We are getting a new Batman movie in 2022. Who doesn’t like to see a new Batman film? From Gothic noir (Batman 89) to campy (Adam West TV series and the Schumacher movies) to realistic (TDK trilogy) to the operatic (BvS), we have seen many interpretations of a live-action Batman. Matt Reeves is supposedly exploring his detective aspect which is a very interesting idea. Regardless of how it turns out, Batman is a relatively safe character for Warner Bros. to pour their money into.
It’s at least guaranteed to put people in seats. Batman, for DC/WB, is the money-spinner in all media from comic books, animation, video games, TV and movies. And he will always continue to be. But it’s a sign of truly living in the golden age of comic book movies that Warner Bros.’ biggest financial and critical successes came in the form of giving other often overlooked DC characters a chance.
A Wonder Woman film was in the works for nearly a decade and had never come to fruition. Aquaman, even in the comics, too, had always been the butt of jokes outside his core fandom. Absolutely no one thought an Aquaman movie could ever work. Shazam, outside his new 52 run by Geoff Johns, was more or less known only as a forgotten Golden age character. These are no obscure characters by any means, but the general audience doesn’t recognize them like the S symbol.
But with the kind of bias DC movies are welcomed with (especially by critics), it was hard to imagine WB achieving such success with them in live-action movies. These were bold, risky choices. Credit must be given to Zack Snyder for making an unconventional choice with casting Gal Gadot and Jason Momoa in their roles (and also writing the Wonder-Woman movie) who would be loved by audiences and critics all over the world. Credit must also be given to Warner Bros. for giving those IP’s a chance.
Take A Risk
The Joker movie receiving a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival has proved two things:
1) Warner Bros. really needs to trust its directors making bold, unconventional choices.
2) The way forward for DC comic book movies lies in the unexplored ‘Worlds of DC’.
But it’s not just the low-budget “DC Black Label” sort of movies that WB should look into. The DC comics multi-verse offers…well, a multi-verse of characters to kick start WB’s next big franchise after Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Shazam. The long-delayed solo Flash movie finally seems to be jogging along after finding a new director. And the writing on a New Gods movie has finally commenced. While a speedster-verse and the Fourth World can certainly captivate audiences, there are still many more interesting ‘Worlds of DC’ which Warner Bros. can explore.
‘Gotham-verse’, for lack of a cooler word, seems to be the safest option to explore for Warner Bros. (Terming it Gotham-verse because it’s not just limited to Gotham City, but other places like Bludhaven, Star city, etc.). The comparatively real-world setting doesn’t require big budgets with a whole lot of special effects. The mere association of Batman offers easy marketability and his varied rogue’s gallery offers a lot of potential for interesting stories. Joker and Birds of Prey are just the tip-of-the-iceberg. The villains of Gotham are getting a chance; it’s high time that its other heroes do, too.
We are talking of course about the Bat-family: Batman’s lesser-known but equally interesting sidekicks. All the Robins and Bat-girl are more than just a foil for the caped crusader. Bat-girl herself has a lot of stories to tell and with Christina Hodson writing the script, things should progress quickly. She is Barbara Gordon -daughter of Commissioner Gordon- a crime fighter who started without training and has faced everything from sexism to miscarriages and disability but still rises above it all.
But ask most fans online as to which Bat-family member is most deserving of his own movie and the unanimous answer is Nightwing. The superhero identity of former Robin, Dick Grayson. Dick finally grows up and learns to be on his own away from his mentor and father figures imposing shadow. He is also a very capable leader and heads the group Teen Titans. He is second only to Batman in fighting and detective skills. And operates often in Bludhaven, which is even more crime-infested than Gotham.
According to devoted Nightwing fan Anita Kurup who goes by the twitter handle @masalanoodles:
“Nightwing is what the lovechild of SuperBat would look like. Superman’s hope and loyalty married to Batman’s fierce protectiveness and thirst for Justice. Dick is brooding, hopeful, kind and thoughtful. ”
Unlike Batman, he isn’t exactly a loner and often makes strong friendships. His complicated relationship with his famous mentor (they once had a love –triangle with Bruce making Nightwing’s love interest at the time- Batgirl- pregnant) also offers a lot of potential for some serious drama. He has understood Bruce Wayne’s darkness and what it could do to him if he remained under his wing. Yet he still respects and often helps Batman if the need arises. His association with Teen Titans offers a lot of room to introduce other characters and more franchise potential. There was a Nightwing movie rumored a while back to be directed by Adam Mckay. However, those remained rumors. While there is a current live-action version of Nightwing in the DC Universe series, Titans, many fans feel Dick Grayson deserves his own independent place in the shadows.
THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS:
From the shadows of Gotham to the brightest day, Green Lantern is the next obvious choice for WB to explore. One of the most popular members of the Justice League, he was supposed to make an appearance in Justice League part 1 or 2. And then was to have an independent Green Lantern Corps movie as per the original DCEU slate. The movie came very close to being made with Mission Impossible series writer and director, Chris McQuarrie. He admitted on Twitter that he had turned in a script that also featured Superman in a pivotal role. But alas, WB scrapped their entire original plans.
