It is a big deal whenever a character from the comics is adapted onto the big screen. Fan expectations are high, and they expect an ideal new version of their favorite hero/villain. The quality of the character is dependent on several factors. These include, the character’s origins, how much inspiration is drawn from the comics, and how faithful they are towards a character’s roots. When done right, the portrayal of a comic book character does more than appeal to its fan base. It is even possible for their movie adaptations to become more powerful than then their comic book portrayals, which is the purpose of this list.
Copious amounts of research and screening is done in the process of creating a movie version of a character. It could vary from slight differences, to massive changes. In essence, the character is being reborn with their own universe and brand new origins. However, sometimes the portrayal of the character in film, does not always live up to fan expectations. In these cases, the result is a character who becomes either weaker, or at worst useless, in comparison to their versions in the comics.
As of now, the DC universe is still growing. However, they have still managed to adapt a unique cast of characters from the pages of the comics to the big screen.
Be warned, spoilers ahead!
Here are 10 DC Characters Way Powerful In The Movies (And Ten Who Are Useless).
20. Useless: Lex Luthor (Batman v. Superman)
In the comics, Lex Luthor is a genius who builds machines and technology that allow him to get an advantage over his enemies However, his one true goal is to kill Superman. Every plan he makes to achieve this end is perfectly calculated to get the best results. In the comics, he went from a billionaire businessman to President of the United States.
However, the version of Luthor in Batman v. Superman is not on the same level as he is in the comics. Wile he succeeded in creating Doomsday, his planning and execution were far from perfect. His motivations also stray from defeating Superman and lean more towards a religious fascination with alien life and technology, and the impending invasion to occur in Justice League. This obsession also led to his downfall and eventual incarceration following the deaths of Superman and Doomsday.
19. Powerful: Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman)
She is one of strongest members of the Justice League, as well as a powerful female role model. Wonder Woman’s many abilities allow her to fight on equal ground with Superman. However, we see a new addition to her abilities in Wonder Woman. Unlike in the comics, she does not have the power to fly. However, she more than makes up for this with enhanced reflexes and the ability to produce divine energy by clashing her bracelets together. This new power is attributed to her being created by Zeus, who dubbed her “The Godkiller.” This new power has shown to be effective against all manner of enemies. Not only was it powerful enough to help her defeat a God that killed the Olympians, it was even strong enough to stun Doomsday, and send Steppenwolf flying.
18. Powerful: Steppenwolf (Justice League)
Even though he is Darkseid’s uncle, as well as one of his generals, Steppenwolf does not have much of a prominent position in the comics, as he does in Justice League. One reason why Steppenwolf is considered more powerful than in the comics is due to his connection to the all-powerful Mother Boxes. The movie depicts the Mother Boxes as powerful relics capable of destroying the planet and Steppenwolf, has the power to control them without any trouble. He demonstrates his power of Mother Box technology when he dismembers cyborg, whose enhancements were created by the Mother Box. Furthermore, during his first invasion of Earth, he fights head on against Amazons, Atlanteans, Green Lanterns, and the Gods. Although the battle ends with his retreat, he still refuses to back down, even after getting hit by Zeus lighting. Fortunately for him, his Parademons forced him to retreat to fight another day.
17. Useless: Scarecrow (Batman Begins)
In both the comics and in film, the Scarecrow, aka Jonathan Crane, fights by exploiting peoples fear. His specialized fear gas can disorientate or even kill his opponents by forcing them to confront their worst fears. However, there is a stark contrast between Scarecrow’s comic and movie adaptations.
In the comics, Scarecrow learned how to fight by studying and training his form of “violent dancing,” eventually learning the “Crane Style” of Kung Fu. He also employs the use of farm tools as weapons, such as sickles and scythes. However, in Batman Begins, Crane does not appear to possess any knowledge of hand-to-hand combat. Apart from his fear gas, there is nothing that makes Crane standout as a villain. In the end, all it took was a taser to the face to send him running, or rather galloping, away in fear.
16. Powerful: Nite Owl (Watchmen)
Not to be confused with the villain Owlman, Nite Owl is a hero from the Watchmen comic series. In the comics, Nite Owl is impotent, overweight, and suffers from a lack of confidence. However, in the film adaptation, Nite Owl is in peak physical condition. He is also a very confident in his abilities as a hero, to the point where he even stands up to his teammate Rorschach, whom he is more afraid of in the comics.
Furthermore, in the comics, Nite Owl and the other human members of the Watchmen, are limited by the peak of human ability. However, this is not the case in the film adaptation. During a prison riot Nite Owl demonstrates an above average level of human strength, which he uses to take down several inmates with a single blow.
15. Useless: Penguin (Batman Returns)
Oswald Cobblepot, aka Penguin, is one of the most powerful and influential members of Gotham’s underworld. Though he might not seem like much, it is foolish to underestimate him. Over the years, he has accumulated power thanks to his arsenal of trick umbrellas, his charismatic personality, and support from an army of obedient thugs. However, his movie portrayal in Batman Returns does not reflect his.
