The Neglected Nemeses: Solomon Grundy

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For those of you that know me, then you know I am on a mission to make this happen. But I’m getting ahead of myself. A few weeks ago, I started a new editorial series here on Comic Book Therapy called The Neglected Nemeses in which I take a look at some of the rogues of comic books that have been over looked in films. I, like many fans have grown tired of seeing the same villains getting used and reused in films. Granted, there are certain characters, like Lex Luthor and Joker, that are imperative to their respective heroes, but that doesn’t mean they need to be in every movie.

This time around, we are delving into the world of Batman. With Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise coming to a controversial end this summer, the future of the character is up in the air. Or is it? The Batman is, at the moment, the only successful character that DC Comics and Warner Brothers have and I believe that a reboot may be coming sooner rather than later, regardless of whether or not that Justice League movie gets made. While I enjoyed Nolan’s films, I think it’s time to take the character back to his comic book roots and delve more into the more odd and peculiar villains. Pretty sure Solomon Grundy fits in that category, right? Let’s take a look at the history of the risen behemoth first, then I’ll get into why I think this must happen.

Cyrus Gold was born sometime in the mid 19th Century. In 1895 (or 1894, depending on the story line), Gold “hooked up,” as it were, with a prostitute from the Gotham City area named Rachel Rykel, and as often happens with hook ups, she soon told Gold that she was with child. In exchange for her silence, Gold was forced to pay Rykel money. The two scheduled to meet at Slaughter Swamp to negotiate the deal, but Gold was bashed over the head with a shovel by Rykel’s pimp. The pair dumped gold’s body in the swamp, certain that no one would find the body. Over the course of about 50 years, and via a process that is still unknown, Gold’s body “interacted” with the dead plant life and swamp goo. According to the Earth-Two story line, Gold’s reanimated corpse meandered out of the swamps in 1944, with no memory of his previous life. He quickly encountered two escaped criminals, who he murdered for their clothes. He then stumbled into a hobo camp and was asked about his name, which he could not recall. The only thing that came to mind was that he was born on a Monday. One of the hobo’s brought up the old children’s rhyme involving Solomon Grundy, and the name stuck.

Very strong, cruel and practically mindless, Grundy fell into a life of crime and soon attracted the attention of Alan Scott, the Green Lantern. Grundy quickly proved to be a formidable foe for Scott, considering that he was not able to be killed, and that his powers had little effect on him being that his body was largely made up of wood. The pair battled multiple times, the first of which ended when Grundy was thrown under a train. The second romp involved Lantern’s Justice Society friends and ended when Grundy was defeated and placed on the moon. In 1947, Lantern buried the behemoth. After a brief stint working for the time traveling villain Per Degaton, Grundy was once again banished to the moon, where he remained for the next 20 years. But, having stored up residual emerald energy from battling the Green Lantern, Grundy made his way back to Earth, where he battled Lantern, Dr. Fate and Hourman. During this time, Grundy actually had the power to manipulate and control wood particles, a power that did not last long however.

Grundy has single-handedly taken on the entirety of both the Justice Society of America and the Justice League, multiple times, often to a stand still. He has also spent time as a member of the Injustice Society of the World, and also had a stint as a quasi-hero. After being rescued from a glacier by Jade, Green Lantern’s daughter, Grundy developed an attraction to her and became very loyal to her, making him an ally of sorts with Infinity, Inc. This was short-lived however, when the dastardly Marcie Cooper (aka Harlequin) used her illusion powers to disguise herself as Jade. Harlequin tricked Grundy into attacking each of the Infinity, Inc members one by one, which eventually led to the death of Skyman.In the Earth-One story line, Grundy arose when “the Parasite used an enhanced crystal to metabolically hasten the growth of residual cells left over in the sewers from when the original version had crossed over from Earth-2, which became a new, much more bestial version.” During a battle with Superman, Grundy proved to be too much for the Man of Steel to handle. Superman then flew Grundy to a distant planet where nothing but the strongest life forms could survive. Superman then gave Grundy a cape, which he happily donned and flew through air mimicking his one-time rival. However, this proved taxing on Superman’s conscience, until an encounter in which Grundy clones were spawned. Superman, along with Swamp Thing, battled the clones until they were rendered inert, seemingly killing the unkillable. Swamp Thing tried to protest, believing that Grundy met the definition of life, but was unable to express his thoughts. This version was retroactively erased after the Superman was revamped in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” story line. One of Grundy’s most notable appearances occurred in “The Long Halloween”, when he held a brief partnership with the newly scarred Harvey Dent. This also included a fierce battle with another sewer dweller, Killer Croc.More recently, Grundy was the victim of mind control from Gorilla Grodd, who was looking to cash in on the $1 billion bounty set up by President Lex Luthor. Grundy was forced to attack Superman and Batman, but was defeated by Batman. For a time, Grundy adopted Arrowcave as his home, which is the former hide out for the Green Arrow. Ollie, and his former ward Roy “Arsenal” Harper discovered Grundy’s new hideout, as well as the fact that this incarnation of Grundy was much more violent, but was able to defeat him by strangling him with his bow-string. In “Infinite Crisis,” Grundy was seen fighting alongside the Blood Pack during the Battle of Metropolis. But he was quickly disposed of by Superboy-Prime’s heat vision, which destroyed Grundy’s current incarnation. In the Justice League of America series, a much different Grundy can be seen. Here, he is depicted as an intelligent and sophisticated villain and is believed to be the brains behind a complex operation to transfer Professor Ivo’s immortality to Grundy.Now, I get that Grundy is a bit of an odd choice to include in a Batman film. Especially since he has spent a lot of time battling other heroes. One could argue that he’d make a better baddie for a Justice League film rather than Batman.You could even drop him in a Green Lantern or Superman film. This way, you could have a battle of strength that would make all the action-seeking fans very happy. But if you were to toss him in against Batman, you have the potential for both a physical fight as well as a mental battle that the Dark Knight is known for. There are several incarnations of this character that you could use. Most folks are familiar with the mindless, insanely strong version. If this is the route you take, then Grundy could be used as a henchman of sorts; the brawn to someone’s (Black Mask or Two-Face, maybe) brain. But that’s not the route I would go. The addition of intelligence and coherence to a character with this much strength would only make him that much more powerful and intimidating. If this were the case, then it’s possible, if handled and written correctly, that he could serve as the film’s main villain.

So who could take on a role like this? There are a few folks that come to mind like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The former wrestler has made a name for himself in the action film genre and he definitely has the size for the role, but I just don’t see him wanting to spend that much time in the make-up chair, which would be necessary for Grundy. If you go by size alone, then Glen Jacobs, a/k/a Kane from the WWE, is your man. Oddly enough, I don’t think much make up would be needed for his mug. Or how about former X-Man Daniel Cudmore. Another actor that has the build and stature for the role. But I have another actor in mind, one who is not a stranger to spending time in the make-up chair, which he as done for films like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and I Am Number Four. Kevin Durand is a sizable man who actually has a bit of talent and experience under his belt. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing 230 (ish) pounds, he’d serve as a formidable foe against Batman. Of course, get the guy to a gym and he’d bulk up even more and through the magic of camera angles, you have your self a villain!

Feel free to share your thoughts below. DO you think Grundy would be a good choice for a new film? Is he too far out there for a feature film?

 

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