Man of Steel (2013) is the milestone that officially launched DC Comics’ response to the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is still in its infancy, with only four films, but a plethora of the most intriguing characters have already been introduced including Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And it’s a safe bet fans will get a glimpse of a Green Lantern in Justice League (2017) instead of having to wait for 2020’s Green Lantern Corps.
With both Joker and Harely Quinn making their debuts in Suicide Squad (2016), other members of the Dark Knight's mythology are expected to soon appear. Gotham City Sirens should feature Catwoman, while Chris McKay and Bill Dubuque’s Nightwing project will bring Dick Grayson back to the Silver Screen.
Captain Marvel, Black Adam, and Batgirl are also slated to join the DCEU. But which other characters should join their ranks? Who can legitimately help DC compete with Marvel’s mix of movie masterpieces? And who could doom the DCEU to I’ll just wait for the Blu-ray or Netflix?
Here are the 10 Characters Who Need To Join The DCEU (And 10 Who Do NOT)!
20 SNUB: The Penguin
Batman’s whimsical, waddling adversary – the Penguin - should remain on the bench. Oswald Cobblepot might be one of Bruce Wayne’s oldest foes, having first appeared in Detective Comics #58 (1941), but that doesn’t give him the right to muck up future movies.
Actor Josh Gad stoked the rumor fire back in June when he tweeted a picture of himself holding a Penguin-covered comic, with both Geoff Johns and John Berg. Gad also told MTV: “I would absolutely be open to playing the Penguin in the Batman movie.”
As good an actor as Gad is, and as intriguing a casting choice as it very well might be, the Penguin needs to be left relegated to comics and Gotham. Danny DeVito is an excellent actor who fit the bill aesthetically to play Cobblepot, too, and Tim Burton is a cinematic visionary. But fans still remember what that all amounted to in Batman Returns (1992) – a steaming pile of regret.
19 INCLUDE: Martian Manhunter
Martian Manhunter’s exclusion from this November’s Justice League (2017) is simply mindboggling. The Manhunter, aka J’onn J’onzz, first appeared in Detective Comics #225 (1955), and he was one of the original seven members of the Justice League of America which debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960).
In addition to having powers on a par with Superman, J’onn can turn invisible, shape shift, and utilize his telekinetic and telepathic abilities. The Manhunter’s Achilles Heel is fire, and J’onn is addicted to eating Oreo (Chocos) cookies.
It seems unlikely that J’onn will even get a cameo in Justice League, but hopefully filmmakers are saving him and Green Lantern to do battle with Darkseid when Uxas finally arrives on Earth. The JL will certainly need them!
18 SNUB: Swamp Thing
One of the most unorthodox, but loveable, superheroes first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (1971). The Swamp Thing began as Alex Olsen but later became known as Dr. Alec Holland. But what could this mass of vegetation really bring to the DCEU other than a mildly entertaining quirkiness?
Swamp Thing possesses super strength, durability, and the ability to heal, while also being able to manipulate plant life. Wes Craven wrote and directed Swampy’s first Silver Screen attempt in 1982, while a sequel popped up in The Return of Swamp Thing (1989). There was even a live-action television show from 1990-1993 and a short-lived animated series (1990-1991).
In early 2013, Guillermo del Toro said he was working on a Justice League Dark film featuring Swamp Thing, Zatanna, the Demon, Spectre, and John Constantine. The project was later taken up by Doug Liman, but he dropped out due to a scheduling conflict. Whether or not Swamp Thing remains a part of the roster is conjecture, but as of the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con Justice League Dark was still a go.
Trim the hedges and leave the Thing in the swamp!
17 INCLUDE: Reverse-Flash
Despite his numerous iterations, the Reverse-Flash is one of the Scarlet Speedster’s oldest and most formidable foes. Not including him in the DCEU would be equivalent to omitting General Zod from Superman’s on-screen incarnations.