His film version does not have access to a group of criminal underlings to help him in his endeavors, instead he only has his adopted family of Penguins to help in pulling off his schemes. Furthermore, the film version of Penguin relied on cheap tricks and deliberate attempts of sabotage to earn the public’s trust. This contrasts with the comics version of the Penguin, who spent years building his reputation as both a business man and crime lord.
14. Powerful: The Joker (The Dark Knight)
The Joker often uses an arsenal of clown themed weapons to carry out his plans. These range from acid flowers to his infamous joker gas, which makes people literally die of laughter. However, in The Dark Knight, The Joker does not use this type of arsenal. This version of Joker embodies a sense of realism, which makes him more appealing than any other Joker.
He is a master strategist capable of killing his targets without ever being near them. He is a manipulator who creates anarchy and uses fear and emotional attachments to turn regular people into killers. While he can do this in the comics, the film version of Joker introduces us to a new reality. He is more than a super villain. He is a believable character. Even without access to gadgets and killer laughing gas, he more than powerful enough to bring Gotham to its knees.
13. Useless: The Riddler (Batman Forever)
Everyone has something to say regarding, Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Riddler in Batman Forever. Unlike in the comics, this version of Riddler is more concerned with stealing other people’s intelligence to increase his own, rather than proving he is naturally smarter than everyone else. The comics depict The Riddler as a genuine psychopath, who takes immense pride in his own intelligence, and desperately seeks to prove to himself, and other people that he is smarter than them. He creates riddles to confuse and belittle other people’s intelligence, while inflating his own sense of superiority. The film version of Riddler does not even try to test Batman’s intelligence and acts in a more Joker-like manner. With that, it is almost impossible to take him seriously as a villain. As one of the Batman’s more intelligent and crazier villains, he deserves a little more respect.
12. Powerful: El Diablo (Suicide Squad)
In Suicide Squad, Amanda Waller claimed that El Diablo was one of the most powerful metahumans in the world. Whether in comics, or film, he certainly demonstrates the power to back it up. Despite his newly adopted pacifist lifestyle, the squad still relies on him to get them out of dangerous situations. However, one thing that sets him apart from his comic counterpart was the manifestation of his flaming avatar. Its power proved more than a match for Incubus, a being that was once hailed as a God. This confirms that El Diablo is stronger than in the comics, as they never showed him ever using a form like that. It also tells us that there was more to El Diablo’s abilities than he let on. Hopefully, this can potentially open doors to more secrets regarding magic in the DCEU.
11. Useless: Poison Ivy (Batman & Robin)
In the comics, Poison Ivy is the champion of all plant life on earth. She is a powerful antagonist whose power over plants rivals the Swamp Thing. She is also an expert in the art of seduction and uses special spores and plants to manipulate men. However, the film version of Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin does not depict Ivy as a force of nature. It actually fails to bring out Ivy’s true potential and demotes her to just some two-bit criminal. The movie implies that she can control plants, but the audience never actually sees her use this power. The only abilities that even closely connects Poison Ivy to her character are her powers to seduce men via mind controlling spores, and her poisonous biology which she uses to poison her victims by kissing them.
10. Powerful: Superman (Man of Steel)
With a literal arsenal of abilities on hand, Superman is one of the most powerful heroes, in both comics and film. However, the film version of Superman from the DCEU, does have an edge over his comic book portrayal. In the Injustice story line, Superman has been shown to kill his enemies, but only because he is in a broken mental state. While in a rationale state of mind, the Man of Steel refuses to kill his enemies, even if they are a hostile alien race. However, in Man of Steel, Superman does the unthinkable and kills Zod by snapping his neck in order to protect an innocent family. As part of the DCEU, this version of Superman shows that he won’t hesitate to cross boundaries that his comic counterpart would never do.
9. Useless: Doctor Poison (Wonder Woman)
Dr. Poison is an early members of Wonder Woman’s rogue’s gallery. The comics portray her as a ruthless character driven by revenge, especially against Wonder Woman. In the film, we see just how ruthless she is as she experiments on human test subjects. Not only do they suffer immensely, but she then removes their masks without hesitation and exposes them to the full pain of her poisons. Unfortunately, the film deviates from the character’s ideal archetype and takes away a key piece of what makes her Diana’s antithesis . Even if her actions were the result of Ares suggestions, she is still responsible for the deaths of a lot of people. In the end, Wonder Woman spares her life, and takes away the part of Doctor Poison that makes her Wonder Woman’s enemy. If anything, she turns out to be just another one of Ares victims.
8. Powerful: Ares (Wonder Woman)
As one of the Twelve Olympian gods, Ares is in a league of his own and is one of Wonder Woman’s greatest enemies. In the comics, Ares rebels against the other Gods, fights with Wonder Woman, creates chaos among humans, and even dethrone Hades and assumes control of the underworld’s forces.
