The Dark Knight gets headlights in the first trailer for Batman v. Superman. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures
If Batman’s going to take on Superman, he’s going to need some extra protection and firepower. The first trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gives us our a glimpse of the armored batsuit — complete with glowing white eyes — the Dark Knight will don in the superhero smackdown flick.
I think we can safely assume Jony Ive isn’t designing products for Bruce Wayne. The armored batsuit looks anything but thin and light.
Whether it’s reboots or prequels, over the past few years there’s been a renewed interest in superhero origin tales. No matter if it's Captain America being transformed from 90lb weakling Steve Rogers into an All-American super soldier, or Bruce Wayne travelling the globe honing the necessary skills to become Batman, these are often the most rewarding comic book stories out there — and the bevy of new superhero-themed TV shows is the perfect canvas on which to tell them.
Read on for our thoughts on the five shows which did the best job of telling us how our favorite heroes came to be — and the five origin stories we’re convinced would make for winning TV if they were given a shot.
Okay, so we’re still at the beginning of this show, but all the pieces are in place for something great — even if they haven’t quite clicked yet. The Commissioner Gordon story was serviced well in Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but he’s an engaging character to follow, and aging him in his thirties rather than mid-forties, as Gary Oldman was in Batman Begins, changes the dynamic somewhat.
The comics have never really explored what Bruce Wayne did between his parents’ death and leaving Gotham City to begin his Batman training, so there’s plenty of ground to explore there also. Color me “cautiously optimistic” about Gotham.
If only someone would tell Jada Pinkett Smith she’s not auditioning for the 1966 Batman TV series.
Up until Gotham, Arrow seemed like it would be the Young Bruce Wayne show we’d never get to watch. Telling the story of an angry, young billionaire who returns home after a sizeable absence and wreaks revenge on the wealthy elite who have profited off everyone else’s misery, it was an origin we could get on board for.
Arrow was a good supporting character in Smallville, and he's proved a great leading one as well -- with a compelling origin, to boot.
For years in the pages of DC, the status quo for Lois Lane and Clark Kent were the two coworkers who, even before their comic book wedding, essentially behaved like an old married couple: bickering with one another, finishing each other’s sentences, and generally acting like characters who had been stuck treading water for the past 50 years. Which is exactly what they were.
Lois and Clark shook up the dynamic by taking both characters back to basics and developing their relationship from the first meeting. Sure, not every aspect of the show has held up (the special effects look a bit ropey) but as a character study showing how both became the people we know them as today, it was perfect.
After Lois and Clark had finished, Smallville had a tough ask on its hands, being asked to retell the Superman origin yet again on primetime TV. Worse, the edict was that Clark wouldn’t be allowed in the Superman suit, which left us with a goodie two-shoes character growing up in a small American town given a name to imply that nothing of significance ever happens there.
The result? Ten years of consistently entertaining television, which managed to uncover new depths in an origin tale most of us felt we’d seen already by 1980. Storylines faltered a bit toward the end, but Smallville more than earns its place on this list. Oh, and Tom Welling was a better Clark Kent than either Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh or Man of Steel’s Henry Cavill.
Like a day that starts off with the sun shining and a free ice cream, and ends with the death of everyone you care about, Heroes’ reputation suffers from the fact that its last three seasons were so darn poor. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that the first season, a.k.a. the origin story, was excellent.
Telling the story of a group of ordinary people who gradually discover they have superpowers, the show took the time to explore the personal impact of these abilities at the kind of leisurely pace that’s simply not possible in a movie. Watch it if you want to see this kind of story done well. Turn off after season one if you don’t want to see a great idea collapse into mediocrity.
Okay, so we’re unlikely to get a Spider-Man TV series, given that we’re currently in the middle of Marc Webb’s blockbuster reboot. But unlike almost any other comic book character, Spider-Man would work far better on TV than on the big screen. The comics were always soap opera heavy, and with more space to play with story lines it would be possible to explore the extended universe of characters.
A lot of people hated Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 because it crammed too much into one movie. If that had been a whole season of a TV show, though? Totally different story. Who wouldn’t want to watch this?
The first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer loosely followed on from Joss Whedon’s 1992 Buffy movie, with the titular vampire slayer arriving in Sunnydale after being booted out of her old school. More than a decade after the acclaimed TV series ended (and more than 20 after the now-forgotten movie), however, it would be good fun to go back and tell the story of exactly how L.A. cheerleader Buffy Summers discovers she’s the Chosen One.
A new Buffy, plus no Xander, Willow, Giles or Spike could make it a tough sell for old-school Buffy fans, but Whedon would agree to be show runner it could be a fun (sort of prequel) to the series we know and love.
