While some confusion remains as to exactly what the role of Warner Bros.' new stand-alone movies featuring DC characters but existing outside of the DC Extended Universe will be, some fans have taken their very existence as a sign that some great stories from throughout comics history could have their first serious chance to make it to the big screen.
There are some obvious things that could happen in these films, including "alternate reality" stories like Batman Beyond or Kingdom Come.
The movies could also presumably pick up (or at least loosely adapt) story threads and continuities from other-media properties like Smallville or the Batman: Arkham games.
The most likely scenario, though, is that they are just going to be what "stand-alone" describes: stand-alone. They could just be stories Warner Bros. or DC are eager to tell, but which won't fit into the restrictions of an ongoing continuity.
Or even stories that are just so complicated that telling them doesn't allow time to go on detours into the various subplots being developed in DC's other movies.
In any event, we've put together a list of ten DC pubishing events that could make pretty kick-ass stand-alone movies.
The story of Blackest Night centers on the dead friends, foes, and allies of superheroes rising from the grave in what amounts to a universe-wide zombie apocalypse, with the various different-colored Lantern Corps involved.
One of the ideas that could work well for DC's stand-alone movies is what Disney did with their first Star Wars stand-alone: making it a genre film.
In the case of Rogue One, it was a war movie (like, moreso than the average Star War), using tropes from that genre in a way that the franchise had not really done before.
You could see Blackest Night doing that with the zombie genre: Marvel has not yet put a Marvel Zombies property in development, and does not seem to be interested in it. That means if DC were to use Blackest Night -- a story written by DC movie honcho Geoff Johns -- they would be the first to create a superhero/zombie mash-up in the mainstream.
A visually cool bad guy, the establishment of the Lantern lore, and the opportunity to use zombie versions of superheroes without having to draw out years of movies where characters die and are reborn are all big selling points for Blackest Night...
...as, more than likely, would be the idea of doing for Green Lantern what Warner Bros. is doing for The Flash: creating a movie that can work by using a wildly popular story from the comics.
The CW already did a hugely entertaining take on Invasion!, the 1980s crossover by Rocket Raccoon co-creator Bill Mantlo, last season on the Arrowverse shows...but The Flash also did "Flashpoint," and that's coming to a theater near you soon enough.
It sounds like the Flashpoint movie will be more akin to the miniseries from the comics, rather than the more conventional time-travel story of the TV series, and they could easily go the same way with Invasion!.
In the comics, The Dominators weren't the only aliens to invade Earth because they were worried about the sudden spike in metahuman activity; there were a half-dozen alien races involved on both sides of the conflict, including the Daxamites, Mon-El's people.
One of the things that did not get used in the TV series was the use of gene bombs to attempt to deactive latent metahumans, resulting in the creation fo new superheroes. Whether a stand-alone movie would be the best avenue to introduce new IP for potential spinoffs could be a thorny question, but it definitely could introduce some new characters to audiences who would not ordinarily try them.
And, again, this could fit into the mold of taking a genre movie -- the alien invasion film -- and giving it a DC spin.
The Great Darkness Saga
It might be a hard sell to put Darkseid in more than one movie in a short period of time, but if for the sake of argument there were not a Justice League sequel, or if such a sequel did not return to Apokolips for its inspiration, an argument could be made for the Legion of Super-Heroes' movie to be The Great Darkness Saga.
Both one of the best-loved Legion stories of all time and arguably the best New Gods story ever to have been written by someone besides Jack Kirby, The Great Darkness Saga pitted the immortal New God Darkseid against the teenage superheroes from the future.
Another upside to this story is that they could presumably introduce a big-screen version of Supergirl if they wanted to, who would be distinct from the CW TV version. That said, this one might actually work better on The CW, where Mon-El, Superman, and Supergirl (all players in the original story) have all appeared on Supergirl along with a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring and even some prophetic graffiti about Darkseid.
The Great Disaster
This one isn't exactly a single story, per se, but a high concept that could be a really interesting genre film for DC.
"The Great Disaster" was strongly implied to have been a man-made (and likely nuclear) disaster, and for years served as a kind of point of demarcation for DC's history. Stories featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes, who existed a thousand years in the future, were separated from modern-day stories by the Great Disaster, which took place somewhere in between and made it difficult for the Legion to, say, know as much as you would expect them to about Superman's history and the like.
A similar device was used when Booster Gold first came back from the 25th Century, so that he could use the past to benefit himself. Ironically, a later incarnation of Booster, co-written by Geoff Johns, gave him more complete historical records and simply allowed him to use his knowledge of history to his own benefit.
Characters from the Great Disaster's post-apocalyptic world include O.M.A.C., Kamandi, and the Atomic Knights -- and, yes, we're saying that this could be a post-apocalyptic survival horror or survival/adventure story.
