Why Kingdom Come Would Be a Perfect Inspiration for DC Studios' Future

Over the past few months, the direction of the DC Universe has begun to look a lot different. In late October, it was announced that James Gunn and Peter Safran would become co-chairs of DC Studios, a new concerted effort behind the movies, television shows, and more inspired by the publisher's characters. Gunn and Safran have officially been in the job for over a month now, and there has been no shortage of speculation as to what their "bible" of plans for the overall franchise holds. Gunn has certainly fueled some of that speculation himself, shares images from a number of existing DC books on social media.

For some fans, one of the most surprising among that list has been an Alex Ross cover from Mark Waid and Alex Ross' 1996 Elseworlds miniseries Kingdom Come, showing a crop of DC characters gathered at a conference table. Gunn not only made the image his banner on the newly-launched social media platform Hive, but he tweeted the same photo earlier this week, with the caption "Making plans." While the Kingdom Come image could just be seen as a well-rendered illustration of the different characters who could thrive in Gunn and Safran's new plans, there has understandably been some speculation as to whether or not those plans include... actually adapting Kingdom Come in some form or fashion. Ultimately, time will tell if that's the case, but even if it isn't, there are some nuggets of that source material — thematically, aesthetically, or otherwise — that could work for the franchise.

Kingdom Come in Live-Action

First and foremost, let's acknowledge the different elements from Kingdom Come that have already found their way into live-action. Wonder Woman's Golden Eagle armor in Wonder Woman 1984 could be seen as an homage to her Kingdom Come suit, and Shazam! star Zachary Levi has expressed a desire to see his character's storyline adapted. Black Adam and Shazam! producer Hiram Garcia has cited Kingdom Come as his dream DC project, which casts an interesting light on Garcia and company's excitement for future sequels and spinoffs. On the television side, The CW's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover cast Brandon Routh and Kevin Conroy as Kingdom Come-inspired incarnations of Superman and Batman, with Routh expressing a desire to play the character even further.

While all of these existing elements are aesthetic or hypothetical, they do prove that components of Kingdom Come can work beyond the pages of DC's comics, and that there's a desire — from fans and creators alike — to evoke it.

Entire Strata of Reality

Even if a Kingdom Come adaptation was ultimately a culmination of Gunn and Safran's DC Studios bible, it's pretty safe to assume that it would take some liberties with the source material, as some specifics of Waid and Ross' text could not translate to the main DC Universe. (Hell, they can barely translate into DC's main comic universe, which is why the events of the series have largely been regulated to the alternate world of Earth-22.) But even without a full-fledged adaptation, the place it has within the aforementioned comics canon has potential in the DC Studios context. While Gunn has confirmed that the majority of these new DC Studios projects will exist within the same shared universe, we know that will also include the trope of the multiverse, if the upcoming The Flash movie (and honestly, the past near-century of DC's comic stories) are any indication.

If a DC Studios project wanted to fold in an older version of a character already existing in the main universe, Kingdom Come's treatment of its original Justice League, as well as the subsequent "Thy Kingdom Come" story in Justice Society of America, could provide inspiration. And depending on how things shake out with Michael Keaton's Batman return in The Flash, something that has reportedly evolved dramatically over the past year, the endgame of Kingdom Come Batman could be a clever way to wrap things up.

God Never Accounted for the Mighty

And lastly, there are the larger themes of Kingdom Come — something that, in a roundabout way, could work with DC's current live-action present and future. The ideological differences between the series' past and current crops of superheroes feel like a heightened version of the ongoing debate over the longevity of the "Snyderverse", Zack Snyder's gritty stamp on characters like the Justice League. Kingdom Come's conflict also set the stage for a number of new legacy characters, with characters like Jakeem Thunder, Cyclone, Atom Smasher, Lightning, and Red Arrow eventually being canonized in the main DC universe in a similar fashion. Two of those aforementioned characters have already made their way onto the big screen, and it's safe to assume that the larger idea of legacy heroes and sidekicks fulfilling — or subverting — the destinies of their predecessors isn't going to stop, even if it doesn't play out exactly how it did in Kingdom Come.

3comments

And beyond that, part of the enduring legacy of Kingdom Come is its sense of unabashed grandiosity, with its juxtaposition between larger-than-life titans and impossibly-human civilians — and the weird and wonderful legacy that both leave — still so memorable decades later. Based on Gunn and Safran's open love for the mythos of DC, and the effective approach that Gunn has already had to The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker, it's safe to assume that a version of that epic feeling will be a part of their overall bible, regardless of whatever story it ends up telling.