Post-Sons of Anarchy, the story Ghost Rider would make a fantastic show. In case you don’t know, Ghost Rider is stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze, who surrenders his soul to the devilish Mephisto in order to save the life of his father. After this, Blaze’s flesh is consumed by hellfire when evil is around, resulting in his head turning into a flaming skull, while he rides around on a fiery motorcycle.
Now that the two awful Nicolas Cage movies are behind us, Ghost Rider would certainly have legs as a TV series. Use the great Ultimate Marvel origin story as your blueprint if you want.
Neither Marvel or DC have proven too willing to engage with the idea of giving superheroines their own movies, so TV could be a great way of demonstrating that there is an audience who will happily turn out to watch a female hero. I’ve always liked Supergirl as a character, and her current New 52 incarnation is intriguing.
In short, she’s got the same powers as Superman, but the unpredictability of a teenager, and nothing in the way of Clark’s affection for Earth. The result is a twist on a familiar story, and a concept that blurs the wish fulfilment of Superman with the realities of being a teenager trying to establish their own place in the world.
A bit of an odd final choice here, but I’ve been revisiting some of my favorite Image books from the late 90s, and Top Cow’s The Darkness stands up so much better than most. Originally written by Garth Ennis, the series tells the story of a mafia hitman who inherits supernatural powers on his twenty-first birthday. The result is a mix between Batman, H.P. Lovecraft and The Sopranos.
When we’re not bending our latest smartphones simply to see what will happen, there’s nothing that appeals to the dark recesses of the human (possibly male) mind more than watching two characters we recognize from separate franchises cross over to one another’s universes. It doesn’t matter if it’s The Simpsons and Family Guy, the NBA and the Loony Tunes, or Batman and Superman, all that matters is that it happens. And preferably that they end up fighting one another.
With casting well underway for a 2015 big screen adaptation of the endearingly daft Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, we figured it was the perfect opportunity to run down the movie mash-ups we most want to see. Scroll through our gallery to get your crossover on.
G.I. Joe meeting the Transformers was one of the comics that blew my mind as a kid, and I’d welcome the same experience as an adult. Unlike a lot of crossovers this one should be fairly straightforward, with the rights held by Hasbro and Paramount. Despite a rocky start, the G.I. Joe movies greatly improved with 2013’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation, while the Transformers flicks could certainly use a Joe-sized shot in the arm. I’d definitely be on board.
Sure, this one’s cheating. The Godzilla/King Kong battle has already been carried out in 1962’s superbly campy King Kong vs. Godzilla. But on the back of this year’s enjoyable Godzilla reboot, it would be fantastic to bring the battle up to date with cutting edge special effects. Done right, it would certainly put the dino fight from 2005’s King Kong to shame — even if sorting out the proper sizes of the two combatants would require a return to the drawing board.
Quentin Tarantino’s movies all take place in the same fictitious universe. Ever since QT introduced us to brothers Victor and Vincent Vega in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction respectively, fans have been begging for a team-up. Given the length of time that has elapsed since then, creating a prequel would be kind of difficult. Of course, neither character makes it alive out of their respective movie either, which makes a sequel kind of difficult. But Tarantino has rewritten history more than that before.
The Power Rangers did, in fact, team up with the Turtles during an episode of Power Rangers in Space, but that only whetted our appetites for more. We just got done with the Michael Bay TMNT reboot and with a Power Rangers movie in the works too this would make for a great blockbuster mash-up. Fill it with the kind of self-referential fan service we saw in 2009’s tremendous Turtles Forever and you’ve got an undisputed winner.
Okay, so this is a slightly strange one but as a long-time fan of both franchises, I’ve always been intrigued by this possibility. My optimal period for this to have taken place would have been the 1990s, when the aliens could have taken on the Next Generation Crew, but I’ll accept my Aliens/Star Trek crossover however it comes. Seeing the crew try to contain the alien by trapping it on the Holodeck would be superb entertainment.
Actor Robert Englund is 67 now, although appearing in more films than ever. Perfect, then, for him to make one last appearance as Freddy Krueger, to rinse away the taste of the awful 2010 remake starring Jackie Earle Haley. I was a massive fan of 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason, which pitted everyone’s favorite Springwood Slasher against Friday the 13th's unstoppable killing machine.
With '80s nostalgia still working at the box office, why not dust Freddy off to face one more iconic cinematic murderer in the form of Hellraiser’s Pinhead? The Cenobite realm/Freddy’s world sequences would be worth the price of admission alone.
