Before you begin reading this list, I want you to keep a couple things in mind: 1) All these characters are comic-accurate relative to the other characters on DC Television, don't forget that when reading this. 2) I rated these characters with a few different criteria in mind: physical accuracy, characterization, and comic origins and backstories. I'll admit, physical accuracy had a slight preferential advantage, but the other items were also heavily scrutinized. 3) This list doesn't include full-CGI characters like King Shark or Gorilla Grodd. With that in mind, let's begin!
Hey guys, Josh Behr here again with another DC television list to follow up my last two (here and here) from the past couple weeks. These are getting fun! Anyway... as most of you are aware, DC is arguably running the comic television game right now. This year will be featuring a massive crossover between four different shows - Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow - and a new Black Lightning show is in the pipeline. To say DC has made their mark on television is an understatement. Alongside the compelling comic-inspired stories, the shows we have now are giving us comic-accurate character after comic-accurate character. Some of which are much better at representing their print versions than others.
Scroll through the gallery to check out the ten DC television characters I believe are most accurate to their comic book counterparts.
Captain Cold (The Flash)
When Wentworth Miller was first cast on The Flash as Leonard Snart, I was skeptical. When he first appeared in the series' 4th episode, "Going Rogue", I was even more skeptical for about a half an hour or so. And then it happened: he put his hood on, and it all made sense. When I think about Captain Cold from the comics, he's hard to characterize as a person under the infamous blue coat. He's somewhat heroic and moral compared to the other rogues, but when you think of Captain Cold, you primarily think of two things, both of which are visual: his cold gun and his blue coat. The show introduced Wentworth as Leonard Snart without the glasses and hood, and the show showed us the person first, which changed my perspective on the character. It felt like they were doing something new with the character, and I wasn't completely sold until that hood went up. Then it all clicked. He is the Captain Cold from the comics.
With the characterization of Leonard Snart and the visual cues of Captain Cold, the live action version of the leader of the rogues smacked me in the face like I was Mick. As the series went on, Snart started to show his moral side from the comics (Citizen Cold, anyone?), eventually joining up with a team of superheroes in Legends of Tomorrow. Not to mention his relationship with Mick Rory aka Heat Wave. The criminal duo has a brother-like relationship, except they both kind of hate each other also, because they are both bad guys after all. But in the end, the two have each other's back, and the TV version displays this perfectly. Now, with the heroic Captain Cold from Legends of Tomorrow killed off and only his evil version remaining out there somewhere in the multiverse, we know Snart will be making a sinister come back joining Reverse-Flash, Damien Darhk, and Malcolm Merlyn in the Legion of Doom in the second season of Legends of Tomorrow.
Jay Garrick (The Flash)
Before anyone in the comments says it, I'm fully aware Jay Garrick was only in one episode of The Flash for a limited amount of time. But to be frank, that is all I needed. The real Jay Garrick spent most of season three locked up in an iron mask, hidden in Zoom's Earth-2 cave hideaway. There's a few reasons the reveal of the real Jay Garrick was so cool:
1) Zoom, played by Teddy Sears, posed as Jay Garrick throughout the season and ended up being the villain, potentially tarnishing the Garrick name and mythology. It came as a huge relief when it was revealed that was not the case.
2) Jay Garrick was the doppleganger of Henry Allen, who was killed by Zoom in the pen-ultimate episode of season 2. This was a nice break for Barry, who's life seems to throw him tragedy after tragedy. Of course, running back in time to change it all didn't exactly help anything.
3) John Wesley Shipp infamously played Barry Allen in the The Flash TV show from 1990, so seeing him reprise the role of 'The Flash', while actually playing the Golden Age version, was both nostalgic for fans of the original while simultaneously being awesome for all.
