“Justice League Dark” raised the bar for DC Universe Animated Original Movies once again, especially after many felt things got stagnant. Some fans complained that they were too focused on stories from the Trinity and Justice League, while the lesser-knowns didn’t get a chance in the spotlight outside the DC Showcase shorts. “Dark” rectified this with the likes of Constantine, Deadman and Swamp Thing standing out.
However, one can’t deny the impact and sales of the movies featuring Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern or the Flash. They’re iconic characters and we can’t fault the studio for going where the demand is, and therefore where the money lies. That said, we believe it’s all about balancing the A and B-listers moving forward. As a result, CBR decided to look at 15 new DC animated movies we want to see next!
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for multiple DC and Vertigo titles.
15. BLACKEST NIGHT
Geoff Johns was the chief architect of reshaping the entire Green Lantern universe with books like “Secret Origin” and “Rebirth.” These revamped Hal Jordan and brought to life the lantern Corps of the light spectrum, which all built upto the “Blackest Night” event. This story saw the dead rise to life across the entire DC universe under the command of Nekron and Black Hand, with the goal of extinguishing all life in the Universe. The dead rose as Black Lanterns, driven by a prophecy and spurred on by the traitorous Guardian, Scar.
Heroes and enemies teamed up as Johns expanded on the oaths of all the Corps, bringing the entire mythos of the emotional spectrum to life with the likes of John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner (who’d later end up becoming the White Lantern), Sinestro, Star Sapphire (Carol Ferris) and Atrocitus duking things out in a war between light and darkness. The event had a vast array of DC’s faces and ended with “Brightest Day” resurrecting the likes of Aquaman, Zoom and Maxwell Lord. The potential here for a non-stop thriller and emotional rollercoaster is very promising.
14. BATMAN INCORPORATED
Grant Morrison delivered another Batman gem with his 2010 “Batman Incorporated” book, with artists Cameron Stewart, Yannick Paquette, Chris Burnham and Frazer Irving. This book saw Bruce Wayne in a very cynical and over-protective mode, where he felt that he needed a global network of heroes, as opposed to a Bat-family limited to Gotham and Bludhaven. Bruce wanted to shore up the world’s defenses after he died in “Batman R.I.P.” and returned in “The Return of Bruce Wayne,” fuelled by a new hunger to fight crime.
Argentina’s El Gaucho and England’s Knight and Squire signed up. Bigger names or ones already existing in the animated filmverse could also appear, such as Batwing, Batwoman (Kathy Kane), Cassandra Cain (the former Batgirl), Stephanie Brown (Spoiler) or even newcomer, Duke. Nightwing, Barbara Gordon (Oracle) and his Robins are options as well. This team was militant, strategic and very clinical, which could match the antagonization from Leviathan, a fresh villainous organization that was run by Talia al Ghul. This story would definitely outmatch the ensemble story told in “Batman: Bad Blood.”
13. HELLBLAZER: ORIGINS
John Constantine was a street-smart magician created by Alan Moore and Stephen R. Bissette, with writers such as Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman taking a shot at his “Hellblazer” title. It was filled with macabre, suspenseful tales which saw DC Comics and Vertigo gather a huge fanbase, featuring with the film starring Keanu Reeves. In this lengthy comic run, he’d cross paths with the likes of Sandman, Lucifer, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and of course, where it all started in 1985, Swamp Thing.
The title ran from 1988 to 2013 and only ended when he was thrown into DC’s New 52. Naturally, there’s a lot of source material to choose from. If there’s to be a cohesive animated filmverse, maybe the writers can focus on what came before “Dark,” including his origins, relationship with Zatanna and history with Swamp Thing. This is another story that could promote B-listers to the limelight, delving deeper into Constantine’s anarchy as he traverses the occult, swindling and tricking his fellow mages, while bargaining with the devil for his very soul.
With Warren Ellis now curating the WildStorm universe in DC Comics, there’s no better time to put the “WildC.A.T.s.” there in the spotlight. Created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, the original Image property hinged on the centuries-long war between two alien species called the Kherubim and the Daemonites. Kherubims, a human-looking alien race, traveled to Earth and created half-breeds with the humans, while the intimidating Daemonites were able to possess humans or exert mental control over them to prolong the rivalry.
The story revolved around how this war continued to evolve, as well as Earth’s response as it spilled over. With the imprint’s resetting in the new DC universe, it’d be awesome to see characters such as Grifter and Voodoo, who you wouldn’t ordinarily see standing out in other DC animated movies. It’d also be a nice chance to touch on other characters such as Zealot, Ripclaw, Spartan as well as teams such as Gen13, and last but not least, Stormwatch. DC should take the chance of putting the WildStorm characters out there for the masses in animated, as a big-screen cinematic opportunity may never present itself.
11. GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS
Written and drawn by Mike Grell, “Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters” was a three-issue miniseries in 1987 that saw Oliver Queen become embroiled in a murderous scandal in Washington. He and his girlfriend, Black Canary (Dinah Lance), got caught in the crossfire of a drug war and a vendetta by the assassin, Shado. Dinah was investigating a drug ring while Ollie ended up tracking a serial killer, only to find Shado taking out those who drove her father, an ex-Yakuza, to suicide.
Shado would then place Canary in danger only for Ollie to come after the drug dealers. He barely managed to save Dinah, but rose above the hate to try to redeem Shado. However, the latter couldn’t get over her father’s tragedy and stuck to her kill list. This would surely land an R-rating because of its adult-oriented themes of heavy drug trafficking, serial killing of prostitutes, and of course, excessive violence. However, this movie could also smartly set things up for later on if it chooses, because Shado ended up having a baby with Ollie in the comics.
10. WONDER WOMAN: EYES OF THE GORGON
In 2005, Greg Rucka took a struggling Wonder Woman and put her through the grinder. “Eyes of the Gorgon” was based around Circe and a resurrected Medusa inflicting harm on the Amazon, in a very violent story that saw her embassy attacked and humans threatened at all turns. This was all done to keep testing Diana’s resolve at a time when she wasn’t even in the Justice League’s good books.
She’d endured severe loss, including Donna Troy, and Rucka capitalized on this by linking the pantheon of Greek gods to this story, to keep pounding on her strife with her heritage and her love for mankind. It was a brutally emotional story that took its toll on her, but it definitely felt like one of her most profound ones, especially as she was taken to the max by Medusa, whose glare turned her enemies to stone. Wonder Woman’s first solo animated movie was one of DC’s best and it was well-received, sticking to lore too, so here’s another opportunity to up the ante of woman power!
9. TRINITY WAR
“Trinity War” spiraled directly out of the New 52 reboot of DC Comics and focused on Pandora as a key player in the new universe, and one who unleashed the Seven Sins on the world. The story would see two Justice League teams clash, as well as the “Dark” team, as it encompassed a huge supernatural component. The other members of this Trinity included the Question and Phantom Stranger, a.k.a. Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Jesus Christ.
The plot dealt with a new society of villains rising up but also tied in a Superman that was losing control. What made it even more engaging was how it dovetailed into bringing the the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 and the “Forever Evil” storyline. This in itself would allow the movie future room to develop in terms of a sequel but what it does on its own is thrust forth a scenario similar to Marvel’s “Civil War” where heroes and villains went to town on each other while Pandora struggled to maintain the fabric of the new world.
8. SWAMP THING
Geoff Johns and company threw us for a loop in “Brightest Day” when he brought Swamp Thing back into the mix of things. With Constantine in DC Comics again, it made sense that he’d return as well, but fans still couldn’t believe they were seeing the power of the Green resurrected. This occurred after a crucial tie in with the Life Entity and White Lantern, and subsequently, he’d end up crossing paths with the Justice League, as well as Constantine and Zatanna. This would proved to be the origin for the “Dark” roster.
This could also be a great add-on to the recent “Dark” film, either touching on Swamp Thing before Constantine’s team encouraged him to take on Destiny, or even after the movie, where it appeared that Destiny had killed him and sent Alec Holland’s body to the Rot. Either way, if it’s the origins of Holland or if the new movie decides to follow a new search for Swamp Thing, there’s a lot to draw from since the New 52 expanded his lore and family when he was put back on the board.
7. BEFORE WATCHMEN
One of the reasons “Before Watchmen” could be a hit as an anthology series is that combines the works of great creatives to tell amazing character portraits as a precursor to Alan Moore’s epic. J Micael Straczynski, Brian Azzarello, Lee Bermejo and the late Darwyn Cooke all helped craft these prequels, and while they’d be tightly packed in, it would be worth exploring and getting context, especially for fans of Zack Synder’s movie adaptation.
The “Minutemen” story focused on the original Nite Owl and his team in their controversial escapades, “Silk Spectre” deals with Laurie rebelling against her mother and wanting the mantle, the “Comedian” expands on his bloodthirsty days in Vietnam, “Nite Owl” focuses on the training of Daniel Dreiberg and his relationship with Rorschach, while the other stories tap into what shaped the paths of characters like Doctor Manhattan, Ozymandias and Rorschach himself. This would offer great insight into why they were depicted how they were in Snyder’s movie and what made them so altruistic or bitter to the end. We think a 90-minute adaptation of these stories would cover all bases.
6. KINGDOM COME
In 1996, Mark Waid and Alex Ross dropped four comics issues that are still revered to this very day. “Kingdom Come” was an Elseworlds tale that dealt with aging superheroes and the generations following them all coming into conflict. With Magog dishing out a brutal brand of justice, which the world has been lapping up, a disaster brings Superman and Wonder Woman back to form the Justice League. This is met with disapproval by Batman, who feuds with his former teammates, as he leads his own underground team.
