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Warner Bros. Needs ‘Plastic Man’ to Be Their ‘Deadpool’

He may have come first in the comics, but ‘Plastic Man’ will happily take second place cinematically.
Plastic Man
DC Comics
By  · Published on December 10th, 2018

Fans take obsession seriously, and comic book fanatics may be the dourest of the lot. I speak from experience, of course. After decades spent cultivating longboxes and rotating mylar bags to keep my object of affection pristine, I have developed an extensive list of dos and don’ts regarding the treatment of these fictional creations. With mainstream acceptance comes trepidation. Will the love of others somehow tarnish or change the characters I’ve devoted my very being towards?

Depending on the answer to that question, a person can transform into a rageful troll spouting vitriol into the void or a well-developed, tolerant champion of pop culture. Anyone who has watched Star Wars knows what a bummer the Dark Side can be to your personality, so embracing the Light, welcoming others, and accepting new points of view should seem obvious and healthy. Gosh. Did I mention Star Wars? They’re a community dealing with a lot right now. We better move on.

In the wake of the critical reaction of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warner Bros. chased the Marvel Studios formula with fervor. Justice League was smashed and remolded into a brighter, sunnier action film than originally intended and the result was unwatchable muck. Wonder Woman had more success by simply adhering to the spirit of its character. Aquaman appears to have accepted its preposterous nature through the sheer audacity of Jason Momoa.

When 20th Century Fox started fumbling their X-Men cash cow they grabbed a hold of Marvel’s trickster pixy. Deadpool arrived to acknowledge the struggle of maintaining sequels and spinoffs over the course of nearly 20 years and jabbed its finger in the eye of fandom. We said, “Thank you, may we have another.” Warner Bros. needs a similar figure to turn their frown upside down while having their cake and eating it too.

The Hollywood Reporter brings us word that a Plastic Man film is in development again (a decade after the last time) with relative newbie screenwriter Amanda Idoko attached. If the suits have any common sense, they’ll fast-track this ridiculous character and get him on the big screen asap. The DCEU is currently held together with bubblegum and paperclips. To survive they require a hero to concede to the struggle and make their flaws appear part of the whole.

We all need characters like Deadpool. He may have begun life as a most extreme, badass assassin on the hunt for X-Force, but when writer Joe Kelly took over in the late ’90s, he rejected his self-serious origins and mutated Wade Wilson into an action parody. Suddenly, Deadpool became aware of the readers beyond his panel borders, and freely addressed the absurdity of the situations he found himself in month after month.

On the surface, Plastic Man and Deadpool appear to have little in common. Those tights, that plunging v-neck. Yikes. Plastic Man is more often than not considered a sillier version of Reed Richards from the Fantastic Four. Although, his limbs don’t simply stretch; his entire body can take the form of a plastic object no matter the size. You want a giant cage for Gorilla Grodd, Plastic Man has your back. You want a tiny tugboat to slip into Gotham’s sewers? Plastic Man is indeed your man. The dopier the concept the better.

He’s bounced around comics for the last 77 years, and he’s been everything from a goofy sidekick to a proud member of the Justice League and the Secret Six. Like Deadpool, Plastic Man’s origins stem from criminal activity. He is a former bank robber who was soaked in a chemical bath that granted him elasticity. He rarely takes things seriously, and he’s a fourth wall smasher happily willing to point out the idiocy of a situation to the reader.

Superhero cinema is inescapable, and a lot of folks are waiting for the bubble to burst. The word “fatigue” is thrown around after the release of every spandex adaptation. Please, dear god, no more climactic blurry battles of CGI. Then entered (or re-entered) Ryan Reynolds to poke holes in our exasperation.

Yeah, Green Lantern and Wolverine: Origins are lame. They’re easy marks and take their lashing without a peep. Deadpool doesn’t stop there. In the sequel, he goes hard for the MCU and the big, dumb purple guy who took thirteen movies to sit up from his space chair. Through a barrage of fart jokes and katana-impalings, Deadpool keeps us honest. Our precious Avengers and X-Men can take it and so can we.

Warner Bros. is not only ready for Plastic Man to deliver a good rubbing, they desperately need it. They must get beyond the barbs hurled towards their gloomy Gus beginnings of the Snyderverse. Confess your sins, WB. Plastic Man will absolve you.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)