It’s A Bird…It’s A Plane…It’s Superman was a musical that stormed Broadway in 1966, netting three Tony Award nominations and heaps of critical praise. Unfortunately, the production crashed after three and a half months, setting an unfortunate precedent for musicals based on comics to suffer cruel, cruel fates. Oh, what could have been, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.
But there’s always hope; the bombastic personalities and bright costumes of the superhero genre convert beautifully to the stage. And with the success of Green Day’s American Idiot and Hamilton’s hip-bravado generating buzz outside the theateratti, musicals have embraced styles and compositions built far above the foundation of Lloyd Webber, Sondheim and Gershwin (to name a few). So we’ve concocted our own alternative fantasy league devoted to casting rock operas based on superhero films. We’re not going small either.
If The Who, Tina Turner, Eric Clapton, Elton John and, um, Jack Nicholson could bring Tommy to life, we’re proposing an A-list roster for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And if our proposed production actually existed, we’re positive it’d net higher than a 2.6.
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Sufjan Stevens as Clark Kent/Superman
Writing a song called "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" certainly helps nail this spot, as does putting the Last Son of Krypton on your album cover…even if legal clearance wasn't taken with DC, and you replace him with Marvel's analogue strongman, Blue Marvel. But Sufjan Stevens harbors the same intense, patriotic optimism as Clark Kent, even sharing his career trajectory. Stevens worked on a rural farm before moving to the big Metropolis of New York City. Through his albums, he's celebrated the resilience and goodness of the common man, whether through his 50 2-state project or his magnificent alternative holiday albums. Stevens even tailors his own costumes. And if he ever needed to team up against evil clowns, the man took on John Wayne Gacy, Jr. on his Illinoise album. Sean Edgar
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Henry Rollins as Bruce Wayne/Batman
The teaser footage for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice showed us a Batman less out of the 90's animated series and more out of the works of the legendary Frank Miller. The Dark Knight Returns (and, it seems, BvS: DoJ) feature a Batman who is armored, angry, big and mean—the perfect role for hardcore's fiercest fighter for real-world justice, Henry Rollins. Even his spoken-word work is perfect reimagined as Miller-esque poetic rage rants, and he's earned his acting chops in dozens of movies and TV's Sons of Anarchy. One of rock's true heroes, with a lust for justice as big around as his massive biceps. Tini Howard
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Marina Diamandis as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman
Marina Lambrini Diamandis is a half-Greek, half-Welsh ass-kicker who can command a room with her presence. Add a tiara, and the resemblances to a half-Greek, half-Olympian demigod is only deterred by a sliver of divinity. Diamandis, whose musical outfit is better known as Marina and The Diamonds, isn't afraid to throw a musical punch. Debut album The Family Jewels smacked down "journos in heat" (gulp) on "Girls" and parasitic poseurs on "Hollywood." But her recent ode to empowerment, "Can't Pin Me Down," may offer the most insight into this pop-star superheroine: "You can't call my bluff/Time to back off, motherfucker." Give Diamandis a sword and shield and Doomsday won't stand a chance. Sean Edgar
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Mike Love as Lex Luthor
Would Mike Love play Lex Luthor or would Lex Luthor play Mike Love?
Vice laid out a history of aggression from the founding Beach Boy beautifully, but what you need to know is this: Mike Love is a machine of legal manipulation and posturing to benefit at the expense of his former bandmates, his former fans and our ears. He's sued chief songwriter Brian Wilson on multiple occasions, and even kicked him, David Marks and Al Jardine out of the band in 2012. Love also threw cash at Tipper Gore's music censorship campaign.
We can almost relate to Luthor's misplaced brilliance and secular humanism more than we can to this carnivorous self-importance. The only hesitation we have in casting Love in a musical role is that he hasn't sounded remotely good since he surrounded himself with his former bandmates. Don't believe us? We'd vouch for a krypton enema over listening to a Mike Love solo album. Kark Clent
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Grimes as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl
One of these young women is a wunderkind self-starter tech whiz inspired by a legend to forge her own path in a male-dominated field, and the other is Batgirl. Kidding aside, Grimes (née Claire Boucher) exemplifies the best qualities of Burnside's favorite Chiropteran crimefighter: she knows her way around a keyboard (producing her own beats, not beating hackers at their own game) and changes her style on a dime (from ambient electronic dream-pop to collaborating with Janelle Monáe and making the cover of TeenVogue—a cover the Cameron Stewart/Babs Tarr Batgirl redesign could easily grace). Steve Foxe
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Jack White as Aquaman
While Batman and Superman and the rest of the Justice League are out on dry land handling things, Aquaman's chilling in the sea, talking to fish. It's a cool power, I guess, but it's not uh..super relevant, and that's why Jack White is the Aquaman of Tidal. Just like Aquaman's like, "Hey guys, good luck fighting that evil villain! I'll be here, hanging out in the sea if you need me. Lemme know if you need me to control any fish," Jack White is just sort of hanging in the background like, "Yeah! Streaming! But also, I'm here if you guys have any need for a triple-decker, glow-in-the-dark, limited pressing vinyl LP series!" Bonnie Stiernberg
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Karen O as Lois Lane
With a voice that's never afraid to fill a room, Karen O is perfect for the world's finest investigative reporter. I can admit to having more of a fondness for Margot Kidder's 1978 Lois Lane than the Amy Adams version (sorry Amy, you're still cool!), so I find myself drifting toward snappy brunettes. And when it comes to songs about misunderstood and difficult love, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrote the book with "Maps." From screaming down injustice to confessing her love for an alien, there's no one I'd rather see on stage. Tini Howard