Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of www.movieroomreviews.com and writer of movie reviews about movies such as The Avengers. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.
Hollywood has had an epiphany- comic book movies can make money. For fans of the medium, however, this has been a mixed bag. For every Avengers it seems like there are three Ghost Riders, Punishers and Jonah Hexes. So heads up Tinsel Town’s money-men- in shooting for The Dark Knight rather than Daredevil, choosing the right stars from among the supers is imperative. Here are five good bets.
Wonder Woman/Diana- Amazon Princess
As Superman’s female, steadfastly feminist equivalent Wonder Woman seems like a no-brainer. Amazon Princess Diana’s importance to comics is such that it outshines even her august status as the first widely popular superheroine and one of the most enduring supes of either sex, from any publisher. She’s iconic and archetypal- setting the shapely mold for dozens of female heroes to follow. Though it’s only fair to mention that, technically, Wonder Woman hasn’t exactly suffered from a lack of screen time. Unfortunately, this is a shallow list (I’m disappointed in it) and most of that screen time was spent on the smaller of the species. So until she gets the big-budget, big-screen treatment, Wonder Woman, her outfit and the Lasso of Truth get top billing here.
One of the best and most popular entries in Vertigo publishing’s excellent canon is Preacher- a semi-western about drinking, brawling, fornicating Preacher Jesse Custer who chats with John Wayne’s ghost and has been possessed by a hellish abomination which blesses/curses him with a god-like power. Custer’s accompanied by his killing-disinclined assassin girlfriend and Cassidy- an Irish ex-junkie vampire whose propensity for drinking and brawling may outpace even the Preacher’s. Pursuing Custer and friends are The Grail, a superpower secret society charged with preserving the bloodline of Christ. The Grail is just as intent on keeping secret the fact that two millennia of divine inbreeding have left Christ’s sole surviving heir a developmentally-disabled sadist. The stuff of great cinema.
Liberal arts majors- what do the following supers have in common: Jesse Custer; Superman; Spiderman; most of the X-men; Daredevil; three of the Fantastic Four, et al. That’s right- straight, white males. OK, technically Beast and Nightcrawler are bluish and the Hulk is green half the time, but still. Wonder Woman opened the door for female supes, but virtually always heterosexual ones of fairer complexion. The Black Panther was introduced in 1966 as a response to the black power movement, becoming the first mainstream African (then African-American) superhero. Thankfully for a hypothetical movie, beyond breaking the color barrier after decades of monochromatic crime-fighters, T’Challa is an awesome character. Incorporating the meteor-deposited metal Vibranium and a host of magical items into his natural physical and mental super-skill set, the Black Panther smashes at the forces of evil and racism. He should continue to do so on film.
Swamp Thing/Alec Holland
Swamp Thing has gone through several incarnations- most notably a run by the legendary Alan Moore. Moore elevated Swamp Thing from a near-campy veggie mass to a character of excellently-readable complexity. Whatever incarnation though, the story’s remained pretty much the same- brilliant scientist Alec Holland is the victim of an explosion set by an evil rival. Near death and soaked in powerful, mutating chemicals he stumbles into the nearby swamp. Rather than dying of explosion, chemical-toxicity and drowning Holland becomes a man-plant hybrid elemental with the power of nature at his beck and call. Like Wonder Woman he’s not camera shy but, also like Wonder Woman, until he’s getting into dust-ups with CG villains and diving clear of expensive explosions popped by big-studio effects guys, the Swamp Thing might as well remain exclusively ink-bound.
First off, as a member of the Justice League (think DC’s Avengers) Aquaman is prime tie-in movie material. Secondly, he has a good deal in common with his fellow Aquanaut, Swamp Thing. Both were dosed with volatile chemicals to become what they are, both had acrimonious relationships with fellow supes and both have gone through a number of comic-arc reboots. Likewise, they share comparable complexity. His super-submarine speed, telepathic ability and super-strength are oft-employed to fight alongside good-guy staples like Superman. Trespass on his turf, though, and even good guys aren’t safe from the business end of his fists and fins, minus the fins. And if complexity and subaqueous kung-fu sequences don’t make for a sweet movie, I don’t know what would. That is- unless it’s turned over to whoever was responsible for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Fingers crossed.