Geoff Johns Says A Great Superman Video Game Needs The 'Right Studio'

I started off my talk with DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer on the wrong foot by forgetting that Geoff Johns has been writing an Aquaman series. "You just proved my point," he chided me. The point being that people rag on the publisher's amphibious character, which is a phenomenon that Johns is trying to reverse in the DC Comics New 52 relaunch.

Johns' Aquaman is powerful in ways that other characters in the DC Universe are not and, when cannibalistic sea creatures come to the surface, the same people who once made fun of the Sea King in the comics have to thank him for saving their lives. Re-envisioning classic characters has made Johns one of the most respected writers in superhero comics but even he has to admit that taking characters outside of comics presents a whole new set of challenges. Everyone's basking in the success that Rocksteady's had with their two Batman games but DC's flagship character has gotten airborne in the interactive medium.

Johns has written great runs on Superman so I asked him specifically about what he thought the problems have been with bringing the Man of Steel into video games. "We talk about it a lot, about how flipping up robots for four hours would get old," he offers.

There's been talk about adapting Johns' Last Son storyline -- where Kryptonian villains escape the Phantom Zone dimensional prison to plague Superman -- because it delivers enemies who are credible threats to Kal-El's power level. Cosmic tyrant Darkseid's also been floated as another big bad for Clark Kent to face off against. "I think all games come down to gameplay and the right studio. I'm sure the right studio could crack it. Rocksteady has a real passion for Batman, and I think that's why they make a great game."

Johns knows how to get inside characters' heads and the best example of that right now is in the new status quo of Green Lantern, where villain Sinestro finds himself with former hero Hal Jordan's power ring. "That conviction that what he's doing is right is what drives him. People have gotten hurt and killed and outright murdered because of him . He's very ego-driven but he's not selfish," He is narcissistic but he doesn't really do things for glory. What makes him a compelling villain is the fact that he really knows what a Green Lantern is."

Johns' penchant for the cosmic is reflected in his video game tastes, too. He jokingly asked me if I had any dirt on Halo 5 before admitting that he's got a serious Halo: Reach habit. While Gotham City Impostors represents a video-game shooter with DC Comics roots, Johns is most excited about another game in development form the media company. "We're working on Suicide Squad; it's in development right now," he divulges. The team book where supervillains take on ultra-dangerous government espionage missions that they're not expected to come back from is on the DC Entertainment slate as both a movie and a video game. "I'm really super excited about it. Because of the concept, you have a game where any of the lead characters can conceivably die and it's not a stunt. Some really cool story could come out of that."

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Comments

    Superman games would be tough to design, because Superman is practically invulnerable. I picture some sort of open-world (Arkham-city-esque perhaps) with an overarching story and a number of very-time-sensitive quests to free innocents from Supe's rogues gallery and save Metropolis, with occasional (OCCASIONAL) Kryptonite traps and weapons to keep you on your toes.

      Nah, time sensitive wouldn't work because all he needed to do would be to fly really fast around the earth to make it spin backwards and, voila! Lets start that time sensitive quest again shall we? ;)

    It would be cool to see a Superman game offer a similar style to the Uncharted series. But instead of trying to jump off a derailed train, Supes is trying to stop a collapsing mountain-side from falling onto a village!

    I still believe Superman's rogue gallery works against him in making a decent Superman game. Most are either too godlike (Darkseid) or plain ridiculous and cliched (Lex Luthor). I propose DC make a Supergirl game so they can add in other villains while retaining the Superman feel of it, albeit a girl.

    I think there's a good narrative to be had wih superman. He is after all still just one man. If you present the player with the dilemma of not being able to save everyone and the repurcussions of that, or superman's reluctance to kill (like batman) in the face of villains who cause this kind of suffering.
    *shrug* I think that's where the meat of a superman story is anyway.

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