With Wonder Woman now a critical and financial hit, the DCEU is back on solid footing after its widely divisive start. The film from director Patty Jenkins (Monster) is unique in a number of ways, one among them being that its writer (Allan Heinberg) has a background in comics. Having previously written for Marvel and taken on Wonder Woman for DC, his prior experience no doubt aided in Ms. Prince’s adaptation for the silver screen.
While it is an entirely different medium than film, those who work as writers in the comics industry are no strangers to putting out quality work under tight deadlines, and they possess greater knowledge of the source material than outside filmmakers like David Ayer (Suicide Squad).
With that in mind, here are the 15 people we picked to work for Warner Bros. in the near future, along with the project they’re best suited for (in no particular order).
15. Scott Synder
Best known for his creator-owned series American Vampire, Snyder joined DC Comics in 2011 under an exclusive contract. While there, the Columbia University graduate wrote for Swamp Thing, Superman, and, in partnership with artist Greg Capullo, he crafted an acclaimed run on Batman that many critics viewed as the highlight of the company’s New 52 publishing relaunch. With a focus on long, multi-issue arcs like The Court of Owls and Death of the Family, Snyder would be a natural fit for scripting duties on The Batman.
Though the film already has a story written by Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns, with re-writes from Chris Terrio (Argo), the studio and director Matt Reeves would be wise to let someone who has made the character shine in recent years take a pass at his next appearance on the big screen. There may not be a more qualified man for the job.
Synder Image via Pat Loika of Flickr
14. Mariko Tamaki
Born and raised in Toronto, Tamaki began her career in the comics industry with the 2008 graphic novel Skim. Centered on the experiences of a Japanese-Canadian girl attending an all-girls catholic school, the book was widely acclaimed, being nominated for several Eisner Awards (The Oscars of the comic industry) the following year. You may not know her name just yet, but she’s a rising star in the industry.
If DC decides to throw a curveball character like Supergirl into their film slate, or make one of their more traditional characters more complex by altering their race, gender or sexual orientation, Tamaki would be a great choice. The depth of her writing done to date in independent pieces and on characters like Supergirl and She-Hulk shows that she could truly make even the most unsympathetic audience root for those who are different from them.
Tamaki Image via S.F.P.L on YouTube
13. G. Willow Wilson
Fanboys might get up in arms at this selection due to thinking that Ms. Wilson has written solely for Marvel, but she has also worked on characters like Vixen and even Superman. (For what it’s worth, most big writers have worked for each major company at some point.) A practicing Muslim, Wilson is best known in mainstream circles for writing the ongoing Ms. Marvel series featuring the teenage hero Kamala Khan of Jersey City, New Jersey. Khan is a positive and fun character, and the way she is written would be a natural fit for the (release to be determined) Flash film, or even Shazam.
12. Grant Morrison
Marvel’s formula seems to have shifted into crafting movies that may seem like superhero adventures on the surface, but could easily be categorized as something else altogether (Ant Man being a heist film, etc.). If Warners wants to make a film that seems superheroic but then gets weird or loopy once you really dive in, there’s no one better for that kind of flick than Grant Morrison.
The Scottish born former musician has in the past claimed to have been abducted by aliens, and once asked readers to participate in a “wankathon” in order to boost sales of The Invisibles, a comic he wrote that went on to influence The Matrix in the view of many fans. If hired by DC, Morrison would be a great fit for a Deadpool style character movie. Perhaps Lobo, or maybe even Animal Man, a series he wrote for years to much critical acclaim.
11. Brian Azzarello
To be frank, Jared Leto’s Joker needs a redemption. After being relentlessly ripped apart by the famously sharp team at Screen Junkies in their Honest Trailers series, someone needs to come along and wipe away the mockery. And Brian Azzarello may very well be the best man for the job.
