There are hundreds of great comic book stories from over the years -- including some of those massive, status quo-shaking "event" tales that roll along a few times a year at the big publishers.
And, now, we're getting something like five superhero movies a year for the foreseeable future.
Some of those movies are going to be informed by the source material, so while we will likely not see a lot of 1:1 translations, films like Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War have shown that there's an audience for comic book movies that draw pretty significantly from the comics that inspired them.
We've picked a list of 7 major comics events that feel like they could inspire some great cinematic adventures. If we missed your favorite, chime in below to let us know!
PANIC IN THE SKY
We have actually already written in the past about how a number of recent rumors about the forthcoming Justice League and presumptive Man of Steel sequel films have been setting off some alarm bells in Post-Crisis Superman fan brains.
Some of those rumors have since proven to be true and some false, but at the time they seemed to indicate that the DC Extended Universe could be drawing inspiration from the popular 1991 Superman storyline "Panic in the Sky!"
The claims indicate that Supergirl -- first seen in the Man of Steel universe as part of a tie-in comic book sold digitally at Wal-Mart -- would be a big player in a planed Man of Steel 2, which would see her stuck between Superman and Brainiac, with the latter coming to Earth hoping to get his hands on Krypton's biological cortex.
Of course, in Man of Steel, it was established that the cortex is coded into Superman's own body, which would make him a target for Brainiac and put his ancestor (Kara Zor-El, in the David Goyer and Jerry Ordway version of the Man of Steel world, crashlanded on Earth thousands of years ago, her ship later being unearthed and serving as Superman's Fortress of Solitude in the movie) at odds with either, or both.
The Kara introduced in the digital comic was a member of the Kryptonian Explorers Guild, and organization tasked with seeking out suitable planets for terraforming and later colonization by Kryptonians...which basically means she wanted to do exactly what Zod wanted to do, except that back when she first arrived there wasn't a thriving human civilization.
Assuming a follow-up would retain the canon from the comic (it's not clear how many people actually ever SAW the book and, after all, it wasn't onscreen), that could present Kara with some really interesting moral choices to make, especially after her "cousin" smashed any hope of reinvigorating Krypton. It wouldn't be too terribly surprising to see her at least briefly take up against him.
The rumors also claim that Brainiac would bring Bizarro along to aid him against Superman and Supergirl. Bizarro, of course, is an imperfect copy of Superman who, depending on what story you're reading, can either be a failed clone, an alien or simply the Superman analogue of a twisted world in a parallel universe. He's typically depicted as kind of ugly and simple, and while his new miniseries from writer Heath Corson and artist Gustavo Duarte is an exception, he's been depicted in recent years as more monstrous than before.
As the rumors exist -- Brainiac comes to Earth looking for the Kryptonian cortex and Supergirl ends up pitted between him and Superman -- it would be another story like Man of Steel, where somebody comes to wreck up the joint because they are specifically looking for Superman. This puts the filmmakers in that same pickle of trying to explain how he's being heroic when the obvious choice would be to sacrifice himself to keep destruction from happening in the streets...although that's a little less the "obvious" choice when Superman already sacrificed himself once...and from what we can tell, the world is finally going to see his value as a result.
"Panic in the Sky!" also involves a world where there's no Justice League (it had been disbanded following the events of the Justice League International story "Breakdowns"), so Superman recruits a number of heroes to go meet Brainiac in space, battling him on his own turf (in this case Warworld) before he can reach Earth and start breaking stuff. Yeah, there's a little bit of chaos in Metropolis, but nothing that Gangbuster, Guardian and Aquaman can't handle. Most of the big fighting happens on Warworld and Brainiac is turned back without significant casualties.
This could be a perfect setup for a movie, in that it would allow them to minimize civilian casualties while still having a battle believably epic for a team as powerful as the Justice League. It's similar, in fact, to the way Avengers: Age of Ultron tried to isolate the team and the battle from onlookers by putting the final battle on essentially a giant, floating island.
And while "Panic in the Sky!" didn't feature Bizarro (he was rarely used in the 1986-1999 period of Superman's publishing history), it did feature an ugly alien character called Draaga, who hailed from Warworld and, for reasons too complex to get into right now, wore a Superman costume throughout the story. He worked with Brainiac, an alien princess named Maxima who had briefly been a Superman villain before, and Supergirl, who had been essentially brainwashed into helping Brainiac (she recovered pretty quickly).
Oh, and the "Panic in the Sky!' storyline culminated with Supergirl becoming a regular fixture among Earth's heroes while Superman re-formed the Justice League at Batman's urging.
Certainly one interesting thing to remember is that "The Supergirl Saga" -- John Byrne's final Superman story and the tale that introduced the '80s/'90s version of Supergirl, who would be a key player in "Panic in the Sky!" -- culminated with Superman executing General Zod and two other Kryptonian criminals who had committed genocide in another universe. It had lasting ramifications for Superman, including a self-induced exile into space, which is when he first encountered Draaga. Elements of Byrne's, Marv Wolfman's and Jerry Ordway's mid-'80s runs on the Superman titles have informed not only Man of Steel, but the Supergirl TV series as well in recent years, so drawing from one of the best-loved storylines of that era doesn't seem entirely farfetched.prevnext
This one might be better-suited to a TV miniseries, but it seems worth bringing up here because of the apparent death of Havok in X-Men: Apocalypse.
