There are HUNDREDS of characters in the DC Universe, yet most people tend to focus only on the big names, aka the characters who get to have movies on the big screen or shows on TV.
As much as I love Superman, there are so many under-appreciated characters in the DC Universe. So, to remedy that, I'll give you my Pop 5 under-appreciated characters in DC! (Also, possible spoilers ahead in my reasons why these characters are so awesome.)
5. Billy Batson / Shazam / Captain Marvel
Billy Batson is a street orphan kid who gets the wisdom of Solomon, strength of Hercules, stamina of Atlas, power of Zeus, courage of Achilles and speed of Mercury by saying, with purpose, the word "SHAZAM!"
Unlike most of his fellow heroes, he's genuinely just a mortal kid who gets his magical powers (and adult-sized form) from the ancient wizard Shazam. The wizard was impressed with Billy's ability to deal with the hardships he had already suffered in his life and deemed him worthy of the six powers that allow him to protect mankind.
Billy is easily one of my favorites because he's truly just a kid that has had an incredibly difficult life. Not every orphan can become the world's greatest detective. It sometimes feel like, when life feels that impossible, you need that magic to help you save the world in ways only you can. Billy perfectly embodies this struggle, but he also brings that child-like perspective to the world of heroes that we don't really see often.
Watch Young Justice to see young Billy deal with the fact that he's simultaneously a kid and adult in a world full of heroes and strange bad guys. His life is pretty tough, and one great read to help emphasize that is Superman/Shazam: First Thunder. I won't go too far into detail, but, when Superman finds out that Billy is a kid, there's an incredible panel where you see the Man of Steel go and try to find the wizard to either verbally or physically rip the wizard a new one. (It's even better when you remember that this was just pure human reaction and overprotective Clark-mode because Superman is weak to magic.)
Definitely read that particular comic book mini-series because this awesome character is expected to have his own movie in 2019!
Contrary to a good number of superhero backstories, not all heroes have dead parents. This doesn't mean that Raven has a happy family though - her father just so happens to be Trigon, a super evil inter-dimensional demon who wants to rule the world.
As the daughter of Trigon, Raven has some natural demonic/dark powers which are triggered by strong emotions. She has trained herself to control her emotions and is gifted with a variety of powerful abilities. Raven has control over magic and telekinesis, but she's also able to manipulate energy, emotion and shadows.
Now I'm probably biased as a kid who grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, but Raven is definitely one of my favorite characters of all time. It's not because of the dark, moody vibe she's rocking most of the time. Raven is my favorite because she is an example of a whole different kind of strength. The only reason she tends to delve into her dark powers is to protect her true family -- the Teen Titans. Her team is her family, and there is just something amazing in that.
If you want to see Raven in action, definitely check out the original Teen Titans television show. An ABSOLUTE MUST in watching is Justice League vs. Teen Titans. This animated movie shows Raven's backstory and is just absolutely incredible to watch the older heroes square up against the next generation of upcoming heroes.
3. Alfred Pennyworth
Not a superhero but there's a 100% chance that our lives would be better if we had our own Alfred in our life. And no, I don't just mean because having a butler would be cool.
Alfred is the iconic English butler who takes care of Bruce Wayne. No matter which incarnation you are observing -- through the movies, the animated series, the comics -- there is no doubt that, without Alfred, there is no Batman.
Alfred has had so many different backstories that I'm honestly not sure how the butler truly ended up as the caretaker for a young Bruce Wayne. (Yes, Bruce is technically an orphan because of the tragic backstory everyone knows, but he had Alfred his entire life, and he was the epitome of a father figure to the billionaire detective.)
The iconic butler is one of my favorite characters because he's so frequently overlooked for his contributions to Batman and the Bat Family. While Bruce is the one knocking the teeth out of bad guys, Alfred is the one who helps from the Bat Cave and makes sure that the Dark Knight is able to survive.
While my immediate instinct says to watch Batman: The Animated Series to watch one of my favorite versions of the character, I know exactly which moment sold me to the character. If you haven't read (or played) Injustice: Gods Among Us, it's a must read. With the loss of my second favorite character, Superman becomes a dictator over the entire world. Needless to say, Batman and Superman cannot see eye to eye on this new regime, and the heroes are divided.
I only finished year one of the comic. There are a lot of tragic character losses throughout the series, and it's still ongoing. But there is a moment where Superman has beat the crap out of Batman, and who saves the day but our favorite butler! It's one of my favorite panels because it just shows how strong Alfred's loyalty and care goes for Bruce.
2. Lois Lane
The loss of Lois Lane in Injustice: Gods Among Us still has me bitter, and it's been two years since I've read it. It also doesn't help that the few comics I've read in the New 52 lack a certain journalist I love.
Lois Lane is so much more than the damsel in distress that so many people believe that she is. She is a HIGHLY respected journalist with an incredible drive to find the important stories that usually end up with her being WAY too close to the bad guys. I firmly believe this about Lois: she can survive perfectly fine without Clark, while Clark isn't half the superhero he can be without her.
While, yes, she'd be stuck in the clutches of the bad guys or precariously near life-threatening life events, Lois Lane is made of the stuff good journalists can only dream of. She's been working at the Daily Planet since she was a teenager, and her toughness probably comes from the fact that she's an army brat. She goes on the tough stories mostly on her own, which isn't exactly the safest option when you're possibly reporting on war and big controversial topics.
I've just finished collecting most of the comics in the Lois and Clark series, but I think my two favorite versions of the award-winning reporter are Smallville and definitely Amy Adams' portrayal in the current cinematic universe. Adams does the character justice in my eyes with her ability to portray the balance between journalistic drive and her concern for people, especially Clark. Definitely watch the director's extended cut of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice because it properly shows Lois being the brilliant journalist she is.
1. Thaal Sinestro
Thaal Sinestro was one of the best Green Lanterns in the DC Universe, then things happened that led him to disagree with the leaders of the Guardians of the Universe and the corp he belonged to. Eventually he was kicked out and sought to bring order to the universe, except under the power of the yellow lantern ring - fear.
There is so much to this character that adds to his complexity, but he is utterly fascinating for the fact that he's one of those types of characters who doesn't see that he's doing anything wrong. Sinestro loves control, and he uses one of the emotions that can bring the strongest person to their knees. The use and control of fear is amazing because, as someone who spent a lot of their life afraid, it's encouraging to believe we can control our fear (just, you know, not using it to control the universe).
It wasn't his control over the ring that convinced me to start reading more into his character. Injustice: Gods Among Us is guilty, yet again, in helping me appreciate characters more. I don't remember exactly where or when Sinestro shows up, but he made one hell of an entrance in my mind that left me thinking 'I need to know more.'
I want Sinestro to make an appearance in the future Green Lantern Corps movie since the last version didn't do anyone in the Green Lantern universe justice. But, until then, definitely read the ENTIRE Sinestro series that ran from 2014 to 2016. There are 23 issues, and you get to see what kind of leader Sinestro is. Some other notable characters make an appearance toward the end, and you even get to see him deal with the fact that his daughter is a Green Lantern.
If you're a little tight on cash and just want a taste of what kind of Lantern Sinestro is, there is the New 52 One Shot called Future's End with Sinestro. I refuse to spoil it, but it was the comic I picked up immediately after I read about him in Injustice. It was so good, I hated reaching the end because there NEEDED to be more.
So, what do you think? What DC characters do you love in the DC Universe but hardly hear about? Let us know!