Warner Bros may be about to add the Legion of Super
Heroes to its big screen slate, following 2016’s Batman v
Superman: Dawn of Justice and the already-announced
Justice League movie it sets up. The studio has
reportedly put a call out to screenwriters for pitches on the
futuristic team of characters, who protect the 31st century and
preserve the legacy of present day heroes.
With a reported nine movies up for production, and the Dwayne
now confirmed to be filling one of those slots, it’s not surprising
to see the studio delve into the slightly more esoteric depths of
subsidiary DC Comics’ IP library. The Legion is one of the
comics publisher’s longest-running titles after all, but also one
of its most complex.
Whether by intent or coincidence on Warners’ part, it’s hard not
to see the push for a Legion movie as almost entirely
reactionary in the wake of the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel’s space team outing has
now become the top grossing movie in the US of 2014, and even
overtaken 2008’s Iron Man as Marvel’s biggest
franchise-launching film. Could WB be looking to ape
the Guardians’ popularity with its own sci-fi
If the movie does go ahead, it won’t be the first time the
Legion has been in the public eye. An animated series ran for two seasons from 2006-2008, and a
heavily modified version appeared in the live action show Smallville.
The team would also likely need some tinkering to fit with the
shared cinematic universe DC is building — but that wouldn’t be
the first time the group has been rejigged.
First appearing in Adventure Comics #247 in 1958, the
original line-up of magnetism-powered Cosmic Boy, psychic
Saturn Girl, and
self-explanatory Lightning Lad
travelled to the then-present to recruit Superboy — also their
inspiration as teen heroes — to their team. The young Clark Kent
would frequently travel to the future for adventures with them,
meeting other members such as Brainiac 5, Shadow Lass, and
literally dozens of others.
However, when DC published its continuity shifting mega-event Crisis
on Infinite Earths in 1985, the Legion was one of the
unforeseen casualties. With Superman’s backstory revised so he was
never Superboy, the origin of the future team was in flux. Over the
nearly 30 years since, the title has had no less than seven
reinventions, some substituting the hero Mon-El in for Superboy
in the team’s foundations, others casting the team as adults,
sometimes closely tying them with the present, and for one brief, beautiful period, they at least dropped the increasingly
anachronistic-sounding Lad/Lass/Boy/Girl naming patterns for most
of the members.
The most recent take came courtesy of DC’s creative director
Geoff Johns, who restored elements of the pre-Crisis team,
notably a young Superman’s involvement, but also cast them as
outcasts on a xenophobic Earth. Given one of the recurring elements
of the series in all its forms was showing a hopeful future, this
felt particularly at odds with the concept. This version of the
team remained relatively untouched with the publisher’s latest
continuity sweep, The
New 52, but was ultimately cancelled in 2013.
Perhaps not coincidentally, DC Comics is reintroducing the
Legion in the comics shortly, in the pages of October’s Justice League United Annual #1. Whether more
history-altering ruffles will be added remains to be seen, but a
renewed push for the team just as news of the potential movie
begins circulating is certainly suspicious timing, perhaps lending
a kernel of truth to the rumour.