DC characters have had a number of big screen outings, but some of are still long overdue a solo film outing.
When casual fans think of the DC Comics universe, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are the first to come to mind.
And while the DC Trinity have been the cornerstones of the conglomerate’s successes, there are a plethora of characters who have become an integral part of the universe—but have yet to gain as much attention in the world of live-action films.
We look at five DC characters who deserve their own solo outings, and maybe even trilogies.
Fans of DC’s live-action film and television properties may not know about Blue Beetle, but for comics fans, he is one of those DC characters who many believe should have got a film by now.
Blue Beetle has seen several iterations in the comics universe. The original Blue Beetle was Dan Garret, created by Fox Comics, and he had very different origins before his re-emergence in mainstream DC Comics years later.
In the 60s, the Blue Beetle mantle was handed down to Ted Kord, who became the superhero for decades, before Jaime Reyes took over in the early 2000s.
Through Reyes, the Blue Beetle mythos was elaborated, expanding the known DC Comics universe—and drawing in more fans.
Reyes has been a mainstay of the comics—he has led his own solo series, and later joined the Teen Titans and the Justice League. Fans of DC Universe’s Young Justice can attest to the numerous engaging arcs featuring Reyes and the alien species known as the Reach.
What makes Blue Beetle stand out from the crowd of superheroes is his sense of responsibility to his family, friends, and the world—sensibilities he held long before becoming a hero. Reyes is an ordinary, hard-working boy in an impossible situation, who never makes excuses for himself but keeps on fighting for what is right.
There aren’t enough big screen superhero properties designed for YA audiences—Blue Beetle would be a great way to engage that demographic, while also being entertaining for adult comics fans.
Technically, we have already had a Green Lantern film—but it did so poorly that even the cast and crew involved pretend that film never happened.
As DC characters, Green Lanterns have evolved since their first outings in the comics universe. The character’s first iteration in Alan Scott has little resemblance to the superhero version today.
Hal Jordan—the only live-action version thus far—was the progenitor of the Green Lantern fans are most familiar with. Jordan has continued to be a favourite among fans—unlike his much-hated successor, Guy Gardner.
But considering how badly the film version of Jordan was received, it would be best for any Green Lantern property to move away from the character.
Instead, Kyle Rayner and John Stewart—two characters of colour—would be a better fit. Both have a ton of personality and have become fan-favourites.
Rayner is a much more easy-going Lantern-bearer—even though his arc introduced the troubling trope of fridging. The Latinx-origin hero would also make a powerful political statement.
A film featuring John Stewart would be a political choice, as well—one of the rare black superheroes in the Big Two comics houses, Stewart’s popularity has led to many appearances on the hero in the DC Animated Universe.
The Arrowverse’s John Diggle was given an alternate reality version where his name was John Stewart and he was a Lantern—the mainstream arc for Diggle closed with him receiving the Lantern ring.
Among the other human Green Lanterns who could headline a film, Keli Quintela, aka Teen Lantern, would be another excellent choice.
A new DC character, introduced in the Young Justice series, Teen Lantern has fast become a success with younger readers—which could translate to YA film audiences.
There is a Green Lantern Corps HBO Max series in the works, but a film outing for one of the heroes—especially a character of colour–would work as a starting point for a new franchise.
Not many mainstream comics stories feature heroes representing marginalized communities. It took ages for people of colour to appear in comics as anything but sidekicks.
But one area where the big two have been lacking is in the representation of queer characters—and this has impacted live-action properties. None of the MCU or DCEU films feature queer characters in lead roles—or even queer actors. It’s about time that changed—especially considering the success of the CW’s plethora of queer characters.
One of the DC Comics’ characters who is queer and a fan-favourite is Midnighter—and he would be perfect for a live-action film trilogy.
Midnighter, and his longstanding partner, Apollo, have an interesting origin story. They were created as queer homages or pastiches of Batman and Superman. Midnighter’s suit continues to be similar to the all-black Batsuit, while Apollo’s abilities mirror those of Superman’s.
The characters were initially written for two WildStorm series, which was eventually purchased by DC Comics in the 90s and brought into the mainstream DC universe during the New 52. Since then, Midnighter and Apollo have existed within the DC universe, as well as in the alternate universe Wild Storm, where they are portrayed as characters of colour.