There was an Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator comic series from Dark Horse Comics back in 2000. Spinning off from Alien Resurrection (not the most promising of signs), it turned out to be a waste of all three franchises, although the concept wins some points for at least trying such a crazy idea in the first place. The Terminator movies have been disappointing since 1991’s fantastic T2: Judgment Day, while only the original Predator movie holds classic status.
Could a mash-up of the two properties redeem them? There’s only one way to find out.
In the works since 1979, a JLA/Avengers crossover finally happened in 2003, bringing together the World’s Mightiest Heroes and DC’s Justice League of America. With the two franchises set to collide (sort of) when Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally make it to theaters, the idea of mashing up both series seems unthinkable at present.
Looking longer-term, though, who wouldn’t want to Batman face off against Iron Man, or Superman with Captain America? The only losers would be the poor legal teams who had to work out the agreement for it to happen.
Earlier this week, a copy of the holy grail of comic book collecting, Action Comics No. 1 from 1938, sold on eBay for a record shattering sum of $3.2 million.
This pristine copy of Superman’s first appearance in comic books sold for a whopping $1,046,852 more than the previous record-holder, a less pristine copy of Action Comics‘ first issue, which sold for $2.1 million back in 2011. There are only an estimated 50 copies of the hotly collectible title left in the world.
As huge Superman and Batman fans, no-one is more excited than we are. With that in mind, here are the 9 things we hope more than anything that director Zack Snyder is able to get right for history's most eagerly-anticipated team-up. Check out the gallery to find out what they are.
While The Joker is, without a doubt, the ultimate Batman villain, we’ve seen him too recently thanks to Heath Ledger’s brilliant performance in 2008’s The Dark Knight. Instead, I’d like to see the filmmakers revisit the Batman antagonist with the most promise yet to be given the proper big screen treatment.
By this, I refer to Mr. Freeze, who was last brought to unconvincing life by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1997’s dreadful Batman & Robin. Since then we’ve had a superb New 52remix of Freeze’s origin, downplaying the character’s tragic origins in favor of an added dose of insanity.
Play Freeze as a (no pun intended) coolly calculating criminal mastermind, like Kevin Spacey’s John Doe in Se7en, and you have a character who could mentally torture both Batman and Superman equally. Freeze’s love for cold would even tie into Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude.
We’ve already heard that we’re getting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. The last thing this movie needs is an overload of villains, so hopefully Zack Snyder will concentrate on getting Luthor right, as opposed to adding more enemies from Superman’s rogues gallery.
Although Bryan Cranston and Bruce Willis would’ve been picks more in line with the Lex Luthor of the comic series, Eisenberg has the makings of a great Lex Luther reimagining, particularly if he can channel some of his Mark Zuckerberg character from The Social Network. Since The Man of Steel was all about Superman being challenged physically, this could be a perfect inversion of that concept.
Besides, forget industrialists -- the real power brokers today are the billionaire techies from Silicon Valley.
Chris Nolan ticked off a lot of the Batman characteristics in his landmark Dark Knight trilogy, but very rarely did Batman venture into the Dark Knight Detective persona he is presented as in the comics. In a movie that looks like it’ll be filled with super powered heroes, Batman is going to be very quickly outshone if he doesn’t have something to set him apart.
That "something" should be his intelligence, which was presented so well on paper by Grant Morrison in his classic run on JLA. Zack Snyder’s films are sometimes singled out for being more about surface than about substance. By making Batman into the thinking man’s hero, a lot of that criticism could be allayed.
This point cannot be stressed enough. The Batman movies especially have always focused on the duality of Bruce Wayne/Batman, and this is the opportunity to take that idea one step further. Batman and Superman are polar opposites, and this could have the makings of a great on-screen chemistry provided the two lead actors are up to it..
Yes, everyone wants to see the heroes fight (more on that later) but Bruce and Clark’s opposite ways of looking at the world could give us the best back-and-forth dialogue this side of Captain America and Iron Man.
Highlight the difference between Gotham and Metropolis
It’s not just Batman and Superman who need to have the right dynamic: the two heroes’ respective home towns also need to emphasize the differences between both. The closest we’ve come to the right architecture for Gotham was in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, while Snyder’s The Man of Steel offered a perfectly acceptable Metropolis.
Where Batman’s city is full of rain, gargoyles, and perpetual nighttime, Superman’s Metropolis should be sunny, gleaming and brimming with skyscrapers. Batman is more at home in Gotham, while Superman feels more comfortable in the Big M. Hopefully Snyder has a plan for taking both heroes out of their comfort zone at one point in the flick.
