Some might say we’re experiencing the Golden Age of superheroes in film, but in reality it’s just live-action catching up to animation. Warner Bros. Animation has been a trailblazer in that area, with 26 feature films based on DC Comics’ characters since 1993. And with the recent release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, based on the 2011 Flashpoint crossover, we’ve come up with a half-dozen other DC series or arcs Warner Bros. could (and should) look to for future animated films.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Warner Bros. Animation has already done Crisis on Two Earths, so imagine if it upped that that number to, well, infinity, with a streamlined adaptation of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s 1985 epic. It’s been teased in no fewer than seven episodes of various animated television series, so it’s obviously been on the minds of producers. There’s the issue of the story’s complexity, but I think there’s a way to thread that needle and make a slicker adaptation of the Monitor and Anti-Monitor’s attempts to deal with the multiple universes. Who knows, maybe they could even adapt it to use the various continuities of DC animated universes over the years: Imagine Fleischer’s Superman meeting Timm’s!
Batman: Court of the Owls
Although the ink on these issues is just now dry, DC has a veritable gold mine waiting to be uncovered with a animated adaptation. Greg Capullo’s render-heavy art style might not make the easiest transition to animated fare, but this story arc seems ideal as a 120-minute animated drama. The storyline has quickly become a new classic, and taking Batman’s fight against the Court of Owls to animation would be a critical darling and a potential powerhouse at the cash register.
Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
We’ve seen Superman’s origin countless times, but what about doing one of his final days? All-Star Superman teased it, but imagine if DC Animated Universe took on Alan Moore and Curt Swan’s 1986 two-parter that brings the entirety of his rogues gallery down around his head while he and his closest friends and family hunker down in the Fortress of Solitude. It has an amazing pedigree given the talent involved, but it’s the story itself that really sells it — the last stand of the Last Son of Krypton.
Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil
Jeff Smith’s Captain Marvel miniseries was one of the bright spots in modern DC Comics, and from the day it was announced it seemed like a shoo-in for animation. Taking cues from co-creator C.C. Beck’s transcendent linework, Smith really carved out a traditionalist take on the adult-sized hero with the mind of a boy. If that wasn’t enough, the concept already has characters tailor-made for animation, like the talkative tiger Tawky Tawny and the villainous Mister Mind.
It’s been called one of the greatest Justice League stories in the modern age, taking on the history of DC’s heroes and showing them young and old in a battle about innovation versus tradition. Besides being one of the early catalysts for the creation of Comic Book Resources in 1996, Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come has influenced much of the DC Comics output in the 17 years since its release. But imagine it born out in animation, taking Ross’ painted style and Waid’s classic dialogue and synthesizing it into animation. It has the characters, it has the scope, and it definitely has the story.
The New Gods
Some might say the definitive New Gods story has yet to be told. Jack Kirby’s attempt was cut short by DC, and although many of the characters have popped up in both comics and animation, the New Gods saga is still without form. Imagine Warner Bros. Animation stepping up to the legacy of Jack Kirby, telling the space-faring Shakespearean tale of two warring worlds and a maligned peace treaty that saw these leaders of each world adopting the other’s son as his own. Although it’s lacking any of the traditional DC animated stalwarts like the Justice League, Darkseid, Orion and the others could be a cult classic turned bonafide hit if the producers can court both the original comics as well as the spirit of the man who created it.