Earlier this week, the rumor floated that the big bad for Warner Brothers’ announced Justice League film would be the cosmic villain Darkseid. And like any decision or any comic book movie, this has caused some dissension amongst online fans. One of the biggest complaints has been that the selection of Darkseid mirrors Marvel Studios’s planned use of Thanos in their Avengers 2, also due out in 2015. (Though as our own William Gatevackes pointed out when reporting the Darkseid rumor, Thanos was created in the comics as a rip off of DC’s Darkseid.)
So are there other Justice League villains who might make a good adversary to kick off the Warner Brothers hoped for franchise? We dug into our long boxes and found a half-dozen candidates who could fit the bill if the studio suddenly decided to try another opponent for the superheroes to face off against.
Sinestro – Throughout the lead up to the release of last summer’s Green Lantern, I was of the opinion that this was the movie that Warner Brothers was going to build their cross-pollinated superhero film franchises upon. Much like Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, the character of Hal Jordan had the potential to be a good entry point into a superhero universe. Additionally, the script contained the character of Amanda Waller, someone who is not normally associated with the Green Lantern comics, but who spends a lot of time appearing throughout the DC Comics universe in her role as head of a shadow government agency. And the film ended with the (somewhat rushed) promise of a future appearance by the biggest of Green Lantern’s foes – Sinestro. Unfortunately, disappointing box office and critical response would seem to have precluded this film being the cornerstone upon which everything would be built from. However, the potential of Sinestro being a villain with an Earth-threatening scheme to drive a film is still there. But in order to get around the stigma that lingers over the Green Lantern film, Warners will have to take a page from how Marvel Studios handled their two two Hulk films and treat the Justice League film as a soft reboot for the Green Lantern character. Infer that the origin story of the GL film is roughly intact, recast the role of Hal Jordan and then throw in an explanation that he had been in space on Green Lantern Corps business for a while which is why none of the other heroes know who he is at first. – Rich Drees
Professor Ivo and Amazo – Ivo is a scientist with a pathological fear of dying. As such, he travels the world in a desperate quest for immortality. When he finds one method that works, it turns out to come at an extraordinarily high cost, it painfully disfigures his body into a grotesque form. He then becomes obsessed with finding a way to be able to enjoy his immortality. One of the methods Ivo tries out is building a robot to load his consciousness into. He names this robot Amazo and designs a special function into the robot–the ability to steal the power of any superhero. A quick run in with the Justice League and Ivo has a body with the power to conquer the world and the League has an enemy that it has a hard time defeating. Ivo could be the tragic human villain that many people could identify with (from wanting to live forever to trying to deal with the consequences of a horrible mistake) and Amazo misunderstood monster in the mold of Frankenstein, only with a power set that is more than a match for the Justice League. –William Gatevackes
White Martians – Grant Morrison’s run as a writer on the Justice League of America title JLA in the late 1990s is considered a modern classic by many critics for the way the writer treated the core team as the modern equivalent of a pantheon of gods. Out of the several stories that Morrison told during his three-and-a-half year tenure involved a battle with members of one of the two shapeshifting races of martians that have inhabited the DC Comics universe. It was an epic story and with just a bit of tweaking could serve as a basis for a Justice League film. It could start as a mystery that Batman is working on until he realizes that shapeshifting aliens are a bit out of his bailiwick, leading him to call in a heavy-hitter like Superman. Wonder Woman and Aquaman enter in as representative royalty for Themyscira and Atlantis respectively, helping emphasize the global nature of the crisis. As it concerns more than one world, it would certainly fall under the responsibility of space cop Green Lantern. And finally, it would be a good way to introduce into the mix J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, the last surviving member of the other race of martians, the more peace-loving green ones. – RD
Felix Faust – It seems like the go to villain for the superhero team up films is some kind of superpowerful space tyrant. I say, why not evil magicians? Magician have the powers to do anything from alter reality to bring about hell on Earth. Felix Faust is one of DC’s finest magicians and one of the Justice League’s oldest foes. He has a pretty good origin too, a 1920s magician inadvertently opens the portal to another dimension. There he finds a centuries old sorcerer sent to said dimension as a form of punishment. The sorcerer forcibly inhabits the body of magician and and goes on a decades long quest to regain the power he once had. Have him search for that power in Themyscira and Atlantis, maybe have him pursue some Kryptonian artifacts, and you have the beginnings of a “getting the band together” kind of story. And, if played right, you have a homegrown villain for who can stand toe to toe with the League and also put an unexpected spin on the comic book film bad guy. –WG
Starro – While a recurring threat to the Justice League from the 1960s forward, the fact that Starro is in essence a giant telepathic outer space starfish makes it sound as if it would be a tough character to bring to the big screen without getting laughed right back off. But as with everything in the art of adapting things for film, successfully bringing a character like Starro to the screen all depends on the approach taken. And in this case, I think the approach might be playing the character as an intelligent alien bioweapon or some type of Lovecraftian horror that happens upon Earth. Instead of throwing out smaller starfish-like critters that attach to people’s faces to take telepathic control of them, it instead releases something a bit more akin to the Alien facehugger. As the takeover of the human population continues to spread across the globe, Superman, Batman and the rest must band together in a superhero version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. (But hopefully with a much more upbeat ending.) – RD
The Injustice League – If the Justice League film is meant to be the springboard for a whole new batch of DC heroes, why can’t it be a springboard for their villains too? Almost every incarnation of the Justice League in other media (including the campy Challenge of the Super Friends live-action TV special of the 70s) had the good guys face off against a evil team composed of their worst villains. Why? Because people like seeing groups of heroes fighting a group of the arch-enemies. Start with the very plausible plot contrivance of “you help me kill my nemesis, I’ll help you kill yours,” then have the heroes group together because there’s safety in numbers, finish it off with one humongous battle royale at the end and you have a can’t miss proposition. –WG