For what feels like the millionth time, a new official slate of projects exists for the DC Universe. Created by DC Studios co-chair and co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran (along with a slew of veteran writers), the DCU will introduce a new Superman and Batman to the world, among other, relatively lesser-known characters. One of which is "Swamp Thing," a film that revolves around a longtime DC Comics hero that has not received the big-screen treatment since the late '80s. The upcoming monster flick, which has "Logan" and "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" helmer James Mangold in talks to direct, see the DCU lean into straight-up horror for the first time, submerging "Swamp Thing" into a genre aptly fit for the supernatural character.
In a slate of refreshingly weird DCU projects, "Swamp Thing" may just be the most exciting addition. Although we've gotten live-action adaptations before, there is a chance to lean into his horror roots on a much larger scale. However, there is one thing that the upcoming movie should borrow from its predecessors. In 2019, the short-lived DC Universe streaming service debuted "Swamp Thing," an original series starring the titular monster. The big-budget production ultimately collapsed on itself, but it gave audiences the most faithful live-action depiction of the monster yet. A practical suit was used to bring Swamp Thing to life, and it was gorgeous.
Keep It Practical
In DC Universe's "Swamp Thing," the titular character was made up of entirely practical prosthetic makeup and costuming, as worn by horror favorite Derek Mears. And the show did not hide him, either. It looked magnificent and believable in the daylight and glistened under the moonlight. Mears' imposing figure brought Swamp Thing to live-action in faithful fashion, while every intricate detail of the practical suit remained in focus. Even when the character was opened up for an autopsy, real props and prosthetics were used to fill out his green insides.
Outside the fact that it looked realistic, a practical version of Swamp Thing allowed the creature to not feel out of place when interacting with other characters — especially with his love interest, Abigail Arcane (Crystal Reed). Swamp Thing had to have a palpable chemistry with her, one that carried over before and after becoming a part of the Green. There were bits of CGI used to enhance his super-powered abilities, but the suit itself remained a practical affair. And this was not the only time Swamp Thing was a real-life effect, either. The upcoming "Swamp Thing" film can learn another kind of lesson from its predecessors.
A Lesson Learned
In 1982, horror maestro Wes Craven tried his hand at adapting the "Swamp Thing" comics in a straight-to-video film adaptation. It has fans who grew up watching it at a young age, but the result is very rocky by today's standards. The low-budget project has not aged well production-wise, especially when it comes to the practical suit worn by Dick Durock. It's super obvious, from start to finish, that Swamp Thing is just some guy wearing fake moss and plastic roots. The entire ordeal makes his romance with Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau) hard to believe, despite the actors doing their darnedest to convince us. If the DCU wants to bring back the practical suit, they have to make sure "Swamp Thing" gets it right to reap the benefits.
Meanwhile, the Swamp Thing featured in the '90s live-action television series was a major improvement suit-wise, while still keeping things practical. The evolution of the design between projects was always going in an upwards motion, eventually landing at the most recent version. If it ain't broke, don't fix it — just improve it. Although CGI has gone a long way, it's hard to live up to the slimy and surreal feeling of Swamp Thing moving through a real environment.
The short-lived DC Universe series from 2019 remains the best example of a practical Swamp Thing, but the previous iterations were instrumental to its evolution. Craven's "Swamp Thing" is too corny in this day and age, but the '90s series improved upon it in significant ways. It's about time that Swamp Thing made its way into theaters; let's just hope that it keeps the decades-long tradition of a practical lead character.
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The post A Lesson the New DC Universe's Swamp Thing Movie Can Learn From the TV Show (And Wes Craven) appeared first on /Film.