The Reverse-Flash first appeared in the Golden Age as the Rival (Edward Clariss) in Flash Comics #104 (1949). During the Silver Age, Eobard Thawne emerged as a villain for Barry Allen’s Flash – Professor Zoom. Thawne has the distinction of being the first super-villain to actually be called Reverse-Flash.
DC announced that Flashpoint will be an entry in the DCEU, which will surely feature the Flash’s archenemy - the dark speedster. The filmmakers will have their pick of heroes and villains to join Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who have both been confirmed to appear. The Flashpoint (2011) storyline was a massive comic book crossover-event spanning over 60 tie-in issues.
Some will argue that Captain Cold should be the Flash’s first big baddie or even Captain Boomerang, since they scuffled in Suicide Squad (2016), but the Reverse-Flash can run circles around the frosty freak and Mr. Harkness.
16 SNUB: Granny Goodness
Jack Kirby was one of the most prolific and important comic book artisans of all time. Along with Stan Lee, Kirby helped to create a number of unforgettable Marvel superheroes including the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and the Avengers.
But in 1971 Kirby created a ridiculously unthreatening-looking mistress to serve Darkseid named Granny Goodness. Granny first appeared in Mister Miracle #2, and she possessed super strength and endurance.
Despite being a formidable servant of Uxas, Granny Goodness more closely resembles the creepy old lady from The Visit than any supervillain. It’s laughable seeing her engage any of the Justice League members. Thankfully, unlike Smallville (2001-2011), Justice League chose to lead off with a much more dangerous and believable Darkseid disciple – Steppenwolf.
It's easy to imagine Granny Goodness wielding a ruler and swatting Superman’s hands every time he did something that contradicted Darkseid’s will. The old cliché "don’t judge a book by its cover" definitely applies here. But who would want to read that book?
15 INCLUDE: Cyborg Superman
Superman was dead. Sounds familiar, right?
After Doomsday offed the Man of Steel in Superman #75 (1993), four mysterious figures came forward claiming to be the Last Son of Krypton in Adventures of Superman #500 (1993). Among them was the vengeful Hank Henshaw, aka the Cyborg Superman.
The Cyborg Superman is one of the most exciting and menacing foes to emerge in the Modern Age of comic books. Not only does he possess Superman’s powers, and is made of Kryptonian technology, Henshaw often uses Lantern rings to enhance his already staggering abilities. During the New 52, Supergirl’s father Zor-El became the Cyborg Superman for a time.
With today’s movie-making technologies, especially in special effects, either Cyborg Superman could be a wonderful attribute to the DCEU. With the lackluster response to Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), perhaps the Cyborg will emerge has a viable villain in Man of Steel 2.
14 SNUB: Sinestro
The Korugarian killer known as Sinestro first appeared in Green Lantern #7 (1961). Once a member of the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro turned to the alluring power of fear offered by the Weaponers of Qward. With his yellow power ring, Sinestro became one of Hal Jordan’s deadliest enemies.
Without question, Sinestro is one of the most dangerous rogues in the DC universe. But his first appearance on the Silver Screen was quite questionable indeed. Like the Green Lantern (2011) film itself, Sinestro is best left in the past.
There are so many compelling villains for Green Lantern to face off against in the DCEU that it’s gratuitous to pursue the character of Sinestro further. After all, filmmakers have their pick of baddies including Star Sapphire, Mongul, Power Ring, Volthoom, and a large red foe most certainly worthy of movie stardom – Atrocitus.
13 INCLUDE: Brainiac
Brainiac is as deadly as he is intelligent. The green-skinned foe of Superman first appears in Action Comics #242 (1958). In their first comic book battle, Brainiac uses his Hyper-Ray to shrink and steal many of Earth’s cities for his disconcerting collection including Metropolis. Brainiac’s trophies even include the capital city of Krypton – Kandor.
With the somewhat unimpressive debuts of both Lex Luthor and Doomsday in the DCEU, the Superman standalone films are in desperate need of high-quality villainy. Depending on how many Justice League films are in the works, Brainiac is an upper echelon opponent who could threaten not only the Man of Steel but the whole world.
