Friday, November 22, 2013

2013 Comic Vine Comic Book Question of the Week Results: Which DC Character Deserves a Feature Film?

Comic Vine is a fairly popular fan site, and they ran a poll this week to determine who their readers thought should get the cinematic treatment most in the DC pantheon from a list of eight JLA-centric options. The top results were extremely predictable:

  1. Wonder Woman 42%
  2. Aquaman 19%
  3. Flash 18%
  4. Martian Manhunter 8%
  5. Green Lantern 6%
  6. Green Arrow 5%
  7. Cyborg 1%
  8. Hawkgirl 1%
Wonder Woman is one of the most popular and globally recognizable super-heroes, whose TV show ran three successful seasons and whose direct-to-DVD animated film is the best-selling DC Universe Animated Original Movie not to feature "Superman" or "Batman" in the title (#5 overall.) It's a travesty that she hasn't starred in a film yet, especially since she suits Zack Snyder's sensibilities far better than Superman (not that I'm advocating Snyder as director, because please God no.) Aquaman is also extremely well known to the general, non-geek public, though his being taken seriously as a hero can be directly credited to recent successes under Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis (seeing as he was a running gag on Entourage as recently as 2006. Green Lantern presumably would have hit #3 if his realized 2011 feature film hadn't been covered in number two, so he slid to #5. In his stead was the Flash, a DC fan favorite who's never quite broken out into the mainstream. Runners aren't tagged with his name like Michael Phelps was "Aquaman," and his 1990 TV series was crushed between Cosby and The Simpsons after one season. Obviously, this blog is most interested in Martian Manhunter, a solid #4 with about 41 of the 514 total votes. The Alien Atlas edged out the franchise favorite Emerald Gladiator and Green Arrow, both of whom have had solo comic series run hundreds of issues across multiple volumes to J'Onn's measly thirty-eight issue single volume. I suspect the Sleuth from Outer Space seems due "his turn," since Oliver Queen's already taken care of by the Arrow TV series, plus the Hawkeye factor. The inclusion of Cyborg and Hawkgirl were probably obligatory for diversity purposes, since the latter only extended the life of a dwindling Hawkman volume by 17 eponymous issues before cancellation, and the former has never had an ongoing of his own.

Here's a selection of comments referencing the Manhunter from Mars...

LCazT1996: "Wonder Woman, then Aquaman, then Flash, then Martian Manhunter in Justice League."

SynCig: "I don't think Cyborg, Hawkgirl, or Martian Manhunter could support their own movie."

TheCannon: "Also, why are Cyborg, Hawkgirl, & Martian Manhunter here? There are several characters not listed that deserve films first (Static, Nightwing, Batwoman, The Question, etc.)."

Black_Arrow: "your opinion, Martian Manhunter is one of the big seven all the characters you named except Nightwing dont deserve a movie."

BritishMonkey: "Wonder Woman is the obvious choice. Martian Manhunter would get his first appearance in Justice League most likely."

Dstick88: "Martian manhunter all the way."

Overlander: "Martian Manhunter sounds like an interesting prospect until you start thinking through how Hollywood would do it."

NeonPheonix: "MMH deserves one, but I'd want a Flash one the most."

solon: "Flash and Martian Manhunter"

mtrakos: "GL please followed by MM. Keep it cosmic."

Perfect 10: "voting for wonder woman but i think aquaman, flash, martian manhunter, green lantern (that travesty doesnt count) all deserve movies."

CrazyScarecrow: "Wonder Woman of course. She needs a movie. I am not a huge fan of Wonder Woman, but she would be essential when making any DCU. My other choices would be the Flash and Martian Manhunter. I am a huge fan of both of those characters."

Kelevra216: "I chose Martian Manhunter. There might be a disconnect/an identifiability problem being an extraterrestrial and because I really think they should start with an origin story with J'onn, even though I'm strong supporter of "rolling with it." But if they start with an origin story with J'onn the audience can develop a relationship with the J'onn and his tragedy. Different from Superman being an adult and witnessing it first hand.After J'onn, I'm going to have to go with Wonder Woman, then The Flash and Aquaman."

MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg: "Wonder Woman, then Flash, then Aquaman. Martian Manhunter doesn't need a movie and would be better as a "Nick Fury" role, popping up in various other movies. Him and Green Lantern can just appear for the first time in Justice League."

ComicKitten: "Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman or Aquaman!"

McDerpyson: "hmm... I voted for the Martian. It would be a good follow-up after MOS."

kilon: "who came up with the idea that characters like MM, hawkgirl and cyborg should have individuals films, hello these are team based characters not solo acts. next time pick characters that started out solo like hawkman, atom, firestorm etc."

milkylame: "Martian Manhunter could be introduced in a JLA movie. He could be the one to gather the heroes to fight Darkseid or some other villain."
My general response: The Manhunter from Mars was a solo strip five years before the Justice League of America was created, lasting a total of thirteen years and 133 stories. 56 individual comic books are titled "Martian Manhunter." Curiously, I've never even considered abbreviating Martian Manhunter as "MMH" in all my years discussing the character. J'Onn J'Onzz could work as DC's "Nick Fury," and I'd take that over nothing, but it would be a letdown to go that derivative on a character far easier to "crack" cinematically than most. The Question was already in Watchmen. Oh, and all those folks who referenced Supergirl, Catwoman and Elektra as reasons not to make Wonder Woman must not have seen those movies, because each sucked first and had a female lead second. Try again.


GM said...

Manhunter would make the best movie. It would be Highlander + Edgar Rice Burroughs + A Cape

You could get multiple epics.

Wondy needs a TV series, and Aquaman could either be a series of movies or an HBO show like Game of Thrones with a dash of Arrow.

Who wants a Cyborg movie?

Count Drunkula said...

I nearly laughed at the commenter who insinuated that Martian Manhunter wasn't a solo hero before Justice League. That's what's wrong with American education, I tells ya!

LissBirds said...

"MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg." Quite possibly the best screen name I've ever heard of, ever.

MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg said...

First of all, I just want to thank Diabolu Frank for even including me on this blogspot. You don't know the joy that brings me as I have been following this fansite for a while now and have been posting many a comments under "anonymous" identity. I'm a big fan of your work(so much so that I even followed you on comicvine even when you told us you don't use it often anymore). Also, thanks to LissBirds for her kind remarks toward by username lol.
Now getting to the matter at hand, I just want to clarify that I'm a BIG Martian Manhunter fan. I guess through my post I was just trying to be realistic. WB has very little confidence in their big-name characters like WW and Flash, so what makes Martian Manhunter even have a possibility of appearing on the big screen? If I'm to be speaking truthfully, Martian Manhunter isn't like the3 others as he hasn't really ever broken out into pop culture due to various things like his name, his costume(which makes me wonder, if DC can update Robin's costume, why couldn't they do the same for J'onn?) or his stigma of not having any mythos due to DC's shitty treatment of the character. I think it is best if Martian Manhunter just pops up in various films and whoever the new Green Lantern just appear for the first time in JL (possibly sent by the guardians to fight whatever threat was on Earth at the time) in order to get the team all there. Then maybe if Martian Manhunter is a break-out character in JL (ala Hulk), then he can receive a movie to himself. A sort of testing the waters thing if you get what I'm saying.
Thanks for listening, and thanks for including me on your post.
Keep up the good work!

Diabolu Frank said...

MMIBTC, I'm happy to hear from folks who enjoy discussing the Martian Manhunter, so feel free to leave comments (anonymous or not,) as I read them all.

What you may not have noticed is that the WB has actually had a very scattered approach to adapting DC properties. Marvel basically had to put everything they had into their top properties from the beginning because of the circumstances of their studio's creation. WB has the luxury to pick and choose from options presented to them by their film makers and in house decision makers. That's why Del Toro is developing a Vertigo movie, while Hourman is in development for TV. Rather than their comic book status, WB chooses productions based on viability of concept and talent involvement. David Goyer could get a a Sandman movie made long before anybody touches Aquaman. The key is getting someone interest in developing a property, rather than how successful that property has been previously in the narrow comics industry.

