Warner Bros. is looking to up the ante with its recently announced DC Extended Universe films. The studio has enlisted one of the most buzzing names in Hollywood, Ava DuVernay (A Wrinkle In Time), to bring their cosmic contingent the New Gods to the big screen, and one of the most respected names in modern cinema. And though it's not yet confirmed if his film will be part of the DC Extended Universe, Steven Spielberg (Ready Player One), will adapt DC's semi-obscure World War II character named Blackhawk.
If the properties DC has chosen these directors for seem like left field picks, that’s because they kind of are. After the success of Marvel’s little known titles like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, and DC’s own win with the World War I period piece, Wonder Woman, the studio seems ready to take some chances. However, considering Spielberg’s track record with WWII era films, Blackhawk may be less a risk than anything else the studio has on its slate. Here, we give you a brief rundown of who, exactly, this ace airman is, and what his potential entry into the DCEU may mean for the shared universe.
Blackhawk was created by the legendary creator Will Eisner (The Spirit) and artist Chuck Cuidera, who drew the character’s first year of stories. The hotshot pilot was introduced in Military Comics #1 in 1941, the first war title published by Quality Comic. The series ran for 102 issues, all of which featured Blackhawk, with Quality also giving the major his own solo title in 1944. DC gained the rights to the property in 1957 and continued Quality’s Blackhawk series without any interruption in the book’s monthly release.
While Blackhawk’s origin has changed from era to era, and writer to writer, he has almost always been surrounded by the Blackhawk Squadron, aka The Blackhawks, since his second adventure in Military Comics #2. This troupe of multinational flyers originally included Baker, Andre Blanc-Dumont, Boris, Hans Hendrickson, Olaf Bjornson, Stanislaus Drozdowski and Zeg. However, the most popular member other than their namesake, is Zinda Blake, aka Lady Blackhawk, who didn’t appear until Blackhawk #133 in 1959. The team fought Nazis and their Axis allies for the duration of WWII, and when the global conflict came to an end, they started taking it to Communists and other wrongdoers.
It wasn’t until Howard Chaykin’s (Midnight of the Soul) 1988 Blackhawk miniseries that the wingman gained a civilian name: Janos Prohaska. In the Golden and Silver Age eras, Blackhawk had been an American fighting in Poland, but in Chaykin's retelling, he is actually Polish and is accused of being a Communist sympathizer by the US government. This 3-isssue series also saw the introduction of a new Lady Blackhawk, Natalie Reed.
While Spielberg will most likely go with the classic version of Blackhawk, it is worth noting that there was an all new version of the Blackhawks created for DC’s New 52 relaunch in 2011. This covert military unit is headed up by Colonel Andrew Lincoln and is tasked with stopping technological threats. Even more recently, in the Dark Nights: Metal event, the Blackhawk Squadron was retconned as recruits of Carter Hall, aka Hawkman, in order to help him investigate the origins of a mysterious element known as Nth metal.
Lastly, we would be remiss to not mention that leading up to the release of Wonder Woman, it was rumored actor Saïd Taghmaoui’s character Sameer would be based on original Blackhawks member Andre Blanc-Dumont. While Taghmaoui did post a picture comparing the two on his Instagram account, nothing was ever confirmed by Warner Bros. or DC. Thus it remains to be seen if Taghmaoui will be part of Spielberg's film, or, for that matter, whether it takes place in the DCEU continuity or is a standalone project.