The DC Universe’s successful video games can be summed up with one character: Batman. Nearly all of DC’s attempts at superhero video games, failures and successes, have revolved around the Dark Knight or Superman. Most of DC’s most popular characters have never even been given a chance. With DC working hard to compete with Marvel in the cinematic universe, maybe it would be better to bring some of its non-core characters into the spotlight in a medium where it recently had more success than Marvel: video games!
The “Batman: Arkham” games are widely considered to be some of the best superhero games ever created and DC has a huge roster of characters to which they could apply the Arkham treatment. With that in mind, here are CBR’s top 15 picks for DC heroes who deserve their own solo video game!
15. BLACK LIGHTNING
Black Lightning was the first major African-American superhero to appear in DC comics and he has yet to make an appearance in live action or as a playable character in a video game. He has the ability to create and manipulate electricity as well as create force fields. He can also use his electrical powers to give him some limited flight capability. He was trained by Batman in hand-to-hand combat, and he’s an Olympic level athlete, so even without his electrical powers, he makes a formidable opponent to his enemies.
There are almost no superhero video games centered around electricity-powered superheroes, so a “Black Lightning” video game would be a good way to offer something different from DC games. A pilot was ordered this year for a “Black Lightning” TV series on the CW, so there will be a lot more interest generated in the character soon; with such a fun power set, a video game should be inevitable.
14. POWER GIRL
Power Girl’s origin might sound strangely similar to Superman’s. Her parents also sent her in an escape pod directed toward Earth as Krypton was exploding, and she possesses all the powers of Superman including superhuman strength, speed, endurance, agility, ice breath, heat and X-ray vision, invulnerability, flight and super hearing. Her real name is Kara Zor-El, which you might recognize as the true name of the CW’s “Supergirl,” which is because Power Girl is actually the Earth-2 alternate version of Earth-1’s Supergirl in the comics.
Isn’t it time that DC took some chances on its lesser known heroes instead of relying on Batman and Superman for everything, though? Granted, Superman hasn’t had a lot of well-received video games either, but if DC wanted to use a character with a familiar origin story and power set, it might yield dividends to shake things up with a female lead and just release a “Power Girl” video game instead.
13. BLUE BEETLE
The Blue Beetle name has been held by several different characters, but the current version, Jaimie Reyes, possesses the ability of flight, super strength, durability, energy blasts and the ability to create cybernetic weapons granted to him by an ancient alien scarab. The character has been featured in several video games over the years, including “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham,” “Infinite Crisis” and “Injustice 2.” However, like many of DC’s most popular characters, has never led his own solo game in any incarnation of the character.
Although Blue Beetle has been around as a character since 1939, he really became a fan-favorite when he was paired with Booster Gold in 1987’s “Justice League International” written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, where the two characters quickly become best friends. A “Booster Gold/Blue Beetle” movie was confirmed in development in 2015 with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk expressing an interest in the lead roles. A video game would almost certainly feature at least an appearance from Booster, but Blue Beetle is a strong enough character to lead it on his own.
12. JONAH HEX
Jonah Hex would make for a massively different video game than the other heroes on this list, because he lives in a different world. Hex is a surly and cynical bounty hunter with a scarred face living in DC’s version of the old west. He’s also an expert hand-to-hand combatant and master gunslinger, who non-comic fans might recognize from his 2010 live action film, or his more recent appearance on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.”
Imagine a video game similar to the Western-style action RPG of “Red Dead Redemption,” but set in the DC universe, hunting down demons and monsters as well as criminals. There’s even room to include cameos of some of DC’s other characters, as Jonah Hex has often been transported into the present day to work alongside the main universe heroes, and DC has plenty of heroes, who often find themselves traveling back to the Old West. Even without appearances from other superheroes, though, Jonah Hex is a massively popular character among DC fans, and a solo video game could be a huge hit.
Lobo is one of the most violent and vicious characters in comic book history, partly because he was originally conceived as a parody of the “grim and gritty” violent comic book characters that were popular in the ’90s — especially Marvel’s Wolverine — but when fans of that genre responded with widespread praise of the character, the creators realized they had something special on their hands. He has superhuman senses, strength, speed, stamina and durability, as well as an enhanced healing factor, immortality and genius-level intellect. If a “Lobo” video game was handled correctly, it would be one of the most violent and brutal games of all time.