His inclusion in the DCEU could also lead to the arrival of Brainiac 5 of the 30th and 31st centuries. As a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac 5 tries to atone for his ancestor’s atrocities on humanity. In his earliest origins, he is revealed to be a clone of the original Brainiac.
12 SNUB: The Atom
Undersized Al Pratt took on the mantle of the Atom during the Golden Era of comic books in All-American Comics #19 (1940), but it wasn’t until 1961 that the Silver Age Atom emerged that most fans are familiar with today. He is most notably associated with actor Brandon Routh in Legends of Tomorrow.
Dr. Ray Palmer first appeared in Showcase #34 (1961) and became the Atom after shrinking himself with lenses he made from fragments of a white-dwarf star. Palmer can shrink and grow his own body, along with other objects, but when he is tiny he retains the strength he possesses at normal size. He is powered by his belt, which utilizes remains of the dwarf star.
Like how Marvel’s Quicksilver mirrors DC’s the Flash, fans can find the same shared qualities in Ant-Man and the Atom. While Palmer is featured in prominent storylines like Blackest Night (2009-2010) and Flashpoint (2011), his inclusion in the DCEU would be unnecessary and quite minimal at best.
11 INCLUDE: Hawkman AND Hawkgirl
Their love is forever and sadly marred by unending tragedy. They are two of the most enthralling and enduring DC characters of all time – Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Both Carter and Shiera Hall date back to the earliest days of the Golden Age, as they first appeared in Flash Comics # 1 (1940). Their origins have been revamped in every era of the comic book ages, but the Golden Age laid the essential groundwork.
In the present day, Carter discovers that he has experienced reincarnation. In his Egyptian past, Carter was once Prince Khufu and both he and his beloved consort Chay-Ara were murdered by the evil priest Hath-Set. Back in present time, Carter discovers both Chay-Ara (Shiera Sanders) and Hath-Set (Anton Hastor) in new forms.
Using maces, donning masks and wings - which enabled them to fly thanks to ninth metal – Hawkman and Hawkgirl emerged to protect their new world as superheroes.
Their power of reincarnation means their relationship will last forever, but it also means the lovers must watch one another die lifetime after lifetime. Their romance coupled with their abilities would beef up the DCEU significantly.
10 SNUB: Gorilla Grodd
Touted the “super-gorilla,” Grodd first appeared as a villain for Barry Allen in The Flash #106 (1959). Gorilla Grodd possesses super strength, telepathy and psychokinesis. Of course, Grodd was just your average run-of-the-mill primate until he was exposed to the same radiation that granted Hector Hammond his super abilities.
Most recently, Grodd was a featured character in the video game Injustice 2 (2017). After defeating Brainiac, in his specific ending, Grodd used the alien’s technology to increase his telepathic powers. Once the world’s heroes were enslaved, and the Earth was his, Grodd set his sights on other planets to conquer.
Inevitably, a filmmaker will pitch a Grodd story to a DC executive: It’ll be Planet of the Apes meets Aquaman! And the power of the almighty dollar will fog the exec's decision-making process. If that happens, fans will end up with a movie that could rival Batman & Robin (1997) and Catwoman (2004) for the worst superhero film ever.
9 INCLUDE: Atrocitus
It hasn’t quite been 10 years since the Red Lantern Atrocitus burst onto the scene. After watching his wife and daughter being killed, Atros joined with the other four survivors of the Space Sector 666 Manhunters' massacre to form the Five Iversions. Their task: destroy the Guardians of the Universe.
Following the events of the Sinestro Corps War, Atrocitus murdered the other members of the Five Iversions, using their blood and magic to help forge a Red Lantern central battery, other batteries, and rings fueled by the power of rage. While most Red Lanterns are mindless captives to the emotion of anger, Atrocitus is in complete control of his ring’s awesome energy.
