There’s no denying it: the release of Aquaman and now Shazam! mark a 180° tonal shift for the DCEU going forward. Out with the edgy vigilantes, and in with the brighter, more fantastical takes on DC’s iconic characters. With that in mind, the upcoming New Gods movie may just be DC’s best chance to bring a new age of cosmic adventures to the big screen... and Mister Miracle is the one to make it happen.
The massive success that Marvel has enjoyed in the past decade is due in large part to their cosmic characters. Without the Guardians of the Galaxy anchoring Thanos in space, audiences might never have seen the Avengers traversing the universe in Endgame. That raises a key question for director Ava DuVernay and her New Gods movie: what characters should DC use to launch their own cosmic cinematic arena? After Tom King’s recent award-winning series Mister Miracle, we’re hard-pressed to find a better candidate than the titular New God himself.
So who is Mister Miracle exactly? Believe us when we tell you that if DC does this superhero right, he’ll be poised to act as DC’s answer to the Guardians' leader Star-Lord and Deadpool.
Mister Miracle, The ‘Son’ of Darkseid
For those unfamiliar with the coming New Gods epic, the cosmic corner of DC’s Universe was created by legendary artist Jack Kirby in 1971 after his rocky split from Marvel over rights issues. Mister Miracle and The New Gods are the centerpieces of Kirby’s ‘Fourth World’ space opera, which boils down to a clash between good and evil. On the benevolent side of things, there's the utopian planet of New Genesis, ruled by the good natured Highfather. In the other corner, the nightmarish Hellscape of Apokolips. Audiences got a glimpse of Apokolips in the Knightmare sequence of Batman v Superman, and almost met the planet’s infamous tyrannical ruler: the biggest bad of the DC universe, Darkseid. But this story isn’t about Darkseid, nemesis of Superman and the Justice League… it’s about his son.
After eons of bloodshed, Darkseid proposed a devious ceasefire: both leaders would declare a truce, and exchange their newborn sons as an act of goodwill. Darkseid’s heir Orion was lucky to be raised by Highfather, and grew up to become a hot tempered but ultimately noble anti-hero (even a demon raised in Heaven wouldn’t be all bad). On the other hand, Highfather’s heir was given to Darkseid... only to be tossed directly into the firepits of Apokolips.
Day in day out, the boy was tortured mercilessly in hopes of creating an even more ruthless monster than Darkseid. The thing is, no matter how horrible the cage or machine crafted to break him, the boy always managed to miraculously escape and live to see another day. Earning the respect of even his jailers, the boy was finally awarded a name: Scott Free. The name may be old-fashioned, but the horror of the boy’s origin contrasted with the unbeatable hero he became is exactly why the story works. (Imagine Deadpool’s Weapon X experiments if they took place in actual Hell instead of Canada, AND the hero gets to keep his sanity along with his sense of humor!)
Scott Free Left Hell for Earth
For the sake of brevity, we’ll speed through the main beats of Scott’s origin--since the real action starts when he collides with DC’s Earthly heroes. Throughout his trials and tribulations on Apokolips, Scott meets a beautiful (and intimidatingly massive) warrior woman named Big Barda. The two fall madly in love and escape to Earth... violating the peace treaty, and starting the war between New Genesis and Apokolips anew. Upon arriving on Earth, Scott befriends a circus escape artist named ‘Mister Miracle.’ After witnessing Scott’s godlike gift for escapology, the showman takes the New God refugee under his wing. When Mister Miracle is tragically murdered by secret agents of Darkseid, (this is a superhero origin story, after all) Scott vows to take up the mantle and avenge his mentor. Eventually joining The Justice League, embarking on countless cosmic adventures while trying to end the New God war during his days off.
