DC puts out quality animated fare. Even those who despise the company’s live-action releases agree that the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) boasts enthralling stories, compelling characters, and solid comic-to-screen translations that go the extra mile when entertaining fans. Recent releases like Justice League Dark and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract prove that DC’s animated offerings remain level with the excellence on full display in the current canon.
Speaking of the canon, a number of titles huddling under the Rebirth umbrella would make excellent DCAU entries. There’s something inherently cinematic about some of these stories, something that screams to be told on a screen as well as on a page. Pulse-pumping action, combined with sharp writing and deft sweeps of the digital brush, make DC’s Rebirth titles ideal sources of inspiration for the DC/Warner Bros. animation teams. Many of DC’s best comic events have been translated to the small screen, with Flashpoint being the most notable of the bunch. It’s high time Rebirth received some love and had some of its stories adapted. Join us as we take a look at 15 Rebirth stories that DC needs to translate into animated films. Not all of these are comic events, but they are all stories fit for onscreen retellings.
15. TRINITY: BETTER TOGETHER
The relationships between Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman are complicated ones. Trinity, the book that focuses solely on these three, launched with a story called, “Better Together.” It’s a straightforward storyline that would do well as a family-friendly animated movie. There’s nothing overtly adult about the book, so parents need not worry about us recommending something that will…educate their children in ways of which they wouldn’t approve. It’s an interesting story designed to both please hardcore fans and pull in new ones, so it’d be a great way for the company to play it safe and still make something substantial.
“Better Together” would be a fun way for the DCAU to kick off its Rebirth adaptations before tackling solo adventures starring our favorite heroes. Those unfamiliar with the titular heroes will likely love seeing them fight together, maybe even to the point where they’ll go all in and become super-fans.
14. JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD
As Rebirth’s first event series, Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad had to justify its existence with solid storytelling, propulsive action, and a lasting impact that would set it apart from comic events that don’t seem to matter. Fortunately, it accomplished most of what it set out to do. It suffers from pacing issues and an underwhelming climax, but the action, intrigue, and focus on Killer Frost could make an animated movie something special.
Various writers and artists contributed to the project, so any help from them could result in a stronger script for the film. Again, Jay Oliva would be an excellent director for this film, as he’s been involved with many of the DCAU films in some capacity. He directed Assault on Arkham, one of the best DCAU efforts and a story featuring many of the characters who appear in Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad.
13. THE BUTTON
“The Button” lacks both the excitement and the narrative power of “The Lazarus Contract” and Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad, but boy does it pack an emotional wallop. The book brings back both Eobard Thawne and Flashpoint Batman (last seen plunging said sword through Thawne’s back), two characters we haven’t seen in years. It’s an emotionally charged arc that unfortunately serves no real purpose beyond confirming what we already knew about Dr. Manhattan.
Despite this critical flaw, “The Button“ is a Flash/Batman crossover that would fare incredibly well as an animated feature. With Doomsday Clock approaching, the filmmakers could even beef up the Watchmen side of the story and lead into a potential Doomsday Clock feature. As a strict adaptation of the comic, the film would be fun but lacking. As an adaptation that takes liberties with the source material, it could be incredible.
12. THE LAZARUS CONTRACT
A four-part crossover between Titans, Teen Titans, and Deathstroke, “The Lazarus Contract” sees a vengeful Slade Wilson (Deathstroke) facing off against the Titans in a confrontation that sends shockwaves throughout the DCU. Wilson needs Wally West’s connection to the Speed Force to save his son, H.I.V.E. agent Grant Wilson, from death. He kidnaps Wally and forces the Titans into a number of difficult situations that will test and define them as heroes. There’s obviously a great deal more going on, but that’s the conflict at the center of the story.
As a spiritual sequel to the landmark Teen Titans event “The Judas Contract” (recently released as an animated film), this story treats fans of that seminal work to a story that’s as emotionally affecting as it is visually compelling. An animated adaptation of “The Lazarus Contract” would be a perfect follow-up to The Judas Contract, one that would thrill and excite those who don’t read the comics but certainly watch the movies.
