After Flash And Supergirl, Which DC Heroes Could Get The ‘Glee’ Treatment Next?
Flash leading man Grant Gustin and Supergirl star Melissa Benoist have two things in common. First, they both play the sunshiniest DC superheroes ever to brighten our TV screens in their respective shows. Second, they both got their big breaks on the Fox high school musical series Glee, playing sinister prep school bully Sebastian Smythe from season three and shy ingenue Marley Rose from season four, respectively.
Maybe there's something about the big broad performances in Glee that perfectly prepares an actor for a superhero role. It's certainly true that Gustin and Benoist both posssess an effortless enthusiasm and charm that makes them believable heroes. Though the actors never got to duet on Glee, they will cross paths in their costumed alter egos in Monday March 28's Supergirl episode "Worlds Finest", a cross-network event that should provide one of the most joyful hours of superhero action in 2016.
To mark the occasion, ComicsAlliance's Elle Collins and Andrew Wheeler took a look at other Glee cast members who could follow their former colleagues into heroic roles on the DC super-shows --- perhaps in guest spots on either The Flash or Supergirl.
Andrew: I actually have a long list of possibilities for Naya Rivera, because she’s a good actor with an archetypal superhero look, but let me throw just one name out there; Zatanna. Now, I know Santana-as-Zatanna sounds a little obvious, but hear me out; the glamour, the body, the confidence, the showwomanship. I think she’d be a natural in this role, and she’d find the character’s bite. What do you think, Elle? What role did you have for Rivera?
Elle: I previously gave her a Marvel role in the X-Force edition of Cast Party, as Feral. As I said there, she has a catlike snarl combined with her dancer’s grace that makes her perfect for a feline part. So with that in mind, I was thinking of Selina Kyle (we’re going to need another one of those sooner or later) or Wonder Woman’s villain, Cheetah. I know there’s no Batman or Wonder Woman in the TV continuity, but if we can have the Al Ghuls, why not Catwoman or Cheetah?
She’d also be the only conceivable choice for Yolanda Montez/Wildcat, if anybody ever showed any interest in that character. But I like the idea of her as Zatanna. I’d trapped her in a specific box in my head, and you’re making me think outside of it.
Elle: Agron would be absolutely perfect as Saturn Girl, one of the founders of the 30th Century’s Legion of Superheroes. And honestly, I’ll be surprised if Legends of Tomorrow or Supergirl doesn’t get around to them at some point. Agron has this air of iron-tight self control about her, which suits a psychic from a world of psychics. She also makes a great leader, which Saturn Girl should be.
Andrew: That's a great pick that also opens up a whole box of Legion characters, which is daunting, but I think The Flash might actually get there.
But where you say Saturn, I say Star, because Agron has that peppy blonde look that I associate with Stargirl, who is a very “cheer squad” kind of superhero. I believe Courtney Whitmore is still a teen, and Agron can’t play teenagers forever, but maybe it’s time for a Starwoman in the Starman role?
Andrew: Putting Chris Colfer in a superhero universe presents an immediate challenge, because superhero comics are intensely bound up in the performance of masculinity, and I think Colfer represents a righteous rejection of that performance and a proud embrace of effeminacy and queerness. We really need that, but it limits the existing superhero roles that he’s an easy fit for. Still, I have options, and my first choice is a heroic contemporary take on Brainiac, or a time-tossed Brainiac-5. Cerebral. Transcendent. Othered. I think he’d be a good fit.
Elle: Oh, what a spectacular choice, especially the Brainiac-5 option, which would enable him to reunite with Dianna Agron if she was Saturn Girl.
My idea contains such an obvious joke that I feel bad about it (even as a queer person myself) but do you remember the Gay Ghost? He was a swashbuckler from the past who fought crime in the present in spectral form. Obviously his name comes from the older meaning of the word, but once I thought about Colfer laughing and parrying his way through walls as a happy-go-lucky spirit, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. And if you gave him that code name based on the old meaning of “gay,” but then also made him gay in the modern sense, I think you could make it work in a funny and progressive way.
Elle: I think Criss has the perfect smile, the charisma, and the movement skills to play one of the all-time classic DC characters who has yet to appear in a live-action adaptation. I’m talking of course about Plastic Man.
Plas is one of those ridiculous characters who owns his own ridiculousness, and I can imagine Criss pulling that off. He could probably even make the costume work, but I imagine they’ll want to give him pants for TV. As long as he has the plunging neckline, the big sunglasses, and the shellacked hair, it’ll work just fine.
Andrew: The shellacked hair has me sold. For my pick, after playing one of the great queer TV heartthrobs on Glee, I think Criss could revisit that well as a TV version of Obsidian on The Flash, and maybe get his flirt on with Barry, or Cisco, or… Captain Cold?
Obsidian is a sadly neglected gay superhero, and shadow powers could look cool on TV. I think you could safely extract his origin story from all that Green Lantern stuff and leave the character intact, which is what I wish the New 52 had bothered to do.
Elle: The first thing I want to do with Jenna Ushkowitz is dye her hair blue and cast her as Aja in a comics-inspired version of Jem and the Holograms that would actually be worth watching. But that’s outside the scope of what we’re doing here. As far as DC characters, I think she’d be a fantastic Raven. I imagine her as an older version of the animated Teen Titans Raven, all deadpan lines and judgmental looks.