Atrocitus could play a pivotal part in the new Green Lantern Corps (2020). In the comics, Atrocitus tells Sinestro of his visions revealing the Blackest Night prophecy. When the pair journey to Earth, Atrocitus mortally wounds Abin Sur. This event leads to Sur passing his ring over to the new Green Lantern – Hal Jordan.
Atrocitus’ rage would make him a formidable adversary for whichever Green Lanterns join the DCEU.
8 SNUB: Booster Gold
Booster Gold is quite possibly the most egotistical and unlikable superhero of all time, with vanity being his unflattering calling card. Born in 25th century Gotham City, Michael Jon Carter absconds with a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring, Brainiac 5’s force field belt, and Rip Hunter’s time sphere to travel to the 20th century. His mission: become famous and wealthy.
Gold also has the dubious honor of giving Doomsday his name. In Superman #74 (1992), the Man of Steel joins the Justice League in fighting the deadly creature. Booster doesn’t fair too well against Doomsday, though.
Doomsday chokes Booster, punches him in the face, slings him into a tree, and then slams his head in a car door just for good measure. Doomsday’s ultimate achievement might have been killing Superman, but seeing Booster get taken down several notches was just a welcome bonus.
Whether you love Booster or you love to hate him, there’s no reason for Gold to step foot in the DCEU. All he has to offer is his sarcastic personality.
7 INCLUDE: The Legion of Super-Heroes
If the DCEU is looking for an answer to the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the executives and filmmakers have it with the Legion of Super-Heroes. The futuristic league of super-powered alien immigrants live on Earth in the 30th and 31st centuries and were inspired to join together thanks to the example provided by Superman.
First appearing in Adventure Comics #247 (1958), the founding members of the Legion time traveled into the past to find their hero Clark Kent and offer him a chance to join the team. Cosmic Boy (Rokk), Saturn Girl (Imra), and Lightning Boy – later Lightning Lad – (Garth) meet Superboy in Smallville, Kansas, and after a series of tests Clark becomes a member.
Members of the Legion each have their own unique super powers, as they regularly travel through time and mimic Superman’s ability to fly thanks to their Legion rings. There are so many compelling stories and team-ups possible with these characters. Geoff Johns showed off just a tiny fraction of what the DCEU could accomplish after featuring Legion characters in Smallville’s season eight episode “Legion” (2009).
6 SNUB: Doctor Fate
Many worthy humans have been chosen by Nabu the Wise to don the golden helmet and guise of Doctor Fate, but it was Kent Nelson who started it all in More Fun Comics #55 (1940).
Part of the fun and mystery of that original storyline was that fans had no idea who was under the hood or where Doctor Fate came from. This went on for a full year, until finally the origin and backstory of Doctor Fate was revealed in More Fun Comics #67 (1941).
Doctor Fate’s magical powers allowed him to see the future of others he came in contact with. Thanks to this ability, Fate was an original member of the Justice Society of America which also featured the Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Hawkman, and The Spectre.
As intriguing a character as Doctor Fate is, his numerous identities and antiquated story may not resonate with Millennials.
5 INCLUDE: Krona
Krona might be a more obscure super-villain, but the Oan is a powerful foe who can wield the vast powers of the Emotional Spectrum. His desire for knowledge also lead him across the multiverse.
During the DC and Marvel crossover event JLA/Avengers (2003-2004), Krona destroys universe after universe searching for the truth behind creation. When he reaches the Marvel Universe, Krona encounters the Grandmaster.
The Grandmaster proposes a game that will decide his universe’s fate, in which his team (the Justice League) will face off against Krona’s squad (The Avengers). It’s an exciting and action-packed storyline, which should help executives at both DC and Marvel realize the potential cash cow that a team-up movie could create for both studios.
Krona’s appearance in the DCEU could certainly precipitate such a staggering cinematic event, but DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio seems to be completely devoid of the concept of a sure thing when it comes to uniting DC and Marvel on the Silver Screen. “It’s not that we’re mortal enemies – it is competition, if you want the truth,” DiDio said. “It has to be.”