Of course, WB has already made Green Lantern in 2011 which wasn’t very well received (I may be one of the few people in sector 2814 who actually enjoyed it). But GL definitely deserves another chance. Why? Well, because it holds the most potential to be the next Star Wars. The Green Lantern Corps is essentially space cops for various sectors of the Universe appointed by a race of wise, old creatures known as Guardians.
They protect their sectors from cosmic-level threats. They use Rings which can create a construct of anything and are powered by the Will power of the bearer. This is a very peculiar power and offers a lot of emotional depth to explore since there are other kinds of Lanterns –Red, Yellow, Indigo, etc. who also draw power from different emotions like Anger, Fear, Hope, etc. Also, unlike Superman or Wonder-woman, there have been more than one Green Lantern. In fact, there have been many different races and genders from Earth itself. The most commonly discussed idea for a Green Lantern movie is making it a buddy cop movie but in space. Imagine Lethal Weapon or Bad-Boys or even The Departed, but in space, against universe devouring entities.
With J J Abrams signing a multi-million dollar deal with WB, he would be the perfect candidate to direct a Green Lantern Saga. There are multiple complex characters- hardened warriors to hot-head rookies, to Lanterns who just gave into madness and darkness. There is so much you can do with such material- murder-mysteries, conspiracies, twists, and finally, cosmic level wars with powers unimaginable. Green Lantern fan Bobby who tweets @Lostlantern2814 says that famous story-lines from comics such as First Lantern, Blackest Night, Sinestro Corps war, etc. are the perfect recipe for the next big space opera.
Speaking of space operas, there is one that spans both space and time. It has the potential of Superman, the darkness and rogues gallery worthy of Batman, mystical elements of Shazam and mythological weight of Wonder-Woman. Hawkman. It may sound like the usual “animal + man” superhero concept that is the laziest remnant of 50’s comics, but its most definitely not. Hawkman was not bitten by a radio-active hawk, nor did he choose to fight crime using Hawks as a symbol because he was scared of them. Being a legacy character as old as Superman is bound to create a lot of complications. And with a definitive origin story, however, it’s the multiple iterations that somehow give a lot of depth to the Hawkman mythos.
The character originates as Katar Hol on the neo-fascist planet of Thanagar. It is a planet that often wars with other planets and imposes harsh treaties on them, often taking some of their population as slaves.
Thanagar, due to its lack of landmass, has huge tower-like structures that rise several meters into the air with the elite living high up, never having to come down. The enslaved working masses live lower down. Thanagarians owing to this geographical peculiarity have also discovered and developed the mysterious “Nth” metal. It allows its wearers to fly due to its antigravity properties and also allows them super-strength. The planet, therefore, has designed Nth Metal wings to be given to its police force, which is bridled with corruption and racism against the lower classes. Katar Hol and, subsequently, Shayera Hol, are police officers fighting the forces inside and outside which threaten Thanagar. They also fight their own morality at times.
Who Are They?
Hawkman/Hawkgirl is Carter Hall and Shayera Saunders who are usually modern-day or 1940’s archaeologists on Earth.
Hawkman/Hawkgirl is also Prince Khufu and Chay-ara of Ancient Egypt.
Confused? Don’t be. Because one of the most innovative elements of Hawkworld mythos is the reincarnation element. Owing to either mysterious properties of the Nth Metal or the curse of Gods of Egypt (take your pick), Hawkman and Hawkgirl take many births in different eras. Now, rebirth sagas are common to you if you are an Indian, but this is a concept never before seen in a comic book movie.
Imagine the time and space spanning saga that could be witnessed here with a non-linear narrative and Chris Nolan like twists? Owing to their immortal nature, one could place the Thanagarians alongside any heroes in any time frame to connect to a larger universe. Introducing them in the upcoming Black Adam movie (Shazam’s nemesis that has origins in Ancient Egypt as well) would be a perfect place to launch them. One could even place them alongside Wonder Woman in her 100-year DCEU timeline. Or they can place them even before or close to Krypton’s destruction in Man of Steel. Putting them in a Green Lantern movie could also be a perfect match. They are a great fit in any of the realms, be it cosmic, magic, or the mythological.
Also, the look of Hawkman/Hawkgirl and their signature flight plus their weapon of choice –the mace- is just so ‘Metal’ (some would say ‘Dark Knights Metal’…eh? *wink-wink*). Add some great rock music and tribal fusion and you have some of the most unique fight sequences ever put to cinema. They could be a visual story-tellers treat. As per die-hard Hawkman fan, Tim Board, (twitter @Hawkworld_), we could see a 10-minute scene of two heroes in love, just soaring in unison which is something we have never witnessed before.
The potential of the planet Thanagar as an unexplored world is immense and can be discovered in a Krypton like TV series more than just a movie franchise. There is a lot of internal politics and police drama, plus commentaries on racism and class economics should the Timothy Truman Hawkworld storyline be explored. There was a tease of Thanagarians and the Thanager-Rann war (Rann is also a damn interesting planet) in the last season of Krypton before it was sadly canceled. However, if WB wants some truly unique comic book content for HBO Max while competing with Disney+, Thanagar is a world to soar up to.
Thanks to the valuable inputs from Anita Kurup, Tim Board, Bobby, Craig, Ryan, and others.