Warner Bros. has a blockbuster hit with the divisive Joker film directed by Todd Phillips. It’s simultaneously garnered acclaim, winning the top prize at the Venice Film Festival and building up Oscar buzz while making a killing at the box office. In fact, it is the first R-Rated film to rake in over a billion dollars. Despite the controversy, the people have spoken and the repeat viewings and word of mouth have made the film a hit and it seems audiences want more gritty, character-driven experiences from their comic book films. So, we have to wonder where else the DC Black Label will go in the future and which characters will be ideal for this format. Let’s explore.
What I really like about Deathstroke is how much more grounded he is as a villain. He’s a hitman, a mercenary and yet he’s so much more than a common thug. He’s been enhanced so he’s stronger and faster than the average villain and he’s also smart, using up to 90% of his brain capacity. Following a character who does terrible things and is fully aware of what he’s doing yet is smarter than most people in the room would make for an interesting character study of what we consider to be right and wrong. Unlike Joker, which was more of a crime drama in the vein of Taxi Driver, Deathstroke would naturally need to have a few more action scenes. But I think if it treats action like how the Bourne films did, it shouldn’t feel out of place.
Speaking of master villains, DC Black should seriously consider putting the spotlight on the biggest master villain of all time. Known for being Superman’s arch-nemesis, despite being without superpowers himself. He’s a businessman and see’s the alien known as Kal-El as a threat to the planet (and to his own plans) and constantly tries to outsmart the strongest being on the planet. That brain versus brawn, but from the point of view of the villain-who may not be entirely wrong when we see it from his point of view perhaps-would be a great way to showcase how we all think we’re the hero of our own story.
The character of John Constantine from the Hellblazer comics hasn’t had too much luck on the screen. There was a film adaptation in2005 starring Keanu Reeves that was a blockbuster hit but was not well received by fans or critics. A TV show on NBC proved more successful with fans, with Matt Ryan nailing the character, but low viewership and a procedural plot (and not an episodic narrative) resulted in the show to get cancelled, moving the character to the Arrowverse’s Legends of the Tomorrow. I think it’s time to fully unleash John Constantine and all of hell with it in an R rated manner that is fitting of the character. Demons, hell, redemption, guilt, theology, occult, smokes. We want it all.
I like the idea of DC Black Label exploring the Black Canary character without any of her metahuman superpowers, back when she was strickly a hand to hand combatant. With this in mind, it would allow for a much more human story to be told, without any of the trappings of modern superheroes. It’d be very interesting to see Dinah Drake-or any version of the character-struggle with her marriage and her family life while going out on the streets to fight. She can be portrayed as a tragic hero, perhaps even addicted to violence.
Harvey Two-Face’s story was covered extensively in the excellent film The Dark Knight, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for further exploration of the character. What makes Two-Face so interesting is where he starts his career in Gotham and where he ends up. Showing the audience his fall from grace in a more gritty and corrupt environment, where it’s the city, crime and failures and not the Joker that caused Harvey to become the villain could be a fitting place for the character at DC Black; as long as it doesn’t copy Nolan’s film too much. Most of Harvey’s story is covered in the comic The Long Halloween and Nolan used that story extensively for his film, meaning like Joker, Two-Face may need a new origin for this label.
Those are our picks for the next possible films to be made under the DC Black Label. Who would you like to see adapted as an R-Rated drama? Let us know and be sure to check out our latest, including our reviews of Ford v Ferrari and the first two chapters of The Mandalorian.