DC Comics has always been known for diversifying its offerings. The DC universe has something to offer every fan with a vast array of monthly comic titles, big-budget live-action films, and a rich catalog of animated content.
In this discussion, we’ll focus on DC Comics’ animated content, which has garnered a significant following among fans. The company’s animated offerings include beloved shows such as “Batman: The Animated Series” and direct-to-DVD movies like “The Flashpoint Paradox.” Regardless of whether the target audience is children or adults, DC Comics’ commitment to delivering high-quality content has attracted fans from all demographics for years.
The DC Animated Universe has proven to be an exceptional platform for adapting comic book storylines, particularly those that have yet to be portrayed in live-action. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of renowned, critically acclaimed, and underrated DC comic arcs that would make fantastic source material for future animated productions.
Following DC Comics’ 2011 reboot, “The New 52,” fans were unsettled by the significant creative changes made to several established characters. Many beloved and lesser-known characters underwent drastic cosmetic alterations or had decades of established continuity wiped out. However, one character who thrived under the shift in tone and direction was Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man. Thanks to the creative vision of Jeff Lemire, best known for “Sweet Tooth,” the series ventured into intriguing territory. Lemire’s take on the character, which builds on the dark tone established by Grant Morrison, is akin to a spine-chilling horror tale centered around a family.
The storyline of the series revolves around Buddy and his family’s quest to uncover their mysterious origins after his daughter Maxine begins to manifest her own powers. This pursuit leads them to the Red, an otherworldly entity responsible for Buddy’s animal abilities. However, the discovery also exposes them to the malevolent creatures spawned from the Red, collectively known as “The Rot.” The series features expert writing interwoven with unsettling body horror reminiscent of Cronenberg’s work, brought to life by the impressive artwork of Travel Foreman and Dan Green. With its engrossing content, endearing characters, and artistic potential, “Animal Man” presents a promising prospect for a stellar animated film.
Aquaman: The Trench
Over the past few years, DC Comics has made significant efforts to improve the public’s perception of Arthur Curry, also known as Aquaman. The character had long been stigmatized due to his portrayal in the “Super Friends” animated series. This perception began to shift, thanks in large part to Jason Momoa’s recent live-action depictions of Aquaman. However, even before Momoa’s portrayal, DC Comics had already taken steps to rehabilitate the character’s image. During the launch of “The New 52,” Aquaman was rebooted along with other major characters while still retaining his fundamental personality traits.
“The Trench,” the primary story arc of the reboot, centers around a group of Atlanteans who have evolved into vicious hybrid creatures that feed on humans. As this danger emerges, Aquaman is reintroduced to readers when he thwarts an armed robbery in the opening scene. Throughout the series, readers witness Aquaman’s effectiveness as a crime fighter and the perilous challenges he faces. Although plans for James Wan’s proposed “The Trench” movie were scrapped, now could be an opportune moment to resurrect the concept for an animated adaptation.
Batman: The Court of Owls
Be cautious of the Court of Owls, an ever-vigilant entity that governs Gotham from a concealed position, hidden behind stone and mortar. They keep a watchful eye on you, whether you’re at home or at rest, so don’t dare speak of them, lest the Talon comes for you and takes your life.
DC Comics introduced the Court of Owls to its mythology in 2011, and it has since become a significant addition. This secret society first appeared in Scott Snyder’s iconic run of “Batman” in the early 2010s. The Court is a group of wealthy and influential individuals who have long existed in the shadows of Gotham City, and their ranks include highly trained assassins called Talons. As the story unfolds, it’s revealed that the Court has a history with the Wayne family, which causes complications for Bruce in the present day. This leads to a series of issues full of mysteries surrounding architecture, intense hand-to-hand combat, and stunning revelations about Bruce’s family.
Greg Capullo’s outstanding artwork complements the writing perfectly, capturing the essence of Gotham in his expressive and intricate style. IGN acclaimed the series for its exceptional quality, and its narrative helped establish Snyder as a major force in contemporary comic book writing. The Court of Owls has previously appeared as antagonists in the DC Comics animated movie “Batman vs. Robin.” Nevertheless, their initial and significant story arc possesses a considerable potential for a potential animated film or limited series, both in terms of the writing and the artistry.
“Batman: Noël” reimagines Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol” with Batman characters. Initially, this concept may seem absurd, but the comic proves to be a stunning masterpiece, thanks to its clever writing and breathtaking artwork. The story takes place during Christmas in Gotham, and everyone is in high spirits except for Bruce Wayne, who is on the hunt for the Joker. Amid their conflict, a hapless thug named Bob finds himself caught in the middle, and Batman is not exactly merciful towards him. The comic’s brilliance lies in its creative reinterpretations of the ghosts from “A Christmas Carol.”