Jay Garrick is a Golden Age DC comics classic. He is nostalgic, and he is an older man in the comics who often symbolizes an older time in DC comics' history. Jay Garrick played by John Wesley Shipp did exactly this, which was such a super-nod to fans on a few different levels. Little is known if he will be coming back to the show, but there is a strong chance he will be. I personally can't wait for the episode that brings Jay, Barry, Wally, and Jessie Quick together as The Flash family. It's bound to happen. Get on it, Kreisberg! Visually, Shipp as Jay also looks very similar to the source material. The colors and basic style is the same, and the vintage winged hat is spot-on. The only very noticably difference is the lightning bolt, which is much smaller on the live action version, and the fact the comic version looks to be wearing an Under Armour style t-shirt. With everything else the two have in common, I can let the visual appearance slide a little.
Edward Nygma (Gotham)
A lot of you are probably thinking, "but what? Why? Gotham is so lame," and so on and so forth. I'm sorry, but for those paying attention, Gotham's Edward Nygma is The Riddler, he just hasn't worn the costume yet. For all the dud villains Gotham has given us, they also do have their occasional win, and a lot of their series regular villains are definitive winners. Edward Nygma is a perfect example of an origin done right, and although details about his origin are new for the show, the character itself could not be any more clearly Edward Nygma in the flesh. Cory Michael Smith encompasses a hint of Jim Carrey's insanity, which only comes out when he goes full Riddler, which is happening more and more frequently as the series goes on. He is one part insanity, three parts genius manipulator, with a dash of true disregard for human life mixed in there.
Ten bucks says that by season four or five when Nygma finally has the green costume (it's bound to happen), complete with question marks, hat, and cane, he will be perfect. Along with his personality, his relationship with the other characters in the series are spot-on to his comic incarnation. He is developing a "friendship" with Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin (who was pretty close to making this list himself), which is very comic-esque as Batman's villains have been known to team up. At the end of season two, he played a true puzzle master, and his riddles and games are picking up episode after episode. He is one of characters I am most looking forward to in Gotham's third season, and he should be one of yours too!
Firestorm (The Flash)
Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein's relationship was the embodiment of comic absurdity on television. Firestorm, in the comics, was two different people fused into one fiery entity, and it was almost unbelievable that the the show could remain so faithful to its source. From a show that spun-off of Arrow, it seemed almost laughable. But then they fused, Martin and Ronnie had their first in-Ronnie's-head argument, and I forever shut up. At that point, I was finally ready to believe The Flash really had no comic boundaries and could include anything from the DC lore. If it was DC, it was possible. Keep in mind, this happened before time travel, Gorilla Grodd, and King Shark, so it was a pretty big deal. The comic relationship between Ronnie and Martin was perfectly captured in live action, showing the two bickering often but working together when it counts.
Unfortunately, Ronnie was killed at the end of season one. Firestorm lived on when Team Flash helped Martin Stein find another metahuman he was Firestorm-compatible with. Jax and Stein formed the new Firestorm on the second Arrow-verse spin-off Legends of Tomorrow, and although they still had the same argumentative relationship that Ronnie and Stein had, it definitely was not the same. Stein eventually became Jax's relationship coach on Legends, which had a creepily unnecessary Guggenheim feel to it. Let's not talk about Earth-2 Deathstorm, he has Martin Stein trapped in his head on Earth-2, and that just makes me feel really crappy.
Ra's al-Ghul (Arrow)
If you read my 5 Reasons Arrow Isn't As Good As It Used To Be list from last week, you'd know I'm a fan of Matt Nable as Ra's al-Ghul. Some of you might disagree with me, and that's fine, but I feel like Nable's portrayal of Ra's was up there with Manu Bennett's portrayal of Slade Wilson in season two. The tragedy of it all? He was completely wasted as a character. He didn't pose any sort of ongoing threat throughout the season thanks to unfocused writing, only playing a major role in the final quarter of episodes. Despite his small amount of screen-time, the scenes he did feature in were brightly lit beacons of hope in an otherwise dreadful season.