My main argument against Manhunter as a background player is that he's much easier and cheaper to adapt to film than someone like a Wonder Woman. Everything he needs to work for modern audiences, who already know him from Smallville and a variety of DC animated projects, is already on the page. Let the JLA get brought together by Cyborg, a much more problematic adaptation, and move forward with a very reasonable Manhunter film. Not likely, but I do have an agenda here. ;)

MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg said...

But then again, you could also bring up bombs such as Mars Needs Moms and John Carter, which could potentially scare the studios from going forward with a big screen adaptation.

Also, studios want a certain "relatability factor" when it comes to movies these days. Take note of things like Star Trek reboots and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy by Marvel, they all have major connections to Earth to make the characters feel more human. One of the more off-putting things about "Man of Steel" was the fact that they decided to present Superman in the light off Martian Manhunter, someone who feels alien from humanity. I guess Snyder failed to see with Superman, Superman is the mask, while Clark is the real person. However given the context of MM, that sort of vibe could work, but we don't know.
Also about Hourman, if you've read the descriptions about the show, it doesn't sound anything like classic Rex Tyler.
And even regarding Cyborg, I don't know if you frequent comicvine often, but people aren't really liking Cyborg being on the team.

Diabolu Frank said...

I know there's some strange movie superstition about films with "Mars" in the title being cursed, which I think comes down to there having been a lot of bad movies about Mars. That's why you just call the film "The Manhunter" and leave J'Onn's planet unnamed. The alien part is important. The Martian part, not so much. I believe that the best approach is to set a Manhunter story on Earth and leave the origins mysterious. Use POV characters like Diane Meade for audience identification, and let J'Onn be the spooky dude. Diane = Agent Scully, J'Onn = Agent K with super-powers.

LissBirds said...

MMIBTC, you're welcome! I love the camaraderie the I-HoD inspires.

Frank, I think we talked a long time about about how J'onn sometimes works better when viewed from the outside. (Yet somehow American Secrets still manages to pull off an internal monologue.) I didn't see a lot of him on Smallville (only saw one or two seasons of that show,) but I think that's kind of how "John Jones's" appearances worked there. He'd show up, offer some advice to Clark, and then mysteriously disappear.

Leaving his past a potential multiple choice for the audience is one way to reconcile the differing versions of his past--so that could prove practical.

MMIBTC, my big hope for a Martian Manhunter movie is a period piece set on Earth in the 1950's, full of Cold War paranoia against invaders from outer space. I also would like to see a completely solo movie--with no other help from the big names like Batman or Superman. If someone could distill the best aspects of the Darwyn Cooke Martian Manhunter with the American Secrets Martian Manhunter, then all my dreams would come true. My other wish is a big FUN ensemble cast movie based on the 80's JLI series--the Oreo-munching dry witted-J'onn. (I dream big.) I'm waiting with baited breath for DC to make a fun superhero movie to contrast all this angst-ridden sturm und drang they've been spitting out lately.

Future Guy said...

If "Hellboy" can succeed as a movie property, I see no reason why MM couldn't. And frankly, all arguments against one comic book character or another being 'problematic' as a subject for screen adaptation became null and void the minute "Guardians of the Galaxy" was greenlit.

Diabolu Frank said...

"I'm waiting with baited breath for DC to make a fun superhero movie to contrast all this angst-ridden sturm und drang they've been spitting out lately."

So you're waiting for a Marvel movie with DC characters? I seriously think that's more optimistic than a Martian Manhunter movie. SRLY!

Of all the characters adapted on Smallville, including Superman, I think John Jones turned out the best. Little of his background was ever revealed, and most of what was came through dialogue alone. Didn't need no estikin' Mars flashback sequence!

MartianManhunterIsBetterThanCyborg said...

Well I think its safe to say Green Lantern (2011) was an attempt to copy the Marvel formula... and we all saw how that turned out. I'm pretty sure WB is set on following the Nolan methodology now.

Diabolu Frank said...

...which brings us back to the somber Manhunter from Mars...