In “Batman: Noël,” Catwoman, Superman, and the Joker symbolize the past, present, and future, respectively, perfectly fitting with the theme of Dickens’ original tale. Despite being set in a modern and noir-ish setting, the narrative’s pacing and ambiance authentically capture the essence of the classic story. Lee Berjemo’s art is a triumph, seamlessly merging Batman’s iconic imagery with the winter season’s gothic splendor, reminiscent of the 1992 Tim Burton-directed film “Batman Returns.” With a sufficiently high budget for animation, “Batman: Noël” could quickly become a must-watch holiday staple for any DC Comics fan.
Booster Gold and Blue Beetle
While Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle are exceptional characters in their own right, it’s their dynamic together that truly shines, making them one of the best duos in comic book history. Whether they’re providing comic relief in “Justice League International” or starring in their own solo series, their bond always brings humor and heart to the story. Their popularity is evident in the fact that they received another standalone title from DC Comics in 2021, titled “Blue & Gold.” Given the increased attention and adoration they’ve received from fans, a fresh take on their adventures would be most welcome.
Given their humorous storylines, an animated comedy adventure would be the perfect fit for Booster Gold and the Blue Beetle. The duo has already been featured in an episode of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold,” which was a short but well-received adventure that showcased the friendship between Ted Kord’s Blue Beetle and Booster. DC Comics has been exploring a range of tones and styles in their adaptations, making it an ideal time to introduce a lighter and more fun romp featuring these beloved characters. With a similar approach to the “Harley Quinn” animated series, an animated adventure featuring Booster and Beetle could be a hit with fans.
DC Comics has a reputation for creating epic events that feel like massive world-shattering cataclysms. They’ve done this with “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and “Flashpoint,” among others. “Blackest Night” follows this tradition but with a high-concept twist that is reminiscent of “Marvel Zombies.” The event revolves around the “Green Lantern” franchise, but its impact is felt throughout the DC Universe. The main threat is the emergence of Nekron and the Black Lantern Corps, which consists of formerly deceased heroes and villains that are now under his control.
DC Comics is known for its grand event stories that have a huge impact on their universe. “Blackest Night” is no exception, as it features the rise of Nekron and the Black Lantern Corps consisting of formerly deceased heroes and villains. The event spans across eight main books, causing shocking deaths and resurrections that turn the universe upside down. With science fiction visuals, horror elements, and thrilling action scenes, “Blackest Night” is an excellent candidate for an animated movie. While it would require multiple parts, if done justice, it could potentially become the most visually stunning DC animated project ever created.
“Identity Crisis” is a DC comic that has sparked a lot of controversy among fans and critics alike. The story is built on the foundation of masterfully crafted artwork and deeply emotional moments, resulting in both awe-inspiring and disturbing scenes. The plot revolves around the murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of Elongated Man, and the subsequent investigation carried out by the superhero community. However, the journey to uncover the truth reveals shocking and unsettling secrets. “Identity Crisis” is a story that leaves a lasting impression on readers, as its events have a long-lasting impact on the DC Universe.
The polarizing nature of “Identity Crisis” makes it a challenging story to adapt, but its heavy themes and emotional depth make it ripe for an animated movie. The story’s darker elements could be refined for a wider audience without compromising its impact, resulting in a compelling and emotionally satisfying series. While some of the content would need to be handled with care, the story’s resonance and impact make it an excellent choice for adaptation.
Jack Kirby’s New Gods
Marvel has recently delved into the lesser-known aspects of their universe through films like “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and “Eternals.” Since Warner Brothers won’t be adapting Jack Kirby’s “New Gods” for the big screen any time soon, the animation may be the perfect platform to explore this story. The tale of New Genesis and Apokalips has been a significant part of the DC Universe’s mythology for many years. Jack Kirby’s art has played a vital role in bringing the concept to its stunning visual conclusion. In this iconic arc, New Genesis, a world of prosperity and tranquility, stands in stark contrast to Apokalips, a world of misery and torment.
The conflict between New Genesis and Apokalips, two worlds that represent polar opposites of peace and suffering, respectively, has been a central part of the DC Universe’s lore for many years. Their ongoing war, led by the formidable Darkseid, a recurring antagonist of the Justice League, has lasted for an eternity. These worlds also hold great significance in the histories of beloved DC characters like Mister Miracle, Orion, and Big Barda. Given Apokalips’ prominent role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, now would be an opportune time to delve deeper into this fascinating and epic storyline through animation.