Physically, the man looks like just his comic counterpart. The details are all there, from the slick hair and beard, to the extravagant garb and bladed weaponry of choice. The way Nable delivers his lines is almost exactly how I would picture Ra's from the comics delivering the lines. Soft spoken, somewhat reserved, while being incredibly charismatic and confident every time he did speak. I would have loved for them to allow more time to get to know the character on a better level. It's hard to say Nable's portrayal of Ra's is my favorite live action version, because of the whole Batman Begins thing, but he's still a pretty close second to Liam Neeson.
Vandal Savage (Legends of Tomorrow)
Before I begin this one, I want to to start by saying that Vandal Savage did not impress me as much as I was sure he was going to when I first heard he was going to be the first big bad in Legends of Tomorrow season 1. Physically, he was perfect, and is why he's on this list. The way Casper Crump delivered his lines were sinister and downright creepy at times. He seemed like the perfect villain. Even when the The Flash and Arrow crossover featured Savage as the villain, I was sold on him. Then Legends happened, and honestly, he ended up being just kind of boring. He didn't really do much, and didn't ever really seem to pose a real threat to the team. For how powerful he was portrayed in the Flash/Arrow crossover, he was pretty ineffective on Legends. But I will end on that note before I start writing an entire separate list on the subject.
The main reasons Savage is so high on this list are mainly his physical appearance and how spot-on Crump played the character. His timelessness was straight from the comics, as he never ages and is seemingly immortal. The show did something original and linked his origin to Hawkman and Hawkgirl, which is significant variant from the comics. The print version of Savage was originally a caveman who was exposed to radiation from a meteorite, which is similar to the comics, but the similarities end there. In the show, he is from Egypt, along with the Hawks, who were exposed to the same meteorite, which gave them immortal life, even if they die causing them to continuously be born again. And Savage goes through time trying to kill them both so he becomes super immortal, or something like that. I'm not totally sure, that show's plot confused me. Let's go on to the next one.
Martian Manhutner (Supergirl)
Who remembers when Hank Henshaw was revealed to be an incredibly comic-accurate version of the sometimes forgotten member of the Justice League, Martian Manhunter? That moment made up my teetering mind on if I liked Supergirl or not, and J'onn J'onzz single-handedly kept me invested in the show. With the DC Extended Universe film Justice League on the horizon in 2017, Cyborg seems to have taken the spot of J'onn J'onzz's in the line-up. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Cyborg will be comprising the League, and as of right now there has not been a single word on if Martian Manhunter will be joining them anytime soon. So, for now, that actually makes it that much cooler that he was revealed to be in Supergirl.
J'onzz's Supergirl origin is a bit different, as Hank Henshaw is actually a supervillain who has never been associated with Martian Manhunter before. The show elaborated on his origin and presented a tragic past that involves his family and race being wiped out by the White Martians. So while the backstory of the character isn't the same, the overall character is. He is from Mars, he can fly, transform into whoever he wants, and will probably be meeting Superman soon. He has the same signature green skin from the comics, and looks just like he was pulled from the original print's pages. When he flies, he has his cape, and he sports a familiar X design across his front. Physically, this guy is Martian Manhunter. Just a little tall...
When Gotham producers said they wouldn't be giving us costumed characters, they lied. They didn't just give us a costumed Azrael, they gave us an Azreal straight from the comics. Easily the coolest thing the pre-Batman show has given us to date. The character's background shared similar elements to the comic character's background, but took some liberties, in normal Gotham fashion. Before he was Azrael, he was Theo Galavan, a character invented for the show who was the descendent of the Order of Saint Dumas, posing as a millionaire in an effort to get revenge on the Wayne family by killing Bruce because of their families linage rivalry. Eventually, he is killed and then resurrected by Hugo Strange, who wipes his memory and gives him the new memories of being the Order's Warrior of Vengeance, Azrael.
