7 DC characters who should get detective stories following Lanterns

Could HBO's new DC Lanterns series end up paving the way for more DC detective stories to be told? It sure seems like it!
Lanterns. Image Courtesy of DC Studios
Lanterns. Image Courtesy of DC Studios /

The announcement that HBO, in collaboration with Warner Bros. Television and DC Studios, has given a straight-to-series order for Lanterns has DC fans buzzing with excitement. With Emmy-nominee Chris Mundy (True Detective: Night Country, Ozark) as showrunner, alongside Emmy-winner Damon Lindelof (Watchmen, The Leftovers) and Eisner Award-winner Tom King (Mister Miracle, Supergirl) co-writing, this series is set to take superhero television to a whole new level.

Lanterns promises a fresh spin on the Green Lantern mythos, featuring new recruit John Stewart and Lantern legend Hal Jordan as they tackle a dark, earth-based mystery in the American heartland. Think intergalactic heroism meets grounded detective drama, setting the stage for an intriguing buddy-cop dynamic. Expect humor and tension between John Stewart's hard-nosed military discipline and Hal Jordan's comedic, cocky swagger, creating a compelling dynamic that echoes the best buddy cop stories.

For this writer, the. Lanterns isn’t just a thrilling new series—it’s a game-changer. This show has the potential to pave the way for DC to dive deeper into detective-style storytelling. Imagine the possibilities: more noir, more mystery, blending superhero action with intricate, suspenseful plots straight out of classic detective fiction. Lanterns could be the first step to including these elements in the DC Universe—producers James Gunn and Peter Safran have a slew of DC characters to choose from. 

7. Vigilante

Let's dive into why Vigilante would be the perfect low-key DC character for a detective-style series that packs a punch. If you watched Arrow, you got a glimpse of Josh Segarra’s Adrian Chase, but let’s be real, we needed more. James Gunn and Peter Safran, this one's for you! Imagine a show that’s True Detective meets The Night Of, with a violent heroic twist.

Adrian Chase, aka Vigilante, isn’t your average hero. He’s a district attorney turned crimefighter after his family is brutally murdered by the mob. That's about all the motivation anyone needs. In the comics, he goes on a rampage for vengeance after killing a mafia who killed his family. His goal is not only to uphold justice but to hold all those involved accountable.

In the comics, Vigilante has encountered some rather formidable foes, including the deadly Slade Wilson, aka Deathstroke, and the psychotic Peacemaker. While either of the two would be cool to see, there's also guys like Tobias Wales along side a bunch of other dishonest officials and other mob bosses. With his nose deep in the dirty underground, this guy makes for a television show that'll make Daredevil look like a Disney series.

We'll get to see Adrian Chase, using his legal smarts and martial prowess, navigating the criminal underworld, uncovering conspiracies, and dishing out his own brand of justice. His struggle with his methods and morality would add layers to the narrative, making it more than just a beat-em-up series.

On top of that, he's exactly the type of character Gunn and Safran would jump on. He's a lowkey character like Peacemaker, and we saw what that became.

6. Oracle - Barbara Gordon

Remember when HBO had that ambitious Batgirl movie all set to go, only for it to end up on the cutting room floor? We got a few tantalizing stills, but we'll never see the footage. But hey, Peter Safran and James Gunn have a golden opportunity to bring Barbara Gordon back in a way that’s both fresh and exciting—a noir film miniseries.

Picture this: Barbara Gordon, post-trauma, finding her footing again not as Batgirl, but as Oracle. This could fit perfectly into Matt Reeves' universe or sync up with whatever grand plans Safran and Gunn have for a more mature Dark Knight.

A series about Barbara after she’s left paralyzed could be a deeply emotional, character-driven story. We’d see her battling depression, then rising to use her unparalleled intellect and computer skills to fight crime from behind the scenes. As Oracle, she becomes an information broker, initially for the Suicide Squad, and eventually for heroes across the DCU. Her incredible smarts and photographic memory make her indispensable, and she even trains to become a formidable fighter under Richard Dragon, despite her wheelchair.

By the end of this series, we’d see Barbara forming the Birds of Prey. Imagine Jurnee Smollett reprising her role and teaming up with Barbara as the first two members of this iconic team. This noir miniseries would not only give us a compelling look at Barbara Gordon's resilience but also pave the way for a whole new chapter in the DCU, blending grit, intellect, and sheer determination. Of course, anyone in the Bat-Family would work, but Barbara is the most unique.

5. Martian Manhunter

Keeping with the intergalactic theme we're bound to get from Lanterns, a Martian Manhunter series would be ideal for offering a detective-style feel. If you're a fan of DC TV shows, you've already got a taste of J'onn J'onzz's potential during Smallville, where Phil Morris played the role of a private investigator. Meanwhile, David Harewood took on the role in CW’s Supergirl. His version saw him as the head of a deep state government before turning into a private investigator. We can't forget about Harry Lennix, who played our favorite Martian in Man of Steel. While it never fully materialized, we can thank the Snyder Cut for the reveal we all wanted.

That was the past, and now James Gunn and Peter Safran could reach into their creative bag and assemble a team to make Detective J'onzz a series worth watching — admit it… it has a nice ring to it. We all know him as the powerhouse with insane abilities like shape-shifting and telepathy. However, DC comic fans know him as a brilliant detective.

The show could easily tackle themes of alienation, justice, and redemption which, without a doubt will stick with fans. Oh, and I have the perfect person to play the role, David Oyelowo… You’re welcome. Imagine a series that dives into his work as a private investigator, solving crimes that baffle even the most seasoned detectives.