X-Men had a soft reboot that retained the timeline -- kinda -- and the cast -- sorta -- after its first trilogy concluded. Now that the second trilogy has concluded (and with a bit of a thud, as X-Men: Apocalypse was the least-beloved of the new movies), could we see them rebooting again?
Lots of fan speculation, and now some rumors in the press, have centered on the idea that the X-Men might actually get a break so that Fox can focus on Deadpool and X-Force. That would make sense, but if they wanted to tweak the world of Apocalypse a bit, keep the excellent cast they've assembled, and put them someplace where anything goes, look no further than writer Howard Mackie's excellent Mutant X, in which Havok apparently died and was shunted into another universe, where his role was different -- and bigger.
Time-travel and alternate realities are something audiences have proven they're comfortable with in their superhero stories, thanks to both The Flash and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and the world of Mutant X is cool, compelling, and great visually. The reality is, nobody is making this movie -- but that's sad, because they absolutely should be.prevnext
This series would be worth seeing adapted, if only because it gave us such wonderful and gleeful abuse of childhood rhymes as Extreme Justice's "Starlight, star bright, kill everyone in sight" and the main Underworld Unleashed title's "Oh, the weather outside's infernal, with fire that burn eternal -- but in here, where the cold winds blow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"
More seriously, though? If you're going to take magic seriously -- and you should, between Suicide Squad and Dark Universe -- what could be "bigger" than pitting the Justice League against the actual Devil?
The idea of a powerful villain who gives other villains upgrades in exchange for what he wants from them could be a lot of fun to explore, too, in a universe where half of the metahumans who have had speaking roles are members of the Suicide Squad. What side would they come down on when push came to shove?prevnext
Probably the most movie-friendly crossover event Marvel has ever had, this one breaks one of the loose rules that we tried to utilize in this list: it absolutely wants you to know some history in order to make sense.
For the purposes of the films, though? Marvel is already trending that way, and they've got enough movies in the bank to sell it.
Secret Invasion centered on the idea that a group of shapeshifting villains called the Skrulls had been working quietly for years to embed sleeper agents in the superhero community, government, and other strategic places on Earth. In that regard, it felt like a bit of a callback to DC Comics's 1987 event Millennium.
The difference is, people who have read Secret Invasion generally don't cry themselves to sleep. The story is tight, most of the logic holds up, and there were some cool surprises along the way. While you wouldn't be able to do a 1:1 translation, that's pretty much true in any Marvel movie because of their rights situation, so seeing what changes they make to accommodate the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be interesting.prevnext
THE FINAL NIGHT
This one would require a few bits of overhaul in order to really work as a feature film, but at its heart, the concept is sound.
Earth's sun is being attacked by what is essentially a quasi-sentient, mobile black hole known as a Sun-Eater. Among other things, damage to the sun causes Superman's powers to gradually peter out and the world to experience massive weather disruptions. With no villain to "punch," heroism is emphasized over conflict, especially as Superman has to work with Lex Luthor in order to figure out how to stop the Sun Eater.
This might be a great direction to take the Justice League franchise after Darkseid, since it's pretty hard to top the Lord of Apokolips. It might be better to see superheroes inspiring and saving people without necessarily having to "fight" something in the traditional sense. As an event, The Final Night was pretty creative. As a movie, it would be unlike anything audiences have see before.prevnext
KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT
It's funny: Spider-Man is one of the biggest film franchises in history, and one of the best-selling comic books of the last 60 years.
Somehow, though, he's just not a character who tends to play heavily into big "event series." And even within the Spider-Man titles, the self-contained events tend to be one of two things:
- Shorter and simpler than the average comics "event," or
- So mind-bogglingly complex and bogged down with mythology that it would be borderline impossible for a non-comics-reading member of the audience to get on board.
Nothing in that second category counts as a potentially "good movie" unless it was coming into a universe where Spidey was much better-established than he is now.
There are a number of Spider-Man stories that fit the first category and would be interesting as a film. Carnage would be a great one if not for the fact that you wouldn't want the first Venom story to involve Spider-Man teaming up with him instead of battling him. Kraven's Last Hunt, meanwhile, would not only make a gripping movie, but could totally have happened if not for the reboot. Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield both made it no secret that they loved Kraven and hoped to integrate him into the Amazing Spider-Man universe.
The concept would likely be strengthened by using the fame-seeking, reality TV host version of Kraven from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics, since it would allow the actor to have a bit more range and humor. But at its core, the idea of the world's greatest hunter taking aim at the world's most unkillable prey as his dying mission is a great hook.prevnext
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS0comments
This one falls into the category of total fantasy. There's no way to do it on a realistic budget, and the only way the multiple earths element would work is if fans had some degree of familiarity with some of the variants, which basically means using the TV versions of characters.
Still, not only would it be amazing if they could pull it off, but when you take away the (many) layers of complexity involved, Crisis on Infinite Earths is a deceptively simple story: The Anti-Monitor has been kept in check for years by the one being as powerful as he is, and as The Monitor starts losing power, The Anti-Monitor becomes a greater danger than ever.prev