Why Zatanna Is The Next DC Superhero Who Deserves A Movie

DC Studios is already radically reshaping the DC Universe, with each passing day seeming to yield further news about what's to come. While more plans will soon be revealed from James Gunn and Peter Safran, who are heading up this new division of Warner Bros. Discovery, in the interim, DC's future seems somewhat uncertain. "Wonder Woman 3" is no longer definitely happening, at least not with Patty Jenkins, and Henry Cavill might return, but it won't be as Superman. Gunn and Safran appear to be leaving all vestiges of the Snyderverse behind (though that doesn't mean the remaining unreleased films should be ignored).

As a longtime fan of Gunn's work who has never been particularly fond of Snyder's reimagining of DC's heroes, I'm pretty excited to see what's coming down the line. We already know there's a new Man of Steel on the way, and while I'm sure we'll be getting more reboots as well, it's still worth delving into DC's back issues for other, lesser-known characters to adapt. I've already written about why Animal Man, the Authority, and the Spectre would make for great films, but there are plenty of other DC heroes and villains who deserve the live action treatment as well. Next up, one of my favorites who doesn't get nearly enough love: Zatanna!

There were live action plans for Zatanna, but like most of what we thought was happening with DC, they have since been scrapped, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Apparently, the project is still being shopped to other networks, and while I hope it finds a home, that seems about as likely as us getting the Guillermo del Toro-directed Justice League Dark movie we deserve. So, let's celebrate Zatanna and why DC's resident magician deserves a film of her very own.

Who is Zatanna?

Zatanna Zatara was created by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson. She debuted in 1964 in "Hawkman" #4. The daughter of Golden Age magician Giovanni "John" Zatara, Zatanna's initial appearance marked DC's first line-wide crossover event during a time when comic book stories were quite self-contained. Titled "Zatanna's Search," the story saw the magician searching for her missing father and enlisting the aid of Hawkman, with the story continuing to run through "The Atom," "Green Lantern," and "Detective Comics," before wrapping up in "Justice League of America."

Like her dad, Zatanna could make pretty much anything happen by speaking the words backwards. For example, if she said "og ot peels," whomever she aimed the incantation at would simply fall asleep. She eventually joined the Justice League and, like her father before her, acted as a stage magician as well by using her real abilities, unbeknownst to the audience. Zatanna's mother was later revealed to be Sindella, who is Homo Magi (a subspecies of humans with innate magical abilities). She also has some pretty impressive ancestors on her father's side, including Leonardo da Vinci, Nostradamus, and Nicolas Flamel. Zatanna — or Zee, as her friends call her — may have started out as a backwards-speaking babe in fishnets, but over time she evolved into one of the most powerful heroes in the entire DC Universe.

Superheroes, they're just like us!

One of the things I love most about Zatanna is how messy she can be. Despite her tremendous powers, she struggles to find the same stability and love that we all hope for. Unlike many of DC's heroes, Zee hasn't settled down and she's still trying to get her bearings. However, she's also not completely stunted like a certain Caped Crusader either. Zatanna wants to be happy. She's even worked through some of her issues in therapy, which it seems like all superheroes should be doing — though to be honest, I'm of the opinion that everyone could benefit from seeing someone!

Zatanna is incredibly powerful, but that doesn't mean she can simply say "dnif eurt evol" and make the companionship she hopes for just appear. (She kind of tried that, and the results were disastrous.) Zee's life can get pretty complicated and she can't magically fix it even though she'd like to.

Don't get me wrong, Zatanna has certain aspects of her life together. She's got her career, an exciting social life that includes an on-again-off-again romance with John Constantine, and an unfathomable amount of power. That said, it's quite refreshing to read about a hero who's still finding themselves as an adult. Zatanna didn't just make mistakes in her youth; she's still making them. Many of us don't figure out life until we've already lived a significant portion of it. Listen, I'm a huge Wonder Woman fan, but Diana isn't exactly relatable. Not everyone can be a paragon of goodness.

Room to grow

There aren't a ton of truly memorable Zatanna stories, so a movie about the magician could go pretty much anywhere. My favorite tales centering on her are definitely collected in the run from Paul Dini and Stéphane Roux. I will always adore Dini for co-creating Harley Quinn and I'm just a big fan of his stuff in general. Much of the way I think of Zatanna's personality was shaped by the amazing work he and Roux did. Dini explained in his intro to the collected volume that he's pretty much in love with the character — he even married real-life magician Misty Lee! It's a recent run and pretty short-lived (it was a casualty of DC's New 52), published from 2010-2011, but Dini's love for the character shone through in every word. He even gave Zatanna a delightful supporting cast that includes her cousin Zachary (originally created for "Teen Titans"), life-saving prop maker Mikey Dowling, and her inter-dimensional therapist Jana Bodie. I would honestly read a series about her alone.

Another excellent Zatanna story is the one from Grant Morrison and Ryan Sook for Morrison's "Seven Soldiers," though it requires reading the other characters' tales as well to be fully appreciated. Zatanna does play a pivotal role in "Identity Crisis," though as much as I enjoyed that comic, she is little more than a plot device in the story. However, the ramifications of that book were felt for quite some time (you don't just mind wipe Batman and get away with it). Zatanna's further adventures can be explored in some pretty awesome "Justice League Dark" comics as well — which reminds me, those guys also need a movie.

Why Zatanna deserves a movie

First of all, Zatanna stories are a blast! DC has yet to really explore its mystical side and the Mistress of Magic could be an excellent opportunity to do so. Also, Zee's power set is just so cool. Imagine seeing a character whose abilities are limited only by their imagination. Okay, I know that's Green Lantern's thing too, and he didn't work out so well in live-action, but this would be different. Fantastic magic shows, backwards speak, complicated love life — not saying I want a Zatanna rom-com, but seeing Jen Walters' dating drama play out on "She-Hulk" was one of many enjoyable aspects of that series.

The DC heroes we've had on the big screen are way less relatable and if there's one thing I think James Gunn can bring back to DC movies, it's some much-needed levity. "The Suicide Squad" had all the heart and humor I've come to expect from the director and I thought it was one of DC's best. I also really loved both "Wonder Woman" and "Birds of Prey." In fact, DC could use some more female-centric superhero movies. Also, there's no way to make a dark, gritty Zatanna movie, and honestly, that rules.

Plus, Zatanna's personality is markedly different from the other superheroes introduced into the DCU thus far. Even if we are headed for a full reboot, it would be really fun to see Zee interact with the other DC heroes. In the comics, her relationships with her fellow fighters can get pretty complicated and I'd love to see some of those dynamics play out on the big screen. Only time will tell when we'll get a Zatanna movie, but hopefully, it'll be sooner rather than later!