Whatever Happened to the Plastic Man Film? Here’s 3 of His Best Stories
I don’t particularly believe in comic book film fatigue – I just think studios like Disney just completely stopped trying (and caring) after Avengers: Endgame made $2.8 billion in 2019. There are many reasons why the Marvel brand is shrug-inducing to fans now, but the main reasons are that the company stopped trying, gave up on character development, and ensured that audiences invested in characters. The former DCEU film studios, now DCU under WBD, never knew what they were doing in the first place. That company announced several films that were supposed to go into future production but never happened, like a long-promised Plastic Man film.
At one point the former DCEU announced that there were going to be solo or team films featuring Deathstroke, Cyborg, Nightwing, Batman Beyond, the New Gods, the Wonder Twins, Supergirl, Zatanna, Justice League Dark, and many others, but never kept the promises. Several years ago, the DCEU also announced that Steven Spielberg was going to direct a film based on the BlackHawks, an obscure WWII-based DC comic from the 1940s that was also forgotten.
Comic book film fatigue was caused by the big studios taking fan interest for granted, not caring about film quality, and not keeping their promises. They shouldn’t be shocked at the squandered fan goodwill. And one of the biggest gripes of comic book fans is that they have no idea if the long-promised Plastic Man film will ever happen.
The Plastic Man Film
Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four was actually a ripoff of Plastic Man since Plastic Man was created 20 years earlier. Plastic Man is a Justice League member in the comic books and a fan-favorite character. So, whatever happened to the Plastic Man film?
The former and current management at WBD probably don’t understand the character and have not announced any status updates for the potential film. Still, I will tell you about three of the best Plastic Man comics in this article. I’ll even tell you about some of the earliest Plastic Man comics that you should consider investing in now as a hedge in case a Plastic Man film is announced in the near future.
But first, here is a short primer on the Plastic Man character.
Plastic Man 101
Plastic Man was created way back in 1941. The character made his first appearance in 1941 in Police Comics #1. He didn’t star in his solo series, Plastic Man #1 until 1943.
Patrick O’Brian was a small time criminal who got bathed in chemicals after getting shot and soon thereafter developed stretching powers. O’Brian was healed by a monk and his body essentially became living rubber. Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four comics would be created until 1961.
DC Comics did not technically buy the rights to Plastic Man until 1956 due to ownership and copyright lawsuits with the creator. They also created a variant character called Elongated Man just in case they lost the rights to Plastic Man.
Plastic Man was known for being a light-hearted and comedic take on superhero comics. Like Spider-Man, Plastic Man fought crime but was also known for quipping, cracking jokes, and trying to use levity to defuse tense situations. Unlike Mr. Fantastic, who has the same powers, Plastic Man is not known for his gravitas and serious nature under pressure.
People over the age of 35 may fondly remember The Plastic Man Comedy/ Adventure show from the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was a live-action Saturday Cartoon show that featured an actor dressed as Plastic Man introducing cartoons. More people may remember Plastic Man as a cartoon character than as a comic book character.
This fact may account for the online fan appeal for a potential Plastic Man film. Even though there have been a few attempts to produce a Plastic Man film since the 1990s, the DCEU first publicly announced a Plastic Man film in 2018. The Wachowskis, who directed Keanu Reeves in The Matrix trilogy of films, had been working on a Plastic Man screenplay since 1996 and even hinted that Reeves might star in their film in 2021.
There were even rumors that the Plastic Man film would be featuring a gender-bent female lead in 2020.
However, WBD is acting like a Plastic Man film was never previously announced. Anything can happen in the future, but you should not hold your breath for a Plastic Man film happening anytime soon.
In the meantime, here are three of the best Plastic Man comic book stories to help you learn more about the fan-favorite character.
The Terrifics Vol. 1: Meet the Terrifics (New Age of Heroes)
This series was originally launched in 2018 and was partially designed to help Plastic Man appeal to new readers, even though the character was one of four main characters.
Mr. Terrific is a technological genius who is more comfortable being obsessed with technology and answering scientific mysteries than relating to people. Metamorpho has the power to shift his body into any natural element. Phantom Girl has the power to become intangible and phase through objects. Plastic Man has the power to stretch and elongate his body with rubber-based powers.
The Terrifics band together after being stranded in an alternative universe and use their powers to fight for good. If this sounds like a blatant ripoff of the Fantastic Four, then you are astute – this comic is a blatant ripoff of the Fantastic Four that was designed to reintroduce these characters to new readers. Metamorpho and Mr. Terrific are slated to appear in the upcoming Superman Legacy film in July 2025, which may hint that there may be a Terrifics film in the future featuring Plastic Man and Phantom Girl.
This comic features great chemistry between the characters, adventure, and a great depiction of Plastic Man as the comic relief of the team.
Get the trade paperback featuring the first six issues of The Terrifics for $15.81 at Amazon.
Plastic Man: Rubber Bandits
This series was published in the mid-2000s and while popular was also controversial for its depiction of Plastic Man. Writer and artist Kyle Baker drew Plastic Man in a very loose, mid-20th century Looney Tunes cartoon style and not in the traditional style of current superhero comics. Plastic Man was created intentionally as a light-hearted and comedic character, but Baker went full gonzo with his Plastic Man stories.
Plastic Man deals with issues like adoption, late library books, music piracy, and Homeland Security with a heroic zaniness that you might see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
This series is the modern adaptation of the 1941 Plastic Man comics and is a great representation of how the character was originally meant to be read by fans.
You can get the paperback of this collected series for $23.75 at Amazon.
Published in 2018, this six-issue miniseries was written by fan-favorite Gail Simone to modernize Plastic Man’s origins for a modern audience. If a Plastic Man film is ever made, the origin story could be influenced by this comic.
This comic follows the same beats as the 1941 origin but depicts O’Brian more as a hood down on his luck who does not believe he has any options in life to be legit until he is hurt and finds out his body is made of living rubber.
Simone humanizes the character in this comic, writing him as a person hiding their pain and trauma with quips and one-liners. It allows readers to sympathize with Plastic Man as a character and less as a walking one-liner.
Get it for $14.99 on Amazon.
Invest in The First Comic Book Appearances of Plastic Man
Investing in the first comic book appearances of Plastic Man right now could be a very good bet to make right now. The MCU might be on the ropes right now, but at one time the whole country was obsessed with a talking raccoon and tree.
While Plastic Man is not a household name, that could change in the future, especially if a Terrifics film is ever announced.
Police Comics #1 from 1941 is a very rare comic book and most collectors have not even seen a copy with a CGC grade higher than 4.0. A copy of this comic with a CGC grade of 4.0 is worth $18,000.
However, a copy of Plastic Man #1 from 1943 with a CGC grade of 9.2 is now worth $2,800.
You had no idea who Rocket Raccoon was a decade ago, but the character is the 21st equivalent of Mickey Mouse relative to the zeitgeist. If a Plastic Man film is ever made in the next few decades then this investment will pay off.
Allen Francis is a full-time writer, prolific comic book investor and author of The Casual’s Guide: Why You Should Get Into Comic Book Investing. Allen holds a BA degree from Marymount Manhattan College. Before becoming a writer Allen was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including saving and investing in your own small business.