Now that we know a “New Gods” movie is on the horizon from Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment, and that it will be directed by Ava DuVernay, it is not too soon to start thinking about what we will see in the film.
DuVernay is now in possession of a very important part of the DC Comics movie universe, with plenty of comic book source material to choose from.
Here are 10 things Comic Riffs would like to see in a “New Gods” movie.
1. Darkseid vs. Orion
The nucleus of any “New Gods” movie should be the conflict between Darkseid and Orion, a father and son caught within the war of two worlds. Darkseid (ruler of Apokolips) and Highfather (ruler of New Genesis) exchange their sons (Orion and Scott Free, babies at the time) to create a peace pact between the two planets. Orion is raised to oppose the dictator ways of Darkseid. Darkseid knows the darkness of his being manifests itself in his son, who, despite being raised on New Genesis as a hero, constantly has to constrain the monstrous tendencies that flow through his blood. This is one of DC Comics’s greatest rivalries and will hopefully be central to the plot of DuVernay’s “New Gods” film.
2. Orion’s Helmet
It is not just enough to have Orion in this movie. His look has to be just right. Most important to that look is his classic metal helmet first designed by Jack Kirby. Nothing could be worse for “New Gods” than to have a Sylvester Stallone/“Judge Dredd” moment where whichever actor playing Orion wears the helmet for a moment and then tosses it for the rest of the movie. Respect the material.
Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have one of the best superhero suit designers on the planet in Michael Wilkinson, who will hopefully get the chance to design the look of the New Gods. Yes, he and his team should make sure Orion’s Astro Harness (think a hoverboard for the entire body) is there as well.
3. The Black Racer
At first glance, The Black Racer — a black, grim reaper-ish hunter of super beings who Kirby created in 1971 — may seem like an eye-rolling attempt at diversity, the epitome of an era when inclusion in comics was at times an afterthought, but that is not the case. Kirby likely had good intentions, as he had created Marvel’s Black Panther, the first black superhero, five years earlier. Recently, DC published “The Black Racer and Shilo Norman Special,” a one-shot written by Reginald Hudlin with art from Denys Cowan, Ryan Benjamin and Tom Derenick, that showed the character can be a part of a great story on his own and proves he should not be left out of the New Gods upcoming cinematic moment.
4. Big Barda and Mister Miracle
These two are going through a comic book renaissance thanks to the popular series written by Tom King and illustrated by Mitch Gerads — and their presence in the film is just as anticipated as that of Darkseid and Orion. DuVernay has already said Big Barda, a warrior who is one of the strongest New Gods around, is one of her favorite superhero characters. You cannot have one without the other.
5. No Steppenwolf
Yes, he is Darkseid’s uncle, but what has blood got to do with it? He may be a part of the New Gods universe, but now, and maybe forever, Steppenwolf represents the failure of “Justice League,” a movie that should have been an event, not an error. Maybe there is a way to put Steppenwolf into the story and get rid of him quickly, perhaps having Darkseid dispose of him after his failure against the Justice League. That would go against the next thing we want to see in a “New Gods” film.
6. No connections to other DC movies … for now
Let “New Gods” stand on its own. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment tried to connect their movie universes too quickly with “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Suicide Squad” and “Justice League,” which failed, and Marvel is beating them in part because they cannot make movie magic despite having characters just as iconic. Each WB/DC superhero property should be given the chance to grow into a multi-movie franchise on its own, “New Gods” included. The New Gods universe is rich with content and characters, and its worlds are far enough away from earth that we should not see any Kryptonians, Amazons, speedsters, cyborgs, Atlantians or bat-vigilantes. At least for now. Maybe, if the DC Extended Universe can get itself back into good shape, which is possible with an “Aquaman” movie, “Wonder Woman” sequel, “Shazam!” and “New Gods” on the way, the time will come where fans will want to see Darkseid take on the “Justice League.”
7. Mother Boxes, boom tubes and Omega Beams
In “Justice League,” the Mother Boxes, highly intelligent living computers, did not have much ping to them. Despite being central to “Justice League’s” plot, there was no BB-8-like effect on audiences. These things are alive — they should act like it. Here is hoping they are much more communicative in the hands of Orion and Mister Miracle. There of course cannot be a “New Gods” film without Boom Tubes, which transport beings across universes and also show up in “Justice League.” As for the Omega Beams, well, Darkseid’s destructive optical powers make Superman’s heat vision look like a campfire.
Kalibak, Darkseid’s oldest son, would love nothing more than to destroy his half brother Orion, and a battle between them would serve as a great warm-up for Orion before his main event against Darkseid.
9. Kirby’s artistic influence
In “Thor: Ragnarok,” Kirby’s distinctive, brightly-colored art style served as a superpowered wallpaper of sorts, splashed throughout various settings in the movie. “New Gods” will hopefully give an equal tribute to a comic book legend.
If the Black Racer does indeed make it into this film, do not expect him to be the only person of color in the cast. At times, moves to diversify in comic book films are for side characters: Nick Fury, Perry White. It will be very interesting to see what actors and actresses DuVernay puts in what roles, and the reactions that follow. Expect bold decisions to be made. Why else would DuVernay come on board if she could not be daring?