VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Underappreciated DC Characters. For this list, we’ll be looking at heroes, villains and everyone in between that are under this comic banner that don’t get the respect or the screen time they deserve. Which of these characters do you wish had their own show or movie? What would it be about? Pitch it to us in the comments below! Admittedly, the idea of a teen putting on the cowl had us scratching our heads. But we’ll admit that this new-age Caped Crusader proved himself more than worthy of the iconic legacy. Trained by a retired Bruce Wayne in the future Neo-Gotham, Terry managed to hold his own against new villains and classic rogues like the Joker himself. Even though the new Batman struck the perfect balance of homage and innovation, he’s been criminally underused since his tv series ended in 2001. Since his crossover in “Justice League: Unlimited,” his appearances outside of comics have been slim to none. His absence feels like a waste given how much could be done with the character in Neo-Gotham. While the power to borrow animal abilities doesn’t sound all that impressive, there’s much more to this hero than his superhuman imitations. His powerset is rife with potential for wacky humor. But he isn’t just the butt of the Justice League’s jokes. Throughout the comics, he’s portrayed as an everyman figure who advocates for animal rights and environmentalism. Unfortunately, his brief animated appearances and blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameos have boiled him down to his zaniest elements. We do love his humorous side. However, if he’s adapted with the same respect his comic gave him, he could really roar to life. Goofy name aside, it’s refreshing to follow a hero that doesn’t just punch through every conflict they face. As canonically the third smartest man on Earth, Mister Terrific prioritizes brain over brawn to deliver some unique and compelling stories. But he’s shamefully never been given the chance to lead his own title feature outside of the comics. Mister Terrific has historically been pushed to smaller appearances in both live-action and animated series. If you’re unconvinced of how worthy this guy is, just watch his chess match with an evil Superman in the “Injustice” film. This small Mr. Terrific victory is a small sample of what this character can bring to the wider DC universe if just given the chance. It’s one of DC’s greatest sins that this charming heroine is often overlooked both in and out of universe by her famous uncle, Martian Manhunter. Her impressive psychic abilities make her an asset to any team. Her earnest optimism also helps her stand out among DC’s greatest heroes. Despite her standout roles in animated series “Young Justice” and live-action “Supergirl”, it’s still unclear if M’gann will ever get upgraded to the big screen. We fully believe that she could easily adapt to a full length movie on her own. Miss Martian doesn’t need her uncle to prove she’s one of the League’s most worthy combatants. This faceless hero's brilliant detective skills and innate distrust of authority make him an excellent companion for Batman’s grittier stories. But a supporting role just doesn’t do this conflicted philosopher justice. Sage’s quest to purify the corrupt politics of Hub City is a bit difficult because of his own struggles with morality. While Vic Sage is the original Question, Renee Montoya, who appeared in 2020’s “Birds of Prey,” has also been seen under the mask. Coincidentally, there have been rumors brewing that DC Films may have a plan for this intriguing character. Maybe we’ll get our wish of a more thoroughly explored Sage or Montoya version of Question sooner rather than later. A hero with super strength, regeneration capabilities, and concussive blasts seems like a hero you’d want on the front lines, right? Unfortunately for Icon, his only appearance outside of comics is in “Young Justice.” And he’s given little to do besides serve as set decoration for Rocket’s introduction. It’s a massive waste given how much potential this character could have fighting alongside the rest of the Justice League. On top of that, Icon’s backstory of being an alien who took on the appearance of a black man to blend in opens the door for an incredible range of stories. Oh, and did we mention he barely ages? This hero could single-handedly protect the planet for centuries to come if he’s allowed to make bigger appearances. The most shocking thing about this fantastic teen hero is how quickly he’s faded from the spotlight. This electrifying protagonist explored important issues that young Black people faced and starred in hard-hitting storylines. Despite leading the first African-American superhero cartoon, he’s disappointingly been demoted to cameos and small supporting roles in recent years. Years after his titular show ended, “Static” stories kept fading fast outside of his hardcore fans. But Virgil didn’t completely blink out of existence. In 2020, it was announced that a long awaited live-action Static project is in production. Hopefully, this new movie will give “Static” the new spark he deserves. Don’t let the colorful suit and quirky behavior fool you. This genius pacifist has proven himself to be one of the most integral members of the Justice League. While his immortality and Houdini hijinks help, his real contribution is his ingenious brain that has all the information of the universe. But his pacifist mindset also means he doesn’t always see eye to eye with the League. Since Mister Miracle’s guided by his own moral compass, his dynamic with the other heroes is all the more captivating. He doesn't deserve to just be dismissed as mere comic relief. Mister Miracle is arguably one of the most impressive members the Justice League has ever seen. A standout member of the Justice League International, this flame hero can melt a villain, go deep undercover, or deliver a sassy, gut-busting quip without even warming up. But despite having some of the most visually thrilling powers in DC, the comics often sideline her. Fire is usually eclipsed by more well-known female crime fighters. When she’s jumped from page to screen, it’s often been as a simple hero of the week. Fire’s small role does a huge disservice to her rich backstory that ties into many other prominent Leaguers’. Her big-sister relationship with Ice alone is enough for a full narrative. Given her history with the espionage side of DC, Fire could easily ignite a thrilling spy story on her own. Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions. Kyle Rayner a.k.a. Green Lantern He’s Often Overlooked by Prior Lanterns, but He Holds His Own in an Intergalactic Brawl Carter Hall a.k.a. Hawkman This Winged Hero Has Never Gotten the Focus His Deep Lore & Complex Morality Deserves Rex Tyler a.k.a. Hourman His Powers May Only Last for an Hour at a Time, but He Makes Every Second Count Nathaniel Adam a.k.a. Captain Atom There’s No Good Reason a Justice League Mainstay With Powers This Cool Isn’t Utilized More Patrick "Eel" O'Brian a.k.a. Plastic Man Laugh All You Want, but He’s an Iconic Hero With Fun Powers and a Heart of Gold You may raise an eyebrow when you hear the Justice League is now accepting demons into their ranks. But we promise that this antihero is a worthy addition. On his own, Etrigan is as bloodthirsty as you’d expect a creature from Hell to be. Fortunately, since he’s bound to occult expert Jason Blood, the demon is often steered towards aiding the Justice League. It’s fascinating to watch the duo balance their own individual motivations with their limited skillsets. Etrigan’s habit for speaking in rhymes also leads to some really fun interactions. This pair is a horror film and a buddy-cop comedy rolled into one! Our only complaint about them is that they just aren’t around enough.
