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Bright or Bleak: Ranking the DC Universe's Possible Futures

Bright or Bleak: Ranking the DC Universe's Possible...

By Alex Jaffe Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Either you die a hero or live long enough to see the future warp into a dystopic totalitarian nightmare.

In the wake of Dark Nights: Death Metal, an infinite horizon stretches ahead of us for the DC multiverse, providing boundless possibilities for an endless configuration of futures to come. Such is the premise of DC Future State. Each of these ambitious titles provides a small window into the promise that DC’s future holds, allowing stories to be told the likes of which we could never have seen before. But just because we can see the future, does that mean we’d want to live there?

After nearly two months of Future State, we can say…yeah, probably not. Some of these futures are right bleak!

So, which are the futures that prospective time travelers should do their best to avoid? Wonder no more! We’re here with our state-of-the-art, patent-pending Bleak-O-MeterTM to determine just how dark each of the futures presented in Future State are, ensuring that you too can be prepared for your next sojourn into tomorrow. Let us review these periods chronologically, stepping further into the Future State as we go...


2025

Titles
Future State: Batman/Superman
Future State: The Next Batman
Future State: Catwoman
Future State: Harley Quinn
Future State: Robin Eternal
Future State: Nightwing

The busiest period in the Future State timeline happens to be the soonest, and also one of the bleakest—at least as far as citizens of Gotham City are concerned. With Batman missing and presumed dead, and the tyrannical Magistrate having enforced a totalitarian regime, the Gothamites of tomorrow are forced to live under fascist rule or suffer the consequences. Superhero and super-villain alike struggle for survival under the Magistrate’s omniscient eye. Is there any hope in this fallen city for the return of their Dark Knight? Well, if history has taught us anything, it’s that you should never count Batman out…but in the meantime, the Magistrate’s Gotham City is one place you wouldn’t want to live.

BLEAK-O-METER: 7


2027

Titles
Future State: Dark Detective
Future State: The Flash
Future State: Teen Titans

Two years after the Future State staging ground is when Batman returns to take his stand against the Magistrate…but things are about to take a turn for the worse before they get better. While Batman fights for the city’s soul, one of our greatest heroes has fallen to their lowest depths: Wally West, the greatest Flash of them all, is possessed and driven by an ancient Speed Force entity to massacre his friends, family and allies amongst the Speedsters and the Teen Titans, with the scant survivors forced to take down this loved one who has always tried so hard to do the right thing. 2025 may be bleak on a municipal level, but 2027 really stings on a personal one.

BLEAK-O-METER: 9


2029

Title
Future State: Shazam!

Eight years into the future, Midwestern America is a blighted wasteland. And while a new Justice League attempts to salvage a battered nation, Shazam and Billy Batson have been separated into two entities by the demon lord Neron. Without Billy to guide his heart, the new Shazam’s methods of keeping the peace have become a bit extreme, much to the suspicion of his fellow Justice Leaguers. With suspicions high and the impending promise of Hell on Earth, prospects are not looking too bright for this ersatz League, much less for the rudderless Shazam.

BLEAK-O-METER: 8


2030

Titles
Future State: Aquaman
Future State: Suicide Squad
Future State: Superman of Metropolis
Future State: Superman: Worlds of War

Five years after Gotham’s darkest hour, Future State turns its attention to the Superman family…and with Clark Kent on War World, Conner Kent on the Suicide Squad and Jonathan Kent—the Future State Superman—having gone to controversially extreme lengths to protect Metropolis on his own, the state of the House of El could be a little brighter. Still, as far as hairy situations go for Superman and his boys, we never lose hope that these scions of Krypton will rise to the occasion. After all, are these not the Men of Tomorrow?

BLEAK-O-METER: 5


2035

Title
Future State: Green Lantern

Far away from the world we know in space as well as time, the light of the Green Lantern Corps has gone dark. Faced with this new reality, Corps heroes Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Jessica Cruz and many more all cope with their new reality with the boundless courage and aplomb which got them the job in the first place. Learning to live without Green Lantern’s Light will be a challenge, but Hal and pals will all attest that true willpower comes from within.

BLEAK-O-METER: 4


2040

Title
Future State: Justice League

The heroes of the new Justice League of 2040 all come from a place of wariness and mistrust, but Jess Quick, Yara Flor, Jon Kent, Jo Mullein, Tim Fox and Andy Curry are all determined to build a future of their own. And while it’s certainly one that’s not without obstacles, these heroes have all spent their futures preparing for a new golden age of heroism. I’m checking the readings, and I think these crazy kids just might have what it takes to pull it off.

BLEAK-O-METER: 2


2050-2070

Titles
Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman
Future State: Wonder Woman
Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex
Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman

Thirty years in the future, we find a moment in time of balance, if not of peace. Young heroes of today such as Supergirl and Wonder Girl are embracing their adulthood, and even Lex Luthor seems to be moving in a more positive direction as governor of the planet Lexor (or is he…?). The Future State of 2050 is a time of growth, surprises and infinite possibilities, and a can’t-miss destination for some light-hearted heroism.

BLEAK-O-METER: 0


31st Century

Title
Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes

It’s the latest chapter in Brian Michael Bendis’s ongoing reimagining of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and the future’s greatest Super Friends have been torn asunder. But hey, that just means we get to have a “getting the band back together” special! Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes represents an obstacle for the young heroes of a thousand years to come, but it’s no less surmountable than all the challenges they’ve faced before.

BLEAK-O-METER: 5


46th Century

Title
Future State: Swamp Thing

We’re three and half millennia into the future now, and humanity appears to be down for the count. Herded into communities so small and so sparse that many believe they don’t exist at all, the world has been reclaimed by the Green—or, at least, one particular Avatar of the Green. In this silent, contemplative midnight of the Earth, the Swamp Thing reigns supreme and has made the most of his solitude. Soon, this ancient being must weigh the world he has so carefully cultivated against the needs of those struggling for a new tomorrow. But even when the world is at its bleakest, it’s Swamp Thing’s heart which provides us with hope. Future State: Swamp Thing is a beautiful visual poem of a story which sets a high bar for the Swamp Thing series to come from creators Ram V and Mike Perkins.

BLEAK-O-METER: 3


The End of Time

Title
Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and you know what’s funny? I actually do feel fine. Billions of years in the future, humanity has run its course, and the immortal Amazons of Themyscira have inherited the Earth, enjoying the eons of fulfilment and prosperity denied to them under the dominion of Man. With the world’s end approaching, only Wonder Woman stands between the greatest enemy of life and reality’s final death. Though even if she fails to stop the inevitable end of the universe, looking around, it seems like we had a pretty good run. Everything has to end sometime, right? And if it really has to, then you might as well do it with the staggeringly gorgeous linework and colors of Jen Bartel. The apocalypse has never looked so good.

BLEAK-O-METER: 1
 

With our survey complete, it seems as if whether you like your futures black as night or alive with color, DC’s Future State has something for fans of every stripe. And as a bellwether for the tones we can expect from Infinite Frontier in March and beyond, it seems we’ve got room for anything and everything in our own future that lies ahead.
 

So, which DC Future State timeframe would you be most excited to live in? Which one would make you want to stay home and eat a bunch of ice cream? Head on over to the DC Community and let us know!

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCItyQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.