There are plenty of DC heroes currently showing up on TV, but filmmaker and geek royalty Kevin Smith wants to see one who isn't currently busy: The Phantom Stranger. The character, who was created in the '50s but made his first-ever live-action appearance in a 2019 episode of Swamp Thing, is one of DC's most powerful and enigmatic supernatural characters, with an origin story that never quite gets nailed down, no matter how many times somebody tried to write him one. Like -- remember that time somebody decided he was Judas Iscariot, and that his powers had originated with a robe of Jesus's that he obtained?
The DC multiverse currently airing on The CW includes the late, lamented Swamp Thing as Earth-19, as established in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event...but that version wasn't exactly the dapper, detached version of the hero comics fans are used to.
"Phantom Stranger," Smith said without hesitation. Misremembering a Mike W. Barr story from the '80s as an Alan Moore tale, Smith said that DC "gave him an origin that he was the soldier that slapped Christ, something like that. He crucified Jesus, so hence he was cursed to walk the Earth for all time. So you're talking about an endless being who's been around for all time. You could totally do fun things with that character. Agatha Harkness has been around for 400 years or whatever, but this guy goes way the f--k back, to the start of the AD calendar. So yeah, Phantom Stranger. Of course, I'm always hyped for The Question to get a series, but he seems like a major character, whereas Phantom Stranger is still a kind of undiscovered gem of the DC Universe. You could totally do a whole series about that guy, particularly because you can go all over the timestream."
You can see Smith talking about it below. The pertinent bit starts around 2:35:30, when a fan asks him what minor DC character he would like to see come to life onscreen.
Smith's host, Marc Bernardin, said that he would love to see Vandal Savage pop up -- although his take is more true to the comics (where he was a cro-magnon) than his origin story from DC's Legends of Tomorrow, where the character was the show's first season-long big bad.
Macon Blair played the Swamp Thing version of Phantom Stranger, debuting in "Drive All Night" and then appearing in "The Price You Pay" and "The Anatomy Lesson." In the series, he told Swamp Thing that the ghosts he had seen in "Drive All Nigh" were events witnessed by the trees in the past. Later, Daniel Cassidy makes a deal with the Phantom Stranger which prevents him from leaving Marais. Not long after, the Phantom Stranger shows a recovering Daniel a vision of Abby Arcane and Liz Tremayne being attacked by the Conclave's security force, prompting Daniel to become the Blue Devil to save them.
During the Crisis (but offscreen, in Crisis on Infinite Earths Giant #2), Phantom Stranger appeared, apparently as his pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths comics counterpart, and transported Felicity Smoak, Nyssa, and The Ray from Earth-85 to the Oa of Earth-12's universe.