Following his cameo in the after-credits scene of Justice League, Deathstroke will be getting his own solo movie, with Gareth Evans in talks to direct. Evans is well known for making action movies on a shoestring budget; his highly-praised tower block assault film The Raid was made for just $1.1 million. Other recent action flicks, like Dredd and John Wick, were made for roughly $30 million each, proving that it’s possible to tell an exciting, action-packed story by using limited resources in a creative way.
With the DCEU struggling to find its voice, and a massive catalogue of available characters in DC’s roster, Warner Bros. could potentially produce some trulyunique comic book movies on a small budget, and with minimum risk. As such, here are our top picks for DC characters who would be perfect for low-budget movie adaptations.
This Page: The Question and Challengers of the Unknown
The Question has a strange history in comics. Brought over when DC bought out Charlton Comics, Vic Sage has had a rough go of it trying to establish himself with a broader audience. He’s been a Zen detective and journalist, a paranoid conspiracy theorist, and an ethereal being as part of the Trinity of Sin. Sage’s durability would allow for almost any kind of genre-bending in a Question movie. Something familiar but esoteric like Twin Peaks, a street-level, noirish tale like Out of the Past, or a conspiracy thriller like State of Play and Michael Clayton; he’s lived through it all. Maybe you could just mash whatever you’d like into it and see what happens, like Millennium. The fact that Sage’s sanity is dubious at best makes him the ultimate unreliable narrator. If that instability is explored, it can be used to create a unique visual and narrative lexicon that would take a potentially mundane tale and turn it into something interesting.
As a character, the Question is certainly one of the more downtrodden superheroes. He’s not particularly wealthy, he’s possibly crazy, and he’s not great in a fight. That makes the stakes a little higher in his adventures. He’s all about the mind, and unfortunately his own mind is a mess. Sage is perfect for a psychological thriller (you really have to take stock of yourself when Batman says you’re paranoid) whose plot would reflect the personal struggle the Question is having.
This would be the perfect movie to put character over spectacle. Sage’s zen-objectivist philosophy would add a new voice to the rather antiseptic live-action superhero genre. While it may make for something of a risk, it should be noted that Rorschach from Watchmen is a derivative of The Question and Mr. A; not only is Rorschach more controversial, but he’s also Watchmen’s most enduring and beloved character. There’s an audience for him, and very likely for Vic Sage as well.
Challengers of the Unknown
If you want to escape the bleak, urban hellscape of Vic Sage’s mind, Warner Bros. could adapt the Challengers of the Unknown. Created in 1957 by comics luminary Jack Kirby, the Challengers are the proto-Fantastic Four, right down to the character descriptions and origin story. (Of course, over the years, the roster has changed to be less reflective of Marvel’s first family). Admittedly, Challengers was notably darker—their powers were killing them; the series featured mass murders, nervous breakdowns, etc.—which speaks to the preferred DCEU aesthetic.
Like the Question, the Challengers had a very diverse set of adventures—ranging from the darkest corners of the cosmos to Lovecraftian monsters in the Bermuda Triangle to cults and the occasional mad scientist. The original series is one long acid flashback, which, combined with the fantastical nature of the stories, could sound like an expensive endeavor to translate. Look, if the first Saw movie can look fine with a budget of 30 cents and a half-chewed piece of gum and Dredd created an entire world on not much more, then maybe this a matter of creative ability and not deep pockets.
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