With fan favourite X-Men: Days of Future Past in the works for Hollywood adaption, one can only speculate with drool-worthy anticipation at what classic piece of comic history will be next up: The Night Gwen Stacy Died, A Death in the Family, The Clone Saga (don’t you even dare!)? To keep things fresh, we need stories on par with the Avengers [Assemble] and The Dark Knight, so epic yarns are called for. For what it’s worth, here are some of my top contenders.
5. Green Lantern Corps War
There are 3 universal certainties: death, “Everything freezes” (according to Mr. Arnold Freezenegger in Batman & Robin), and that Green Lantern was an unmitigated disaster. I’ve been to graveyards for orphaned kittens less depressing. Green Lantern took elements of the comic, combined it with the plots of Thor and Iron Man and produced an abominable mess that ignored what made each component work in its own unique way. Bad character development using formulaic 2D templates and garish designs aside, the main problem was just how stroke-inducingly boring the whole debacle was. One can loath Blade Trinity, Fantastic 4 and X-Men: The Last Stand, but at least they provide replay value for the sake of mockery. Green Lantern is so excruciating that it denies us even that.
Under the helm of head writer Geoff Johns, Green Lantern was for considerable years one of the best comic on the shelves: a sprawling soap opera of civil war epic spanning galaxies that introduced a whole host of bright, bold new characters and possibilities. Basically Star Trek: Deep Space 9 with power rings. It was a bold gamble that paid off, especially considering the state of the title before the relaunch. So make a live action version already! Though it may take several films to build up to the War of the Green Lanterns storyline, seeing the 7 fractious Lantern Corps fighting a galactic-scale battle, literally willing their imaginations to destructive capabilities in vibrant colour, would perhaps allow us to forgive and forget its’ predecessor and it’s CGI mask.
4. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2
Classic literacy characters verses ruthless alien invaders in giant spider tanks, set against a steam-punk Victorian period setting? Sign me up!
Hard to believe that there is a superhero film out there more tedious than Green Lantern, but that was Spider-Man 2 compared to this wretched spawn of Satan. I’d rather be tied naked to a seatless bicycle and made to watch The Adventures of Pluto Nash with my eyes held open Clockwork Orange-style, than be subjected to this movie so awful it made Sean Connery quit acting – and he’s starred in films I wouldn’t have the heartlessness to show my worst enemy’s’ rabid, child-savaging dog.
However, the graphic novels are more than worthy of a second chance, particularly the second volume which pits the League against the Martian forces from H.G.Wells’ classic War of the Worlds. Filled with espionage, action, betrayal, Grandpa-on-vampire eroticism, and nightmarish renditions of lovable children’s characters all set against an industrial revolution England backdrop, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 2 is the ultimate anti-modern superhero movie, with a look that’d set it apart from its contemporaries.
And if that doesn’t win you over, what if I were to inform you that the Invisible Man gets sexed-up by Mr Hyde? Petition the studio execs below.
3. Marvel Zombies
Personally, I was done with the whole zombie fad by 2004’s Dawn of the Dead but this would be such fun to see.
Sam Rami has already proven his worth in the world of the undead and Spider-Man, so what are Marvel Studios waiting for? As the series went on (with a sharp decline in quality) it became more humorous whilst keeping its horrific goriness. Raimi could not be more perfect to spearhead this, undoubtedly creating an unforgettable masterpiece of horrific comedy.
2. House of M
Granted we need to wait until the license rights return to Marvel Studios/Disney over the next few years, but this What if…? epic spanning the entire Marvel universe helped shape the comics for nearly a decade.
Reality-molding Scarlett Witch brings new meaning to the term ‘psychological breakdown’ and reshapes the world to fit her warped ideology, where mutant are the majority, ruled over by Magneto and family. Wolverine (immune to brainwashing thanks to his years of being brainwashed by Weapons X (roll with me here) and a girl able to repair the memories of the real world set off to re-recruit their former comrades and lead a daring attack on the Maximoff Capital to restore reality itself. A superb build-up where we see what the Marvelverse would be like if everyone’s dream life came to pass (Peter and Gwen married with child is particularly memorable), exploding in one heck of a free-for-all battle, and an ending that affected the denizens Marvel for years to come.
With the potential to be the comic book movie equivalent of Lord of the Rings, House of M could span into several installments and then further branch out into Civil War, Messiah Complex, Messiah War, Second Coming and maybe even Children’s Crusade and Avengers vs. X-Men storylines. It’s a bold move that could stop the worrying likelihood of the superhero genre becoming a tedious stable of blockbuster season.
I’ll be holding my breath. Humans can go without breathing indefinitely, right?
1. Kingdom Come
*Ahem* HAHAHAHAHAHA! Sure, and on that day Alan Moore will provide sensual massages to all the CEOs at DC. While we’re deluding ourselves that there will EVER be any sort of live action Justice League film, why not reach for the stars (even if by now I dare not wish that I could ever dream of hoping to see Warner make an executive decision and green light this project)?
Personally, I don’t think the JLA can work as a movie (something else I will come back to discussing in the future). Having said that, Kingdom Come is perhaps the best way Warner could hope to tackle a cinematic version of the League. With a heavy dystopian tone similar to Watchmen, the book isn’t so much about what happens when heroes come together to save the world, but what happens when said heroes step down to leave the world to a new generation who’re spoilt and lost in life, due to the comfortable upbringing provided for them by their predecessors that left them wanting nothing, and unwilling to make sacrifices to continue the selfless work. An thought provoking concept indeed.
“But Matt, you Herculean commentator on the human mind”, you squall, “don’t audiences need to be invested in the characters first in order for this to work?” Hmm, normally yes, but Watchmen didn’t need to introduce it’s heroes to the audience in five stand-alone movies; it showed us who they were and what made them that way through their actions and interpersonal dynamics, so I don’t believe it necessary to go the same way as Marvel Studios and provide a film to each key player. No one needs to spend 2+ hours of their time to learn where the Flash got his powers, or where Hawk Man met Hawk Woman.
Sure I’m biased in that I don’t find the DC roster as deep and interesting as the Marvel crowd, but this is primarily because the characters have developed little over the decades and the incorporated aliens, demi-gods and parallel beings are so far removed from humanity that they are hard to empathize with. I just want to see Superman punch Captain Marvel in the face so hard it causes earthquakes, in a tale of redemption which just happens to have a meta-human battle royale standing between the world and Armageddon.
C’mon, Warner Brothers: you’re the studio that made us believe a man could fly; why is it such a stretch to believe we’ll live to see this film before we see the dinosaur cyborgs invade to bestow their terrible retribution on mankind? Is it so hard to put some actors in leotards and CGI in some aliens or whatever to fight? Christ on a cracker, they’ve made Hellboy and Watchmen – Watchmen: the un–filmable! – into successful movies for Haruhi Suzumiya’s sake! Don’t let Justice League become your personal Duke Nukem Forever.