4. Lady Shiva

Imagine a Lady Shiva show in the DC Universe—a detective-style revenge series that dives deep into her origin story. We’d see Sandra Wu-San, a young martial artist, transform into the formidable Lady Shiva, fueled by vengeance after her sister's brutal murder. Convinced that Richard Dragon is the killer, she seeks him out for a showdown but soon learns he’s not the guy. Instead, Dragon becomes her mentor, honing her already impressive skills.

Together, Shiva and Dragon embark on a relentless quest to find the true killer, unraveling a web of intrigue tied to the League of Assassins. This journey would be packed with intense martial arts action, deep detective work, and a burgeoning mentor-student dynamic that adds emotional depth to the story. The climax reveals the killer’s ties to the League, setting up an epic confrontation that leaves fans craving more from this darker, more grounded side of the DC Universe.

Lady Shiva’s story is the perfect story for combining elements of revenge, martial arts, and detective noir. With the right actress, this show could be insane. Of course, one of the hottest actresses right now is Anna Sawai — who would kill the role. If you don't know she played Mariko in Shogun.  Another actress who’d nail the role is Tao Okamoto — she, like Sawai, has the presence, skill, and intensity to bring Lady Shiva to life. 

3. The Spectre 

If Hal Jordan and John Stewart are getting a buddy cop detective-style miniseries, then there’s no better duo than Jim Corrigan and Percival Polanski. This dynamic pair would bring a whole new level of supernatural detective work to the screen, especially with the Spectre involved. And let’s face it, with the Spectre's powers, this series would need a bigger budget—but it would be worth every penny.

The Spectre is a supernatural being whose power is… well, one might argue that he’s OP. Anywho, his mission is simple — unleash the vengeance of God on evil. Bound to the souls of deceased humans, his power and personality vary depending on his host. Jim Corrigan, the most popular and recurring host, brings a gritty detective edge to the Spectre's divine mission. Take that, and picture a series where Corrigan, after gaining the Spectre’s powers, partners with a man named Percival Polanski. The two navigate the murky waters of supernatural crime, with Polanski helping Corrigan stay grounded as he grapples with his new, otherworldly duties.

We can all picture the eerie cases they’d solve, the dark corners of the DC Universe they’d explore, and the complex friendship between a man and his ghostly partner. We could even see a cameo from Madame Xanadu, hinting at the broader mystical world of DC, and foreshadow Hal Jordan potentially becoming the Spectre, tying it all back to the Lantern series.

Ambitious? Sure. But the potential here is undeniable. A miniseries featuring Jim Corrigan and Percival Polanski as supernatural detectives would be an amazing series to watch. 

2. The Question

If the Green Lantern series could be the perfect gateway to bringing one DC hero to the small screen it’s The Question. Yes, there’s no doubt that The Question is a DC comic book character who’d absolutely kill it with a TV series, similar to Green Lantern. Sit back and imagine having Rosie Perez reprise her role as Renee Montoya from Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn)

We could see Montoya, a gritty detective, eventually becomes The Question, stepping into the shoes of her mentor in a prequel to the Cathy Yan film. Or we can pick up from Montoya’s life post-Harley team-up. Either way, she’d be perfect for a miniseries with that detective feel to it.

Or, let’s mix it up with the OG Question, Vic Sage. Sage is an investigative reporter for World Wide Broadcasting Co. in Hub City. Imagine a true noir film set in the 50s, with Sage as the hard-hitting reporter digging into the city's seedy underbelly. What makes it even better is that The Question doesn’t have superhuman gifts. Instead, he relies on his martial arts skills and detective work — an absolute beast. He does, however,  don a Pseudoderm mask that bonds to his skin using binary gases. The mask can also change the color of his specially-treated clothing and hair.

A series like this would be more grounded, offering a raw, intense narrative. With intricate storylines and deep character development, The Question’s TV series could blend superhero action with classic detective thriller vibes. It’s the perfect opportunity to expand the DC universe on TV and bring a fresh, interesting hero to the forefront.

1. Constantine 

There’s no way this list is complete without mentioning Constantine. DC fans are starving to see him in live-action again, whether it's Keanu Reeves reprising his iconic role or someone new like Joseph Morgan (from Halo and The Originals) stepping in. We need this to happen. Matt Ryan did a fantastic job on Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, bringing a Constantine ripped straight from the comics. But with James Gunn and Peter Safran bringing Lanterns to a streaming service, it’s time for them to give John Constantine the same detective-style treatment.

Imagine a gritty, supernatural detective miniseries starring Constantine. This isn't just any detective show—this is the Hellblazer himself, a master of the dark arts, tackling mysteries that are way out of any ordinary detective's league. Constantine, armed with his wit, cynicism, and magical prowess, would dive into the darkest corners of the DC Universe, dealing with demons, ghosts, and everything in between.

The comics show Constantine as a chain-smoking, trenchcoat-wearing anti-hero who uses his skills in magic and deception to protect humanity from supernatural threats. This series could capture that essence perfectly, setting the stage for a larger universe. And here’s the kicker: this could spin off into a live-action Justice League Dark movie. Imagine Constantine, Swamp Thing, Zatanna, and Deadman, all coming together to save the world from mystical threats.

The potential is enormous. A Constantine series would not only satisfy die-hard fans but also introduce a whole new audience to the darker side of DC. With the success of the 2005 hit movie starring Keanu Reeves, the groundwork is already there. Let’s bring back the magic, the mystery, and the mayhem with a Constantine detective series that could lead to an epic Justice League Dark showdown.

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