11. BATMAN: I AM GOTHAM
Batman’s first Rebirth arc, titled “I Am Gotham”, introduced readers to Gotham and Gotham Girl, two brand-new characters who added a tragic new layer to Gotham City’s mythos. Both heroes were intent on helping Batman until Psycho Pirate broke Gotham’s mind and turned him against Batman. The violent turn of events would make for some compelling animated fare, especially if the film captured the gravitas that helps define this story.
Tom King would need to write/co-write the script while Justice League Dark helmer Jay Oliva would be the ideal director. David Finch would be a fun choice for art director or animation consultant. Together, they could bring a depth, a darkness to the proceedings that stays true to the original story even as they break new ground with eye-popping visuals and stellar voice acting.
10. JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE EXTINCTION MACHINES
This one would be an easy sell. The Justice League ranks among DC’s most lucrative properties, and an adaptation of their first Rebirth outing would ideally capture the mystery, action, and excitement of that momentous story. Titled “The Extinction Machines”, this Justice League epic finds the titular team uncovering the mystery of The Kindred, celestial beings with ancient ties to Earth.
The story marks the beginning of writer Brian Hitch’s excellent handling of the team and should be celebrated as such. “The Extinction Machines” is still one of Rebirth’s better stories, and a small screen version would showcase its appeal in a way that its source material couldn’t. We hope that the executives over at DC/WB see the merit of this story because we certainly do.
9. ALL-STAR BATMAN: ENDS OF THE EARTH
Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman has enjoyed critical and commercial success since its debut. It brings back Snyder’s signature mix of darkness and insight, infusing them into a story that’s poignant, powerful, and punchy. The second arc, titled “Ends of the Earth”, pits Batman against Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, and the Mad Hatter, fleshing out each villain in a way only Snyder can. The arc features art and covers from Francesco Francavilla, Jock, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Tula Lotay.
An animated Ends of the Earth film would work really well if the directors sliced it into chapters, each of them stylistically different but still pieces of the same whole. Approaching the project with different styles and flavors in mind would keep it true to the comic upon which it is based and would prove itself a bold yet welcome move for the DCAU. Let’s hope DC thinks so too.
8. ACTION COMICS: REVENGE
It’s Supes against General Zod, Mongul, Eradicator, Metallo, and Cyborg Superman in this mind-blowing epic from writer Dan Jurgens and artist Viktor Bogdanovic. Titled “Revenge,” the storyline finds an overwhelmed, outnumbered, and outclassed Superman who must rely on those around him if he ever hopes to beat these formidable enemies. It’s confrontations like this one that would translate to an animated format well, and we’d love to see the teams over at DC/WB take a stab at this story.
Pitting Superman against some of the villains from his formidable rogues gallery would be great fun to watch onscreen, and we believe that DC’s animation team could totally pull it off. They’d probably have to retitle it as Superman: Revenge, but we could see the film doing well regardless of whether or not they decide to keep Action Comics in the title.
7. BATMAN: I AM BANE
Brutal in every sense of the word, “I Am Bane” grows from the seeds planted in “I Am Gotham” and “I Am Suicide”, culminating in a violent confrontation between the Caped Crusader and the brute who broke him. It’s an immensely satisfying read made even more enjoyable by its commitment to giving readers the answers for which they’d been patiently waiting. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s not too much for a good animated film to handle.
Every time Batman fights Bane, it’s touted as the “final” confrontation. That’s never actually been the case because Bane’s still a monumental pain in Batman’s backside, but it’s nice to see that the creative team has gifted readers with some sense of closure. “I Am Bane” would be an excellent animated film that could round out Batman’s solo adventures and allow the DCAU to focus on other characters.
6. SUPER SONS: WHEN I GROW UP
“When I Grow Up” would succeed as an animated film, but not in the same way that some of the other entries on this list would. It would be a fun, lighthearted little story about Damian Wayne and Jon Kent working as a team to take down threats on their own. Their latest foes? None other than Lex Luthor and Kid Amazon, of course!