The newly created Azrael had a backstory similar to his comic counterpart artificially implanted in his brain, right along with an excellently scary looking mask and costume. It's a shame that we won't ever be able to see Batman fight this version of Azrael, but he looks like he could give the Dark Knight a run for his money. Not to mention when he was brought back he was given enhanced physical abilities, naturally. Hopefully Bruce doesn't go up against him anytime soon though, because he wouldn't stand a prayer of a chance at this point. Unless Alfred is around.
Reverse-Flash (The Flash)
All superhero TV shows and movies need to pay attention to this one. Matt Letscher is a perfect example of comic inspired casting, matching the DC comic print Eobard Thawne from the blonde wavy hair to the butt-chin. Pair his physical appearance with the amazing job the show did on the Reverse-Flash's costume and speed CGI, and the Reverse-Flash is the definition of "comic-accurate". When it was first revealed that Rick Cosnett would be playing Eddie Thawne, it made sense because he was blonde. Then, the show revealed Harrison Wells was the Reverse-Flash, which seemed odd because of his dark hair. It didn't make sense that he would be related to Eddie. Then it all clicked during the introduction scene of season one episode Tricksters, where it was revealed that Eobard Thawne was actually someone different who killed and took over the body of the real Harrison Wells. Phew. Take note Arrow, now that is some good writing.
Aside from his spot-on physical appearance, the characterization was done perfectly. In the comics, Thawne is diabolically evil, and the TV show's version captured that with ease. Between killing Barry's mother, Cisco, the real Harrison Wells, and a few security guards, the the show's Reverse-Flash was not short on the evil. His motivation was a bit different, but it was one of the few times his TV story was actually much more compelling than his comic story. He is from the future and was stranded in the past, with Barry being the only one who can allow him back to his time. The show took elements of the comic version and implanted them in the show's origin, giving us an awesome backstory for an awesome villain. Not to mention the relationship between The Flash and the Reverse-Flash is everything I could have hoped for as a Flash fan. The way they know each other in every and all timelines is such a great element to their story, and that they are essentially connected is just perfect.
John Constantine (Constantine/Arrow)
Did I say perfect? I mean, close to perfect. Matt Ryan as John Constantine, on the other hand, was perfect. If the John Constantine from the comics came alive and became 3D and living and all that, he would literally be Matt Ryan. The show Constantine was a tragedy in itself, as it was such a good show that saw its premature series finale way too soon. Out of all the DC television shows, Matt Ryan encompassed his character better than any of the character from any other show. His accent, his attitude, his physical appearance, his trench coat, and scruffy blonde hair, and I could keep going for ages. For all of you out there good at word association, Matt Ryan is to John Constantine as Samuel L. Jackson is to Nick Fury. His appearance alone in episode 4x05 of Arrow ("Haunted") arguably made it one of the best of the season.
His attitude in the show can only truly be described as "John Constantine-like". A little eccentric, wired, on edge, and literally not scared of anything, Matt Ryan's Constantine encompassed both the eccentric and depressive sides of the infamous DC character with ease. He is a tormented soul, and Ryan displayed that torment perfectly. He gave the character depth and made him someone you kind of hated, but you couldn't help be compassionate for and invested in at the same time. He was manipulative, deceiving, and everything else you could have hoped for from the character. In contrast to his dark side, he clearly has positive intentions and a just path. Just like in the comics, Matt Ryan came off as a charismatic, selfish jerk, but he was a selfish jerk who kind of cared. A little bit. When he had to.
Well, there they are, the top 10 most comic accurate DC television characters. Do you agree with this list? How would you do it? Let us know in the comments.
Did you like this? Check out some of my other editorials:
- Does the solo Batfleck movie using Deathstroke have anything to do with Arrow?
- 5 reasons Arrow isn't as good as it used to be
& make sure to stick with Heroic Hollywood, Wednesdays @ 10:00 am for more solid DC TV lists just like this.