Paste comics editorial recently confirmed that 2013’s Injustice: Gods Among Us may be its favorite fighting game of all time. Unlike Garrett Martin and the rest of our friends in the games section, we’re too impatient to count frames nor are we hardcore enough to watch tournaments—we just like jumping into the pixel avatars of our favorite funny book characters to unleash holy hell. And in that respect, Injustice’s spectacle truly sings: immersive, interactive stages and super moves that have the likes of Aquaman feeding his foes to a great white shark with a trident. Injustice truly nails the God-like aplomb advertised in its title, let alone explored in its sister comic first written by Tom Taylor. The game still serves as an accessible, dazzling and delightfully bombastic distraction to toss at friends and significant others in the wee hours of the morning.
This is why we took pause when the recently announced sequel, Injustice 2, hinted at new players like…Captain Cold. We get it: the Flash villain has a new second life on the small screen, played by hunky Wentworth Miller in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. This game will no doubt incorporate characters who are recognizable to the largest audience across the largest number of mediums.
On the other hand, a dude in an eskimo parka with a gun that freezes people doesn’t quite seem to take advantage of the sheer range and depth of DC’s publishing history. The second biggest comics publisher has been around for more than 80 years, producing a litany of characters who can expand the grandiosity of the first game, even if the uninitiated may scratch their heads at giant plant man and little guys in bowler hats who bend reality.
Steve and Sean went deep and proposed 20 heroes and villains (and one DLC character) who would blow fandom’s mind if they happen to make it to the final roster. (They’re well aware that they probably won’t.) It’s a completely comic-centric take, taking footnotes from the ‘80s Vertigo imprint and absurdist goofballs like Section Eight, but loyal fans would sing developer NetherRealm’s praises like none other for this degree of devotion.
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As Overwatch players are discovering, a reduced hitbox can be an endlessly frustrating challenge. Torbjörn's turrets are bad enough, let alone trying to aim at a character half as tall as everyone else. Size-changing scientist Ray Palmer—or his successor Ryan Choi, why not—presents a similar opportunity for petite programming. Designers could lift inspiration from the Ant-Man film to craft a fighting style that utilizes targeted size shifts and mass/momentum jazz to make the Atom a smasher one moment and a human bullet the next. Bane and Doomsday already go big—let's go small. Steve Foxe
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Whether Bizzaro is a clone from a Kryptonian general, a Superman analogue from an inverted mirror planet or a Frankenstein's monster cooked up in Lex Luthor's labs, the lovable, confused cousin of Big Blue would be a welcome addition to any fighting roster. Bizarro speaks in an opposite language scheme, where every verb and adjective's meanings are flipped. Love is hate, hug is punch, etc. You know where we're going with this: reverse control scheme. Would this be fun? To some. Would it be hilarious? Absolutely. The villain's hulking, hunched, vulnerable animations would be a delight to witness as well, a fantastic contrast to the arms-crossed, chest out posturing of all the pretty '50s heroes. We no want Bizarro in Injustice 2. Sean Edgar
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Shocking villainess Livewire would be a great choice for Injustice 2, but between Killer Frost and our suggestion of Poison Ivy, the roster is already packed with elemental femme fatales. Enter Jefferson Pierce, one of the first black heroes in comics and a frequent member of the JLA. This former Olympian can pack untold gigavolts into his punches, and his command of electricity would translate well to both ranged and environmental attacks. Imagine interrupting a killer combo with a move that jolts the arena floor and briefly stuns opponents—or stealing a move from Super Smash Bros. and summoning a lighting strike à la everyone's favorite electric mouse, Pikachu. Steve Foxe
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Danny the Street
We dare NetherRealm to get more obscure than this Doom Patrol supporting "character" created by Grant Morrison. A cross-dressing sentient roadway, Danny the Street is capable of teleporting anywhere in the world, and cities just kind of…make room for him. While Danny the Street would make an amusing standard stage, full of gun shops and sporting stores decorated in frilly pink lace, the best fan service opportunity would be allowing a third player to control the stage and muck around with the fighters. Bona to vada, Danny. Steve Foxe
