Made From TV1 of 12Ben Affleck’s upcoming Batman film has had its share of shake-ups in recent weeks, with the latest reportsindicating an entirely new script is on the way. But when Affleck was at the helm, he often spoke about making the film as close to its comic book source material as possible.
But now that the story might be vastly changing, will that still ring true? Or will, perhaps, the new film birth its own innovations that make their way back to comic books?
It happens more than you think – especially for DC Comics. Many of the most iconic elements of their popular superheroes originated in other media before being adopted into DC’s comic books.
Some of the “secret origins” of these aspects of DC Comics might just knock you for a loop.
ARROW Adjusts Comics’ Aim2 of 12CW’s hit television series Arrow was inspired by the storied adventures of DC’s Green Arrow character, but with its continued mainstream success has led DC’s comic book division to change it’s comic to be more in sync with TV. Since Arrow’s inception, subsequent comic book runs have incorporated more and more elements of the TV show into the comic book. Longtime writer Jeff Lemire introduced the character of Diggle, while his successors (and writers of the Arrow TV show) introduced Felicity Smoak.
They’re Coming To Get You, Barbara3 of 12There was a Batgirl before the 1960s Batman television series, but interesting as she was – she was no Barbara Gordon. In an effort to spike TV ratings, DC was asked by the show’s producers to create a new female character to attract female viewership to the series. What DC’s Carmine Infantino and Julius Schwartz came up with was an all-new Batgirl, daughter of Commissioner James Gordon. She was quickly ushered into comic books with a “million dollar debut,” but the on-screen portrayal by Yvonne Craig sealed the deal to make this all-new Batgirl a success.
Barbara has since gone on to be an integral part of the DCU, both as Batgirl and Oracle (and now back to Batgirl), with the late Yvonne Craig's winning performance providing direct influence to the latest take on Barbara Gordon's adventures.
Defining Superman In Movies – and Creating a Family4 of 121978’s Superman is remarkable in numerous ways – enough for its own countdown – but for this list’s particular subject, Richard Donner’s film is special because it added two interesting bits to the Superman family.
First, it made Superboy. Prior to this movie, Superboy was merely Superman’s teenage life as a superhero, but this movie removed that moniker of “Superboy” from Clark’s teenage years and comics followed suit in the line-wide revamp of Crisis on Infinite Earths. There, they made Superboy his own unique character – Superboy-Prime – who took up many of the original Superboy’s adventures. Several other Superboys followed, most notably Kon-El and the current Jon Lane Kent, but still held true to the story that Superman himself was never Superboy.
The second thing 1978’s Superman pioneered which was added to the mythos both in comics and future films was the idea that Superman’s “S” logo wasn’t an abbreviation for Superman but rather a family crest for Superman’s Kryptonian family, the House of El. This idea wasn’t brought into the comics fold until 2004’s Superman: Birthright series.
Batman Beyond5 of 12Batman may have been created in comic books, but not Batman Beyond. Created as a continuation of the various Batman animated series running wild in the 1990s, Batman Beyond imagined Gotham City in the future of the animated continuity. Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and the gang created something special with Terry McGinnis, the elderly Bruce Wayne and the rest of the cast; something fans took hold of quickly, and kept alive even after the series ended in 2001.
Batman Beyond had its own tie-in comic series during the TV show’s run, but it was outside DC’s mainstream continuity. It wasn’t until eleven years after the TV series’ debut, in Batman #700, that Terry McGinnis – the Batman of Batman Beyond -- would be incorporated into the main thrust of the DCU. He played a primary role in DC’s Futures End weekly series, which lead directly to an ongoing Batman Beyond series with Tim Drake under the cowl.
DC's "Rebirth" relaunched the series, returning Terry McGinnis to the identity of Batman.
BATMAN: TAS Thaws Out Mr. Freeze & Gives Clayface a Fresh Face6 of 12Mr. Freeze is one of Batman’s staunchest villains, and while it might seem he’s always been that way – he hasn’t. Mr. Freeze was a minor villain who went years between appearances before he was revived and revitalized in an Emmy award-winning episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Using a new design by Mike Mignola, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and others rewrote his origin with added nuance, heartache and a fresh sheen of evil-ness to Victor Fries – something DC Comics quickly grabbed to refurbish the comics version. His look and his motivations, created in Batman: The Animated Series, have carried through to all his iterations since.
For Clayface, the changes Batman: The Animated Series brought about were mostly aesthetic – but comics are about nothing if not visuals. With the episode “Feat of Clay”, comics writer-turned –screenwriter Marv Wolfman made an amalgamation origin of the various Clayfaces with Bruce Timm turning in a more monstrous design that, like Mr. Freeze, quickly became the template for the character’s design in comic books and other media.