Let’s be honest: if a movie called Batman V Superman doesn’t feature a slugfest between our two titular heroes, fanboys are going to riot. The San Diego Comic-Con already hinted at this confrontation by invoking the image of Frank Miller’s legendary graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, which ends with an all-out slugfest between the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.
The challenge with Batman V Superman is going to be having the two clash in such a way that it neither weakens the heroes for future standalone movies, or makes it nonsensical that they’d team up for the sequel. There are plenty of ways to do this: we just hope the writers pick the right one.
Easier said than done, given that the movie’s title alone sets this up as essentially an extended preview for a Justice League flick. But fans have waited more than 70 years to see Batman and Superman together on screen, so it’s vital that this film feels like its own animal rather than just a stepping stone to a bigger team-up.
It’s one thing to want to see the sequel the moment the credits roll; another one entirely to feel like the producers are already tugging at your wallet.
In a post-Kickass world, the idea of a Hit-Girl style sidekick is no longer unrealistic. Why not set Batman V Superman apart from the Nolanverse, then, by featuring Batman’s crime fighting partner, Robin? To continue the Dark Knight Returns vibe, perhaps even make Robin the female Carrie Kelley incarnation for good measure.
...And give us a proper Batmobile while you're at it!
Yeah, we get it: the Dark Knight's Tumbler was how the Batmobile could conceivably look in the real world. But can we please have one that looks somewhat like a bat this time? I don’t think too many fans would complain if we got Tim Burton’s sleek Batmobile back.
Everyone knows that a hero is defined by the villains they go up against. Or to put it another way, every great comic book needs an equally great antagonist to truly kick it into high gear.
Scouring through the pages of our favorite print and digital back issues, we've assembled a list of the meanest, the nastiest, and the most compellingly evil four-color baddies to ever walk the face of, well, a flat sheet of paper. We've purposely left out the undisputed greats -- The Joker, Magneto, Lex Luthor, Steve Ballmer -- to make room for a few of the more interesting choices.
Who made the grade? Click through the gallery above to find out.
Mr. Freeze has been an enduringly chilly presence in the Batman universe since his first appearance (as Mr. Zero) in Batman #121, back in February 1959. The most famous take on the character was the one engineered by Paul Dini in the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice.” That story introduced us to Freeze’s terminally ill, cryogenically frozen wife Nora, which both explained Freeze’s obsession with cold and turned him into a tragic character in the process.
But while Dini’s animated version of Freeze was good enough to become the standard portrayal of the character in most forms of media, more recently I’ve been loving the reinvention of Mr. Freeze seen in DC’s New 52. (SPOILERS) You see, in this universe it turns out that Nora was never Freeze's wife at all, but rather a woman born in 1943, who was put into cryogenic stasis at the age of 23 after being diagnosed with an incurable heart condition.
Writing his doctoral thesis on Nora, Freeze fell in love with her, and became obsessed with finding a way to bring her back to life. One cryonic chemical accident later, and the already unhinged Dr. Victor Fries is transformed into Mr. Freeze. It’s a clever re-imagining of Freeze’s origin which makes him less sympathetic, but a whole lot creepier.
The main antagonist of Steve Niles’ tremendous 30 Days of Night, Vicente is an ancient vampire several centuries old, who may or may not be the parent to all vampires.
In a series full of vicious vampires, Vicente takes the (presumably blood-soaked) biscuit: not only torturing, murdering and eating people, but also planning to blow up the Alaskan pipeline — something that would result in a whole lot more slaughter than you’d normally expect from a vamp.
Oh, and his wife Lilith is pretty damn crazy, too.
A once silly comic book villain, Doctor Light was instantly transformed into a perverse and sickening antagonist with DC's 2004 miniseries Identity Crisis — celebrating its tenth birthday this year. Exposed as a serial rapist (most controversially of Sue Dibny, wife of the Elongated Man), Doctor Light was eventually given an equally brutal death: turned into a candle by the Spectre and melted alive.
Post-New 52, Doctor Light has been rethought somewhat, with DC shying away from the more horrific aspects of his character incorporated over the past decade. Why does Doctor Light make this list? Because whatever you thought of Identity Crisis, it marked a high (or low) point for super villain nastiness in comics’ darkest and most nihilistic era.
Unlike a lot of the other villains featured here, Brainiac’s not a sadistic super villain who gets off on being bad, but rather a cold, calculating mind who represents the perfect brainy counter to Superman’s brawn.