4 SNUB: Green Arrow
Yes, Robin Hood directly inspired the character of DC’s Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen. The Emerald Archer first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 (1941). But just because you’re a fan favorite, with longevity, doesn’t mean you automatically make it to the big dance.
Unfortunately, for Ollie, his backstory reads a lot like another DC mainstay – Bruce Wayne: wealthy orphan grows up to fight crime as a masked vigilante. Sorry, Ollie, but the DCEU already has its billionaire Batman.
Green Arrow’s television version, portrayed by Stephen Amell, seems to be engaging a large audience, and Justin Hartley’s stint on Smallville was well-received. But Oliver Queen’s heyday is of a bygone era. It is forever immortalized, with his partner Green Lantern, by those captivating and controversial comic books running from 1969 through the early 1980s, featuring Neal Adams' adroit artwork.
3 INCLUDE: The Crime Syndicate
When opportunity comes knocking at your door, you open that bad boy up. Using the Crime Syndicate in the DCEU is a way for filmmakers to really think outside the box, while also introducing a slew of intriguing villains into the DC Extended Universe.
Next to Detective Comics and Marvel teaming up to make a "FANatical" feature film, the Crime Syndicate affords DC the luxury of the next best thing. With the Crime Syndicate, you have the evil counterparts of each of the Justice League’s most memorable members: Ultraman (Superman), Owlman (Batman), Superwoman (Wonder Woman), Power Ring (Green Lantern), Johnny Quick (Flash), Grid (Cyborg), and Barracuda/Sea King (Aquaman). So, why not play with fandom?
What if Ultraman was played by Tom Welling? How about Ryan Reynolds as Power Ring? What if Christian Bale’s Owlman faced off against Ben Affleck’s Batman?
Well, it would obviously be box office boffo! Internet discussions have whirled around the possibilities of using previous actors for Earth-Two, Earth Prime, and other similar characters.
2 SNUB: Damian Wayne
Obviously, Damian Wayne is not an easy character to snub. Audiences have seen Robin’s origin story - even if it wasn’t Damian - play out via television and film over the years. It’s time for something fresh that film fanatics can get excited about. So, if not Damian, which Robin will show up in the DCEU? Does the extended universe even need a Boy Wonder?
It seems likely that Jason Todd is dead, courtesy of the Robin armor splattered with Joker graffiti in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Dick Grayson is clearly grown up since Nightwing is in the works. Therefore, Tim Drake would be the logical Robin to explore in the DCEU.
However, if a filmmaker were willing to make a Logan (2017) inspired Batman movie, with a much older Bruce Wayne and a young Damian al Ghul, that might tip the scale back in this Boy Wonder’s favor. Imagine a black-and-white, R-rated Dark Knight project with father and son battling the forces of evil.
Or maybe Tim and Damian should just fight it out like they did in the comics.
1 INCLUDE: Lobo
Detective Comics always seems to be one step behind the MCU, and it’s clear that Lobo would be the DCEU’s answer to Marvel’s Merc with a mouth – Deadpool. There’s a ton of money to be made, especially with an R-rated Lobo. He is an unholy amalgamation of both Deadpool and Wolverine, minus the Adamantium claws.
Back in 2009, Guy Ritchie was selected by Warner Bros. to bring Lobo to the Silver Screen, but that fell through when the director decided to purse Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011). And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was even in talks to take on the role in 2012 way before he won the part of Black Adam.
In 2016, David Fuchs was hired to pen the screenplay. For those less familiar with the super-powered alien hailing from Czarnia, Lobo has superior strength, reflexes, and the ability to heal. And not that the Master Frag needs anymore of an advantage against his enemies, but he has been known to wield a Lantern ring or two over the years.
Bottom line: the DCEU needs the "Main Man!"
Do you agree with our list? Which characters are you dying to see in the DCEU? And which ones do you hope take a powder? Sound off in the comments!