Up, Up and Away!7 of 12Flying may be a staple of Superman’s superhuman abilities, but it wasn’t something he was born with – or created with. In the original comic books, Superman’s feats through the air were limited to jumping long distances a la the Hulk. But when Fleischer Studios took on the challenge of created an animated Superman series in 1941, they found a jumping hero “silly looking” and petitioned the comics company to change Superman’s powers to flight.
And surprisingly, DC said yes.
These powers quickly became a part of the comic book version of Superman, growing to become one of the defining elements of the character.
Green Marine8 of 12Although DC may consider Hal Jordan the main Green Lantern, for a number of fans it’s John Stewart who is their GL of choice. And that’s due, in part, to his featured role in the animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. It’s that animated series that added a previously unwritten military background to the long-time Green Lantern – being a U.S. Marine.
Comic books have since embellished that to say he was a sniper while in the Marines, but it’s the Justice League animated series which added his veteran status in the first place, something which has become a pillar of the character since.
Bif! Bam! Pow!9 of 12For the segment of fans who deride Marvel and DC for making their comic books too much like their movie adaptations, you’d have hated the 1960s.
Just two years after DC made major changes to Batman to make him more contemporary and go back to his detective roots, 1966’s campy Batman live-action series changed what Batman was like for a decade. The success of the TV series stoked sales of the comic series, leading DC to further change the comic series to match Adam West’s actions – veering into the campy tone, and mirroring the characters seen on the small screen such as Batgirl and Alfred.
”When the television show was a success, I was asked to be campy, and of course when the show faded, so did the comic books,” said editor Julius Schwartz in an interview years later.
The works of Neal Adams, Dennis O’Neil and others set Batman back on a darker path in the early 1970s, but the 1960s Batman continues to have a profound impact to this day, including an several different Batman '66 comic book titles and a recent animated movie.
Harley Quinn & Renee Montoya10 of 12One of the biggest additions to the DCU in the past twenty years has been a girl who for a time only wanted to please Mr. J – the Joker, that is. Harley Quinn has gone from being a villain’s sidekick to being a leading lady of her own – currently the titular star of DC’s second biggest-selling ongoing series after Batman, eclipsing all the Superman, Justice League and other titles. But she didn’t even come from comics.
Harley Quinn was originally created as a one-off character to be a henchwoman for the Joker in the “Joker’s Favor” episode of Batman: The Animated Series. The character quickly caught on with fans, earning numerous subsequent appearances in the animated series as well as quickly debuting in comics -- first in Elseworlds tales before being adapted into the mainstream DCU in 1998. Fast-forward to the 2011 reinvention of the DC dubbed “The New 52,” and Harley Quinn was positioned as a major player – first in Suicide Squad and then more recently in her own series, which has become a major hit for the publisher. She's so popular, in fact, that she's received several spin-off series as well.
Another character who shares Harley Quinn’s animated origin is Renee Montoya. Created to appear in Batman: The Animated Series, her debut in animation was spoiled when comics got wind of her and put her in a 1992 issue of Batman. She went on to be a major player in the critically-acclaimed series Gotham Central, and she eventually took on the mantle of the Question, co-starring in Detective Comics for a time. Montoya has also appeared on Fox's pre-Batman crime drama, Gotham.
Radio Defined The Comic Book Star11 of 12Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman, but others refined him over the years to become the Man of Steel he is today – and arguably none moreso than the writers behind the 1940s radio serial The Adventures of Superman. Forgotten by virtually all of modern fandom, this show, emanating from New York’s WOR radio station, played fast and loose with Siegel and Shuster’s creations, changing, removing, adding and defining who Superman was – and still is today.
Don’t believe us? Look at this.
Although Superman might dislike the invention of Kryptonite, it’s a big part of his mythos – and wasn’t invented until a 1943 episode of the Adventures of Superman radio series. While it's true Siegel had a similar substance mentioned in an unpublished story from 1940, the radio series introduced it as Kryptonite and the meteor rock was added to the comics mythos just a few years later.
Another big addition the radio series made to the Superman mythos was the biggest parts of the Daily Planet newsroom – Perry White and Jimmy Olsen. Both were introduced in radio and replicated back in comics.
A third contribution Superman’s radio show made to comics was the patriotism of Superman. “Truth, Justice and the American Way”? That last part about the “American Way” wasn’t added until the radio serial did it, quickly becoming a pillar of the mythos of the Man of Steel.
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