Thus far, outside of Wonder Woman, the DC Extended Universe hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. It may already be time for a departure from the grim, heavy, darkly colored world Batman and Superman work to save … when not beating the tar out of one another, of course. But even if the Warner Bros. braintrust were to wipe the slate clean and begin anew, there are still many, many heroes from DC Comics the films would do well to pretend never existed.
Below are some of the stupidest, most ridiculous, and most terrible DC superheroes ever. The day any of the following grace the DCEU is the day everyone in the Justice League should hang up their spandex for good.
Batman and Superman aren’t strangers to having kids, but one of their earliest storylines as parents might’ve been the stupidest, and there’s virtually no way it will ever be recreated for the movies.
Dubbed the Super-Sons, the 1973 storyline introduced Batman Jr. and Superman Jr., whose secret identities are just as creatively named: Bruce Wayne Jr. and Clark Kent Jr. Both look and dress exactly like their parents, and their powers are roughly the same too (though Superman Jr. was only half as strong as Dad, since Mom was an Earthling). The duo would fight crime and deal with teenage turbulence together, which is to be expected.
What wasn’t expected, however, was the story’s ending. DC did what comics do best — revert to the status quo — by revealing the Super-Sons weren’t real. They were just simulations created by Batman and Superman on Supes’s computer, so they could experience parenthood without actually being parents. If superheroes playing a glorified Sims game is for you, more power to ya. But don’t expect the DCEU to give you what you want.
11. Ebony White
There’s not much about Ebony White – sidekick to 40s hero The Spirit – that isn’t cringeworthy. The name alone should tell you what you’re in for, but that’s nothing compared to actually seeing the character: a short, silly, black child with super-sized white lips and eyes, who speaks in exaggerated minstrel slang like “Doggone all women! Ah wish ah didn’t lak ’em lak ah do!” Even though he was rarely treated poorly, and was always talked to with dignity and respect, there’s no way to get around the fact that he’s a totally racist caricature from a bygone era.
Modern takes on Ebony have made him a more normal teenager in both appearance and tone — in one story, he’s even gender-flipped. Still, when they made a Spirit movie in 2008, there was no Ebony, and if Spirit ever makes it into a DCEU movie, you can bet on Ebony not following him. All the updates in the world can’t shake the character’s terrible first impression.
As a superhero, Looker is fairly straightforward. She’s telepathic, super-strong, has super-hearing, and can levitate. But the character’s main hook – and the reason she gets her nickname – is likely to keep her away from movies for a long time: she’s beautiful, she knows it, and she obsesses over it.
Looker was once a shy, awkward Plain Jane, until Halley’s Comet zipped by Earth. This somehow triggered a transformation, unlocking her superpowers and turning her into a gorgeous bombshell of a woman. When not fighting crime, she would obsess over her looks, constantly shopping and primping herself to battle ugliness wherever it may lurk. Naturally, she moonlights as a model when not battling evil wherever it may lurk.
Currently, she’s a vampire, which is a good way to get around how there’s not much a writer can do with a character whose main gimmick is “being pretty.” Maybe if DC makes a vampire movie she can get in on it, but that’s about as far as she’ll go.
9. Brother Power, The Geek
Imagine Frankenstein mixed with weird hippie vibes. That’s Brother Power, The Geek in a nutshell: a mannequin a couple hippies dressed up in their clothes, who was subsequently struck by lightning and brought to life with super-strength and super-agility. He became a geek when he was kidnapped by the “Psychedelic Circus” and forced to perform. He later escaped and attempted to run for political office — a decent decision, considering some of the jokers that were in office at the time.
Brother Power was 100% a product of his time, as evidenced by the cover of his debut issue proclaiming, “Here is the real-life scene of the dangers in hippie-land!” Once hippie subculture died, so did Brother Power, whose series was canceled after just two issues. He’s since made a couple reappearances, usually as an elemental who can possess all sorts of dolls and mannequins. The updated Brother Power might actually work for a future movie, as long as all that dated hippie-dippie stuff gets cut and stays cut.
Rarely has a name told the entire story like “Dogwelder.” The character’s main (and really, only) fighting method is to grab a torch and weld dead dogs onto people’s bodies. Amazingly, he’s a good guy, as he typically only welds dogs onto criminals’ bodies. We’re guessing the movie-going (and dog-loving) community wouldn’t embrace him as a hero, however.
Later on, DC gave us a second Dogwelder, along with an expanded backstory that reveals the welding equipment was possessed by an ancient Egyptian curse, one that can warp people’s minds into wanting to weld dead dogs. Would you expect anything less from a culture that worshiped cats?
Also, Dogwelder II discovers there’s a Dogwelder afterlife, where he meets the original Dogwelder along with all other previous Dogwelders. He then sacrifices himself by going to space and welding the two Sirius “dog stars” together so they can’t expand and destroy Earth. There’s literally nothing so weird comics can’t find a way to make it even weirder.
7. Bouncing Boy
Imagine if Violet Beauregarde from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ate the bad gum, ballooned into a human blueberry, then became a superhero. That’s Bouncing Boy in a nutshell. A really big, ridiculously asinine nutshell.
In the 60s, a boy named Charles Foster Taine (yes, that’s a Citizen Kane reference) drank what he thought was soda, but was actually a secret elasticity formula. He then grew the ability to expand himself into a giant, bouncing ball — since he was invincible while doing so, he became a crime-fighter. Ever get hit in the head by a dodgeball? Imagine that times a hundred.