Andrew: I’m going with Metamorpho for Ushkowitz, but obviously a reimagined version. The template here is the New 52’s Emily Sung, the Element Woman, rather than Rex Mason. I like the idea of taking a character that definitely doesn't need to be another white dude and replacing him with a Korean-American woman. With the purple hair and harlequin costume, this version of Metamorpho could even steal some style tips from Jem for a more contemporary take.
Andrew: Morris is an amazing dancer, so I want her in a highly physical role. My instincts are telling me to cast her as Steve Ditko’s Creeper. Morris can glide between sinewy movement and herky-jerky judders in a way that would really put the creep in the character, and I think this idea could be pushed much farther with a woman in the role. No-one wants a male Creeper, we get enough of those on the internet.
Elle: My pick for Morris is Starfire. As Brittany, she displayed a unique ability to play this sort of naive weirdo without ever seeming pitiable or out of her depth with those around her. Starfire needs that quality. The movement skills that you mentioned would also come in handy. And of course she’s gorgeous, which Kori needs to be.
Andrew: She could work that hair like a twirling ribbon without needing a special effect!
Elle: I keep thinking about Johnny Thunder. At first I was thinking it would be a shame to bring in Johnny rather than Jakeem, but the thing that makes Johnny unique is that he’s a friendly, well-meaning idiot, which Jakeem is not (nor should he be). Overstreet is from Tennessee, like me, and I love the idea of him as a bumpkin in a green suit who gets off a bus in whichever hero’s city and starts causing chaos with the help of his thunderbolt genie. Not a villain, in fact he’s the nicest guy you’ve ever met, just an immeasurably powerful force in the hands of a guy who doesn’t have the slightest clue what he’s doing.
Andrew: This is where I thought we’d almost certainly be on the same page, and we kind of are, because “friendly, well-meaning idiot” seems an apt description for Booster Gold, and that’s my pick for Overstreet. As DC’s distillation of the idea of superhero-as-celebrity, Booster needs to be played by someone with underwear-model looks, but also some actual acting talent, so I think Overstreet fits the bill. I think Booster is actually going to show up in Legends, so this one could actually happen in the near future!
Elle: Oh, I didn’t even think of Booster Gold! But he’s perfect for that too, you’re right. I’ve been reading a lot of Golden Age comics lately, so it’s possible my brain is just going to strange obscure places first.
Andrew: It might be giving away just how much of a crush I have on Harry Shum Jr when I say this, but; Nightwing. I think Shum has the perfect look and, as a dancer, the perfect grace to play the sexiest hero in the DCU. How you introduce Nightwing in a world without Batman is… not my problem. Don’t hold me back from my Nightwing dreams, Batman.
Elle: Shum could certainly pull off Nightwing, although it’s true that might be complicated in a Batman-free world.
I was thinking about Asian American characters from the comics. Not because I’d object to Shum playing a hero who was originally conceived as white (he’d be a better choice for Iron Fist than the one we got, but that’s a whole other article), but I think characters who were already PoC ought to have a place on TV too. And that led me to imagining Shum as OMAC, aka Kevin Kho. Obviously he doesn’t have the bulk that OMAC does in the comics, but that could just make him a more interesting super-soldier, if you emphasize his speed, strength, and skill, using special effects to play up Shum’s actual ability to perform spectacular physical feats. Plus he’d look awesome with a mohawk.
Andrew: I am sold on Harry Shum with a mohawk.
Andrew: There’s not exactly a wealth of black women to choose from in the DC superhero universe, but there is one hero who has been enjoying a minor renaissance of late that I think Riley could be great for, and that’s Bumblebee. But I’m a little conflicted about it. On the one hand, I want to embrace the precedent set by Valiant’s Faith comic, and have a plus-size woman enjoying the freedom of the skies as a sunny, bright, body-positive hero. On the other hand, giving her shrinking powers could easily be taken the wrong way. What do you think, Elle, does that doom this idea?
Elle: Well I think the answer is not to give her shrinking powers. Unlike the Wasp, Bumblebee didn’t shrink originally. She was a full-size lady in a bee-inspired powersuit with wings until relatively recently. And I agree with you that Riley would be great at that.
I had this idea about Riley being Atlee, the current version of Terra, but I’m abandoning it because your pitch for her as Bumblebee is so good that I just want to co-sign that.
Elle: I know we’ve mostly been focusing on heroes, but I want to go the opposite direction with Michele. Tala, originally from the Phantom Stranger comics, is the living embodiment of evil in a slinky dress. Now imagine if this manifestation of the darkness within humanity was also a glitzy Broadway-inspired diva, who could belt out a Streisand hit (or whatever Warner Bros has the rights to) as fire rained down from the skies. I think that’s the kind of fun there’s just not enough of on superhero TV.
Andrew: We did say heroes, but when I look at my list of ideas, the names I put down next to Lea Michele’s are “Duela Dent” and “Black Alice”, one of whom is a straight-up villain, while the other is described by the Phantom Stranger as “an abomination”. What does this say about our relationship with Lea Michele’s character on Glee, I wonder?
But you’re right, Michele would have the most fun on a CW-style show if she got to lean into the darkness and eat some scenery, and since Duela Dent is needlessly complicated, I’m going with a grown-up Black Alice as my pick; a witchy vigilante could have all kinds of fun in Supergirl's National City. But that doesn't give Michele a chance to belt out showtunes, so we should probably go with your idea.