For decades, Superman has been the brightest and most undeniably good of all of the superheroes in the DCEU, and we expect that to continue in James Gunn’s new DC Universe. But one major comic book story featured a dark, morally complex Superman that almost certainly won’t turn up on the big screen – as much as we’d love to see it.
That story is Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s celebrated 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come. It’s set in an alternate version of the DC Universe in which the most morally righteous DC characters abandon their posts before rising up again to take on a new and more antiheroic generation of superheroes. It’s the closest DC has come to doing Marvel’s celebrated Civil War storyline.
We’ve watched the Superman movies in order plenty of times, but we’ve never seen Superman as he turns up in Kingdom Come. In this version, he’s still the leader of the Justice League and he has become more powerful than ever before due to absorbing the power of the sun for his whole life. He’s even resistant to Kryptonite.
This Superman is in mourning due to Lois Lane’s murder at the hands of the Joker, giving his famous chest symbol a black backdrop to reflect this. He and his counterparts in the Justice League step away from their roles as protectors after the rise of the morally compromised hero Magog.
The boundaries between heroes and DC villains break down in this era, leading to a nuclear disaster and the irradiation of the American Midwest. Superman and Wonder Woman reform the Justice League to rise up against the destructive shades of gray represented by the new generation of metahumans.
Kingdom Come has not been directly adapted by any of the new movies or TV series in the DCU, but James Gunn has shared art from the story on his Instagram page, sparking all manner of rumors about a Kingdom Come film.
We think the version of Superman put forward in this story is too edgy for the big screen and, given the fact Gunn intends to start off with a younger, optimistic Clark Kent in Superman Legacy, we’re a long way from him taking on Kingdom Come with David Corenswet’s take on the character.
Of course, this is an Elseworlds story and that raises the prospect of an adaptation outside of the Chapter 1 Gods and Monsters continuity. If we’re being bold in our predictions, this could be the way Nicolas Cage finally gets to play Superman beyond his short and distractingly CGI-smoothed cameo in The Flash.
There have been nods to Kingdom Come in DC properties on the big and small screens over the years. Animated series Justice League Unlimited pitted Superman against Shazam in a reference to a famous Kingdom Come moment, while Brandon Routh’s take on Superman in the Arrowverse crossover ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’ was heavily inspired by the Kingdom Come design.
Fans of the Kingdom Come series will have also been pleasantly surprised to see Wonder Woman 1984 show Gal Gadot’s hero in her golden Kingdom Come armor. The franchise has made reference to the series over the years, but a straight adaptation could truly be one of the best movies in DC history.
If you can’t get enough of superheroes, we’ve got a guide to help you watch the DC movies in order and we can also guide you through all of the upcoming DC movies. There’s a lot of continuity to keep straight in your head.
The next DC movie off the blocks will arrive with the Aquaman 2 release date but, if you prefer dry land, find out how Wes Craven very nearly saved the worst Superman movie.