In 1996, Ocean Software actually had a Lobo video game in development for Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, but it ended up being canceled before it released. He’s still a massively popular character in the DC universe, so it’s high time he got to star in his own video game.
10. SWAMP THING
Swamp Thing is one of the most popular characters in the DC universe and has been written by some of the biggest names in comic book history, including Brian K. Vaughn, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison and the most acclaimed run by Alan Moore. The character inspired two live-action films, a live-action tv series that ran for three seasons and a five-part animated series. He’s recently been featured as a playable character in “Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham” and “Injustice 2,” but fans are itching for his own modern solo game.
Swamp Thing has superhuman strength and durability, telepathic control over all plant life on Earth, shapeshifting ability over his plant-based physiology and the ability to create new plant life and bodies from plants. Swamp Thing was rebooted for DC’s New 52 relaunch and made a member of “Justice League Dark” and has fought against a number of DC’s villains, but a video game would likely focus on his war with The Rot, the DC elemental representation of death.
9. BLACK CANARY
Dinah Laurel Lance, the Black Canary, has started to show up on a lot more people’s radars with her inclusion on Oliver Queen’s team of superheroes on the CW show, “Arrow.” Her only superpower is an ultrasonic scream known as her “Canary Cry,” but she’s also a master martial artist nearly on par with Batman. In the comics, she’s been a member of the Justice Society of America, the Birds of Prey and the Justice League, as well as frequently being a love interest of the Green Arrow, so it’s highly likely that any video game involving Black Canary could have crossovers with just about any other DC superhero they wanted to include.
It also wouldn’t hurt for DC to start putting their female superheroes more to the forefront, as their only prominent female hero is Wonder Woman, and giving Black Canary her own solo video game would certainly help the character enter into a more mainstream audience.
8. BOOSTER GOLD
Booster Gold is an interesting character because he breaks from the typical superhero archetype representing altruistic nobility, instead revelling in his celebrity status. He originally came back in time from the 25th century, where he was an all-star football player who after being disgraced from his gambling problems, became a security guard at a superhero museum and stole the high-tech super suit that would grant him the power of flight, energy blasts, force fields, enhanced strength and of course, time travel. He’s also a highly skilled hand-to-hand combatant and in peak physical condition.
The thing that would set a “Booster Gold” video game apart from other superhero video games is mostly his personality. He’s cocky and braggadocious and kind of a showboat, stopping crimes before they happen thanks to his advance knowledge from the future. Most other superheroes strongly dislike him for his sellout persona, although the audience actually comes to find that he develops into a pretty selfless character, often saving the universe and receiving no credit, because he has to keep up his “goofy sellout” persona.
7. THE ATOM
Ray Palmer, The Atom, is like DC’s version of Ant-Man, and “Arrowverse” fans may see a little Iron Man thrown in there as well, but he actually predates both of them. Ant-Man debuted in 1962, Iron Man in ’63, while The Atom beat them to the punch in 1961. Palmer is a genius inventor who created a high-tech super suit that gives him the ability to shrink and grow himself and other objects to subatomic size. He’s been a member of the Justice League and the Teen Titans, and yet he’s never gotten his own video game.
Ray Palmer has recently gotten a lot of mainstream attention as one of the main members of the team on “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” giving him similar abilities to Iron Man with his suit now allowing him to fly and shoot energy blasts from his hands, though he’s never had these capabilities in the comics. A video game focused on “The Atom” would likely include these added abilities of his power suit, but remaining true to the character, should focus on his size-changing abilities, and see him fighting at every size.
6. MARTIAN MANHUNTER
Martian Manhunter is an alien superhero born on Mars and a DC staple nearly as popular as Batman and Superman. He was a founding member of the JLA and a mainstay of the Justice League. He has a huge list of powers that would make any “Martian Manhunter” solo video game a blast to play, including superhuman strength, speed, durability, endurance, a healing factor, flight, super-elasticity, invisibility, telekinesis, telepathy, mind control, intangibility and much, much more. He also has a shapeshifting ability that he primarily uses to appear human when acting as a detective on Earth.
Martian Manhunter was first introduced in 1955, so he has a huge amount of story arcs that could be adapted into a compelling video game experience, meaning that the game could follow him on Earth as he fights the Earth-based super villains or in space hunting down the creatures who destroyed his planet. With such a rich backstory and massive power set, there’s no limit to what DC could do with a video game based on one of their most popular characters ever!
