Kernel – Movie News and Reviews

7 Underrated DC Superheroes We’d Like To See On The Big Screen

14 min read

With Wonder Woman 1984 set to have its theater release on August 14th 2020, the news that Henry Cavill will reprise his role of Superman and cameo roles in future films, and The Justice League Snyder Cut to be shown on HBO MAX, (2021), Warner Bros. has definitely stepped up it’s game to finally bring together the DCEU as a whole.

Though most of these films will feature established heroes, one can’t help to imagine what would it be like if they started to focus on the second string of heroes and who could they be. With DC’s massive roster, I decided to take a hard look into the unique stories of the lesser know, and I came up with a list of seven heroes that can be brought into the DCEU.

7) Plastic Man

Plastic Man drawn by Alex Ross

Originally appearing in Police Comic’s issue #1 (1941), and based in the city of Chicago, Patrick “Eel” O’Brien was a two-bit criminal with no real prospers in life. While committing a heist at the Crawford Chemical Works, Eel was confronted by a guard and shot during his escape. In disarray, Eel loses his footing and collapses into an unknown chemical that pores directly into his wound. Terribly injured, Eel evades capture and ends up at Rest Haven (a retreat for spiritualists). While recovering, Eel quickly finds his interactions with the chemical has given him the abilities to stretch his human form to anything his mind can think of and is nearly impenetrable.

Superpowers in hand Eel decides to reform from his criminal ways and begins his life as crime fighter. Having been able to work with Batman on several cases, and even receiving a recommendation from the Dark Knight, Plastic Man was sworn into the Justice League Of America.

Why It Can Work:

Silly costume aside, Plastic Man has been admired by many fans for quite sometime now. From starring in his own animated series The Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show in the 80s, to appearances in Batman: The Brave and Bold, Plastic Man is known for a quirky personality and wild transformations (i.e. when he morphed into a spray can). That being said, it’s been established that a comedic superhero movie (Shazam) can be a box office hit even when it’s target towards a younger audience.

A great example of how a stretchable guy with a fun personality can easily become a fan favorite, is set in the CW’s The Flash series. In the show, actor Hartley Sawyer (used to) played Ralph Dibny, a private investigator that ends up having an accident and comes to find he can stretch his limbs in all sorts of ways. With the help of the Flash, Dibny takes up the moniker Elongated Man.

I couldn’t really see a cinematic Batman teaming up with Plastic Man (at least in a solo movie) but perhaps a comedy duo between Shazam and himself may do the trick. As for an actor to play the role, many have noticed the John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live, Big Mouth) has an uncanny resemblance to Plastic Man.

6) Booster Gold

Booster Gold drawn by Gaurav

In his debut Booster Gold #1 (1986), Micheal John Carter was a college quarterback from the 25th century. An exceptional athlete with a full ride in Gotham University, Carter’s estranged father re-entered his life with the prospect of connecting to his son, however his attentions were made clear when he asked his son to lose games on purpose. Eager to have a relationship with his father, Carter chooses to throw his games but with great consequences to follow. Being caught in the act, Carter was expelled, disgraced, and ultimately alone.

Struggling to get by, Carter takes a job as a security guard at the Space Museum. One evening Carter walks through the infamous room of heroes from the 20th century and decides that his future is ruined but the past isn’t. Crater steals Rip Hunter’s time machine, a security/knowledgeable robot named Skeets, a flight ring, and a forcefield belt. With 25th century technology at his fingertips and the knowledge of historical events Carter takes the persona of Booster Gold.

Why It Can Work:

Even though Booster Gold has been on the scene since 1986, one of his greatest story arcs came from the weekly series 52 (a 2006 DC event that connected to 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths). Here Booster travels back in time to attend the funeral of Superboy. However, upon arrival he notices that the majority of well known heroes didn’t arrive. Being educated on everything involving the past, Booster and Skeets start to unravel a new mystery and this one may be all his fault.