Batman even aligned with Lex Luthor to stand up to the superheroes and went head to head with Superman, in yet another civil war that pit them against each other. This story was definitely built around a clash of philosophies, but was executed with such conviction that it was hard to choose sides. It tied in a swath of DC’s iconic faces as well, and did enough to keep the characters true to their core and essence, despite their differences. If DC’s animated movies wants to buck the trend and shake up the established order, this is the way.
5. BATMAN #666
“Batman #666” was a trippy story from Grant Morrison that saw Damian Wayne take over his father’s mantle, protecting Gotham with a supernatural aura that apparently came from a deal struck with the devil. It also featured Commissioner Barbara Gordon, who harbored serious hatred for him, and the ways he went about his duty. While it’s yet to be addressed and tied in to what’s happening to Damian at present as Bruce’s Robin, fans recognized that even if it’s written out of continuity in time, it’s still pretty intriguing.
If the animated movie decides to skip ahead and paint Damian in this light, it’d be a bold move, but one that feels like it would be a great evolution of his character, given his familial ties to his mother, Talia, and grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul. There’s no reason why it can’t be retconned and simply done as Damian in the future as Batman, who perhaps used the Lazarus Pit to achieve immortality so that his city would have a permanent protector.
4. SINESTRO CORPS WAR
The DC Animated filmverse needs a new Green Lantern movie and where better to start than with the “Sinestro Corps War?” We’ve seen Sinestro and his thugs take on Hal Jordan’s posse from time to time, but it’d be much more emphatic if they follow the groundwork laid down by Johns and his DC creatives. John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner could all be included in the fold, as well as Soranik Natu, Sinestro’s daughter, and Mongul, who took over the Yellow Corps, in Sinestro’s absence.
What’s crucial about this event is that it helped to set the stage for “Blackest Night,” by foreshadowing the rise of the other colored Corps, as well as the fate of the Anti-Monitor, who ended up becoming a Black Power Battery to signal the universal apocalypse. This event hit every note of the Lantern mythos and brought everything together smoothly, while making room for new parts of the lore. If fans wanted to see a comprehensive war in space, these two Corps offer just that.
We saw the saga of Bane and Batman play out in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” but this is just one facet of what made Chuck Dixon’s “Knightfall” resonate. A big part is how Bruce left the mantle to Jean Paul Valley, who, as Azrael, become a murderous vigilante. This saw Bruce return to claim his mantle as protector of Gotham in what was a battle between the altruistic Batman and his dark reflection.
An animated movie could hit both points and place focus especially on Azrael, whose fragile mental state would appeal to modern fans of Jason Todd and Punisher. The conflict Batman and the Bat-family felt very real as they knew that it could have been any one of them crossing that line. Azrael hasn’t gotten much mainstream attention, so on top of being a great chance to see a classic story in animation, this would also be a strong testing ground to see if “Az-bats” also has legs to run in the filmverse Snyder created. It’s not often we see a broken Batman fighting these kinds of villains who push him to the limit.
2. DC ONE MILLION
Grant Morrison cooked up yet another mind-trip with “DC One Million,” which focused on the Justice Legion Alpha, one of the galaxy’s guardian teams from the future, and its battle with Vandal Savage, who continued his war on superhumans throughout the centuries. It also dealt with the Superman of the future, living in the heart of the sun, and his feud with Solaris, the Living Sun.
This was another of Morrison’s philosophical stories that fans of “All Star Superman” (both film and comic) would love as it subverted all DC lore and took the concept of Elseworlds to a whole new level. It had the Justice League teams of the past and future colliding, and showcased a genocidal battle that took place across centuries, thanks in part to Savage. It did feel like a love letter to Superman, but more so, to the Justice League and Legion of Superheroes. It’s one of the publisher’s most unconventional stories, but one that really cut loose in terms of story. This scope isn’t possible on film, so definitely, an animated movie would hit the mark.
1. SUPERMAN: RED SON
“Superman: Red Son” was another Elseworlds story that won over many fans because of how it spun the character’s mythos on its head. Mark Millar shaped the story of Superman crash-landing as a baby in the Soviet Union instead of America. He’d lead them to become the ultimate superpower, even establishing a utopia. Naturally, this angered Lex Luthor who used several methods, such as a clone and army of Green Lanterns, to try to kill him.
It also featured core characters like Lois Lane, Batman, Brainiac and Wonder Woman, with a twist ending that left jaws dropped. What Millar did was smartly subvert the other DC characters, but in a way that fit into Superman’s never-ending thirst to make the world a better place. This was a definitive story that transcended the usual notion of the Man of Steel, which “All Star Superman” fans would also relate to. It would make a great animated movie because of the epic fights, the drama involved and of course, the constant conflict Luthor caused. It’s one of Superman’s greatest stories outside of the main continuity.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments which DC stories you’d like to see made into animated movies!