Doom Patrol

Release Date: TBA 2008

Movie of the Day for Monday, August 14, 2006
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With art like that, how could it possibly have failed?

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In 1963, a superhero team of misfits was created. Following the lead of their wheelchair-bound strategist, this group of social outcasts fought for the betterment of the world around them. And they did so despite the fact that the same people they assisted viewed them as a rogue's gallery of misfits. Perhaps most shockingly of all, this group did not operate under the Marvel license. No, they were not X-Men. This DC Comics cast of characters pre-dates Professor Xavier's crew by several months. They are called Doom Patrol, and Hollywood is preparing to give this 40-year-old group theatrical life for the first time.

The idea of copycatting is perhaps the main precept of the comic book industry. If DC has a tortured Batman, then Marvel needs a tortured Wolverine. If Marvel has a nefarious immortal villain named Apocalypse, then DC has one named Ra's al Ghul. This is the nature of the industry, and it is a commonly accepted practice. The case of Doom Patrol versus X-Men is simply the most dramatic example that being first isn't always best.

The members of Doom Patrol were written to be the ultimate outcasts. Their members included a paraplegic genius, the brain of a star athlete trapped in the body of a robot, a woman who could shrink down to an inch or grow to be 100 feet tall, and a man composed entirely of negative energy wrapped in bandages. 1960s audiences were non-plussed by this motley crew, so much so that DC Comics did the unthinkable. The entire team was destroyed while trying to save a small town in Maine.

Over the years, the popularity of the X-Men has soared while Doom Patrol has become the Halley's Comet of comic books. After its initial cancellation in 1968, the series returned briefly in 1977 (true story: I still have the issue in my garage...and I am not a comic book collector), 2001, and 2004. During the '80s, the comic had frequent re-boots instead of cancellations. At these points, main characters would be introduced and sent along their way.

There was even a brief period of (I kid you not) Dadist surrealism. As you might imagine, a superhero group with a Peace, Love and Dope message would probably not translate well as a comic book movie. This risky, previously unattempted style of daring storytelling created a small but zealous fan-base of diehard Doom Patrol fans.

The current resurgence in popularity of Doom Patrol owes a lot to the success of its most recognized member, Beast Boy. As a kid, Garfield Logan was an original member of the group. They were like a family to him prior to his hooking up with a slightly more established group of heroes: the Teen Titans. When the animated tales of their adventured reached the final season, the producers of Teen Titans dug deep to find villains worthy of the powerful kids. Their choice was the Brotherhood of Evil, not coincidentally the main foes of Doom Patrol. There was even a story arc where the original members of the group met the now-pubescent Beast Boy, discovering he was much more mature.

Presumably, the Brotherhood of Evil will also be the bad guys in a Doom Patrol movie. Which members are included on the side of the angels is up for speculation. The most recent published version of Doom Patrol includes the original core of Beast Boy, Chief, Elasti-Girl, Mento, Negative Man, and Robotman. Two new characters, Bumblebee and Vox, have also been added in the comic's current run.

Since there have been over 30 members during the on again/off again run of the show, however, almost any of them is a possibility. In addition, DC Comics might decide to save Beast Boy potential Teen Titans movie. That's a tricky decision since he has the most name recognition out of the potential Doom Patrol members, but Teen Titans would be the production with more box office franchise potential.

While X-Men has shattered box office records with three opening weekends averaging around $80 million, Doom Patrol has stood on the outside looking in. No sane person feels this fledling franchise has that sort of box office potential, but the Hollywood studio system is starting to take more chances on lesser-known properties. Warner Bros. Has hired unheralded scribe Adam Turner to write the screenplay. Before you get upset, remember that it could be worse. Akiva Goldsman is producing. If he gets a whiff of the script, Robotman will wind up with nipples on his body armor. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for Doom Patrol
Screenwriter Adam Turner
Distributor Warner Bros.
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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