DC comics are the pioneers of the superhero comics industry. The studio has been creating groundbreaking characters with compelling backstories and narrative arcs that are worthy of awards and laurels. Characters created by DC comics namely Batman, Joker, Superman, Wonderwoman, and many more have surpassed the comic book medium and have garnered fans across the globe.
However, not every character created by the studio has been utilized to its full potential. Some superheroes still linger under the shadows of other vastly popular characters, while others have been lost under the sands of time. In this list, we will rank the top 5 superheroes of DC Comics who have vast potential but are underrated to a great extent.
Since 1934, DC Comics has created over 10,000 characters, a few are fan favorites while the majority of others are underrated.
5) Doctor Fate
The mantle of Doctor Fate has been carried by many individuals, but every version of this character is underrated to a great extent. Created in 1940s, the golden age of comics, Doctor Fate is the sorcerer of DC Comics. The title was originally helmed by archeologist Kent Nelson, who gained the powers of the ancient immortal god Nabu.
Dr. Fate has mastery over magic, can do everything from healing to forcefields and astral projections and is a founding member of the Justice Society of America. While he has appeared in many comic and animated television series, Doctor Fate possesses immense power but is severely underutilized. Doctor Fate will soon appear in the Shazam movie and will be played by Pierce Brosnan.
Etrigan, the fire-breathing demon from the underworld, was created by Jack Kirby, creator of Marvel characters like Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. But unlike his Marvel creations, Etrigan didn’t receive mass popularity. What makes Etrigan’s character special is his alignment with the good despite being the prince of hell.
Etrigan has made numerous animated appearances and is well received by hardcore DC comics fans, but the character is poorly represented in comics and his big-screen adaptation is yet to be done.
Etrigan the demon almost always speaks in rhymes and can be seen reciting couplets and poems, which adds a Shakespearean persona to the character. This gem of a character, Etrigan the demon, needs to be known to the world.
3) Captain Atom
Nathaniel Adam was a pilot in the Vietnam war who was framed for a crime he never committed. He was chosen as a candidate in a government experiment in which an atomic bomb exploded under the hull of an alien spaceship. Adam was present in the spaceship in which he disintegrated and was fused with alien metal. The blast transported Captain Atom twnety years ahead in time.
The character created by Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko is immensely strong and has a complex backstory but stays underutilized in comics as well as other mediums. Watchmen graphic novel's fan-favorite hero Doctor Manhattan was inspired by Captain Atom. This proves the potential of the character and how underrated Captain Atom is.
2) Blue Beetle
The title of Blue Beetle was carried by not one but three different characters, Dan Garett, Tedd Kord, and Jaime Reyes. Despite three different attempts by DC Comics to make Blue Beetle connect with the audience, the studios were unsuccessful in doing so for a long time.
The first two characters are as good as forgotten but the Jaime Reyes’s Blue Beetle was comparatively well received. With an exciting narrative, the young Mexican-American Jaime garnered a cult following but remains out of the limelight he deserves.
The blue armored superhero made a few heads turn thanks to his appearance in animated shows like Young Justice. A Blue Beetle movie is also scheduled for release in 2023 starring Cobra Kai actor Xolo Maridueña. Hopefully, the big-screen adaptation will shine a spotlight on the character.
1) The Question
DC Comics is an abbreviation of Detective Comics, which naturally suggests that the publication is an expert at creating detective characters and stories. The world’s greatest detective Batman is their biggest intellectual property. However, new fans are unaware of the other detective character the publications have created.
The brainchild of Spider-Man creator Steve Ditko, The Question is the most underrated DC Character to ever exist. Detective by profession, The Question was the protagonist of many mind-boggling comic book crime stories.
The character gained minor yet much-needed traction in Justice League: Unlimited, but despite that, the character has stayed away from casual fans’ recognition. DC needs to stick to its roots and churn out more detective stories. The Question deserves more and better comic titles. A series or movie with the character will surely chart its way to the Academies.