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If DC is going to strip Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' cast of characters from their haloed miniseries into the connective tissue of its larger universe, screw subtlety: put the blue, nude comic god Doctor Manhattan in a videogame. The difficulty here is that Manhattan is, well, omnipotent—catastrophically more powerful than Superman or Darkseid. The dude controls all matter and won Vietnam in a week in his alternate timeline. The former Doctor Jonathan Osterman might work better as a secret boss—a boon to diehard fans ready for masochistic gameplay that doesn't even border on fair. This is a "superhero" who unravels molecules with a thought; every action he'd take is a finishing move. The only way to actually beat Dr. Manhattan would be to plug in your headset and justify the logic for your character's (living) existence. After all, "a live body and a dead body contain the same number of particles." Sean Edgar
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Etrigan the Demon
A poetic demon lying deep in human host Jason Blood, this infernal brawler would be far from a dud (sorry). The most interesting prospect of playing as a demon possession victim would be switching on the fly between a svelte, sword-wielding sorcerer (Blood) and a fire-breathing demon in a blue cape. Though Etrigan's powers seem fairly general and fluid—speed, strength and possible matter manipulation—unleashing some wicked verses via a rhythm minigame would be an undeniable high point. Just avoid his special attack: the iambic pentagram. Sean Edgar
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When fighting game developers want to get really creative, they pull in characters who don't typically brawl or shoot. Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 featured a clue-finding Phoenix Wright, X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 tossed Professor Xavier into the fray and the last Super Smash Bros. even let players assume the role of the taunting hound from Duck Hunt. Injustice 2 could use John Constantine as it own wild card. Think of the possibilities: bet your experience or life force against demon overlords to gain new powers before each match. Or, if things head south, just sacrifice near friends to your opponent for a pyrrhic victory to fulfill the Constantine legacy. As far as fighting styles go, the Hellblazer could be this game's Bo' Rai Cho—give him a bottle of gin and a bar stool and watch him swing, or he could summon some infernal friends to do his dirty work for him. Bonus points for an '80s punk Mucous Membrane costume. Sean Edgar
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Newly announced Injustice 2 brawler Atrocitus brings the ring-bearer count up to three, so why not round up to an even four? Unlike the green, red and yellow rings, Larfleeze's orange affiliation induces great greed in its subject, which has led to the toothy terror slaying anyone who approaches his lantern. In place of traditional ring constructs, Larfleeze commands ghostly versions of his victims, allowing for a play style not unlike the Pokémon Trainer from Super Smash Bros., where several completely different fighters are rolled into one character slot. Larfleeze himself never needs to enter battle—just leave him off to the side, clutching his lantern and maniacally taunting the other player. 100% comic accuracy. Steve Foxe
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Mark Waid and Alex Ross' spoof on gritty '90s excess—pouches, metal limbs, head gear, anything drawn by Rob Liefeld—turned out far more elegant and impressive than their critical designs intended. The Kingdom Come baddie could give Aquaman trouble with his staff, use his teleportation to sneak up on more nimble fighters and even use his infrared vision to pinpoint vulnerabilities in a super move. Or he can just grunt and ram people with his horns before his comically engorged muscles implode. Sean Edgar
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The original Injustice: Gods Among Us had a 100% humanoid roster, with Doomsday coming closest to occupying the otherworldly monster slot filled by characters like the evil centaur Motaro in Mortal Kombat and Shuma-Gorath in the Marvel vs. Capcom games. While Starro could certainly bring his five tentacles to the fray for that diversity, Man-Bat might be a nicer compromise. Scientist Kirk Langstrom serves as the DCU's Dr. Jekyll, injecting a solution that turns him into a feral, batty beast. Visual appeal aside, Man-Bat could use a stunning shriek and enhanced radar to get the drop on any challengers. And if NetherRealm really wants to go into the deep end of the pool, they could always opt for Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's man-bat ninjas from their "Batman and Son" run. Sean Edgar