Anyone interested in superhero stuff has seen by now that DC have planned a series of films to last until the sun collapses into itself and becomes a brown dwarf, or until Marvel put out a film with a female lead, whichever comes last. And anyone who’s looked at the list of films for five minutes has thought “My God, this is awful. It’s like they’ve forgotten that superhero films could possibly be any good!”
So I thought I’d outline what *I* would do if I were going to do a DC Cinematic Universe based around the same kind of idea as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with threads that go from one film to another, revamps of more obscure characters, and so on.
Well, *actually* what I’d do is just Seven Soldiers: The Film Series, and I really don’t know why they’re *not* doing something like that since they have the option, but given that that’s not an option, here’s what I’d do. There’s ten films here, so obviously there’s only the bare bones, but you’ll get the idea.
There’s a story arc, but what I’d want to do is something a little different from the Marvel films, which all have a very similar feel, a sort of glossiness they share. I’d want to make the films radically different in tone, but deal with similar themes — particularly the legacy hero thing that *used* to be a big deal in DC pre-Nu52.
We start with a fairly straight adaptation of All-Star Superman — in fact this could just use the script from Dwayne McDuffie’s animated adaptation, except that at one point Luthor has a videophone call from a mysterious figure who talks about “Project Omega”.
No need for an origin story here, any more than there is for Superman. We do super spy-fi Batman here, of the type that’s never really appeared in the films. Batman is training his new teenage assistant, Carrie Kelly, who has taken the name of “Robin” — Batman doesn’t think he needs an apprentice, but Alfred thinks it’s good for him. After the fall of Lexcorp, Wayne Enterprises has to take over, but there’s a second bidder for the company — has the Penguin suddenly become respectable? And how has he managed to raise the funds? And why is his company called Dark Side Enterprises?
B-plot about The Ventriloquist, just because I like the Ventriloquist.
At the end of the story, Batman gets sucked into a time vortex that seems to have been created by some rogue Lexcorp tech from Project Omega.
Here’s where the big plot really starts going. We see Wonder Woman’s origin — the first new Amazon to be created in millennia, given life by the breath of Athena… and we see Paradise Island starting to crumble as the Old Gods die and their protection is lost. Princess Diana, last child of the Amazons, has to venture to the world of humans as an ambassador to save her island from destruction — and she also saves the human world, too, when she helps save them from the Thanagarian invasion. An invasion masterminded by a sinister, dark, figure…
Blue & Gold
Booster Gold, a nonentity from the twenty-fifth century, suddenly finds himself back in the twenty-first, where his flight ring, flying robot, and force field make him an instant celebrity. Jaime Reyes, a poor Mexican-American kid in El Paso who’s been quietly saving people’s lives as The Blue Beetle (an identity passed on by his mentor, aging scientist Ted Kord). gets annoyed when Booster takes credit for his achievements in order to promote his new reality TV show, but the two eventually have to team up to stop the dinosaur that’s destroying downtown Austin.
Why is there a dinosaur? According to the mysterious time traveller who turns up at the end, “time is in flux… the fall of the Gods and the rise of the New Gods is rewriting history…”
The first half of this is an Arthurian epic, about the fall of Camelot, while the second half is pretty close to the Seven Soldiers story, except that instead of the Sheeda we have the New Gods of Apokolips, and Sir Justin (who is played explicitly as what we would understand as a trans man) is brought forward by the same rips in time that saw Booster Gold brought back).
This is the grimungritty dark vigilante film people would *expect* the Batman film to be — Batwoman is investigating a sinister religious cult. The (Renee Montoya) Question is investigating the drugs being dealt at the Dark Side Club (run by the Penguin, who’s not fallen all the way down to the bottom after being defeated, but there are rumours about who’s really behind it all), and Maggie Sawyer (whose appearance has been seeded in the Batman film) is investigating corruption in the police department. When all these turn out to be linked, the three have to work together — but can they put their pasts behind them to do it?
Flashback to the end of Superman, with Superman flying off to “fix the sun”. In the crowd is John Henry Irons, a construction worker who was saved by Superman. He decided that if Superman wasn’t in the world any more, the world needed a NEW Superman, so he fashioned himself a suit of armour and rocket boots. Will that be enough to stop Lex Luthor from wreaking revenge on the city of Metropolis?
Dinah Lance is a serious crimefighter — the greatest martial artist of her generation, trained by her mother, the first Black Canary. But she’s down on her luck, as her mother is dying of the long-term effects of the radiation exposure she suffered when fighting Aquarius, and Dinah needs to find the money to pay for her treatment. Oracle — the wheelchair-bound information genius daughter of Commissioner Gordon, who provides her with a tip for how she can earn more money.
Ollie Queen is the billionaire founder of a social media site and Olympic bronze-medallist archer (he mentions this fact all the time, and expects people to remember it. No-one does). He thinks of himself as progressive and left-wing, but he is in fact a sexist, domineering, arsehole who is *far* less competent than he thinks and completely unaware of his privilege. He wants to play at being a superhero, and is willing to pay Black Canary a million dollars if he can follow her on patrol for a week.
Can Dinah keep Ollie from getting in her way long enough to investigate the threat that Oracle has found — a computer virus that jumps to humans?
Rip Hunter: The Search For Bruce Wayne (TV miniseries)
These two stories go the other way from how they did in the comics, and would be adapted accordingly, but this is basically a combination of the “Search for Bruce Wayne” and “Return of Bruce Wayne” post-Final Crisis miniseries. Batman was sucked into a time rip at the end of Batman, and he’s been scattered through time, ending up in different identities throughout history. Rip Hunter takes Booster, Blue Beetle, Skeets and Ryan (Atom) Choi with him to collect the various aspects of Batman and pull them together into one person. In a surprising twist at the end of the last episode, in the future and guest-starring the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superman returns to Earth, setting up:
Justice League: The Final Crisis
Rip, Booster, Beetle, Batman, Atom and Superman get back to our time to find that the Old Gods have been destroyed and the New Gods have taken their place. There’s war in Heaven, and a computer virus here on Earth that is taking over everyone’s mind and turning them into zombies wishing only to die for Darkseid. Combining elements of Final Crisis and Rock Of Ages,this shows the formation of a new superhero team — the Justice League, consisting of Booster, Beetle, Batman, Atom, Superman, Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Shining Knight, and Wonder Woman, plus possibly the introduction of a couple of new heroes. The Justice League act as the resistance, and work to overthrow the tyrrany of Darkseid. But can they do it before Anti-Life destroys the universe, and who is Lex Luthor *really* working for…?
And this sets up the second batch of films — Adam Strange, Aquaman, Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, LEGION… culminating in the Rann-Thanagar War.
So how would YOU make a better series of DC films than DC/Warner?