For all intents and purposes, this is where Tom King’s recent run on Mister Miracle begins and for the same shocking reason, precisely where the movie adaptation should kick off. Shortly after a charming recap of the same origin story we’ve depicted above, Mister Miracle #1 begins with a hard cut: Scott sprawled out on his bathroom floor, bleeding out from an attempted suicide. But it's his NEXT trick where this story really picks up speed…
Hello Darkness My Old Friend
Despite retaining his sanity while growing up in proverbial Hell, even New Gods have their limits. Throughout his adventures, the friends and family lost along the way eventually take a toll on Scott. After becoming profoundly detached from his fantastical heritage, Scott devolves into a walking existential crisis. What King has written is a story about an extraordinary individual and his journey to come to terms with the nature of his reality. With the ever increasing focus on the importance of mental health in our society, the depression that Scott experiences is something that almost anyone can relate to at some point in their lives. Luckily, from this darkness springs something exceptional: while struggling to find his place in the universe, Scott has cultivated a brilliant sense of humor. While he doesn’t look into camera and drop R-Rated punchline like Wade Wilson, Scott‘s understated meta observations about the insane world he lives in results in genuine comic book (movie?) comedic gold.
Like no other hero, Scott is a stand-in for the reader. It's one thing when Shazam's best friend Freddy Freeman has a wardrobe of superhero t-shirts, but Scott is just as much of a fan. From Green Lantern to Blue Beetle, Scott is a giant superhero fanboy and he isn’t afraid to show it. But it’s more than just iconography. Scott’s obvious fandom for his 'friends from work' gives him a unique perspective, pointing out the tropes and absurdities that we, as comic book fans, have loved our entire lives. From the logistics of superhero facial hair, to bringing Darkseid a veggie tray for an interplanetary peace summit, Mister Miracle’s take on meta humor would be an absolutely amazing addition to the DCEU.
The DCEU's New (Best) Odd Couple
But what makes the Mister Miracle story so special is its ability to combine the mundane with the downright ludicrous. Typically in comics, heroes don't often get to have families or spouses--"I have to hide my identity to protect the ones I love" is as old a trope as Superman himself. And for those who do, their home lives rarely if ever define their superhero one. But this isn’t the case with Scott and Barda, as their insanely adorable and honest relationship as a married couple is the very heart and soul of King’s story. Case in point: a multi-page sequence where the two argue about rearranging their apartment while breaking into Darkseid’s fortress. Panel by panel we see the lovebirds bicker about the pros and cons of moving furniture, all the while navigating impossible death traps and incapacitating evil guards. It’s heartwarming, hilarious and badass all at the same time.
Star-Lord and Gamora's will they/won’t they love affair in Guardians of the Galaxy is entertaining, but has been thrown into question after Avengers: Endgame. In Scott and Barda fans would have something refreshing in the superhero space; an oddball super couple who are in it for the long haul. Sure their relationship isn’t perfect--honestly it’s far from it--but this honest depiction of married life is the key to what makes them so relatable. They’re in love, the universe is going to Hell around them, and they're still deciding what to have for dinner. The fact that Barda is so much taller and stronger than Scott is just charming, convention-defying icing on a big relatable cake.
Add it all up, and King’s Mister Miracle is built to be the perfect entry point into DC’s cosmic cinematic universe. Not only is it a hilarious and relatable post modern superhero story, but its pseudo-self-aware humor would really make it stand out from the ever growing crowd of superhero franchises in theatres today. Now just imagine how amazing it would be somewhere down the line to have Scott Free and Shazam’s Freddy Freeman show up on screen together wearing the same Superman t-shirt, nerding out about their superhero collectibles. It’s too great a premise to pass up, if you ask us.
With a New Gods movie already in development and Ava DuVernay signed to direct, it’s only a matter of time before we see Scott and Barda on the big screen. Mister Miracle artist Mitch Gerads has gone on record saying that Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott is his dream casting for Scott Free, and we honestly can’t think of a more perfect fit for Mister Miracle’s sense of humor. With superhero movies gaining more and more traction as character studies in addition to flat out spectacle, we’re hopeful that DuVernay will be able to capture some of King’s heartfelt ethos and comedy that made us fall in love with these characters all over again.