Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Future of DC Animated Films

     A total of 16 DC Animated Movies have been released, beginning in 2007 with Superman: Doomsday. Compared to some of the DC animated series currently or recently airing, I would take any one of these movies over those shows, aside from GL and Young Justice. In saying that, creating feature length animated films based on famous comic book titles was a great corporate decision. The only thing I would argue is some of the stories chosen for the films. Why Public Enemies and not Knightfall? Why Superman versus The Elite and not Batman Hush? I’d like to examine the upcoming DC movies, why their chosen stories are perfect for animated recreation and which stories DC should recreate next.

      Up until DC’s latest film release, I had two favorites from the earlier films: Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier. The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 surpassed the greatness of those earlier films, in both animation and story. The film’s creators stayed truest to the source material and ended up with a great result, which was again surpassed by its sequel, The Dark Knight Returns Part 2. Any fan of these movies has been wishing for an animated interpretation of Frank Millar’s original book since Doomsday’s release, and with the story being split into two parts, the writers and directors were able to fully capture all the details, and even exact frames, from the original books. Whether it was the dramatic scene of Batman, sitting next to the dying Joker, or the climatic battle between the world’s finest superheroes, the movie was truly a comic book come to life.

     The only way to follow up on a Frank Millar/ Batman iconic story would be to use an iconic Geoff Johns story, hence, Superman: Brainiac or rather, Superman: Unbound. The comic book detailed Superman rediscovering his origins by meeting the collector of worlds, Brainiac, as well as rescuing the shrunken city of Kandor. Based on the preview featured in the Blu-Ray release of The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, Superman: Unbound will alter some key plot points to accommodate their particular animation style for the piece, although the character designs will remain as similar to Gary Frank’s as possible, especially Brainiac, just because he looks so damn menacing.

      Since actor Kevin Conroy let slip at convention that he’ll be doing the voice of Batman for the “upcoming Flashpoint movie” fans, including myself, have been speculating on when that said film would be released. I originally expected that it would be the next story used after the Dark Knight Returns parts, but apparently not. Hopefully its preview is featured in the special features of Superman: Unbound, but it apparently will be centered on the Flash, and his travel to another reality, and his struggle to return home, much like the comic. But if this film is being based on the comic book event that altered the DC Universe, does that mean we will be seeing more animated movies based on New 52 storylines? As someone who has read all Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, Superman and Justice League stories of the New 52, I freakin’ hope so.

     As promised in the first paragraph, here are some of my picks for future DC animated films, after Flashpoint of course, because I’m just too excited to see that one. Besides, there have been way too many Batman and Superman stories done so far:

-       Identity Crisis (written by Brad Meltzer, which examines a conspiracy involving one or more traitors within the Justice League, as well as featuring deaths of some key characters. This would certainly be the most dramatic of the animated films)
-       Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War (another classic written by Geoff Johns based on the formation of the Sinestro Corps and the sacrifices the Green Lantern Corps must make in order to destroy them. A great Hal Jordan story, which could also be used as a sequel to First Flight, and a prelude to a Blackest Night animated feature)
-       Earth 2 (written by James Robinson, this New 52 series examines an alternate Earth where Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman have all died and the task of protecting the Earth falls to the new Justice Society, a new team of heroes featuring alternate versions of the Atom, Hawkgirl, Green Lantern and the Flash)
-       Justice (written by Alex Ross and Jim Krueger, Justice is a 12-part series from the point of view of the Legion of Doom, who are trying to prevent the all-powerful Justice League from potentially destroying the world. An interesting take on perceiving the villains as “heroes”, and would certainly be a cinematic treat converting Alex Ross’ art into animation)

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