One of the truly excellent things about superhero movies right now is their willingness to expand outside of their own genre. Marvel does this regularly with movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier (political thriller) and Ant-Man (heist picture). Fox takes it even further with westerns like Logan and the upcoming New Mutants, which looks like a straight-up horror film. A horror superhero film sounds awesome, and if there's any universe more equipped to deliver bonkers horror movies, it's DC. There are tons of characters from the DC universe who could headline a horror, but perhaps none of them could do as well as Deadman.
For those who may not know, Deadman -- in keeping with the tradition of extremely literal superhero names -- is a dead man. A spirit to be precise. In his mortal life, Deadman was known as Boston Brand, a selfish circus acrobat who was murdered by an assassin. Rather than passing on, his spirit was placed between life and death by the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna in order to atone for his sins and seek justice for his own murder. As a spirit, no living person can see or hear him (though there are exceptions) and the only way he can communicate is by possessing a living human body.
Deadman isn't a particularly well-known character in mainstream audiences, but he has more than enough material to support his own feature film -- especially if that film is a horror. While he does also handle more mortal crimes, such as tracking down criminals and murderers, Deadman has had more than a few run-ins with other spirits who aren't quite as helpful as he is. Picture a horror movie in which a ghost is the hero and has to battle other ghosts to protect the innocent. This is especially enticing once you realize that ghosts make for some of the best bad guys in the horror genre.
Supernatural hauntings are some of the most popular and successful films in the horror genre. Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, and The Sixth Sense are just a few examples of movies that used ghosts to great effect to get scares. If it's not a serial killer, vampire, or werewolf than chances are it's a ghost that's causing trouble. Ghosts are incredibly versatile bad guys, able to take any form that's required to deliver the best scares. So, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of DC's No.1 ghost character and place him into one of the most successful types of movies.
There are a lot of different roads that you can go with a Deadman movie, but one recent story is a good starting off point. It's called Dead Man: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love, a three-issue gothic horror romance mini-series by Sarah Vaughn and Lan Medina. The story finds Deadman trapped in a gothic mansion while trying to solve a mystery involving a troubled 100-year-old spirit and a dark malevolent force. Deadman shares the POV with a mortal woman who can see and speak to ghosts, giving Deadman an ally and an anchor for the reader. It's a very interesting book that should give a nice example of what a Deadman movie could be like. Think along the lines of Crimson Peak but with less Tom Hiddleston (presumably).
Warner Bros. has a few different avenues they could travel if they wanted to make a Deadman movie. Justice League Dark, which teams up the supernatural characters of DC, has been in development for years now. It should be noted that this film is also supposed to feature Deadman, so a Deadman movie could serve as a spinoff from Justice League Dark. The other option is that Warner Bros. and DC Films are working on a separate banner of films not tied to the DCEU continuity. If you wanted to make an absolutely bonkers no-strings-attached horror movie, that would be the way to do it!
While the world of Deadman offers a lot of possibilities, it's Deadman himself that serves as a big selling point. Boston Brand did not appreciate life until he was dead, and is now forced to always be looking in from the outside. He's not really a part of the living or the dead, but it's his desire to help others and find redemption that makes him such a compelling character. Plus, he has teamed up with Batman a bunch to help solve murders, so he's got that going for him too.
With the right director behind the wheel (James Wan would make for a cool choice), a Deadman movie could be something special. It's got an interesting lead character living in a unique world while bringing a twist to the classic ghost haunting stories. Come on Warner Bros: let's fast track that for next Halloween, please!