It’d be a smaller, more contained tale, but it wouldn’t be any less exciting or meaningful. Watching the sons of Batman and Superman team up to combat evil is just as incredible as it sounds, but you don’t need us to tell you twice. The movie would be a hit across demographics, appealing to the kids with its humor and to the adults with its callbacks and fan service moments. Get crackin’, DC.
5. DETECTIVE COMICS: INTELLIGENCE
The most recent storyline in Detective Comics, “Intelligence,” would make a stunning animated movie, one that would deliver the goods in both the story and the art departments. Here, Batman must face a number of familiar villains, the most notable of them being Azrael. It’s a welcome, albeit brief, return for a legendary character, and fans have responded well to the arc’s recent conclusion. It may be time for it to receive the small screen treatment. In due time, though.
Obviously, an animated “Intelligence” film would be years away no matter how you slice it because “Knightfall” has to be a thing first. Despite the wait fans would have to endure, we still feel that the storyline would translate well. Newer viewers would get fresh insight on Azrael (and on Batman) while long-time fans would get to see a favorite return in a stunning way.
4. JUSTICE LEAGUE: TIMELESS
“Timeless”, the third multi-issue Justice League story in the Rebirth timeline, takes the team’s adventures to glorious new heights and proves that Hitch was born to write team books. A mysterious girl named Molly comes to warn the League of a threat that stretches from one end of time to another, its motives unthinkable and its power unstoppable.
The story could see an interesting shift in the material adapted by the DCAU. The films enjoy taking big, universe-altering stories and spinning them in a way that befits the medium. The story here involves the erasure of the League, so the team’s goal would be to set things right and keep everything as is. If there are serious repercussions, they messed up. It’s one of the few stories where no change is a good thing.
3. TEEN TITANS: DAMIAN KNOWS BEST
This one would also need to change its title before making the jump to animation, but as far as we’re concerned this would be an incredible story to adapt and market to a wider audience. In “Damian Knows Best,” writer Benjamin Percy and artist Jonboy Meyers depicted Damian as a confident, competent leader capable of leading the Teen Titans into battle against Ra’s al Ghul.
The Damian we get here is slightly different than the one we see in, say, Super Sons or Superman. That book focused heavily on him learning to work as a member of a team while this story shows a more assured Damian taking on a dangerous threat in the form of his crazed grandfather. The Teen Titans have already been introduced in the DCAU, so developing this particular storyline into an animated film would be relatively easy.
2. THE FLASH: LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE
A city populated by other speedsters? The return of Wally West? Count us in! Joshua Williamson’s popular run on The Flash kicked off last year and has seen critical and commercial success few expected. “Lightning Strikes Twice” is the first major Flash solo adventure featured in Rebirth, making it an important and potentially great addition to the DCAU. This arc finds Barry Allen grappling with a number of potentially dangerous problems, the aforementioned reappearance of West and the arrival of new Speed Force users taking the cake as the most troubling.
As an introduction to the Flash and as an explanation of how he fits into DC’s continuity, this story is essential reading. Like many of the other entries, it’s a great story fit for a family-friendly adaptation. If done right, it could become one of the Scarlet Speedster’s best animated films.
1. BATMAN: NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN
A six-part epic terrorizing the pages of Nightwing, Batman, and Detective Comics, “Night of the Monster Men” is written by Steve Orlando and features art by Roge Antonio, Andy MacDonald, and Riley Rossmo. Its creepy, eerie vibe is evident in each of its covers, all of which depict members of the Batman family in various states of distress while monstrous beings loom over them.
An animated adaptation would most certainly not be for kids, but adults would get a kick out of its odd color palette and dark themes. DC may not see the value of an animated film as twisted as this one would be, but they did just release a more adult-themed Justice League Dark film. Who knows? Maybe this one will work out too.
Are there any Rebirth stories you think should get the animated treatment? Let us know in the comments!
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