In light of the recently confirmed news that Justice League will indeed be a movie and will be coming out in 2015, going up against Avengers 2, I’d like to propose an alternative to The Justice League movie that would tie in with the upcoming Man of Steel in 2013 and provide the proper incentive for The Justice League to actually form.
I’m speaking, of course, of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World.
The Fourth World was conceived of, written, and drawn by Kirby when he left Marvel for DC in 1970. The umbrella title of “The Fourth World” actually consists of the books The New Gods, Mister Miracle, and The Forever People with the conceptual introduction occurring in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. Many of the characters from The Fourth World Saga such as Darkseid, Orion, Mister Miracle, and Big Barda were integrated into the greater DC Universe as part of The Justice League or The Birds of Prey after the original titles were cancelled. They’ve also made appearances in DC’s animated and live action shows such as Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Justice League: Unlimited, Smallville, Young Justice, and one or two of the direct-to-DVD animated movies. Pre-reboot, the book Death of the New Gods virtually wiped out all of Kirby’s characters, which was part of the lead up to Final Crisis, but then the reboot happened so none of that really matters now. Post-reboot, very few of the characters have appeared with the exception of Darkseid just kinda hanging out towards the end of Justice League’s first arc and the now cancelled O.M.A.C. There is some hope though on the last pages of Wonder Woman #12, so stay tuned as the winds may be changing in favor of The New Gods.
So, hear me out. The Fourth World was introduced through a Superman comic, forever tying The New Gods to the Superman mythos. This would give DC and Warner Brothers a perfect set-up to The Justice League by providing an entire movie devoted to setting up the villain and, therefore, providing justification for the formation of the team. Here’s my proposal for a Fourth World Movie.
Here’s the basic story. The leaders of two planets, Highfather of the peace-loving New Genesis and Darkseid of the warmongering Apokolips, exchange sons to broker a truce. Why? Well, seems that Darkseid’s after this thing called the Anti-Life Equation that would basically wipe out free will, making Darkseid the supreme ruler of all! Highfather and The New Gods don’t exactly want him to find said equation, hence all the fighting and the eventual truce since each figures the other wouldn’t destroy the planet where their “real” son was a resident. You can imagine how long that’ll last. In the middle of this conflict are Orion, the true son of Darkseid, who must learn to control his anger and rage inherited from his Apokoliptian heritage to become a hero while Scott Free, the true son of Highfather, attempts to escape the sadistic minions of Darkseid and Apokolips, eventually becoming the hero Mister Miracle on Earth.
That’s it. That’s the least amount of information you need to start this movie. From there on out, it’s a matter of setting up an actual plot, which is already sort of there in the aforementioned story. It’s about fathers and sons, nature vs. nurture, and the ultimate quest for power. Plus, there’s an amazing cast of characters you could make use of.
Speaking of which…
Darkseid and the Minions of Apokolips
Sounds like a heavy metal cover band, right?
Anyway, I bring this up because the main source of conflict is going to come from Darkseid and his people on Apokolips. He is, in actuality, a god and is worshipped as such on Apokolips, though there are pocket resistance groups that pop up from time to time. Ultimately, the Anti-Life Equation is an extension of the power Darkseid already wields on Apokolips, just on a universal level. David Brothers did an amazing article over at Comics Alliance covering Darkseid’s morality, so I’ll try my best to do the topic justice. Essentially, Darkseid wants order through the subjugation of peoples’ free will. The resulting conflict comes from people fighting for their freedom but also fighting for the consequences of freedom, which is the messy chaos of life. This is what continually makes Darkseid a great foil for Superman. Kal-El is a god amongst mortals, a hero who denies being worshipped and refuses to conquer the weaker masses. On any given day, Superman could decide to take over Earth, but he chooses not to because his own moral code honors the virtues of humanity and a person’s right to make their own decisions. To Darkseid this is unfathomable as his own power comes from others bending to his will by denying their own.
So, for the purposes of this hypothetical movie, the quest for the Anti-Life Equation is Darkseid’s prime motivation, which also sets up Scott’s need to escape Apokolips as well as Orion’s possible confrontation with Darkseid and his own Apokoliptian nature. The greater theme here, one that could be carried over to The Justice League, is the idea of freedom vs subjugation. It’s no coincidence that the two “sons” of Darkseid choose freedom in their own ways. Orion, by controlling his rage and not giving in to his heritage, and Scott by literally becoming an escape artist, always capable of breaking his chains and escaping the confines of boxes and cages.
