In the world of DC Comics, there are some ubiquitous characters: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And those superheroes have been fighting crime for decades. They’ve been adapted into countless live-action and animated movies, television series, and soon, podcasts. But beyond the big three, there are a great many other quality properties in the DC Universe still, that made their debut either on the large screen or the small, and HBO Max is your go-to destination for all things DC Comics.
So, here is a guide to 10 lesser-known properties that users should definitely check out. And if you happen to be caught up already, find out what’s up next for DC when DC Fandome drops Saturday, August 22. Now, without further ado—
This one-off comic from 1988 is a Joker origin story that is considered one of the best Batman stories ever written. It won the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album and earned Alan Moore a Best Writer of the Year award. As IGN writes in a review of the piece, “If you haven’t read ‘The Killing Joke,’ you have no right to call yourself a Batman fan.”
“Batwoman” is absolutely a must-watch in the pantheon of DC Comics TV shows. It tells the origin story of Kate Kane, who takes up the mantle of Batwoman, dedicating herself to keeping Gotham City safe in Batman’s absence. In season two, Javicia Leslie is set to take over the role, albeit as ‘Ryan Wilder’, a new iteration of the masked vigilante. Wilder is an entirely new character in the DC Comics world, described in the casting call as “likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed” and “highly skilled and wildly undisciplined.”
If you had to pick just one series from the DC Comics content on HBO Max to dive into, we’d like to point you in the direction of “Doom Patrol.” It stars Diane Guerrero as Jane, the primary personality of Kay Challis, a young woman who has 64 distinct personas inside her, each with its own powers as a result of an experiment she was subjected to as a child. The show features a whole cast of stars just playing the personalities inside Kay’s head, in addition to Jane’s fellow crimefighters played by stars April Bowlby, Alan Tudyk, Matt Bomer, Brendan Fraser, and Timothy Dalton.
Harley Quinn Animated Series
This cartoon is definitely not for kids, but it is one of the best original DC Comics offerings in recent years. Kaley Cuoco voices the title character in all her foul-mouthed glory, as she becomes fed up with being second fiddle to the Joker and strikes out on her own to become the criminal “Queenpin” of Gotham City. In addition to Cuoco, it boasts an all-star voice cast that includes Lake Bell, Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Jason Alexander, J.B. Smoove, and Alan Tudyk as a variety of villains.
If you need a primer on the best DC Comics villains, look no further than this documentary narrated by the late Christopher Lee of “The Lord of the Rings” and countless horror movies dating back decades. It features commentary by Guillermo del Toro, Richard Donner, Zack Snyder, and dozens of other directors, writers, and stars who shine a light on DC Comics’ most infamous rogues.
This comedy starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, and Djimon Hounsou was a delightful surprise when it came out in 2019. The title character is an abandoned teenage boy named Billy who says the magic word “SHAZAM!” and is transformed into a muscular superhero (Levi). It’s all fun and games until a dangerous villain sets out to destroy him.
If you liked the 2016 “Suicide Squad” movie, you should definitely check out the animated feature from 2018 that boasts an all-star voice cast: Vanessa Williams, Christian Slater, Tara Strong, Kristin Bauer, C. Thomas Howell and more. It was also the final project written by Alan Burnett before his retirement. Over the years, the Emmy-winning producer/writer worked on dozens of DC Comics adaptations and Hanna-Barbera properties.
Long before there was Melissa Benoist on the TV series, Helen Slater brought Kara Zor-El to life in the “Supergirl” movie. This DC Comics offering also stars Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, and Peter O’Toole. It has often been lambasted by critics and fans, but Slater is utterly charming as the title character and it’s just a really enjoyable film.
The Original Superman Movies
For many fans, Christopher Reeve is the definitive Man of Steel, so if you’ve never watched his “Superman” movies, it is time to rectify that. The first one garnered massive critical praise, huge box office earnings, and several Oscar nominations for sound, editing, score, and visual effects, winning one. The sequels had varying success, but they are still worth a watch. The franchise is an absolute classic within the DC Comics universe.
If the Cartoon Network version of “Teen Titans” isn’t your bag, try this much darker, grittier feature film on for size. It features the Teen Titan superhero gang trying to stop a dangerous cult led by Brother Blood, who has teamed with Deathstroke, voiced by the late legendary actor Miguel Ferrer. Plus, the “Judas” in the title refers to Terra, a double agent voiced by Christina Ricci who begins to question her true allegiances. Look out for comic super-fan Kevin Smith appearing as himself in animated form.
Find all your favorite DC Comics adaptations and more on HBO Max now.
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