An artificial intelligence created by the Computer Tyrants of Colu, an alien world which prizes logic and knowledge above all else, Brainiac has an almost indestructible body and a brain that is constantly hungry for knowledge and power. In a long and storied career, he’s perhaps still best known for taking the Kryptonian city of Kandor — one of the last surviving relics of Superman’s home world — and shrinking it down to the size of a bottle.
I’m a massive fan of Preacher, Garth Ennis’ 75-issue Vertigo series, that is equal parts spaghetti western and religious thriller. Picking a most memorable character from that series is a bit like choosing your favorite quip from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
If I had to choose one, however, it would likely be the series’ premier antagonist, the Saint of Killers. Picture Javier Bardem’s cold-blooded character Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men, and then take it up several levels of badass. A grim killing machine charged by God to be a killer for hire, the Saint is a murder machine with a mullet: someone so vicious he even manages to kill (SPOILERS) both God and the Devil.
His tragic backstory (his family were killed, which brought about his fall from grace) just makes him a more interesting, multifaceted character.
Having been around just 28 years (hardly a drop in the ocean when you consider that Batman himself has been in print for 75 years) Black Mask has nonetheless risen to become one of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes — with much of that good (?) work having been done over the past decade.
In a grisly inversion of Batman’s origin, Black Mask murdered his own super-wealthy parents by burning down their mansion with them inside. Becoming one of Gotham City’s major crime boss players, Black Mask has proven utterly ruthless and totally sadistic. Oh yes, and he once tortured Catwoman's brother-in-law to death with power tools, and then did some horrible things with the remains. Yum yum!
One of The Walking Dead’s most grotesque characters in a series that’s full of them, the Governor is the ruler of the town of Woodbury. After initially appearing hospitable, the Governor turned out to be bat-guano crazy: a Jim Jones-type leader who keeps his own zombified daughter alive by feeding people from his own town to her — along with the severed hand of protagonist Rick Grimes, which he first lops off.
The Governor does far more than that, too — torturing several characters, while killing the daughter of Rick and Lori. The fact that he does this without any apparent sense of remorse just makes him all the more terrifying. On the plus side, he does find himself on the receiving end of a suitably unpleasant death.
Who would have thought that the nastiest character in Robert Kirkman's zombie epic would turn out to be a flesh-and-blood human?
In the real world, you make a name for yourself by working hard, pursuing goals and steadily gaining recognition among your peers. In super villain land you make a name for yourself by kidnapping 16 super-powered Marvel teenagers and then pitting them against each other in a Hunger Games-style Murderworld. By forcing teen superheroes to kill teen superheroes, Arcade became one of the most reviled villains out there. Even after being beaten, Arcade got the last laugh by uploading footage of the Murderworld battles to YouTube, ruining a few reputations in the process.
To be extra evil he probably upvoted a few Justin Bieber videos while he was there, too.
When your nickname is "The God Butcher" it’s hardly a surprise when you turn out to be a less than upstanding citizen. The newest character on this list, first appearing in January 2013’s Thor: God of Thunder #2, Gorr has wasted no time in establishing his super villain credentials. In his case this meant a genocidal rampage across the cosmos, battling gods left and right like Christopher Hitchens in the body of a super-powered agnostic murderer. After killing literally thousands of gods, Gorr finally faced off with Thor, who barely managed to defeat him.
Tentative excitement about Michael Bay's upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie made me revisit the original comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. Along with a refresher course in just how much I love the art and overall tone of that original series was a reminder of what a great villain Shredder can be.
If you’ve only ever seen one of the Turtles cartoon series, be prepared for a wake-up call at the hands of a razor-gauntleted crime syndicate boss who's got his fingers in everything from drug smuggling to assassinations. Far more revenge-minded than in the cartoon, the comic book Shredder is a highly skilled strategist and master of ninjistu. Oh, and he once bounced back from decapitation by being resurrected as a shark. When did the Joker ever manage that?
Who’s the baddest of the bad?
Got your own favorite underappreciated supervillain? Let us know in the comments below.
Gather up a substantial clump of geeks in any one place and you’re bound to get some interesting concoctions. In this case, two Comic Con pilgrims have taken a certain favored S-themed superhero and combined it with a certain favored S-themed smartphone. Behold, the Superphone.
I’ve always wanted my own butler that I can order around and have him go fetch me a delicious Chipotle burrito whenever I want. Problem is, I don’t have half a billion dollars to pay for one, so I’ll never be cool like Batman and have a elderly british fellow named Alfred to satisfy my every need. Siri is the closest I’ll ever come to having a true personal assistant, except she doesn’t come equipment with Michael Caine’s impeccable British accent. But is Siri better than Alfred?