With the recent addition of Adam Warlock in the cosmic universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is not shying away from introducing the lesser known characters to the silver screen. MCU’s gamble with Guardians of The Galaxy in 2014 was met with critical acclaim, including a personal post from Steven Spielberg himself. The Inhumans debuting in September will pave the way for other underrated characters in the future.
The DC Extended Universe started off with Man of Steel, which was followed by Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. Apart from Wonder Woman, the DCEU has been trying to set a dark and grisly tone for its universe, which has been met with a largely polarized reception. With such a diverse array of characters; in the grounded and cosmic reality, DCEU can use some underrated characters who can gel easily with the macabre tone of the movies. Here’s a list of top 10 most underrated characters who should feature in the DCEU:
1. Swamp Thing
First Appearance – House of Secrets #92 (1971)
Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing is a humanoid/plant creature which protects vegetation and humanity from both worldly and extra-terrestrial threats. A key member of the Justice League Dark, Swamp Thing is endowed with superhuman strength and durability. Being a plant creature, he has telepathic dominion over plant life and is also granted with shape-shifting abilities. Like most superheroes, Swamp Thing is also an accidental product in a chemical base. Dr. Alec Holland, alter ego of Swamp Thing is a biologist who gets caught in an explosion while working. The accident grants Holland incredible powers but snatches away his chance to be human again. In a constant battle with two personalities, Swamp Thing is a complex superhero who can easily fit in the macabre universe of DCEU.
First Appearance- Batman #609 (2003)
Created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Hush is arguable one of the best villains of Batman’s famous rogue gallery. Thomas Elliot, childhood best friend of Bruce Wayne, is a brilliant surgeon with a genius level intellect. With a very rough childhood, Elliot grows up detesting Bruce Wayne’s loving family. With peak human conditions and mastery over hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship, Hush is one of those few enemies of Batman who is able to fight Batman on both mental and physical fronts. Surprisingly, Batman’s brilliant strategic mind stems from his childhood games with Thomas Elliot. Being such a disturbed character who is driven by an irrational jealousy, Hush can easily gel in the neo-noir Batman movies which are planned by director Matt Reeves.
3. Doctor Fate
First Appearance – More Fun Comics #55 (1940)
Created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, Doctor Fate is a mantle which has been passed on to several characters of the DC Universe. The most famous incarnation of Doctor Fate is Kent Nelson. On a trip to an archaeological survey, Kent opens the tomb of Nabu the Wise and dies due to the presence of toxic gases in the chamber. Nabu revives Kent and teaches him to be a sorcerer for over 20 years. Doctor Fate usually fights supernatural and magical threats and is one of the founders of the Justice Society of America. As a master of magic, Doctor Fate should feature in the upcoming Justice League Dark. His mastery over the ancient arts and the cosmos can be the answer to Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
4. Phantom Stranger
First Appearance – Phantom Stranger #1
Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Phantom Stranger is one of those very few characters whose origin is never truly shown. One story has shown him to be Judas Iscariot, the twelfth disciple of Jesus Christ, who betrayed him after the Last Supper. Endowed with omniscience and limitless magic, Phantom Stranger mostly assists the Justice League when they face paranormal and occult threats. Belonging to such mysterious and archaic origins, Phantom Stranger can be an interesting addition to the magical universe of DCEU.
First Appearance – Tale of the Green Lantern #2 (1981)
Created by Len Wein, Mike W. Barr and Joe Staton, Nekron is the embodiment of Death in the DC Universe. One of the major antagonists of the highly successful comic book Blackest Night, Nekron wields the Black Lantern Ring which can revive the dead. His mastery over the ring allows him to control the dead and use them as terrifying objects of destruction. Considering the symbolic aesthetics of DCEU, Nekron can feature in the upcoming Green Lantern Corps movie.
First Appearance – Sandman (1981)
Created by Neil Gaiman, Morpheus is one of the most underrated characters of DC/Vertigo comics. As a member of the endless, Morpheus or Dream, is the younger brother of Death. His powers include the control over dreams of every living creature. As a series, Sandman should get a high-budget TV show instead of a movie, but Morpheus can be a part of the DCEU if the idea of a Sandman TV series is shelved.
First Appearance – Stormwatch #4 (1998)
Created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, Midnighter is a member of the rogue superhero team named The Authority. He is the crime-fighting partner and love interest of another superhero Apollo. Often drawing comparisons with The Batman, Midnighter is a brutal fighter who usually ends up killing his opponents. Endowed with various enhancements, Midnighter’s two famous powers are his abilities to find out the easiest way to subdue an enemy, and, to suppress pain during battles. If Midnighter finds a way to subdue/kill his enemy, there is no way to stop him. Interestingly, Midnighter is also one of those few gay characters who have received recognition from comic book readers. Based on DCEU’s approach to a realistic universe, the inclusion of a gay character whose operations often lie in the gray area of morality can work wonderfully.
8. The Spectre
First Appearance – More Fun Comics #51 (1940)
Created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily, The Spectre is the alter-ego of detective Jim Corrigan, who was murdered by thugs in a brutal fashion. Upon his revival, The Spectre is gifted with immortality, reality warping and energy manipulation to fight evil. One of the core members of Justice Society of America, The Spectre strives to ward off evil with his exceptional powers. Without a human host, The Spectre can become volatile and can go on a vengeance-fueled rampage. With some similarities with The Ghost Rider, The Spectre should be added to the dark and gritty universe of DCEU.
9. Captain Atom
First Appearance – Space Adventures #33 (1960)
Created by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko, scientist Allen Adams gained powers by an accident. As Captain Atom, he can tap into vast nuclear energy and is gifted with supernatural strength, flight, atomic transmutation and manipulation. Over the years, Captain Atom has been portrayed as a minor character in most animated movies of DC. As an inspiration for Dr. Manhattan, Captain Atom can be portrayed as a multi-layered character in the DCEU, who is troubled with his duties as a superhero.
10. Martian Manhunter
First Appearance – Detective Comics #225
Created by Joseph Samachson, Martian Manhunter is one of the seven founding members of the Justice League of America. With his alter ego J’onn J’onzz, Martian Manhunter is an inhabitant of Mars. With the extinction of his entire race, he travels to Earth by an experimental teleportation device. In his stay on Earth, he decides to fight crime under the pseudonym of John Jones, a detective in Middletown, USA. Gifted with Martian nine senses, telepathy, Martian Vision, superhuman speed and strength, intangibility, shape shifting and flight. With such a diverse array of powers, he is often considered as one of the most powerful beings who can hold his ground against Superman. As a gloomy and layered character, Martian Manhunter must be added to the DCEU to complete the entire roster of the Justice League.