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DC and Marvel’s Animated Epics

The Classic Stories We’d Like To See Turned Into Features

By Chad Derdowski     February 10, 2010
Source: Mania


Comicscape: DC and Marvel’s Animated Epics
© Mania

With the release of the Planet Hulk feature last week, Marvel Comics made another foray into the realm of animated film, a realm that up to this point has been dominated by their Distinguished Competition. While Marvel is better known for their string of successful big screen adventures, DC has had a firm grasp on the animated side of things. Marvel has made a few stabs in this direction, but early efforts fell flat. However, the Hulk vs. Thor and Hulk vs. Wolverine two-disc set proved to be nothing short of amazing and Planet Hulk has followed suit.

So now we’ve got some real competition. And competition pushes both sides to up the ante. Since both Marvel and DC are producing some quality work, it’s safe to say that all this ante pushing is going to pay off in spades for fans. But the question is: what’s next?

We don’t know about you, but we thought that DC’s New Frontier set the bar so ridiculously high, neither company can hope to top it any time soon. But now that we’ve got Planet Hulk from Marvel as well as Superman: Doomsday and Superman/Batman Public Enemies from DC (with a sequel on the way), it got us thinking… the stories are already there, so why not just adapt some of the classics? Origin stories are great but we already know how Green Lantern got his ring and why Wonder Woman fights crime in star-spangled panties. There have been so many epics from DC and Marvel that fans hold dear to their hearts years after reading them, it makes sense to bring them to life in an animated format. And let’s face it; we’re never going to see a live-action Dark Knight Returns in theaters.

So without belaboring the point, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here are a few classic Marvel and DC storylines we’d like to see adapted to animated form.

 

Days of Future Past

This tale of a post-apocalyptic future is beyond classic. It’s so classic that it’s almost gotten to the point where it’s kind of annoying. There have been enough crappy sequels, spin-offs and parodies to make your head spin. But go back and re-read it and try to tell us this story isn’t 110% pure dynamite. There’s a reason why writers keep mining this fertile ground: it’s good.

Yeah, it’s already sort of been adapted in the X-Men animated series from the ‘90s and elements of it were used in a recent Wolverine and the X-Men episode, but we think it deserves the 80-minute treatment. Give us Sentinels and Rachel Summers, a grown up Kitty Pryde, Wolverine getting scorched until there’s nothing left but a shiny skeleton and don’t forget that ominous shot of the superhero graveyard. And of course, give us a cover that looks like Uncanny X-Men #141.

 

Kingdom Come

PG-13 is all the rage these days and Kingdom Come is definitely the type of story that can appeal to older fans as well as new ones. Along with New Frontier, it’s a modern classic that remembers fondly the halcyon days of the Silver Age while putting a new spin on characters. Like the Dark Knight Returns, it projects a bleak future for superpowered beings while still offering a glimmer of hope. It’s a story of a new generation trying to find (and losing) its way only to be guided by the voices of the past.

It also pits all the heroes against each other in a battle royale supreme! Honestly, who doesn’t love this story? We’d love to see it adapted and we don’t think we’re alone. Even better – don’t go for an Alex Ross style realism: do it in the art deco style of Bruce Timm’s Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons, thereby tying it in to that continuity and deepening the nostalgic appeal. If we’re talking about adapting modern classics, Kingdom Come is one of the biggies.

 

Avengers: The Kree/Skrull War

With its allusions to McCarthyism, this storyline could easily be adapted to fit modern conflicts and racial prejudices – there are a lot of folks currently mired in a “your next door neighbor could be the enemy” mindset so this type of story could work well as a Twilight Zone-esque metaphor. And of course, the star-spanning action and enormous cast featuring a classic Avengers lineup doesn’t hurt either. We’ve got shape-shifting aliens disguised as cows, a love story between Vision and Scarlet Witch and that whole “Fantastic Voyage” sequence where Ant-Man goes inside Vision to fix him up. And we’ve got Hawkeye during his Goliath era! Okay… maybe that last part wouldn’t make the cut.

A storyline like this one could also continue with Marvel’s recent “universe building” technique that we’re seeing in both the big and small screen films. Packed with cameos from a variety of Marvel characters, it can lay even more groundwork for a Marvel Animated Universe as well as set up an eventual Secret Invasion feature.

 

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

This one was actually announced way back at Comic-Con 2006 but has been shelved due to a “lack of broad fanbase appeal”. We respectfully disagree.

The Teen Titans animated series that ran on Cartoon Network was popular while it lasted and actually did an adaptation of this storyline. An incarnation of the team has appeared on Batman: The Brave and the Bold and with a Young Justice series reportedly in the works, it seems that DC is willing to promote a team of younger heroes. It only seems logical to us that if you’re going to promote young heroes, you might as well have steak rather than hamburger and The Judas Contract is the most choice cut of steak Titans fans have ever eaten.