However, his film adaptation earns a spot on this list for doing something that he could never do in the comics. He succeeds in killing the Olympian Gods. At the start of Wonder Woman, audiences bear witness to the story of how in his quest to seize the Throne of Olympus, Ares killed his fellow Olympians, and forced Zeus to seal him away at the cost of his own life. Though many would consider Ares weak for losing to a relatively inexperienced Wonder Woman, he still deserves a spot on this list doing something he never does in the comics.
7. Useless: Captain Boomerang (Suicide Squad)
An expert marksman, Captain Boomerang is a frequent member of the Suicide Squad in the comics. However, in the film, he does not seem to serve any other purpose aside from comic relief. There is a moment in the film where Captain Boomerang can contribute his skills as a marksman to throw explosives at Enchantress. Unfortunately, Killer Croc is the one to take charge in this scene. While Croc is strong, he is not a marksman like Captain Boomerang. In the end, Captain Boomerang is the only character who doesn’t receive a reward for his efforts. He is thrown in a jail cell, while his team enjoys their rewards. His current role in the film likens him to more of a rookie member compared to his experience in the comics. Hopefully, he will have the opportunity to once again prove his worth.
6. Powerful: Cyborg (Justice League)
Cyborg has always been a fan favorite in the comics, especially with his reboot in the New 52. However, Justice League shows the true extent to Cyborg’s power. Cyborg’s skills as a technopath allows him unlimited access to the world’s online network, and gives him the ability to interface with machines. In Justice League, Cyborg reveals the full extent of this power when he tapped into the Mother Boxes, which are noticeably more powerful than in the comics. Initially worried that what remained of his humanity was lost, Cyborg’s will allow him to overcome the power of three combined Mother Boxes. He also managed to navigate his way through the oceans worth of information to disable them, and prevent Steppenwolf from turning the plane into a wasteland.
5. Useless: Slipknot (Suicide Squad)
In the comics, Slipknot is a master assassin who kills his targets using ropes and he is also a member of Firestorm’s rogues’ gallery. Unlike the other characters in Suicide Squad, little is known on his background or how he was captured. Overall, he lacks purpose as a character and contributes little to the development of the plot. One could say that his only purpose was to prove a point. Initially, Slipknot did not believe that bombs had been placed in their necks. When he attempted to escape, he was killed as an example to the other members. From the moment we saw him, it was obvious that he would die. Still, we would have expected more from a guy who was able to take on a powerhouse like Firestorm.
4. Powerful: Enchantress (Suicide Squad)
The first character on our list is the ever so devious Enchantress. In the comics, Enchantress fuses with June Moone after a magical being called Dzamor, pulls her away from her home dimension. Her skills in magic make her capable of practically anything. Her powers include teleportation, telekinesis, element manipulation, and she can even affect non-living objects with her magic.
However, the Enchantress in Suicide Squad does have some qualities which make her slightly stronger. Firstly, she came to Earth of her own free will, where she ruled over humans with her brother Incubus. After being sealed away, she was released by June, who she willingly chose as a host. Secondly, it has been hinted that in the comics, her magic doesn’t seem that effective against living beings. Yet in Suicide Squad, we see her use magic to transform living humans into zombie-like monsters.
3. Useless: Killer Croc (Suicide Squad)
In terms of appearance and attitude, Suicide Squad’s adaptation of Killer Croc doesn’t live up to his portrayal in the comics. In the comics, he is large and terrifying, and he makes sure everyone knows it. The film portrayal does have his moments of savagery, such as attacking his jailers. He barely had any speaking moments and did not make much effort to bond with the other squad members. However, aside from flexing his muscles, Killer Croc remains quite most of the time he is with the squad. He makes no attempt to stand out and prefers to be alone. Overall, his presence is easily replaceable. Croc has a lot of potential, but lacks development as a character. Perhaps in future films, Croc will take on a more dominating role.
2. Powerful: Doomsday (Batman v. Superman)
Doomsday is one of the most dangerous threats in the DC Universe. Debuting in the ‘Death of Superman’ arc, he became one of Superman’s strongest foes. In Batman v. Superman, we observe a new origin to the character. Though highly debated and criticized, his new origins do not make him any less of a threat. If anything, it actually increases it. Doomsday’s signature powers include super strength, and the ability to adapt, and evolve through combat. In Batman v. Superman, he develops some new powers. These include generating heat beams from his eyes, absorbing energy, and releasing large bursts of electrical energy. Power wise, he more than lives up to his reputation as the monster who killed Superman.
1. Useless: Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Christopher Nolan’s version of Bane is an amazing portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight Rises. Yet his revamped origins make him far weaker than the comic book version of Bane. In the comics, Bane grew up in a prison, which made him acquire the strength to survive. He later gains super strength strength after becoming addicted to the steroid known as Venom. This revamp of Bane’s character bears no similarity to his comic book origins. According to some sources, Christopher Nolan hesitated to put Bane in his film universe because he did not believe that he fit in, which is why he revamped the character. Unfortunately, while a strong fighter, Nolan’s version of Bane does not compare to the raw power of Bane from the comics.
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