Over the years in the comics, a number of events were implied or outright stated to have been the cause of the Great Disaster, although whether any of them would hold up to scrutiny later is debatable. Stories featuring characters like Kamandi and the Atomic Knights have often been treated as though they might exist elsewhere in DC's multiverse, in a "potential" future, or some other plot device has been used to cast doubt on them.
Recently, Dan Jurgens and Bernard Chang's Batman Beyond used The Great Disaster as a pretense to introduce characters and concepts from Kamandi to that title. In The Kamandi Challenge, which took place post-Rebirth, an issue of the story showed artifacts from the character's past, which included familiar costume and weapon elements from modern-day DC superheroes.
There is something appealing about time-travel stories when it comes to superhero stories.
We even saw a little bit of it in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, with The Flash popping out of a hole in reality to shout at Bruce Wayne.
It can, however, seriously complicate continuity -- and that's handy, when you have a storytelling device like stand-alone films that seem designed to avoid the ensnarements of ongoing continuity.
Divorcing Armageddon 2001 from a shared universe and putting it in an imprint designed specifically to allow anything to happen would also open up the possibility that Monarch is not some also-ran character intorduced in-story for the purpose of being disposed of, but a corrupted future version of almost any hero, giving fans the idea that no character is "safe" in what would be an ironic inversion of the character's eventual fate in the comics.
Doctor 13: Architecture and Morality
You want something totally out there, zany, and possibly a little fourth wall breaking?
Let's introduce you to Doctor 13: Architecture and Morality, a miniseries that centered on the titular Doctor 13, his daughter, and their adventures with a group of largely forgotten DC characters.
Imagine a film where the title character teams up with a girl whose super-power is the ability to make others sick; a tank haunted by the ghost of a Civil War soldier; a Nazi gorilla; a child genius who will tell you the secrets of the universe for a dime; and on and on.
The fact that the original series too place after 52 and Infinite Crisis and took aim at the culture in comics at the time could even be a fun thing to explore given the changing culture in DC's movies and the fact that movie theaters crammed with superhero fare are soon going to beg for some superhero material that is a little more self-aware.
Remember how well Deadpool did, for instance?
Crisis on Infinite Earths
There has been speculation since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice came out that the DC films might eventually introduce a version of the Crisis to the movies.
While The Flash has their crisis set for 2024, Batman v Superman introduced The Flash via a scene where he reaches through time to communicate with Batman, not unlike something he does in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
That story in the comics brought together various disparate continuities from throughout DC's multiverse, which already means that with the introduction of an Elseworlds/Multiverse banner for films some fans are wondering how long separate universes can last before they are combined into one.
The thing is? Look, we all want to see Crisis. But at this point it seems like The Flash has earned the right to tell this story before somebody grabs it for the big screen.
Everybody knows that Warner Bros. love them some Batman movies.
Hell, right now it appears as though we have The Joker, Joker and Harley Quinn, The Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Gotham City Sirens in developement all at the same time...
...and those are just the ones we remember off the top of our heads.
So why wouldn't they love a crazy movie where Batman and a couple of other A-list superheroes could team up with a bunch of B- and C-listers who would otherwise never end up in a movie and battle against an attack from a whole Justice League made up of evil Batmen from another universe?
Or at least the toys do.
How meta do they want to get? We could find out the upper limit in a movie version of Doomsday Clock.
Again, we have a version of Superman in the movies who needs a bit of a sprucing up. It's been long rumored that the "real" version of Superman has been a work in progress since Man of Steel and that fans would get to see him in all his glory in Justice League -- but even if that's the case, the fact that Superman spends much of the movie dead will likely have fans asking for more.
And what better way to address Superman standing as a shining symbol of hope than to tell a story about how he (and hope with him) face off Doctor Manhattan and the gritty, grimy cynicism of Watchmen?
Okay, this one will basically never happen...but you know you want to see whether it could possibly work, don't you?!
Twilight of the Superheroes
Just an outright crazy idea but one that could be pretty interesting:
Alan Moore once wrote a treatment for a DC event series which would have followed Crisis on Infinite Earths. Titled Twilight of the Superheroes, the story would have been patterned on Ragnarok (from mythology, not any of the comic book versions) and could have been a hell fo a head trip.
With Rip Hunter and John Constantine leading the pack, a group of DC heroes would have faced some crazy challenges...and DC has previously claimed ownership of Moore's treatment, using that right to have it removed from the internet when it leaked years ago.
If they do in fact own it, this could be the interesting situation where a movie could be made of Moore's "lost" comic opus, which was never made becuase Moore's long-running feud with DC over the Watchmen rights started to take over their relationship before Twilight could ever get off the ground.