t on the same level as, say, Captain America. In short, Iron Man was a character that wouldn’t have collapsed the entire Marvel brand if his film didn’t click with fans and critics.
The DCEU, on the other hand, didn’t build up to introducing its heavy hitters. Superman (whose first film, to be fair, wasn’t really planned to launch a multi-hero franchise), Batman (whose solo film won’t come out until maybe 2019) and Wonder Woman were placed front and center right from the start. Warner Bros. gambled big with DC’s most recognizable characters, and while the movies have been box office successes, much of the DCEU has been a critical failure. But, what if DC had done it differently? What if it had kicked off with a low-stakes movie and built up to their heavy-hitters? If done right, a Booster Gold film could have been the DCEU’s Iron Man.
To start, let’s look at the character’s origins. Booster Gold’s real name is Michael Jon Carter, a resident of 25th century Gotham City. Michael and his twin sister were left destitute after their father gambled away the family’s money and abandoned them. Already, we have the classic superhero “tragic background,” but it doesn’t stop there. After Michael made a name for himself as a college football star (where he earned the nickname “Booster”), his father showed back up in his life and forced him to throw games so he could win bets. Michael was exposed and expelled, forcing him to take a night security job at the Metropolis Space Museum.
This is where things get interesting; amongst the museum’s displays are various exhibits on superheroes and villains from the 21st century (or 20th century, when Booster’s story was first told). Having lost his glory as a football star, Michael sought new recognition. Thus, he stole the technology needed to turn himself into a superhero. Also on display was a time machine, which he used to go back to the 21st century in order he could stop disasters before they happen (with the help of a security robot named Skeets, who has 500 years worth of headlines in his database) going by the superhero name Booster Gold.
Though Booster’s origin hits a lot of the same story beats as some of the best superhero tales, a film adaptation could be a fresh take on the origin story; instead of seeking redemption or to help others, Booster is seeking glory. It turns the origin story on its head, offering something new and original to the superhero genre while, at the same time, providing room for Booster to move past his egotistical motivations. He thinks becoming a famous superhero will redeem his defunct athletic career, but will eventually learn that being a good superhero — helping people for the sake of helping people — will bring him true redemption.
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