Bouncing Boy was so important to the DC mythos that he’s lost his powers at least twice, and in many modern-day interpretations has no powers at all. He’s simply a brilliant scientist who does things like building a spaceship he dubs the “Bouncing Boy.” Too bad he didn’t call it “Rosebud.”
6. Friendly Fire
In Friendly Fire, we have what might be the most pointless hero ever: a guy with the ability to project powerful fire energy, but an inability to ever hit the bad guys. Reasons varied from the energy being too powerful to control, to simple in-the-moment nerves. Worse still, he tended to hit his allies instead, hence his unfortunate nickname.
If that’s not enough to disqualify him from DCEU consideration, his attitude sucked too. Most likely due to constant failure, Friendly Fire suffered from crippling self-doubt and defeatism, to the point where he actually quit heroism to work as a bartender. Finally coaxed out of retirement to battle unspeakable evil, he received one more chance to use his powers correctly and save the day. He fired and, to his credit, did not hit his teammates. Unfortunately, he hit himself, decapitating his own head in the process. He hasn’t been resurrected yet — even for what was ostensibly a comedy character, that doesn’t exactly point to a Hollywood future.
5. Arm Fall-Off Boy
Somehow, having a name that sounds like it was created by a toddler learning to speak isn’t the dumbest part of Arm Fall-Off Boy. It’s everything else.
Created in 1989, Arm Fall-Off Boy was one of many superheroes interested in joining the Legion of Superheroes. His audition consisted of him showing off his power: he can literally rip off his arms and beat people to death with them. He explicitly says “limbs” though, so it’s possible he can remove his legs too. Even still, and despite all this truth in advertising, the Legion rejected him, probably because anybody can recreate this power simply by grabbing a baseball bat and swinging for the fences.
Several years later, DC brought AFOB back, this time calling him Splitter. That’s a way better name (or is it?), but it’s still the same guy with the same “powers,” so he was rejected again. If DC ever stuck this clown into a movie, the resulting flop would truly cost them an arm and a leg.
4. Matter-Eater Lad
It’s weird that the Legion of Superheroes rejected Arm Fall-Off Boy, because back in the 60s they happily accepted Matter-Eater Lad, whose entire reason for existence is summed up in his name: he’s a lad, and he eats matter. That’s it!
Apparently, he’s an alien whose people evolved to eat anything, as microbes turned all their planet’s food inedible. Thus the Legion watched, jaws agape, as this weirdo gobbled up metal, steel, concrete, and even beams of pure energy. And yet, hard as this may be to believe, DC’s writers largely had no idea what to do with Matter-Eater Lad. He could only eat through so many prison bars, after all, and eating the Legion’s enemies would be cannibalism and thus extremely icky for a kids’ comic. So, he usually sat on the sidelines, written off via “official business” he had to tend to on his home planet. That and indigestion, probably.
3. Madam Fatal
1940’s hero Madam Fatal is basically Batman, if he struck terror in the hearts of Gotham City’s criminals by dressing not as a bat, but as a sweet old lady. You can see why DC Films “went to bat” for the bat instead.
A rich genius with peak strength and physical fitness, Richard Stanton dressed as an old woman to infiltrate the hideout of a criminal who had kidnapped his daughter. As it turns out, his daughter was in another castle (or abandoned factory, either or), so Stanton kept fighting crime as Madam Fatal until he tracked her down. Except…he never did. The character was so poorly received that DC canceled his series two years later without ever reuniting him with his beloved daughter. In this instance, DC stood for “Damn Cold.”
It wasn’t until 2012 that they finally bothered to mention who was holding Fatal’s daughter hostage. With that kind of urgency, expect the good madame to make her movie debut in 2090, at the earliest.
2. Stone Boy
Even the dumbest of superpowers can at least accomplish something. Not so with Stone Boy, who has the power to turn to stone and then just…stand there. Like a stone.
Stone Boy was another 60s superhero who failed to get in with the Legion of Superheroes, since his one power left him literally immobile. Apparently the people on his planet developed this ability because their nights were six months long and they needed to sleep through the whole thing. On Earth, however, this power was pretty useless unless another superhero threw him at a baddie or through a window. Since they could easily do that with a real rock, Stone Boy was quickly deemed redundant.
Years later, DC writers finally deduced that if Stone Boy turned only some of himself into stone, he could actually run and jump and fight, all fairly useful qualities in a superhero. Sadly, it’s likely too little, too late for ol’ Stoney’s Justice League aspirations.
1. Lady Cop
A comic series about a badass cop is fine in any era. A comic series like Lady Cop, about a badass cop, with the hook being that she’s a woman and nobody can believe such a thing? Not so much.
Unsurprisingly, Lady Cop arrived in the 1940’s, a time when the idea of a woman getting involved in police work was just as unbelievable as an alien gaining superpowers from the Sun and getting walloped by a glowing green rock. Her stories were typically one part crime-fighting, and five parts reminding the other characters (and the reader) that while she was indeed a pretty lady, she was also a cop. Amusingly enough, there were other lady cops in the series, and they were all good at their jobs too. Why single out the one? That’s like ignoring a hundred people who can breathe water and talk to fish, and glorifying just the one Aquaman.
There was a second Lady Cop in the 70s, but her gimmick was roughly the same. It’s safe to say the DCEU won’t touch this ode to casual sexism with a ten-foot nightstick.