With Marvel releasing The Avengers next year and DC slowly but surely progressing to an eventual Justice League movie, we thought it was worth looking at some other collections of superpowered studs to see who else could thrive on the silver screen.
There has been a Runaways movie in development for some time now, but hopefully the title created by Y: The Last Man's Brian K. Vaughan—about a group of superpowered teens who hit the road after learning that their parents are the world's greatest villains—finds its way out of development hell. Because it's so damned good.
Birds of Prey
Even though Chuck Dixon wrote the first 50-some-odd issues of this femme-centric tem book, Birds of Prey really flowered once Gail Simone took it over in 2003. And the stories she told about Barbara Gordon's Oracle, Black Canary and Huntress were thrilling, heartfelt, funny and tres sexy. Yes, The WB made an unfortunate TV series back in 2002, but that's no reason this shouldn't get another chance to shine.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
America's Best Comics
Yes, there was already an incredibly dumb movie based on Alan Moore and Kevin
O'Neil's comic. I don't care. The idea is so terrific, it deserves another go.
Villains. The worst of the worst. Press-ganged into service by a secret branch of the United States government. Their job: To take the missions no one else will take because the odds of survival are the opposite of good, hoping for a pardon. If that's not a movie, I don't know what is.
Sgt. Fury's Howling Commandos
Once upon a time, war books were a staple of comics publishing. But of all the heroes to come out of those stories, no one proved as popular as Nick Fury. Sure, today Marvel's got two Nick Furys, and one of 'em is Sam Jackson, but Captain America showed that audiences'll show up for comic-book-derived World War II stories—if they're done well.
Challengers of the Unknown
Created by Jack Kirby in 1957, the Challengers were initially four mere acquaintances who survived a plane crash and, deciding they were living on borrowed time, devoted their lives to investigating all manner of strange phenomena. The concept has been updated quite a few times, most recently in a 2004 Howard Chaykin miniseries and as players in Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier. But there's a lot of meat on those bones.
When the Hulk and Thor would fight in midtown Manhattan, destroying almost everything in their path, someone needed to put the city back together. And in the late Dwayne McDuffie's series, that someone was Damage Control, an insurance company that specialized in superheroic reconstruction. Wonderfully funny, complete with the chance for every hero in the Marvel universe to cameo.
When writer Warren Ellis inherited a kind of standard superhero book called Stormwatch, he took in the lay of the land and hatched a plan: While slowly introducing some new characters, he systematically dismantled that team of world protectors. In their place he gave us the Authority and, with it, a fundamental shift in superhero storytelling. The Authority was brash and cinematic, featuring characters who couldn't give a crap about the way "heroes" did things.
Okay, this is cheating a bit: The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers was a cartoon in the mid-'80s that eventually was spun off into comics. But the idea of a group of western-style lawmen patrolling the new frontier of galactic colonization is like the flipside of Firefly: Instead of following the criminals on the raggedy edge of the Black, it was about the cops.
Another classic war book—created, way back when, by Will Eisner—Blackhawks was about pilots, not grunts like Marvel's Sgt. Fury or DC's Sgt. Rock. And while we've had lots of flicks about those ground-pounders, a squadron of heroic flyers could be a refreshing change of pace. Also: They were based on Blackhawk Island. How cool is that?
Dark Horse/Image Comics
Supernatural beings investigating the supernatural for a super-secret government agency? While it may sound like familiar ground—Hellboy's Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense comes to mind—writer Todd Dezago and artist Craig Rousseau brought their team a sly, pulpy flair.