Best known for the Vertigo series 100 Bullets, he later collaborated with Lee Bermejo on the graphic novel Joker. Told from the point of view of one of the Clown Prince of Crime’s henchmen, the 2008 offering was critically acclaimed and was said by IGN to be “one of the few successful attempts to scratch beneath the surface of the Joker’s impenetrable psyche.” Plus, the henchman (Jonny Frost) from the story already appeared in Suicide Squad, where he was played by Jim Parrack, so it could work. Assuming he wasn’t killed in that helicopter crash, we mean.
10. Marguerite Bennett
A native New Yorker and a former student of Scott Snyder (according to Comic Vine), Bennett has written for more badass female characters than you can shake a stick at. Batwoman, Batgirl, the female superhero team The Incredible Hulks, Red Sonja, and Josie and the Pussycats have all been graced by her presence. She’s been having some trouble in the industry lately after some health issues (which you can learn more about on her Patreon page) and would benefit handily from being selected to work on a film. Of course, the fans would be the real winners in the end if she signed on for a DCEU project.
Though Joss Whedon likes to have a hand in writing his own films and has a comic background, we feel that his upcoming Batgirl piece would be well served by bringing in Bennett to aid in the story development. After all, two heads are better than one. Especially if those two heads belong to hyper-talented individuals like Whedon and Bennett.
9. Gail Simone
A former hairdresser, Simone made her entry into the comics industry after getting involved with the fan site known as Women in Refrigerators, which was founded to critique depictions of female characters in the comic book industry. After a few years of writing The Simpsons comics and a dispute with Marvel, she wound up at DC and eventually became the longest running female to work on publications featuring Wonder Woman.
If Allan Heinberg turns out to be too busy with other projects to write the sequel to Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins, assuming she gets signed to direct again, would be wise to bring in Simone for collaboration. Someone as prolific and multifaceted clearly would have a wise suggestion or two for an epic superhero film.
Simone Image via William Tung of Flickr
8. Geoff Johns
Though he might be busy with his role as the President of DC Entertainment, Johns does have a true storytelling talent, and he has experience across multiple mediums. Best known perhaps for writing several celebrated arcs for Green Lantern, Johns also has written episodes of Smallville, Arrow, and The Flash for The CW. Highlights from his live-action writing work include “Absolute Justice”, which IGN ranked as the best episode of Smallville’s entire run.
Though he’s written the script for The Batman alongside Ben Affleck, the in-development Green Lantern film could use his input on a more involved level than the Ryan Reynolds starring disaster. He worked as a creative consultant on it, and clearly, that didn’t work out. Maybe a more active role would do the trick? We’ll have to wait and see.
7. Becky Cloonan
Born in Italy, Cloonan got her start doing solo comic work in 2006 with the graphic novel East Coast Rising. Depicting a world where New Jersey and New York City have become submerged, the piece was nominated for an Eisner in 2007 for best new series. She later became the first woman to draw for Batman in 2012, and she currently writes Gotham Academy.
If picked up to jump into the film side, we at Screen Rant would like to see her continue her pursuits into the world of Batman. As her work shows, she’d be a natural fit for bringing the dark underbelly of Gotham to life without the Caped Crusader even making an appearance. If DC’s looking for a helping hand on projects like Nightwing, Batgirl or Gotham City Sirens, there’s no doubt that she’d write a great script.
6. Bruce Timm
While most readers will know Bruce Timm from his work on the widely acclaimed animated universe of DC Comics properties from the ’90s and early 2000s, the well-respected animator and director originally wanted to be a comic book artist. He’s even worked on series like He-Man, Batman, and the Avengers at various points.
With other writers being better suited for the upcoming Batman film, Timm would be a welcome addition to a Man of Steel sequel. His animated Superman series is often overlooked when standing alongside the likes of Justice League and Batman: The Animated Series, and that’s a shame. His Clark Kent is hopeful, the fighting is fun, and there is never a dreary or overly grim moment to be found on the show. That tone is something that the DCEU and Superman desperately need going forward.
5. Paul Dini
Like his predecessor Mr. Timm, Dini has a background in animation primarily, but he’s also dabbled in comics and video games over the years. Recently, he wrote the stories for the three games in the Arkham Trilogy from British developer Rocksteady, and he authored a heart-wrenching autobiographical graphic novel called Dark Knight: A True Batman Story, which tells readers of his depression, loneliness, and recovery from a brutal mugging in the ’90s.
