Although DC Universe’s Swamp Thing seemed to be loved by fans and critics alike, the series was unceremoniously cancelled just one episode into its original 13 episode run due to a combination of a tax grant error as well as WarnerMedia’s displeasure with the show. The Swamp Thing creative team was forced to rewrite the first season’s ending after the series was also cut to 10 episodes. It was a huge disappointment since Swamp Thing boasted horror and heart in equal measures, arguably being one of the best shows that DC Universe had delivered at the time.
For comic book fans, Swamp Thing was an exhilarating watch as it dove head-first into the supernatural horror of Alan Moore’s legendary take on the character while also proving that the mythos surrounding the swamp could be brought to life with practical effects. From what co-showrunner Gary Dauberman revealed, the elemental hero’s adventures were only going to get even weirder if the show received a second season. For horror fans, one of the series’ biggest selling points was its willingness to be truly horrific when it wanted to be. The pilot episode saw the gory reanimation of a dead body in a morgue, feeling like a comic book combination of Evil Dead meeting the work of body-horror maestro David Cronenberg. In fact, the show prided itself on embracing skin-crawling horror in a number of ways.
Early on, DC Universe’s Swamp Thing introduced the concept of the “Rot” which had infected the swamp. Those familiar with the New 52 comics will no doubt remember its chilling introduction as it reanimated a set of Mastodon bones before setting its sights on melting the world into a rotting ball of flesh. In the series, we see it flood through a dead hunter, flooding him with cockroaches and insects and using him as its host to hunt down Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane.
The DC Universe series constantly developed Crystal Reed’s Abby by diving into the guilt of her backstory, but it never embraced her connection to the supernatural. Since she’s descended from an agent of the Rot in the New 52 comics it isn’t impossible that the Rot would become a more prominent part of her story if the series continued. The comics introduced her half-brother, who was the champion of the Rot, much like Swamp Thing is the champion of the Green. This would have been an interesting way of expanding her family while adding a conflicting emotional depth to any fight between Swamp Thing and the Rot.
The Rot wasn’t the only enemy from Swamp Thing’s elemental roster of villains that the DC Universe series introduced in the hopes of seeing them crop up later on. The ending of the series saw Kevin Durand’s Dr. Jason Woodrue experiment on himself before momentarily showing up in a post-credits scene as Swamp Thing’s iconic nemesis, the Floronic Man. Audiences only got a brief taste of the villain’s violent tendencies as he left a trail of dead police officers in his wake, with his practical costume being just as detailed and intimidating as the main character’s. The second season would’ve surely seen the Floronic Man go head-to-head with Swamp Thing in a vicious beatdown through Marais and the surrounding area.
But the real draw of a second season would be to watch Derek Mears explore the plant formerly known as Alec Holland a little deeper. The first season saw the hero eventually come to terms with the fact that Alec Holland was dead following the pilot episode and he’s just taken on his identity after being absorbed by the swamp. Derek Mears’ tortured performance across the series impressively humanized this inhuman hero, so watching him embrace the swamp and witnessing the supernatural repercussions of his existence would’ve been fascinating.
In the comics, Swamp Thing communicates with the Parliament of Trees, who help defend the world’s plant-life. Since the on-screen hero was only just realizing that the swamp was its own entity, developing the Parliament of Trees and the Green dimension could have been the next step in the three season arc. Then there’s the intricately practical costume Mears got to wear. The design was a perfect translation from page to screen and seeing him explore the vast swamp set made us feel on edge on every episode. After all, what other horrors lay beneath the surface? Even if Swamp Thing never gets revived on DC Universe, it would be great to see Derek Mears at least get the chance to return to the role in some way.
And if the rumors are to be believed, the planned future of the series would have seen certain characters get their own spin-offs, with one source even suggesting that it could’ve even spawned a Justice League Dark show. That in itself suggests where future storylines could’ve gone, presuming they would’ve included characters like Deadman, Zatanna and Etrigan the Demon. Even just the potential costumes for Deadman and Etrigan are tantalising to think about. As is the possibility of Derek Mears’ monster meeting John Constantine, since the character first appeared in Moore’s comics back in 1985. It would be ridiculous to recast the role given how perfect Matt Ryan brings the warlock to life in the Arrowverse.
DC Universe’s Swamp Thing was bold, bloody and brutal, taking key elements from Alan Moore’s psychedelic run on the character while bringing truly terrifying threats to life on the small screen. While it’s disappointing that Derek Mears and Crystal Reed didn’t get the chance to explore the supernatural world of Marais a little further, let’s just be thankful that this version even exists at all. Since Mears had a brief cameo in Crisis On Infinite Earths, who knows, it’s possible that he might return to the swamp one day.