Despite ups and downs in the way they work, and in their relationship, Midnighter and Apollo have steadfastly maintained their bond and stood by each other through thick and thin. There have been controversial elements in their stories, but for the most part, these two characters have been a stable and relatable portrayal of a queer relationship.
A film series featuring different versions of the character—as they have appeared in the comics—would be unusual and enjoyable. In the comics, they have already appeared as different races, in different hero groups, and have gone to hell and back—but they have always found their way back to each other, even marrying and adopting a daughter at one point.
It would make for an interesting romantic superhero series to see all these circumstances try to pull two people apart only to see them always end up together.
With queer fans still campaigning for more representation in geek culture, it makes sense for Midnighter and Apollo to make their way to the big screen sooner rather than later.
One could argue that Batman’s villains are more interesting than the hero—Poison Ivy certainly fits that bill.
An eco-terrorist who believes that plants deserve life more than humans, Pamela Isley/ Poison Ivy has been a mainstay on many ‘best DC characters’ lists.
Unfortunately, this is usually because of Poison Ivy’s appeal to the male gaze rather than her characterisation—a problem that has plagued female characters since the inception of comics.
But there has been some growth to Poison Ivy over the past decade—her romantic relationship with Harley Quinn has been a highlight for queer fans and given the character more nuance than she was afforded before.
Of course, Poison Ivy is one of the rare characters on this list who has seen a few live-action versions. She was brought to life by Uma Thurman in the much-maligned Batman and Robin. Despite poor reactions to the film, Thurman was a joy to watch and brought passion and determination to a character that could easily have been reduced to eye candy.
The Gotham tv series also gave Poison Ivy life through three different iterations—the show’s Pamela was aged up every so often to appeal to new audiences but the way it was handled was problematic.
With climate change being at the forefront of many people’s minds—though not as much in government policies—now is as good a time as any to bring Poison Ivy to the big screen. Entertainment doesn’t exist in a vacuum—films have the power to move people, those who work in them and those who watch them.
Aquaman centred part of its story on oceanic pollution, and saw actors Jason Momoa and Patrick Wilson using the film as a basis for their activism. Poison Ivy could have that effect on worldwide audiences, especially those who fail to realise how human industries are destroying the planet.
At a time when deeply problematic films like Joker—which has been accused of being racist, misogynistic, and for its poor handling of mental health issues—has been winning plaudits, a film about Poison Ivy fighting to save the world alongside her girlfriend would be just what geek culture needs to remind itself of the power of media.
Hopefully, we will see some version of Poison Ivy on the big screen soon—Cathy Yan, director of the much-loved Birds of Prey film, has already voiced interest in adding Poison Ivy to her sequel and giving her a relationship with Quinn. Queer fans and activists would love to see this happen.
Over the years, the Bat-Family has grown from Batman and Robin to include a number of characters, but few have been as iconic as Batgirl.
One of the rare women superheroes at the time of her debut, Batgirl originated on the third season of the Adam West-led Batman 66 TV show, played by Yvonne Craig. She made a simultaneous appearance in DC Comics #359, quickly becoming a hit with fans and remaining so to this day.
Unlike Batman, Batgirl has always been a regular person, without the wealth and resources Bruce Wayne commands. Batgirl’s skills and her drive are her own—and despite everyone from Batman to her father, Commissioner Gordon, trying to dissuade her from crime-fighting, Batgirl has forged ahead, saving the day and her superhero counterparts regularly.
Even when Batgirl was shot by the Joker—to progress the stories of Batman and Commissioner Gordon, instead of for her own growth—she continued to be a superhero.
In the guise of Oracle, Barbara Gordon became a tech genius superhero who saved her city countless times while also aiding Team-Bat, who began to rely on her heavily.
Apart from Craig’s Batgirl, we have only had Alicia Silverstone’s version in Batman and Robin—despite fans asking for more live-action outings for the character.
A Batgirl film has been in the works for ages but nothing has been confirmed yet. With the new Batman film having cast its Commissioner Gordon—played by Jeffrey Wright—the chance of a black Batgirl being cast is very much in the offing.
And with Zoe Kravitz taking on the role of Catwoman, it seems the new film isn’t afraid to bring these classic characters into the 21st century. There is no better time than right now to give the geek world a badass black woman as a superhero.
Who would you like to see play these DC characters on the big screen? Let us know in the comments below.