It’s likely that people don’t want to admit this, and the fans of DC would probably be added into this number as well, but the copying of heroes, villains, and even styles has been going on between DC and Marvel for a long time now, and it would appear that it’s continuing as we speak since like it or not, the idea to introduce the Justice League Dark characters using solo movies first appears to be the same thing. In other words, it looks as though DC is trying to emulate the model that Marvel made popular back at the beginning of the MCU. Whether DC will see the same success is hard to say since it does sound as though Deadman will be following the source material fairly close, but the accuracy will be one thing among many that will make this movie work. The act of setting up the JLD is apparently going to happen through the emergence of each member and the attempt to fit the overriding narrative together by using the solo movies as a vehicle to do it. If the DCEU had been patient enough to try this they might have been a pretty big contender for the MCU since to be certain, the DC roster is still extremely popular.
Deadman’s story is pretty simple, he was an acrobat killed off by a villain named the Hook, and he was allowed to come back as a ghost by Rama Kushna, a Hindu goddess that granted him the ability to possess others. Essentially he’s a ghost that can possess other peoples’ bodies, which is a little bit creepy since it might actually bring up the idea of consent and various other issues. But apparently in the comics, everyone has been okay with this since Deadman has been a force for good while he’s possessing others and making them do things they won’t remember. It’s an odd quirk, but there are plenty of heroes out there that do kind of off-kilter stuff that a lot of people don’t agree with. But for the JLD he’s likely going to be a perfect character.
The question though is what the movie will be about, as to whether it will focus entirely on his backstory and not much else, or if it will be building towards the JLD movie that DC wants to get off the ground and moving forward. Seeing as how the MCU has entered Phase 4 and isn’t stopping for breath, it’s easy to state that Deadman and the Zatanna movie and any other property that DC has might need to get their act in gear if they want to establish themselves in a strong way at this time. It’s not about competition with the MCU any longer, at least not unless one is counting the box office, which is always a great equalizer. But instead, it’s about making certain that DC is able to simply survive on the big screen since at this point even the long-awaited Snyder Cut isn’t really holding up since at this time there’s no plan to move ahead with the idea, as Snyder and the DC brass aren’t really seeing eye to eye.
On the upside, Deadman has a pretty solid presence in the DC universe, no pun intended, but getting people excited about a hero that hasn’t been introduced yet is, like always, going to be a challenge. One thing that’s been obvious about a lot of heroes and villains in the DC and Marvel camps is that if they’re well-known by the fans it’s one thing, as those that have been following various heroes and villains for years will know enough to be excited to see said characters on the big screen. But the audiences that watch both DC and Marvel are made up of those that do know, and those that don’t know that much about the comic books. What this means is that the idea of getting people excited about characters they don’t know adds a level of difficulty to the process that doesn’t necessarily exist, or isn’t quite as severe, as it might be with heroes such Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, or even Aquaman.
Deadman has a hill to climb and a few hurdles to make his way over when it comes to capturing the imagination and attention of the audience, and his very existence is already going to be something to overcome since the fact is that ghosts and supernatural creatures can easily be heroes, but getting past the idea that he’s going to possess people is something that will need to be handled with care. There’s no doubt that those at DC are already working on this and many other facets of the character, but it’s going to be interesting to see what they manage to come up with.