Little-known DC superhero Shazam has delighted moviegoers with his self-titled big screen debut. The movie is the tale of Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a teenager granted the ability to transform into an invulnerable superhero by the name of Shazam.
The film has been described as Big-meets-Superman by its star Zachary Levi and has been acclaimed as a wonderfully light and humorous addition to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).
Whatever your opinion of the DCEU so far, it's clear that Shazam is already a solid crowd-pleaser. (As proof of that, click here to discover the Cineworld Unlimited screening reactions.) Given the movie's success, here are a few other DC characters who may not be very well known, but who absolutely deserve the silver screen spotlight.
5. Black Adam
Where better to start than with the sworn enemy of Shazam himself, Black Adam. This character caught the attention of the same ancient wizard that gifts Billy Batson his powers, although Adam went in a… slightly different direction.
Instead of upholding the innocent ideas of justice held by Batson, Adam instead became corrupted by the power, ultimately deciding that he should rule the world. The character has found various ways to survive until the present day — all the while battling Batson's Shazam, as well as finding ways to survive being banished to other universes and dimensions.
A Black Adam movie has been on the agenda for a very long time, with walking muscle Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson having been signed on to play the character since as far back as 2014. He is a hugely powerful villain, and at times more of an anti-hero, who will surely be seen on the big screen very soon.
4. The Question
Created by legendary comic book writer-artist Steve Ditko, The Question's secret identity is Vic Sage, an investigative reporter passionate about fighting the corrupt government that rule over Hub City. Beaten, shot and left for dead, Sage is rescued by villainess Lady Shiva and sent to learn martial arts in order to take his fight to a higher level.
Sporting a blank, skin-coloured mask, The Question uses his new skills to battle the politicians that cause crime, rather than the petty criminals themselves, whilst seeking a philosophical understanding of the world and its inhabitants. Often perceived by his fellow heroes as a conspiracy nut, The Question lands somewhere between Batman and Watchmen's Rorschach.
Another DC character who has adopted The Question's mantle is Renee Montoya, a Gotham police detective who is framed for murder and puts on the mask after the tragic death of Vic Sage. And the good news is Montoya will be appearing in next year's Harley Quinn spin-off movie Birds of Prey, portrayed by Rosie Perez. Whether her Question alter-ego will emerge during the course of the movie remains to be seen.
3. Barbara Gordon
A character who infamously featured in the much-maligned Batman & Robin in 1997, it's time for Batgirl to get a second chance. Batgirl is Barbara Gordon, daughter of Batman pal Commissioner James Gordon. Working alongside the Dark Knight and Robin, Batgirl is equally as capable as her famous teammates, but with a vulnerability that makes her arguably just as compelling.
She is also a character who has suffered much hardship, being paralysed by the Joker in Alan Moore's seminal story The Killing Joke. Due to this she was forced to give up her street-level crime fighting and become The Oracle, Batman's technical advisor and computer expert, and a wholly unique character in her own right.
Although she has often struggled to get out of Batman's shadow, Barbara Gordon has plenty of enthralling stories of her own, all perfect for the big screen treatment.
2. The Spectre
Another Gotham City police detective (why do people keep accepting jobs in the GCPD?), Jim Corrigan is imbued with mystical powers after he and his girlfriend are killed by kidnappers. Transforming into The Spectre, Corrigan is tasked by a mysterious entity known as The Voice to be the mirror of his desire for justice, though Corrigan desires only revenge.
The Spectre is nothing less than a god, able to control matter while manipulating and space, and is considered by many to be the most powerful superhero in the DC comic book universe. His vast array of powers would transfer wonderfully to the silver screen, while the story of a vengeful cop possessed by an omnipotent god offers all kinds of visually arresting big screen opportunities.
1. Batman Beyond
Created for DC animation before making his way into the comic books, Terry McGinnis is the Batman of the future. Occupying the year 2039, McGinnis is trained by an aged Bruce Wayne to take on the Batman mantle and fight for vigilante justice against a new, and occasionally old, set of rogue villains.
Donning a more technologically fancy version of the Batsuit, sans cape, Batman Beyond delivers a striking future vision of the DC universe, as well as a brand new, slightly less morose Batman, whose origins may tie to Bruce Wayne closer than either of them think…
Rather than constantly rebooting Bruce Wayne's Dark Knight, perhaps it is time to give someone else a chance to don the pointy ears and utility belt.
Click here to book your tickets for Shazam!, out now in Cineworld.
Jon Fuge is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.