Over the years, the DC Universe’s far future has been explored in various forms, from “The Dark Knight Returns” to “Future’s End.” Among these, “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid and Alex Ross is highly regarded for its stunning artwork and its thought-provoking examination of DC’s future.
The highly acclaimed “Kingdom Come” by Mark Waid, and Alex Ross presents a deconstructionist view of the DC Universe’s distant future, featuring morally ambiguous vigilantes in the wake of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman’s retirements. In a society plagued by corruption, Wonder Woman persuades Superman to revive the Justice League, but Batman remains bitter about Superman’s abandonment of humanity a decade earlier and is reluctant to join the cause. The story ultimately questions the relevance of traditional DC ideals in a more pessimistic future.
After more than 25 years, “Kingdom Come” continues to be regarded as a classic, making the absence of an adaptation perplexing. The DC Animated Universe has previously explored “Elseworlds” stories like “Flashpoint” and “The Dark Knight Returns,” so an animated version of “Kingdom Come” would be a fitting addition to their inventive depictions of DC’s present and future.
JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative
Given the disarray of DC’s current continuity due to the separation between its theatrical and televised universes, it seems improbable that we will ever witness a live-action version of this story. Nonetheless, the DC Animated Universe could be an ideal medium for an adaptation, as demonstrated by previous films like “Justice League vs. Teen Titans.” Although the Titans have always played a significant role in the DC Universe, they are seldom the focus of major event comics. However, “JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative” is an exception that offered the Titans a well-deserved co-billing and highly enjoyable story.
The heart of the crossover story lies in Cyborg, a former Teen Titan who has become a self-aware, planet-sized artificial intelligence determined to snatch the moon. This sparks a clash between the Titans and the Justice League over how best to handle the crisis. The event is brimming with stunning artwork and intense confrontations between the seasoned heroes and their younger counterparts. It offers a thought-provoking interpretation of the timeless theme of the generation gap, which remains relevant even today.
“The Technis Imperative” is a story that deserves more attention than it receives among DC crossover events. It may be brief, but its emotional impact is incredibly powerful and culminates in a satisfying conclusion.
Tom King’s “Mister Miracle” captivates readers right from the start with its raw and gritty portrayal of mental health issues. The scene of Scott Free lying on the bathroom floor after attempting suicide is a powerful and thought-provoking image. The story straddles the line between a domestic drama and a space adventure, with a strong dose of realism that is both refreshing and poignant.
The characters Mister Miracle and Big Barda, who are connected to DC’s “New Gods,” have remained a consistent presence in the DC Universe, despite numerous reboots and continuity changes. The duo’s enduring relationship has endured through decades of different storylines, despite both being traumatized by their upbringing on the planet Apokolips. Mister Miracle, also known as Scott Free, and Big Barda have managed to create a good life for themselves, but their world is turned upside down by challenges from their home planet, the arrival of a new child, and Scott’s psychological struggles. From the very beginning of the “Mister Miracle” series by Tom King, the story explores mental health with grounded and raw depictions, starting with Scott Free’s suicide attempt on the bathroom floor. The story that follows is a compelling mix of domestic drama, space epic, and harsh reality.
The book “Mister Miracle” tackles mental health issues head-on and does not shy away from portraying the difficulties of living with them. It acknowledges the fact that mental health discussions have become more prevalent in current media, and it is refreshing to see such an honest depiction of the struggle. Along with facing the constant threat of Apokolips, Scott Free is also dealing with his own mental demons, which are portrayed in a realistic and relatable way.
“Secret Six” would be an excellent candidate for an animated series or movie adaptation due to its compelling storyline. The team, which originated from “Villains United: Infinite Crisis,” features a roster of characters including Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, and Ragdoll, with the addition of Bane, infamous for being “The Man Who Broke the Bat” in-universe.
Written by renowned comic book author Gail Simone, “Secret Six” is a masterpiece in terms of character development and storytelling. The series features a team consisting of Catman, Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Ragdoll, and the newly recruited Bane, also known as “The Man Who Broke the Bat.” The book delves into the personalities and backstories of each character, from Scandal and Bane’s father-daughter-like relationship to Catman’s troubled past. With its dark humor and numerous connections to the wider DC Universe, “Secret Six” stands out as a truly unique and brilliant work.
Given the critical success of “The Suicide Squad,” it’s about time “Secret Six” received an adaptation. The DC Animated Universe has already introduced many of the key characters in their “Suicide Squad” animated movies. The book’s various arcs, which range from battling supernatural forces to facing personal demons, could make for a compelling and mature animated film.