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Typically superhero movies are set in the present, but once in a while this genre delivers stories set in other periods to bring something different to the proverbial table. Captain America: The First Avenger followed Steve Rogers' activities during World War II, the "First Class" X-Men movies chronicled the slow formation of the X-Men team we know and love from the 1960s to the 1980s and Wonder Woman will show Diana of Themyscira traveling to man's world to the first time during World War I.
Given the current plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe, most of the movies in either franchise will understandably remain set in the present day. However, we've looked around and found nine potential Marvel and DC movies that would benefit from being set in a different time period, whether it's far back in the past or way ahead into the future.
Legion Of Super-Heroes - The 31st Century
Let's start with a property where there's no room for negotiation regarding its primary time period. The Legion of Super-Heroes are active approximately 1,000 years in the future, and the teenagers who make up the team are living up to the legacy left behind by the present-day DC heroes. It should be noted that the Legion does have time travel technology, so they can travel to the past or future if it's required for a high stakes mission. But for a Legion of Super-Heroes movie, keep the story set in the year 3,000 whenever. Give audiences that futuristic flavor, and if a sequel is greenlit, then Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad, Brainiac 5 and the rest of the gang can visit a different period.
Justice Society Of America - 1940s
Decades before the Justice League was founded, the Justice Society was keeping the United States safe during World War II and the late 1940s. The team has since been re-formed in the present day (with some of its original members still kicking thanks to slowed aging), and the New 52's Earth 2 series followed a re-imagined JSA in a parallel universe. For the sake of a movie, though, the Justice Society of America should fight crime in the 1940s, a.k.a. the Golden Age. Granted, there would need to be some alterations to the membership (i.e. leave the Jay Garrick Flash and Alan Scott Green Lantern out), but it would be much more interesting to see these older heroes making a difference in the mid-20th century rather than at the same time when the Justice League is running around.
Batman Beyond - Several Decades From Now
Like the Legion of Super-Heroes, Batman Beyond is a property that needs to be set in the future. If the DCEU wasn't already established, it technically would be possible to have Terry McGinnis take over as Batman in the present after Bruce Wayne wore the cape and cowl decades back. But not only is Ben Affleck's Caped Crusader firmly established, part of Batman Beyond's charm is seeing how Gotham City has both changed in the future (neon-colored buildings, no more cash) and stayed the same (colorful criminals running about). The original animated series, which debuted in 1999, was set in 2039, 20 years after Bruce Wayne retired as Batman. So whenever a Batman Beyond movie gets off the ground, be it next decade or even further out, have Batman Beyond set 40-50 years after that.
Namor The Sub-Mariner - World War II
Although Marvel owns the film rights to Namor the Submariner, a movie centered around the aquatic anti-hero hasn't surfaced yet, and the closest hint we've been given to his potential existence in the MCU is on that map in Iron Man 2 which has a spot marked in the Atlantic Ocean that looks like where Atlantis could be. There are rumors about a Namor project being developed, should Marvel go the movie route, the studio should take a cue from Captain America: The First Avenger and have Namor fighting during World War II. Like Captain America, Namor battled the Axis in the 1940s, so let's see why the royal from Atlantis decided to join this massive conflict in the MCU. And since he doesn't age like humans, it would be simple to bring him into the present day MCU looking exactly the same.
Black Adam - Ancient Times
In addition to battling Shazam in the DCEU, Black Adam will star in his own spinoff at some point. It hasn't been officially announced when the Black Adam movie will be set, but given Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's enthusiasm for the anti-hero's past, the wise move would be to have it be a prequel. Show audiences Teth-Adam's enslavement when he was living in ancient Kahndaq, how he received his powers from the Wizard Shazam, how he subsequently used those powers to strike back at his oppressor and what led to his imprisonment. Whether this Black Adam movie comes before or after his present day debut, going back to ancient times is an excellent way for moviegoers to gain a better understanding of this character.
Gambit - 1980s or 1990s
Gambit last appeared on the big screen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and despite numerous setbacks, 20th Century Fox is still keen on giving the Ragin' Cajun his own movie. The X-Men series could take a cue from Deadpool by throwing Gambit into the modern era and ignore continuity (something this franchise is notorious for). However, Gambit should instead follow in the "First Class" trilogy's footsteps and be set somewhere in the 1980s or 1990s, keeping him more self-contained from the other X-Men projects. The Gambit movie doesn't need to reference what happened in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but at least fans would have the option of assuming that Channing Tatum's Gambit is on an adventure long after hanging out with Wolverine.
Martian Manhunter - 1950s
Anyone who's read the comics or watched the Supergirl TV series knows that J'onn J'onzz, a.k.a. the Martian Manhunter, lived on Mars for centuries (sometimes millennia, depending on the continuity) before he was transported to Earth. If the DCEU ever decides to make a Martian Manhunter movie, his longevity makes it possible to insert him into practically any time period on Earth. That being said, because Martian Manhunter was introduced in the 1950s, why not bring him to Earth in this decade on the big screen, too. Not only would this give J'onn decades to become acquainted with humanity before joining the Justice League, but a '50s-set Martian Manhunter movie would be an excellent opportunity to craft a story that's an homage to the sci-fi flicks from that era.
Fantastic Four - 1960s
20th Century Fox has released three Fantastic Four movies, and all of them have been critical bombs, with the 2015 reboot also bombing financially at the box office. It's clear that if/when another Fantastic Four movie is greenlit, be it at Fox or as a co-production with Marvel Studios, it will have to be something incredibly unique to distinguish itself from its predecessors. The best way to accomplish that is by harkening back to the Fantastic Four's roots and setting this movie in the 1960s. The Fantastic Four's heyday was in the early years when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the creative talent, so take their next cinematic adventure to that period, mix in the crazy sci-fi that was rampant in those stories and sprinkle in some action flair rampant from those years.
New Gods - Eons Ago
Justice League is delving into the new Gods mythology through Steppenwolf, Parademons, the Mother Boxes and potentially Darkseid. No doubt more New Gods elements will be thrown into future DCEU movies, but if the day comes that Warner Bros decides to fully delve into the craziness that Jack Kirby created in the 1970s, that New Gods movies should be set long ago, millennia before anything remotely connected to the main DCEU events. We can learn how the origins of the conflict between New Genesis and Apokolips, and also shed light on how these beings play into the overall DCEU cosmic universe. It's a prequel that can both stand on its own and seed deeper ties to the other franchise entries.
Which Of These Period Superhero Movies Would You Like To See?