Taking the premise from the 52 series, a Booster Gold movie can focus on recorrecting this timeline and introduce some other unknown heroes in the process. Plus, seeing that Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman don’t exist we wouldn’t have to worry about who would play them in this movie version. With The Flash movie set to be released in 2022, a Booster Gold movie can be a prequel to the events that lead to Flashpoint (the rumored storyline that the Flash movie will follow).

Booster Gold hasn’t been a stranger to the screen, with cameos in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and a live action version in Smallville. Some honorable dream casting from fans, are Erik Christian Olsen (Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, NCIS), Nathan Filion (Firefly, Castle), and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, Starship Troopers).

5) Black Hawk and The Black Hawk Squadron

Blackhawk and the Blackhawk Squadron drawn by Bob Powell

In the wake of World War 2, Military Comics introduced Blackhawk #1 (1941). Blackhawk focuses on Janos Prohaska, a Polish war hero, that has built up his reputation as being an extraordinary leader and pilot. While on a mission against the Nazi’s, Prohaska’s family was killed during a German bombing raid. Now an orphan, Prohaska swears vengeance against the Nazi threat and takes the moniker of Blackhawk. Outfitted with a pilot’s uniform and a black hawk emblem on his chest, Prohaska begins to recruit a wide range of pilots from around the world which ultimately become the Blackhawk Squadron.

With the Blackhawk Squadron now a present force against the Nazi regime (and a will to fight against all odds, even certain death for freedom), Prohaska starts to take aim at all enemy forces that are willing to harm the innocent. Later, the Blackhawks introduce their first female pilot named Zinda Blake. Blake, sharing the same attributes of Proshaka, is given the name of Lady Blackhawk, and together they become CIA recruits and even have a quarrel with Lex Luthor.

Why It Can Work:

First of all, who doesn’t like a good ol’e fashion dog fight in the sky? Secondly, with such films as Pearl Harbor, Fly Boys, Top Gun, “heck” even Star Wars, there’s something to be admired about a group men and woman taking a battle to the sky. With gun fire, explosions, and the screeching of metal masked in clouds, I can see a Blackhawk movie on the horizon.

Though Blackhawk isn’t a current comic book series, I can already see a plot line where Zinda Blake joins a well established team and has to prove herself worthy to be called a Blackhawk. Following the original release in the 1940’s, the movie would be able to keep it’s costume design.

4) The New Gods

New Gods by Alex Ross

When Darkseid appeared in Superman’s Pal’ Jimmy Olsen #134 (1970), fans couldn’t help to wonder who this galactic beast was. This of course set DC to introduce New Gods (1971). Not only was it to feature Darkseid as the antagonist, but also a group of heroes to fight against the supreme being.

Created from the ashes of the old Gods, a cosmic beam of light rattled the universe collecting all the remnants of what the galaxy had to offer. Coming into contact with the Olympian Gods (i.e Zeus, Hades, etc.), the beam divided their home into two separate wolds. While the Olympians were all but gone, their knowledge and power found it’s way to the new generation of people that had taken over these new worlds. One planet easily compared to Garden of Eden, it’s full of life greenery and stunning scenery became New Genesis. While the other, a nightmarish place with fires burning on all sides of the planet, a world where wildlife could thrive, but does not, became Apokolips.

While the people of New Genesis grew to be a peaceful community in the guidance of Izaya the Inheritor (aka High Father), Apokolips became the opposite with it’s ruler being Uxas (aka Darkseid). These world were in a constant war with each other with many deaths on both sides. A peace treaty was finally signed. Known as “The Pact”, both parties would give up a son to be raised by the other. As Darkseid’s son, Orion, thrived on New Genesis, Scott Free, son of High Father, was disobedient towards Darkseid for he knew his step-father would one day need to be stopped.

Why It Could Work:

With the recent news that Zack Snyder’s Director‘s Cut of the Justice League will be released on HBO Max sometime next year and will feature some cut-scenes with the tyrant Darkseid (as shown in our article here), a New Gods film could very well be the backstory needed to explain his origins. Sure, there’s been hints about it and plenty of cameos in Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Smallville, Superman: The Animated Series, but can it all compare to an actual storyline of the DC Universe’s greatest villain? For instance, Darkseid was previously married and had a son. His first wife was killed by his mother over a dispute. It’s with his second wife that Orion was born and then given away to High Father.

