Swamp Thing is looking to have another shot in the spotlight in not one, but two upcoming films. As a massive fan of the character, this pleases me greatly. I do have one small issue that my selfish and spoiled heart cannot overlook it: Swamp Thing is going to make his big comeback in team films, not a solo film. Seeing him make a comeback at all is an exciting prospect, but if there is one semi-obscure comic book hero that needs a solo film, it's Swamp Thing.
The guy had modest exposure back in the 80s and early 90s with two feature films, a cartoon, and a live action TV show. While some cheesy entertainment can be had with some of this material, none of it really captured how great the source material truly is.
Swamp Thing's chances of being adapted to the big screen properly are at an all-time high right now. He's unique enough to set a potential solo film apart from the ever expanding bulk of superhero films. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool and Suicide Squad all point to audiences being eager to experience the different sides of the comic book world, and Swamp Thing's world has the possibility of being the most different yet. So without further ado, let's get into why Swamp Thing needs to have his own DCEU film.
He's a Mix of Genres
Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson in the early 70s, Swamp Thing's roots (pun very much intended) are deeply embedded in gothic horror. Shades of EC's Tales from the Crypt, Universal Horror and even a touch of Hammer Horror are all present in Swamp Thing comics. While the first run of the character is more straightforward superheroics heavily tinted with a pulpy horror brush, it's not until the legend Alan Moore took over writing duties that the comic really carved out its own distinctive identity.
Under Moore, Swamp Thing became a deeply psychological book. Originally the character, Alec Holland, was just a man transformed into a monster when his lab exploded, dousing him in the "bio-restorative formula" he was working on. A fairly standard superhero origin to be sure. Moore took it a step further and made Swamp Thing a monster who thinks he's a man. The kicker is, Alec Holland really did die in the explosion, but his consciousness was absorbed by an elemental force, thus forming the Swamp Thing. As Moore's series went on, it is revealed that there had been dozens or even hundreds of Swamp Things throughout history. It is a avatar of the Parliament of Tree's, tasked to defend The Green. And that's just the bare bones version of the mythos.
The struggle for Swamp Thing to truly deal with who and what he is is a concept just begging to be brought to the big screen. Who doesn't love a tortured monster? Who also doesn't like a tortured monster in love? That's right. Swamp Thing is also a very romantic character. His relationship with Abigail Arcane, niece to his arch nemesis Anton Arcane, is as much as a driving force within the narrative as his identity crisis. Alan Moore manages to craft a romance between a hulking green plant beast and a beautiful human woman without ever coming off as cheesy or creepy. It's a classic Beauty and the Beast scenario.
Oh, but do not fret, dear reader. Swamp Thing isn't all inner turmoil and sweeping romance. It's also disturbing, violent, and filled with horror! Our protector of The Green is always fending off warped creatures and nightmare inducing monstrosities. Some of the beasties old Thing has to contend with can guarantee a R-rating, which the film very much deserves. If done and done right, a successful solo Swamp Thing film can legitimize adapting other edgy, horror themed comic books for the screen. AMC's The Walking Dead and Preacher have set a nice precedent for mature comic horror on television, but the cinema is yearning for some of that sweet, bloody success.
Get a Visionary Director
Swamp Thing is one of the most visually stunning mainstream comic books I've ever read and it needs a director with a keen eye and clear vision to bring that lush, vibrant, and often horrifying world to life. My first choice might roll some eyes, but I can't deny he would be perfect for the job.
Guillermo Del Toro. Yes, I know. The guy has been attached to and dropped out of more projects than he's actually made (One of them was Justice League Dark, natch). He's also the guy that everybody wants to direct everything. I just can't deny that I think Del Toro's sensibilities fit the source material like a glove. With a talented screenwriter working alongside him, I can see Del Toro delivering a Swamp Thing film for the ages.
Del Toro is already well acquainted with making comic book films with Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. So we know he's got that aspect covered. He's also a visualist without equal. The beauty Del Toro can create out of the grotesque and the horrible is singular in its execution. He's know horror. He know beauty. He knows romance and action and drama. If the universe is on my side, Guillermo Del Toro will direct a solo Swamp Thing film in the future.
Honorable mentions would be Gore Verbinski and Christophe Gans. Verbinski seems like an odd choice, but I think the guy has an eye that stands out among most of his blockbuster directing peers. Say what you will about the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels and The Lone Ranger on a script basis, you can't deny they are some of the most visually impressive and technically well crafted blockbusters of recent memory. He also knows how to handle the scares, as he proved with his highly respected The Ring remake from 2002.
Christophe Gans is another visually striking director. He's the guy who directed the only good video game adaptation to date with Silent Hill. He also helmed the cult favorite Brotherhood of the Wolf and his adaptation of Beauty and the Beast looks to be in that same mold. I can see Gans delivering a Swamp Thing film with a verve and tone that could set it apart from most current day blockbusters.
Give any of these three guys a solid script and a team dedicated to doing the source material justice, and we have a great Swamp Thing film on our hands. What do you think? Out of these three, who would you like to see tackle this?