We don’t want to see a goofy anime-influenced version though. Give us something that lives up to dramatic weight of the original Wolfman/Pérez classic.

 

And, of course...

The Dark Knight Returns

Kinda seems like you just gotta do this one at some point, right?

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 10 of 21
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creekwoodkid 2/10/2010 5:32:54 AM

I would like to see the Age of Apocalyopse storyline, but it would be tough to cram all that into 80 minutes.  That was the story that got me back into comics. DoFP and DKR are absolute must haves!

This is outside the comics realm, but I always wanted to see stories from The Silmarillion adapted in some way shape or form, especially Beren and Luthien.

littlemikey979 2/10/2010 6:49:09 AM

I would like to see Alex Ross' art work transferred to animation. Kingdom is a great story would be awesome to see. I think Marvel is trying to catch up to DC when it comes to their animation but they still have a little ways to go, but they are getting better, i love how marvel doesnt use hollywood voice for their movies.

Creek- I think a three part series for a AoA story would be cool, they can make theater movies that way why not direct to video as well

Jensen Ackles for Captain America!!!

cdale78 2/10/2010 7:08:00 AM

All excellent suggestions, I'd include:

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Seige is shaping up to be a perfect blockbuster movie/cartoon

The Sinestro Corps War

Civil War

The Great Darkness Saga (Legion!)

Hope they follow up Planet with World War Hulk

 

silversurfer 2/10/2010 8:25:54 AM

The Avengers Kree/Skrull War would be awesome....

CDALE78- You mentioned Civil War, that could be a tie in to the Kree/Skrull War...that would be a good series to do as a one-two punch? 

Days of Future Past would be good, but I think that it wouldn't be told the way it should be...even as animation.

The Dark Phoenix Saga should be redone. That story is one of the best X Men stories around....bring in the Shi'ar Empire and make it what it should've been.

For the Teen Titans, I would go with the Trigon Saga....I would like to see that one done as an animated movie. I think it could work.

cdale78 2/10/2010 8:31:03 AM

I agree, Trigon saga would be great too.  They did a watered down version in the Teen Titans cartoon, but it would be cool to see them go for broke on a PG-13 version

vagabondster 2/10/2010 8:41:05 AM

I think crisis on infinite earths would be cool, but it would have to be extremely adapted to appeal to a broad fanbase, and I seriously doubt such an adaptation could be done that would remain true to the story. Stormwatch would be cool to see, they could do like a 3 or 4 part series showing Bendix as weatherman for a while then he goes nuts and end it with something similar to Aliens vs wildcats. What would ROCK the most (that we'll never see most likely) was the whole DC vs Marvel amalgam univers story though.

thecheckeredman 2/10/2010 9:32:14 AM

I'm bored with the mild DoFP "re-imaginings"...and NO, NO, NO to any Age of A-carp-alyopse jazz.  So boring, such a weak storyline during one of the WORST periods in comic publication history for the big two.

Though I'm bored with DC UNIVERSE movies mining of Batman and the JLA over and over again I'd be interested to see a KINGDOM COME flick ala the Timm-verse style as an extension of the fine JL and JLU shows.  Okay, I'm in.

kow626_home 2/10/2010 10:25:36 AM

you thought new frontier set the bar high? i thought it set it pretty damn LOW! it was horrible! but we all have our opinions.

EvilSean 2/10/2010 11:50:22 AM

So you guys use my idea and don't even drop me an email!? :)

I would love see animated adaptations of 90s Vertigo.  Matt Wagner's Sandman Mystery Theatre (any of the story arcs), Death: The High Cost of Living & Starman.

Superman for All Seasons

Gotham by Gaslight  and The Killing Joke in animation more in line with Tales of the Black Freighter or Gotham Knight.

A series of X-Men animated films following a streamlined comics continuity would be amazing.  Start with the original 5 as teens vs Magneto and the Brotherhood.  X-Men meet the Avengers.  All-New, All-Different.  Dark Phoenix saga.  DoFP.  The New Mutants.  God Loves, Man Kills.  Mutant Massacre.  Fall of the Mutants.  The Brood.  Inferno.  You get the idea.

"It's Superman" by Tom De Haven:  Superman set in the 30's in a Fleischer inspired style.

I'd prefer an HBO series, but any screen adaptation of 100 Bullets would be welcome.

I know it's not Marvel/DC, but since Robert Rodriguez is never going to do the Madman movie, I'd like to see Mike Allred's creation in all his pop-art animated glory.  The soundtrack would be amazing.

Storymark 2/10/2010 1:11:18 PM

A few stabs....?  They've done as many of these STV animated flicks as DC.

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