Aiding Darkseid in maintaining his regime are Desaad and Granny Goodness. Desaad is his master torturer, so one could imagine scenes of him torturing members of a resistence group or someone who might have information about the Anti-Life Equation. Granny Goodness, however, serves Darkseid in two ways. Firstly, she’s the one responsible for the indoctrination of the children of Apokolips, which makes her an excellent obstacle for Scott. Justice League Unlimited did an excellent episode that focused on Mister Miracle and his origins on Apokolips. It’s certainly no surprise that his nightmare fuel involves Granny Goodness and her tormenting tutelage. Secondly, she’s in charge of training Darkseid’s all-woman guard, The Female Furies. The Furies alone are worth the price of admission. An all female group of villainous Darkseid fanatics, trained by Granny, and kick ass? Dear God, you’d think Hollywood would be pounding on DC’s door for this one! I mean, look at this:
More of that, right? Right?
Oh, and you might have noticed someone there that I haven’t yet spoken about…besides Wonder Woman. The Furies and Granny notwithstanding, they also provide another plot point worth exploring…
So, I’m kind of a Barda fanatic. And my kinda I mean that I have a tattoo of her on my arm. Why? Because she kicks ass and takes names, that’s why! That clip alone proves it. In the comics, Barda was leader of The Female Furies, loyal to Darkseid and Granny. However, when she breaks up a gathering of resistors, she meets Scott and he slowly begins to change her mind towards her devotion to Darkseid and the role she plays on Apokolips. Eventually, they fall in love and she follows him to Earth. What’s great about their relationship is that they are the typical married couple who just happen to be immortal gods, so to speak. When he’s not fighting crime or stopping inter-planetary conflicts, Scott’s always trying to improve his skills as an escape artist, much to the chagrin of Barda who worries that he’s constantly looking for ways to get himself killed. Barda herself is a no-nonsense type of woman, so she’s quick to confront and express herself versus playing games. She’s also hot-tempered, which puts Scott in the position of playing peacekeeper when his wife gets upset at whatever. It’s a give and take relationship, but a loving and equal one. Kirby based their relationship on his own marriage, so it gives you some insight into the man himself.
Now, you can play with this story a little bit to fit the plot. Maybe Barda isn’t a fanatic like the other Female Furies, but more questioning of her life, which makes it easier for Scott to convince her to resist Darkseid and Granny since the seeds of discontent were already there. Barda, then, becomes a double agent. She helps Scott by feeding him intel, but eventually has a forced confrontation with Granny, the Furies, Darkseid, or all of them where she has to declare her loyalty. And along the way, she and Scott fall in love. Or you can at least get them to a point where it makes sense that she’d follow him to Earth.
And with the young lovers fleeing to Earth, they might require the help of…
The Justice League
See how this could all fit together in a roundabout, sort of non-linear fashion type way? Scott and Barda escape Apokolips. Maybe they go to Earth, maybe they end up on New Genesis with the help of Orion and some members of the resistence. With all of that Mother Box/Father Box technology lying a round, someone’s bound to use a boom tube at some point. Either way, they have knowledge of Darkseid’s continuing search for the Anti-Life Equation. At this point, he’s probably killed some people on other planets. Lika ya do. Perhaps he’s even received information that the Anti-Life Equation is, in fact, ON EARTH!!! Dun-dun-duhhhh! Anyway, they have information, Darkseid’s on the move, probably in violation of the treaty with Highfather, but the people of New Genesis alone cannot stop him.
If only there was a group of heroes who could help them. But where would they find such a group?
Huh! Oh, well, guess we’ll just have to find someone else.
Nah, just kidding. But you see where I’m going with this? Not only do you get a mostly standalone story, but it addresses the need for The Justice League prior to an actual team-up. It also expands the DC Universe, leaving it wide open for more alien conflicts in the future. Think of this as the Reverse Thanos – which may or may not be a manueuver mentioned in polite company.
To top it all off, there’s so much you can do with the design and style of New Genesis and Apokolips. Granted, we’ve seen a lot of bad CG when it comes to superhero movies, but Kirby’s drawings just lend themselves to being brought to life on the big screen. It’s kinetic, crazy, and fun. Kirby drew larger than life and a movie about the Fourth World could certainly be larger than life…in a good way…hopefully.
So, just a thought, Hollywood. Not saying you have to. Just saying it might be something worth looking into.
But what about you, the superhero movie going public? Would a Fourth World movie work? And, if not a movie, how should The Fourth World characters be utilized? Let me know!