Word is quickly leaking out in regards to DC Comics parent company, Warner Brothers and its new direction when it comes to mining their stable of comic book characters and turning them into films.
Green Lantern has a finished script and is on a fast track to production. Nihilist cowboy, Jonah Hex, is not far behind and Preacher will see the big screen with Sam Mendes at the helm. Superman will get a reboot and a third Batman is sure to be made.
But what other film-primed characters does DC have, beyond the mainstays? This 5-part column will look at the next potential crop of comic book films, hopefully appearing at your local theatre in the not-to-distant future.
Everyone’s enamored with James Bond these days. Quantum of Solace just made over seventy million dollars in North America on its opening weekend – the largest gross of any Bond film. Perhaps the character’s recent success is due to Daniel Craig, he of the barrel chest and the (a-hem) tight, hawk-like eyes. Perhaps it’s the film’s emphasis on personal, up-close fisticuffs – gone are the gizmos the old Bond would use from distance against his enemies. This new Bond gets dirty. He gets bloody. He gets his opponents bloody, too. Perhaps it’s the steely attitude or the character’s devotion to duty or the fast-paced, exciting lifestyle he leads that makes Bond so popular with audiences today.
Then again, maybe it’s the British accent.
Bond’s popularity these days is probably due to a mixture of all these things, still, I like to think that there’s one aspect to the character without which everything else simply falls apart. I’m speaking, of course, of his profession.
There’s nothing more interesting, more intriguing, more sexy than the occupation of spy, is there? And that’s where King Faraday (mysteriously, of course) comes in.
King Faraday actually predates James Bond by a few years. First appearing in the summer of 1950 in the pages of Danger Trail, Faraday, created by industry legends, writer Robert Kanigher and artist Carmine Infantino, was a United States government counter-espionage agent. The series lasted only five issues but during that short run, Faraday traveled the world, having a number of politically themed missions and encountering a host of enemies including Nazi lunatics, double agents and villainous men out for state secrets. Of course, in true government-spy fashion, Faraday also had a penchant for running with beautiful women.
Virtually disappearing for over twenty years after his initial run in Danger Trail, King Faraday made special appearances in a handful of Batman and New Teen Titans comics in the early nineteen eighties. He starred in his own, poorly received four-issue mini series in 1993, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that Faraday really began to find his place in the DC Universe.
Under the auspices of writer/artist Darwyn Cooke, King Faraday took a prominent lead role in the critically acclaimed DC: The New Frontier series. There was a swell of interest in the character as Cooke reinvigorated him as a catalyst for below-the-radar government dealings, setting him up as a man who had a hand in a number of DC comic book historical events including the creation of government agencies, super-powered teams and the discovery of alien life forms.
Following up on his newfound admiration, Faraday appeared in episodes of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series as well as the animated movie version of DC: The New Frontier. The character also guest-starred in issues of the Checkmate series throughout 2006 and 2007 which cemented him squarely in the center of the espionage circle of the DC Universe. He figured to be involved with, either clandestinely or otherwise, all dealings with government spy teams including Checkmate, the Suicide Squad and even the Outsiders.
It’s this last point that may be the most relevant for Warner Brothers if they were to create a movie based on the character. The fact that Faraday is at the center of DC’s government spy agencies leads to the potential of lucrative crossovers and spin-off films. Marvel has done wonders with their ability to cross-pollinate their silver-screen franchises. X-Men has given birth to a new Wolverine-centric film and there’s advanced discussions on a Magneto movie as well. Iron Man and the Hulk will give way to Captain America and Avengers films, all with the potential to become huge franchises themselves. Warner’s would do well to follow in these footsteps. Checkmate could easily become an ensemble-cast spinoff, as could Suicide Squad. King Faraday could be the lynchpin, linking all of these titles together, introducing them to film-going audiences. With ongoing public fascination of political intrigue and super-hero action films, there remains an enormous amount of money to be made from these types of movies.
In the last two columns, I’ve discussed potential directors for films based on various DC comic book characters. I’m moving in a different direction this time. Instead, I’ll briefly suggest an actor who should play King Faraday – and in my mind, there’s really only one choice.
Clooney is at the right age to play an older, more experienced King Faraday – one who has been around the “spy-block” more than once and now commands the experience needed to put together teams of government agents. Clooney’s silver-tinged hair and wry smile suit Faraday faultlessly. The actor has the ability to be both suave and unassuming, friendly and mischievous, as well as being able to exemplify a certain smugness. His breadth of acting roles would prepare him well as King Faraday, especially playing government agents in films such as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Syriana, for which he won an Academy Award. His ability to portray a likable, well-dressed criminal with a masterful plan in Ocean’s Eleven would also endear him to audiences. These traits, together, are sure to make Clooney’s Faraday a smash hit.
Of course, there’s also his debonair good looks – a requirement of any secret agent.
As obscure a character as King Faraday is, if executed properly, he could bring in a sizable audience to theatres worldwide. Both sequels and spinoffs could flourish and we, as the movie-going public, could be entertained for hours by a continent-hopping government agent, out to rid the world of rogue regimes.