He can do dark or lighthearted work, and he’d be a perfect fit for a Justice League sequel or Suicide Squad 2 and beyond in that sub-series. Pair him with a director like Ruben Fleischer and they could make something special, whether that’s a team of villains struggling for redemption, a story of Zatanna the Magician, or a Superman-led Justice League.
4. Alan Moore
Given his past history and scathing reactions to film adaptations of his original work, it’s unlikely that Alan Moore would ever sit down to write a script for a mainstream Hollywood movie, but hey, dare to dream. The English writer has crafted some legendary stories for Batman (like The Killing Joke) and he wrote a comic that many consider to be one of the greatest Superman tales of all time (Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?)
That being said, he’s perhaps at his best when working with the dark, macabre, or supernatural. If Justice League Dark is still in development, he’d be perfect for that, and Constantine (whom the writer has claimed to have met in the past in real life) or Swamp Thing would also be ideal fits. Dark characters deserve a man who comes across as intense and serious in his comic writing in order to do them justice on film.
3. Marjorie Liu
Born in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia, for the less geographically inclined folks at home) and raised in Seattle, Washington, Liu became a fan of comic books after purchasing some to use as references while designing an X-Men fan site in college. After a few years of writing original non-comics content on her own, she landed her first job with Marvel in 2005, and later wrote an ongoing series starring X-23, the popular clone of Wolverine originally introduced on X-Men: Evolution and recently portrayed by Dafne Keen in Logan.
With a background in writing characters who struggle to fit in in society and are a tad gruff, Liu would be a good fit for Black Adam or any of DC’s alien characters. Why couldn’t the Martian Manhunter be adapted for the big screen?
2. Mark Waid
One of the biggest criticisms of the DCEU in its early stages has been that it’s too dark and dreary all the time. In the event that Warner Bros. is feeling ballsy, they should opt for a loose adaptation of Waid’s Kingdom Come in order to address this. And if this project ever got off the ground, there’s no better scriptwriting candidate than Mark Waid.
For readers unfamiliar with the original source material, Kingdom Come is a story set in an alternate version of the DC Universe where Batman and Superman abandon their roles as heroes after a new character named Magog kills the Joker in cold blood. Eventually, a new generation of powered humans arises and begins fighting so recklessly that the line between hero and villain becomes indistinguishable. This could work well as a universe wide reset, or even a dramatic conclusion to the whole thing. Because let’s face it, this stuff has to come to an end at some point.
Waid Image via Gage Skidmore of Flickr.
1. Ta-Nehisi Coates
Though he’s currently writing the excellent Black Panther series for Marvel, given his involvement in several other projects at once (like magazine writing, journalism, historical publications, and television), Coates would likely have no problem pulling double duty for the House of Ideas’ rival if the offer was right. He ranks among the most talented writers working today — in comics or otherwise — so DC would be wise to get him on their team if the opportunity presented itself.
If given the call, Coates could craft an excellent Jon Stewart helmed Green Lantern film, or perhaps would do justice to the supposedly-still-in-the-cards Cyborg solo movie. That film, starring Ray Fisher, has had little to no movement on it, and hiring a writer like Coates to script the project could be just the thing needed to generate fan buzz and production momentum.
What other comic book scribes would you want to see tapped for scriptwriting duties on a DCEU film? Let us know in the comments.
Wonder Woman is in theaters now; Justice League opens November 17, 2017; Aquaman – December 21, 2018; Shazam – April 5, 2019; Cyborg – April 3, 2020; Green Lantern Corps– July 24, 2020 while Justice League Dark, The Flash, A Justice League Sequel, The Batman, an untitled Man of Steel Sequel, an untitled Suicide Squad Sequel, Gotham City Sirens, an untitled Black Adam film, an untitled Nightwing film and an untitled Batgirl film remain in various stages of development.