If there was going to be a Justice League 2 (we now live in a world of possibilities, after years from the first film we have the Snyder Cut coming soon), they could have an appearance of Orion fighting with the Justice League as they take on Darkseid. No one can deny that there is plenty of story to go off, with the New Gods being descendants of the old Olympian Gods, to a raging war between the New Gods and Apokolips. An origin film may be exactly what we need to get the DECU back on track.

3) Animal Man

Art by Jae Lee

Having been featured in an already established comic book series, Bernard “Buddy” Baker was officially introduced in Strange Adventures #180 (1965), as a old time punk rocker, turned stuntman. While on location for a film, Buddy Baker headed into the Adirondack Mountains to do a bit of exploring. It was during this time that Buddy encounters a strange life force in the forest that gives him a new attribute he didn’t have before.

Arriving home and not knowing what really transpired in the forest, Buddy takes a trip too the local zoo to clear his head. It’s here that things become a bit clearer when a group of animals escape their confinements and begin to run rapid. With panic spreading, Buddy encounters a tiger with the intentions to make him his meal. Backed in a corner, Buddy prepares for a brutal death. While the tiger proceeds to run towards him, Buddy’s instincts take a wild turn, as his reflexes and senses help him leap out of danger. No longer in a fight or flight mode, Buddy instigates the tiger to follow him while he makes his way to a clearing. There Buddy runs into a gorilla and soon starts to mimic it’s strength, with one swoop Buddy is able to grab the tiger and fling it towards the gorilla.

After the events in the zoo, Buddy starts to investigate the strange light he encountered. This leads him to an ancient shaman that had cast a spell to protect the lifeweb/the red (a primordial power that binds every living animal in earth). Coincidently, the spell connected itself to Buddy, which also has given him the abilities to inhabit any animal nearby for a short period of time. Buddy, with a new found connection to the animal world, openly takes the role of superhero/adventurer Animal Man.

Why It Could Work

Let’s face it, people often wonder what are our animals are thinking? This thought process has spawned several Dr. Doolittle movies spanning from 1967 through 2020. Even though an Animal Man movie wouldn’t necessarily be Buddy speaking directly, it would feature his empathy towards their feelings and of course their physical attributes. Also, it can be a movie that shares the importance of our animal species and their survival.

One thing that sets Animal Man apart from the rest is that he’s completely open with his alias and even has a family to go along with it. Being a member of the Justice League of America, he could show a different perspective of a hero that could be easily made into a target. While we might never see an Animal Man film anytime in the future, we can sure that some fans have started a dream casting for Armie Hammer to take on the role of Buddy Baker.

2) Zatanna

Art by Alex Ross

Zatanna dazzled us with her charm in the Hawkman #4 (1964). As a descendant of Leonardo Da Vinci, daughter to John Zatara (a magician known for his excellent spell casting/ saying his spells backwards for concentration, plus amazing brawling skills) and Sindella
(a member of the mystic tribe called the Hidden Ones), Zatanna Zatara already was set be great magician. However, with having a famous father often associated with the All-Star Squadron (a superhero team) and a mystical mother born with the arts, danger is always lurking.

Unfortunately for Zatanna that danger took the life of her mother at a young age, and later she and her father were cursed by an evil elemental named Allura. Allura, with a burning hatred towards Zatara, prevented him to ever see Zatanna and vice versa. This of course left Zatanna to venture into her adult life alone. Though her abilities to manipulate the elements, transmutation, and transport were excellent, she wasn’t able to break the curse and started to use the stage as a entertainer.

During her quest to somehow to see her father again, she meets occultist (and later love interest) John Constantine. With Constantine on her side and the help from the Justice League of America, Allura’s curse was lifted and Zatanna was once again reunited with her father. Years later Zatara, Zatanna, Constantine, and other mystical beings fought against the Darkness(a supernatural being), in which Zatanna witnessed her father die in the battle as he sacrificed himself so she could live.

