In the late 90’s DC comics launched a series called Young Justice, the premise was relatively simple; younger teen heroes, often the sidekicks of established heroes, were brought together in a team to function as the future of the Justice League. Young Justice was great, much like Marvel’s X-Men it managed to occupy a territory that’s always been hugely profitable and nearly impossible to hold; teen comics. The teen market in general is always a difficult one to manage; sometimes you blow it out of the park e.g. Buffy. Most of the time though it just sucks ass e.g. The Vampire Diaries.
So Young Justice basically did something DC had never really achieved before; it got people interested in their teenage heroes. Prior to that Teen Titans had blitzed through two volumes but for the most part Teen Titans was always regarded as a b-grade X-Men, the only characters anyone liked were Starfire and Nightwing, when you consider that Nightwing is Dick Grayson, the original Robin, Teen Titans produced one decent character. Young Justice on the other hand actually made people care about the young heroes and for the first time ever DC was able to compete with Marvel in a genre the latter had dominated for decades.
From 1998 to 2002 Young Justice was arguably the best teen oriented comic on the market and in 2003 it would move on into a new volume of Teen Titans keeping most of the key Young Justice characters and adding a few extras. Teen Titans volume three ran from 2003 to 2011 and to this day is the only Teen Titans series that didn’t suck, probably why it lasted the longest and is still the basis for the popular animated series Teen Titans Go. Teen Titans V3 helped solidify DC’s legacy concept an idea that since the companies 2011 reboot has been more or less destroyed with the most recent incarnations of Teen Titans (volumes 4 and 5) have been critically panned in part for completely ruining classic characters and also for generally bad story telling.
So why the history lesson? Firstly, I’ve been watching the Young Justice animated series. Secondly, teen superheroes is the exact thing DC and Warner Bros. need to differentiate their DC film universe from Marvel’s cinematic universe. Marvel currently can’t launch its teenage heroes because the X-Men are being held hostage by Fox Studios who, if history is anything to go by, are determined to ruin any good X-Men concept so long as they make short term money. DC on the other hand has complete access to their teen hero stable and logically should make the move into that territory before X-Men: Apocalypse flops and Fox are forced to pull a Sony and give the characters back to Marvel.
Here’s what I’m pitching; separate Young Justice and Titans films! Young Justice would centre on Superboy (Kon-El), Robin (Tim Drake), Impulse/Kid Flash (Bart Allen), Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), Aqualad (Kahldur’ahm) and Miss Martian (M’gann M’orzz/Megan Morse). The team would function as a backup Justice League geared at being the future of the Justice League which will be established in 2017 in Justice League Part One. This team would work particularly well due to the direct link between the Young Justice group and their direct analogues in the Justice League. The film would occupy a similar cinematic space to Harry Potter, focusing on young people with amazing abilities learning how to control them while dealing with looming threats. This essentially the core concept of all Teen/Young heroes storylines, it emphasises character development over action and it’s something that would work fantastically. For my personal preference: Professor Ivo and his Amazo android/robot would make for perfect villains; Ivo being a criminal and scientific genius and Amazo being an artificial life form that can emulate the powers of the Justice League. Seeing the Young Justice team go up against a villain with the powers of their parental figures would make for a perfect “overcoming the odds through teamwork” storyline.
My other idea I’d throw up for consideration is Titans. Titans isn’t Teen Titans and I should probably make that abundantly clear; the various Titans series have focused on the original generation of Teen Titans (Dick Grayson, Roy Harper, Starfire, etc.) as young adults trying to find their place in the DC-World. Titans would essentially function as a film to bridge the lighter nature of my proposed Young Justice series and DC’s darker Justice League franchise. The Titans line up would consist of Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Red Arrow/Arsenal (Roy Harper), Starfire (Koriand’r), Beast Boy (Garfield Logan) and Raven (Rachel Roth). The Titans film would occupy the same general space as Marvel’s Captain America franchise offering quality action with certain levels of “real world” threats. Ideally the Titans would face off against Deathstroke (Slade Wilson). Deathstroke has a rather lengthy history as a Teen Titans antagonist in particular his rather disturbing obsession with Dick Grayson, Roy Harper and Tim Drake (Robin). Deathstroke throughout various Teen Titans and Titans comics attempted to turn the Batman and Green Arrow protégé’s to his side, of course his schemes went from genuinely frightening and deranged (Brainwashing Grayson to assassinate Batman) to over the top and silly (Using ghosts to possess people) once the new Teen Titans took over and he wasn’t just punched through the ceiling by Superboy or Wonder Girl.
Nevertheless a Titan series designed to bridge a lighter Young Justice concept with the already established Zach Snyder darkness of Batman V Superman, would do well to capture a portion of Marvel’s target audience, help to build the DC film universe world and allow fans a chance to see major fan favourites like Nightwing and Starfire get a chance on the big screen. So if you’re interested in this idea drop me a line, I’d be happy to send the idea to WB just to see if they’d even respond. If you’d like more features like this one feel free to ask I’ll be addressing the upcoming Captain America: Civil War next Sunday, see you later!