The DC Extended Universe is at a crossroads. Although not officially dead, the storylines and tone set forth by director Zack Snyder pretty much are. But in a very comic book move, the studio seems to be shifting tones instead of just hitting the giant re-set button. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam! found success by going down a brighter path, without having to pretend the previous films in the canon didn’t happen.
The perfect example of how DC is handling their new place direction is Suicide Squad. The 2016 film was box office hit, but fans and critics mostly hated it. Yet the movie is getting a redemption sequel/reboot, with James Gunn at the helm and a few of the same actors returning, including Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn (who will also star in Birds of Prey). Given this approach, we think there are several DC films that could use the same kind of “redemption movie.” Some very old, others quite recent. Here are our top five picks for DC films that need a do-over.
The massive success of the Christopher Reeve Superman didn’t lead to a wave of superhero movies, but it did lead to a spin-off for Superman’s cousin in Supergirl. Kara Zor-El got a fairly comics-accurate film all her own in 1984. But while it stuck close to the mythos, the whole thing was a extremely cheesy affair even by ’80s standards. The main plot of the film essentially has Helen Slater’s Girl of Steel fight a campy Faye Dunaway over the affections of a hunky gardener. Yes, really.
But Supergirl has received a twenty-first century upgrade on television, and maybe it’s time for her to receive a big screen redemption as well. While the CW show has to keep things small, a movie could give us a big sci-fi epic featuring Kara that truly focuses on her nature as an alien refugee. Maybe it’s time to tell Kara’s story in movie form with the proper respect she deserves. And not just having her fighting with a female villain over some dude.
The world’s greatest cat burglar has had many incredible live-action incarnations. But when she finally got her own film with 2004’s Catwoman, it was a critical and box office disaster. It didn’t help that Halle Berry’s incarnation wasn’t Selina Kyle, but instead a new unrelated character created just for the movies. In the same vein as Supergirl, the studio decided the only way to do a female hero on screen was to go the camp route.
But the true comic book version of Selina deserves her own movie, and not just as supporting role to Batman. The story of Gotham City’s premiere thief and her own role as the champion of the downtrodden would make for an amazing solo film. Rumors abound that Catwoman will be a featured player in Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. If so, they should cast her with an eye on her getting her own spin-off film in the near future.
The Green Lantern mythology has been an integral part of DC Comics since 1940. But Warner Bros’ 2011 big screen adaptation starring Ryan Reynolds seriously underperformed, killing the franchise before it started. Maybe the biggest nail in its coffin was its utter lack of scope. If it had embraced its crazy comic book world the way Aquaman did, it could have been a massive global hit. Instead, it felt like an expensive television pilot.
But as one of DC’s most famous heroes, Green Lantern deserves another shot. This time, they must explore the universe in grand fashion instead of keeping almost everything set on Earth. Bring in the other famous members of the Green Lantern Corps (which would make things more diverse in casting as well). Find a filmmaker who commits to the comic book world the way James Wan did with Aquaman. The final product might not be Citizen Kane, but it could be DC’s own epic space fantasy.
It feels weird saying that Superman needs cinematic redemption, given that his last solo outing Man of Steel performed decently at the box office back in 2013. But its follow-ups, Batman V Superman and Justice League, seemingly killed Superman’s chances at a second solo film. It seems those films’ perceived failures landed squarely on Kal-El’s shoulders, for unknown reasons (he’s barely in either film, even if one has his name on it).
While Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was divisive, almost everyone agreed that Henry Cavill was a nearly perfect Superman. The Man of Tomorrow deserves a movie where he is the bright positive beacon of hope that the DCEU needs. Superman is the foundation of DC Comics, and should never be cast aside. If there is to be any kind of on screen DC Universe, it needs a Superman in it. Whether its a returning Cavill or yet another actor in the part, the world needs Superman.
As the most recent film on this list, this one is still fresh in our minds. While the film’s box office and reviews disappointed, the truth is the final take of $229 million domestic is a number that a lot of franchise films wish they were making this summer. If Suicide Squad is getting another shot, how can the World’s Greatest Superheroes not get the same second chance?
Say what you want about Snyder/Whedon Justice League, it got the origin story material out of the way. Wherever we pick up next can just show the team up and running without any explanation needed. Instead of trying to copy Avengers, look to the JLA comics of Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder, and the JLUanimated show. Think BIG, thing COSMIC, think the Gods of Olympus in their orbiting satellite above the Earth. We are likely never going to see the original Avengers together again on screen, but we could have DC’s biggest icons together once more. And if done properly, it could blow us all away.
Images: Warner Bros