Shazam, originally called Captain Marvel, is actually a young boy, named Billy Batson, who by speaking the word, “Shazam” can transform himself into a superpowered adult man with super strength, speed, flight, invulnerability, spell-casting, control of magical lightning and, with the “Rock of Eternity,” even teleportation. Ironically, at one point, Captain Marvel briefly overtook the popularity of Superman when the character was owned by Fawcett Comics and received his own film serial, but DC sued over the similarities to Superman and Fawcett Comics was forced to cease publication.
DC later bought the character to publish themselves, but thanks to Marvel’s copyright on the name, “Captain Marvel,” DC published the character’s adventures in a series called “Shazam!” before finally changing the character’s name officially to Shazam in 2011. Although the character has never quite reached the popularity of Superman again since DC bought the rights, he has remained a staple in DC comics. His first official appearance in a video game wasn’t until 2008’s “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe,” but he’s never received his own solo game.
Batman is easily DC’s most successful video game character, and perhaps its most successful character in general. Another beloved character used to be teamed up with him is Robin, but when Dick Grayson left Batman’s service as a sidekick, he took the name of “Nightwing,” and a new fan-favorite was born. Batman has already had huge hit video games with the “Arkham Asylum” series, so it makes sense to just use that open-world model and apply it to Nightwing.
Though, like Batman, Nightwing doesn’t have any superpowers, he’s a master acrobat and aerialist, an expert martial artist and hand-to-hand combatant and he has an array of high-tech weapons and gadgets to aid in his fighting crime. His signature difference from Batman, in terms of fighting, is the use of his escrima sticks, which can be joined together to create a fighting staff. Dick Grayson has been neglected from live-action movies and most video games for almost 20 years, so giving him a solo video game just might be the most satisfying return DC could give him.
Victor Stone’s parents used him as a test subject for intelligence enhancement projects. After an attack at S.T.A.R. Labs left him horribly injured, his father fitted him with high-tech prosthetics that turned him into Cyborg. He made a cameo appearance in 2016’s “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and he’s set to reprise his role in “Justice League,” and after that helming his own “Cyborg” movie in 2020. He’s also been a main character on the “Teen Titans” tv show and nearly every “Justice League” tv show.
He’s already an extremely popular character among fans, so a video game based on “Cyborg” would likely be a smash hit. The character would be a great fit for a video game because his cybernetic enhancements give him superhuman strength, an enhanced healing factor, the ability to enter cyberspace and an arsenal of weapons that are installed into his cybernetics. These powers would be a blast to explore in a video game world, as the possibilities are nearly endless.
2. RIP HUNTER
Rip Hunter has recently started to get a lot more attention as one of the lead characters of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” on the CW, but he has a long history as DC’s resident time traveler. He was introduced in 1959 as the leader of a gang of time travelers called the “Time Masters.” He uses his invention, the time sphere, to travel through time, and he’s also a master martial artist in styles from every era of history.
A really great Rip Hunter solo game would likely focus on the plot mechanic of time travel, taking him into the past and future to prevent some massive crisis in time from taking place. With Rip Hunter’s recent popularity in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to have him team up with, or at least have run-ins with Captain Cold, Heatwave, White Canary, The Atom, Hawkgirl or Firestorm.
1. WONDER WOMAN
Can you believe that Wonder Woman has never had a solo video game before? She’s one of DC’s most popular characters, and even within the DCEU, one of the core three heroes, but even though Green Lantern, Aquaman, John Constantine and even Catwoman have led their own solo games in the last 38 years, Wonder Woman somehow has not. The real tragedy of this oversight, other than the fact that she’s been an integral part of the DC universe and one of the strongest role models for women in pop culture since her introduction on 1941, is that her character is perfect for a video game.
With superhuman strength, speed, durability, longevity and flight, she’s nearly as powerful as Superman, but she’s also an expert hand-to-hand combatant and master of both sword and shield. She also has an arsenal of high-tech and/or magical wonders, including a lasso of truth, an invisible jet and indestructible bracelets. As an Amazonian Princess, she leads armies and defends her people from threats of every kind, so there’s really no limit to what a “Wonder Woman” game could entail, but with the movie dropping later this year, it might be the perfect time to give Wonder Woman her own video game.
Which DC character would you love to see lead a video game franchise? Sound off in the comments!
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