Why It Could Work:

While magic hasn’t been completely explored in the DCEU (besides from 2019’s Shazam), a movie focusing on the mystical side of the universe can provide a change from the usual beat em’ up films that the comic book genre has produced for the last few decades. That being said, imagine not only having Zatanna on the big screen, but a new introduction to John Constantine and perhaps an introduction to Justice League Dark?

Much like the Constantine film in 2005 (starring Keanu Reeves), this can take on the suspense/horror genre and bring the premise of demons coming to our earth by having warlocks or dark sorcerers opening portals to our realm. Keeping it true to the storyline, Zatanna can be in searching for some answers about her background and eventually meet Constantine in the process.

This also wouldn’t be the first time Zatanna would make it to the screen, she’s been portrayed by Serinda Swan in the CW’s Smallville, Young Justice, and Batman: The Animated Series.

1) Red Hood

Art by Dexter Soy

Before taking the role of Gotham’s vengeful ani-hero, Red Hood was Jason Todd and second Robin to Batman. Making his debut in Detective Comics #526, Jason Todd had it severally bad from the very beginning. With fans only knowing Robin/Dick Grayson to be the true heir to Batman, this subsequently led to a public vote to his death.

Troubled Jason Todd, found his way into Batman‘s world with an unexpected encounter, caught literally stealing the wheels off The Batmobile. With nowhere to go and visibly orphaned, Batman/Bruce Wayne decides to take the young boy in and offers him a purpose. Thus begins his training as the second Robin. Though Jason excelled in acrobatics, hand to hand combat, and weaponry, he wasn’t able to control his anger when it came to fighting criminals, often beating people to a bloody pulp. As Batman noticed the red flags begin to rise up, a desperate Jason searched for his mother after clues had resurfaced indicting she was alive. This led Jason to secretly travel to Africa to see his mother.

Blinded by the joy of reconnection to his mother, Jason fell trapped in the clutches of Batman’s greatest foe, the Joker. While being held hostage, the Joker tortured and brutally beat Jason with a crow bar leaving the second Robin inches away from death. Unfortunately for Jason his death wasn’t going to be over so quickly. Rigging a warehouse with explosions and knowing that Batman was on his way to save Jason, the Joker waited for the right moment before setting off the explosion and instantly killing the second Robin.

Being reborn from the Lazarus pit, Jason returned to the world the way he left it angered, troubled, and broken. With a burning in his heart for vengeance against all who’s done him wrong, Jason took the mantle of Red Hood, and quickly inserts himself into Gotham’s crime syndicates and starts murdering each of them one by one. As his name rises from the depths, Batman once again encounters his former sidekick. This time enraged how the Joker still walks the Earth, Jason decides that Batman is no worse than the criminal he fights.

Why It Could Work:

If connected to the current DCEU, and following the statements from Director Zack Snyder on his Vero account, the Robin suit seen in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice belongs to the beloved Dick Grayson, and not to the speculated Jason Todd. Though it wouldn’t keep in a direct tie-in with Batman: A Death In the Family, it still can be used as a story arch to set up Jason.

For instance Dick could still be killed by Joker, which leads Bruce to eagerly and mistakenly start to train a new Robin. Finding that his new recruit can’t replace Dick, Bruce decides to leave Jason which will ultimately become his psychotic break. Feeling alone and angered by Bruce’s betrayal Jason takes the name Red Hood and begins his purge of the city starting with Batman.

Alive Jason Todd was a spoiled brat that fans choose to let die, Reborn Jason Todd is Red Hood, and a successful fan favorite. Red Hood has been featured in Young Justice, Batman Under the Hood, and Jason Todd is currently being portrayed by Curran Walters on the DC Universe Original Titans.

Do you agree with this list? Or is there any other heroes you’d like to see make it the big screen? Let us know in the comment section on our website, also be sure to catch up with news, reviews, originals, with the kernel App, and don’t forget to add us on TwitterInstagram.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *