When interviewed about the history of DC’s legendary superhero team the Justice League, animation producer-director Bruce Timm put things very succinctly when he said, “Fans like to see their heroes teamed up. There’s just something… undeniably attractive about that.” As a longtime comic book fan himself, Timm is absolutely right. Although there are many fans who like to see their heroes only in solo adventures with their own characters, the enduring popularity of teams like the League on DC’s side or the Avengers on Marvel’s side prove pretty definitively that there will always be an appetite for cross-pollination. Especially if several characters operate in the same shared universe.
While it’s pretty easy for us to get some awesome crossovers in the comics, where things like contracts and licensing rights are relatively simple compared to the cinematic side, seeing one in film is a harder venture. The closest thing we’ve received so far is Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, which proved Bruce Timm’s statement even more definitively: people wanted to see that team-up, and the result was that The Avengers skyrocketed into the number three film of all time in worldwide box office dollars. It’s pretty hard to dispute that, whether you’re a movie fan or a comics fan, team-ups are awesome.
Many of the team-ups we’d like to see in a film, though, are probably a little too difficult to pull off. As I mentioned in my final Geek Beat, where actor Hugh Jackman was posed the question of Wolverine teaming up with Spider-Man and the Avengers, an actual film showing this would be incredibly difficult due to all the major studios that have different characters in the Marvel library licensed for their own films.
Suppose though, just for a second, that none of that mattered.
I’ve picked out five crossovers that would be dreams come true for both comics and film fans of superheroes. Most of them are Marvel, just for the mere fact that DC isn’t as segmented as its competition’s characters. Let’s suppose, though, that executives, producers, directors and actors all believed in these team-ups as much as the fans do, and take a look at what could likely be some pretty damn good movies in the process. Just for fun, we’ll also look at whether or not they’re actually practical (spoiler alert: most of them aren’t).
5) Spider-Man/Daredevil/Punisher: The Omega Effect
This 2012 crossover between the comics titles of The Avenging Spider-Man, Daredevil and The Punisher saw the three heroes (well, two heroes and a crazy man) in a rare intersection over the presence of a super hard drive containing secret files of some of Marvel’s most notorious crime organizations. After it lands in the hands of Daredevil, the Punisher learns of its existence and sees new opportunities to put bullets in big criminals’ heads. Just by the virtue of this story taking place all over New York, Spider-Man eventually becomes involved having to deal with both the criminals of the city, and Daredevil, and the Punisher (whom he doesn’t like very much).
Not only was this a cool opportunity to see these three characters interact, but it was also just very well-written material along with fantastic artwork, making for a great crossover to pick up.
Could It Happen?
Although my first instinct is no, there’s always a possibility. Spider-Man is the only x-factor in the creation of a story like this, but both Punisher and Daredevil’s rights are back home with Marvel Studios, due to the fact that both Lionsgate and 20th Century Fox failed to make new films for those respective characters.
4) Avengers vs. X-Men
Probably the most explosive Marvel event in years, AvX had pretty much every major comics creator that Marvel employed working on the story in one fashion or another. Though the two teams both occupy the Marvel Universe, in recent years it’d seemed like each one was growing far more disparate, almost as if there were separate Avengers and X-Men universes unto themselves. AvX forced both teams back together through the sheer force of an unmistakable conflict, causing each member to truly believe they were fighting for the greater good.
Could It Happen?
Basically, no. Each team has so many different characters that even include some that are individually licensed, and it’d have to be a massive and complicated deal if it was to everyone’s liking. Not to mention the fact that for fans to take it seriously, all the principal actors embodying the major characters would need to be on board, likely inflating the already immense budget into something approaching the national debt.
Is it still awesome to think about? Absolutely.
3) Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity
A highly popular comic miniseries by writer/illustrator Matt Wagner, Trinity tells the story of the first meeting between DC’s three major characters. While in the story Batman and Superman have already met, it creates a pretty awesome sequence of events in a pre-Justice League time frame that helps show why in DC Comics, the buck always stops at these three.
Could It Happen?
One of the few instances where I can say YES! As most fans and observers are aware, Warner Bros. owns DC Comics, allowing the studio the free reign to make any movie it has the will to about any DC character in existence. The more precarious question to ask is would it happen, because the studio has had historically and chronically cold feet when it comes to exploiting the properties of DC Comics. Could 2015’s Batman/Superman crossover be the sign of things to come? I’ve long felt that a Trinity film would be the route to take when testing the waters for a full Justice League film.
2) Civil War
The 2006 event that fractured the Marvel Universe in two, Civil War finds the United States government pushing through a superhuman registration act, causing factions of heroes to draw lines in the sand: the pro-registration forces lined up behind Iron Man, while the antiregistration forces followed Captain America. The seven-issue miniseries catapulted the sales of monthly comics when it was coming out, and changed the face of Marvel Comics for several years, even causing a group of Cap-aligned Avengers to go underground for a long time out of fear of apprehension by Iron Man’s authorities.
Could It Happen?
It’d be a long shot, for sure. While the big guns of its story like Iron Man and Captain America are under one roof at Marvel Studios, there are some pretty big story beats involving Spider-Man and even Wolverine, which brings back that earlier cited high complication/national debt-sized budget scenario. Still, stranger things have happened, and if enough people clamor for it, then it’s always possible that they may strike a deal of some kind.
One of the biggest events in superhero history, both Marvel and DC came together for a rare and brief moment in time to release a story by a highly celebrated creative duo that had contributed to both superhero teams. The result was an immense, universe-spanning story where Batman threw down with Captain America, the Flash raced Quicksilver, Green Arrow and Hawkeye took aim with their bows, and Superman and Thor even collided in a battle that is done no justice by the phrase “earth shattering.” While it followed relatively conventional tropes of the inter-team conflict/resolution/identification of the real enemy scenario, it was still a sight to behold, and I dare anyone not to get chills when the Man of Steel wields both the god of thunder’s hammer and the star-spangled shield.
Could It Happen?
Now, listen very carefully (or read very closely): this can happen if, and only if, hell freezes completely over. If there is any hint of warmth anywhere on the planet Earth at any time, then this will never happen in a movie. Ever.
But, as always, it’s awesome to think about.
Recommended Buy This Week
Hitting this past Tuesday was the brand new DC Universe animated original movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. An adaptation of the 2011 comics event Flashpoint, the film sees the Flash on a changed world: not an alternate timeline, not a parallel earth, but home. His home and his present have been so fundamentally changed that the world has never heard of Superman, Batman is a cold, calculating killer, and the world’s greatest hero is Cyborg. Meanwhile, the kingdom of Atlantis, led by Aquaman, and the land of Themyscira, led by Wonder Woman, are decimating the planet in a war that threatens to destroy everything. Can the Flash change things in time to bring back the world he knew, or save the one he may have created?
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is available now on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as on VOD, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, iTunes and UltraViolet.
That does it this week for Comics on Film! Be back next week, when we take a look at Batman vs. Superman…the first time they tried to do it, that is. Which comics crossover would you most want to see made into a film?
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and retailer, and freelance contributor to GeekNation.com, The Huffington Post, Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film every Wednesday right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.