Having just completed a read through Jack Kirby's entire Fourth World Saga, I have come to the conclusion that the next major superhero movie from the DC universe needs to revolve around Jack Kirby's mythological epic known as the fourth world.
DC's movie slate looks incredibly weak compared to Marvel's (I mean, you're taking your two greatest superheroes and having them fight? What's that going to end with, Superman and Batman kissing and making up?) and thus they may need a few old-fashioned ideas from the King of Comics--Jack Kirby.
Jack Kirby, having left Marvel Comics after he and Stan Lee's historic domination of the comic book industry with the characters they created (Look them up), created all of the characters related to the distant planets known as Apokolips and New Genesis. Despite the sheer genius of the whole venture, all series related to the now-famous planets were cancelled before the story could be properly finished. As a loyal fan, I love reading the various endings for the story that would be conceived as time went on. I wouldn't mind seeing one on film. Here are a few other reasons why the Fourth World stories would make wonderful movies:
1. They are Awesome.
I know, not the most eloquent way of putting it, but it is true. Not only is it amazing that the man was able to write, draw and edit it all practically singlehandedly, The Fourth World stories (contained in the comic books "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen", "New Gods", "Forever People", and "Mister Miracle") contain some of the coolest concepts and characters ever to grace the pages of a comic magazine. If you've watched as many cartoons as I have you already know how awesome characters such as Mister Miracle, Orion, Big Barda, Desaad, and Granny Goodness are. If you haven't but still are reading this, you have probably heard of Darkseid.
That's right, that guy. Predating both Thanos and Darth Vader, Darkseid is the original evil space lord of mystery. You know that concept that George Lucas used in Star Wars about a son fighting his father who is the wicked ruler of a cosmic empire? Yeah, let's just say I think he'd read his share of comic books before he "came up with that".
Characters aside, the astoundingly basic-yet-gripping tales of absolute archetypes of good and evil clashing in Kirby's stories are such that never really get old as much as people pretend they do. One can always write them with cooler characters, bigger explosions and more verbose language. This is especially true if one's name is Jack Kirby.
2. It's versatile.
Having said how big the stories were in the Fourth World Saga, I must voice another one of it's lesser known virtues: The mythology's ability to be as big or as small as one needs it to be. The story of the war of Apokolips and New Genesis coming to earth can be told as a mystery featuring well-know characters from the DC universe (such as was done in "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen"), as a story about some teenagers from a another planet who constantly meet with fabulous adventure despite their pacifistic tendencies (as was done in "Forever People"), as an immense space odyssey featuring space-gods galore (as was done is "New Gods") or simply as the tale of a young man from a hellish planet who decides to become an escape artist while still fighting the demonic forces of Apokolips (as was done in Mister Miracle).
They've all been proven to work to a certain extent. Parts of Young Justice (That is, the greatest superhero cartoon of all time which was cancelled just before it was about to delve deeper into the Fourth World) resembled the first stories Kirby wrote for "Jimmy Olsen" and one episode even featured the Forever People. Oh, and whom was it Vandal Savage spoke to at the end of the series? That's right...
Before that, a number of Justice League episodes involved Apokolips and New Genesis, usually culminating with a fight between Darkseid and Superman or else his son Orion. With Darkseid being the embodiment of evil, submission and Facism, Superman being the greatest symbol of hope and democracy in the DC universe and Orion being the epitome of righteous destruction, this certainly proves that even cartoon watchers don't mind a bit of high symbolism every now and again.
Oh, and there was one really great episode of JLU where Batman helped Orion understand the lighthearted Flash. If that doesn't show versatility, I don't know what does.
3. There is a lot of untapped potential in Kirby's epic.
Having said all those nice things about the cartoons featuring characters from Jack Kirby's Fourth World, I hate what has happened to the characters of Apokolips and New Genesis in recent interpretations. The only writers who bring it up now (I'm looking at you, Geoff Johns) seem to be doing their best to take away the Fourth World's suspenseful feeling of cosmic foreignness and replace it with just another alien invasion story.
To often, the writers have tried to push aside the original heroes of these stories (Orion, Mister Miracle, etc.) in favour of more mainstream characters. This completely destroys the feeling of mystery of it all, leaving Batman and Superman to contend with powers they don't even realize the significance of. Not to say I mind them helping, I mean, I liked how Batman and Superman dealt with Darkseid in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis, but I think the New Gods should get to deal with their own, at least to a certain extent.
It is when all that was meaningful about Kirby's work is kicked to the curb that I feel sick. I mean, have you seen Justice League War? Or read the book Justice League Volume 1: Origin which it was based on? Darkseid is reduced to a mindless brute! Gone are the eloquent speeches on how supreme his rule was to be, gone is the careful planning of his invisible war against earth and New Genesis, and gone are his cringing lackeys and fantastic machines. Replacing his colourful henchmen are droves of zombie-like Parademons, ironically conforming to the paradigms of the culture at large. The motherbox, once a living computer that responded to beliefs and rituals becomes yet another boring means of teleportation.
We could do better.
But that's not really the direction we're headed in are we? That is another reason Apokolips should have a new genesis on the silver screen:
4. It would be the better that what DC is currently planning.
Think about it: We've got Batman and Superman about to fight for an entire movie that will try to shoehorn in about five other major characters during what is sure to be one of the most disappointing movie storylines in history. I mean, what kind of stupid story pits Justice against Hope? Who is writing this? Darkseid?
Following this will be every Jihadist's favourite superhero team (Suicide Squad), a movie about an oversexualized feminist (Wonder Woman), a Justice League movie that occurs after Batman and Superman fight, a movie about a character who now has his own soap opera (The Flash), A movie about the superhero the little guy stands up for until he finds out he is a ripoff of Namor (Aquaman), and only after those monstrosities, in 2019, will DC finally smarten up and use one of their very good, lesser-known characters (Shazam). Hopefully, provided they don't screw up that character too badly, they will then realize what we all realized after Guardians of Galaxy: sometimes the best superhero movies are about the ones people haven't heard of. Upon this simpleton's epiphany, we can then hopefully move onto bigger and better things such as...
Jack Kirby's Fourth World, the largest stash of underrated but viable superheroes and villains any major comic book company has to offer.
What do you think? Am I out to lunch? All big words and no brains? A clueless fanboy obsessed with a mere sidekick of that Funky Flashman known as Stan Lee? Should my posts be cancelled as unceremoniously as Young Justice and and the Fourth World Saga itself? Let me know in the comments section!