Light Mode

The Authority 101: All You Need to Know About DC’s Anti-hero Ensemble

There’s a new kid on the block, and from the ashes of the DC Extended Universe, James “Guardians of the Galaxy” Gunn is tooling up for Warner Bros.’ (supposedly) next big franchise. Expanded universes can be something of a curse, and while Disney has found great success with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, things were less fruitful for Universal’s Dark Universe or the DCEU. As Gunn looks to the future with standalone staples for Batman and Superman, he’s trying something new with Booster Gold, Swamp Thing, and more.

Instead of just focusing on tried-and-tested heroes and villains, Gunn has an all-new team waiting in the wings. Bringing WildStorm’s The Authority comic into live-action, he is wasting no time building out. Set to be the second installment in the DCU’s Chapter One: God and Monsters, here’s hoping The Authority will be a brutal brawler akin to The Boys and not another ensemble dud like Eternals.

Here’s your 101 on all things The Authority.

- Advertisement -

A WildStorm in a teacup 

As we approached the end of the 20th Century,  WildStorm Productions tried to revamp its ailing Stormwatch comic line but wanted to keep the fan-favorite Jenny Sparks and other standout characters. Writer Warren Ellis said Stormwatch had been kept alive because the WildStorm team liked to read the comics and wanted to hang onto their jobs. The Stormwatch team was a ragtag group funded by the United Nations, but seeing the potential of this anti-Justice League, Ellis overhauled the idea and had Sparks lead a new black-ops team that didn’t answer to the government. 

DC and Marvel aren’t strangers to homaging each other’s characters, and The Authority was no different. Main players like Apollo and the Midnighter are bio-engineered pastiches of Superman and Batman, while other mainstays of the first lineup include former Stormwatch members Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, and Swift. Rounding off the pack was Angela “Angie” Spica as the second Engineer, and the Doctor — a recovering drug-addled shaman with the power to rewrite reality. 

Published in 1999, Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority introduced us to this no-nonsense team that gets the job done by any means necessary. Although they fight for the side of good, it often comes at the cost of civilian life, meaning there was plenty of red ink used in Hitch’s artwork. The original run lasted just 12 issues but was split into four distinct story arcs. If that doesn’t scream a four-part movie saga, we don’t know what does. 

Beyond the Ellis/Hitch run, DC legends, including Grant Morrison and The Boys’ Darick Robertson, have put pen to paper. As for Hitch, he later went on to ink the Ultimates comic as a revamp of The Avengers. This is regarded as a major influence for the MCU’s live-action take on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, so you could argue that without Ultimates, we wouldn’t have the MCU we have today. Coming full circle, it’s apt that Gunn is now spearheading the DCU. 

The Authority doesn’t pull any punches

- Advertisement -

If you’re questioning what sets the Authority apart from any other anti-hero team, check out 2005’s Captain Atom: Armageddon. Here, the titular Captain Atom found himself marooned in the WildStorm universe, horrified by how violent the Authority were. The team has sincembecome known for its brutal measures across its various runs, most famously when Midnighter sodomized a rapist known as the Commander with a jackhammer. This is more complex than you’d think, with Midnighter’s actions being revenge for what the Commander did to Apollo.

2008’s DC/Wildstorm: DreamWar settled the debate of whether the Authority or the Justice League are more violent, with Green Arrow having his neck snapped by a kick from Midnighter and Batman being pummeled by WildC.A.T.s’ Zealot. 

When universes collide: The Justice League and The Authority face off in 2008’s DC/Wildstorm crossover Dreamwar

Much like we’re holding out hope for an eventual Avengers vs. X-Men movie to break the MCU’s box office records, seeing the Authority duke it out with the Justice League has the potential to smash predictions … if built correctly. It’s no secret that the DCEU’s Justice League failed to “Unite the Seven”, so letting the team rest and trying something different with The Authority could be just what the Doctor Fate ordered. 

As The Boys has captured the modern zeitgeist with its commentary on the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements, The Authority too has always had something to say. The original run ended with Sparks dying, and considering she was known as “the Spirit of the 20th Century,” it was a clever way to usher in the millennium. An impressive rogue’s gallery includes later recruits like Deathblow and Stormwatch alumni Flint, while DC mainstays like Enchantress have even suited up. Given the current slate of more diverse superhero outings, here’s hoping The Authority film stays faithful to the source material but mixes up their comic book backstories akin to Hooded Justice or Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing Doctor Manhattan in HBO’s Watchmen

The Authority is already an important step for diversity – with both Apollo and Midnighter being openly gay and actually married to each other. Just imagine if DC had Superman and Batman locking lips. At a time when the MCU is still slow on the uptake in terms of LGTBTQ+ heroes (look at that throwaway kiss in Eternals), The Authority movie can make a giant leap. There’s also the whole Sliding Albion arc, and while we doubt a first outing for the Authority would see them tackling colonialism of an alternate British Empire, it’s one to bear in mind for future adventures. 

Not our first rodeo

- Advertisement -

The DCU’s version of The Authority is the first time we’ll see them on the silver screen, but many forget 2012’s animated Superman vs. The Elite was something of an Authority-lite outing that adapted 2001’s Action Comics #775 where the Man of Steel took on a team very reminiscent of the Authority. As The Authority (comic line) was absorbed into the mainline DC print via 2011’s Flashpoint, there’s already some connective tissue here for the DCU. It’s unclear where Gunn is taking characters like Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, but with 2022’s The Flash loosely adapting Flashpoint and giving us a glimpse into this live-action Multiverse, the Authority could be out there somewhere. 

We already know Venezuelan actor María Gabriela de Faría has been cast as an antagonistic Angie Spica for Gunn’s Superman: Legacy. Unlike the dark and brooding tone of the Snyderverse, Gunn’s The Suicide Squad balanced comedy and bloodshed. There are more hints of what’s to come thanks to Gunn sharing a cryptic tweet claiming The Authority Omnibus from 2019 would be a major influence. This suggests we’ll hone in on the OG team because it collects the first 29 issues (and others), but more than this, the fact the omnibus sold out following Gunn’s tweet shows how hyped fans are for the movie. 

If not, we could look to Morrison’s four-issue Superman and the Authority from 2021. This features the Metropolis Marvel losing his powers and turning to a reluctant Authority (including former foe Manchester Black) to help him and operate out of the Fortress of Solitude. Picture the scene where David Coronswet’s junior Man of Steel gets depowered at the end of Superman: Legacy, turning to the Authority to protect Earth from its next big threat. For those who still aren’t convinced the Authority is right for the DCU, Gunn himself has referred to it as a “passion project.” 

Based on the source material and the fact at least one character will make their debut in Superman: Legacy, we expect The Authority to be a more serious affair. Then again, Gunn’s involvement suggests a few laughs will still be found. With the comic book movie mogul writing and directing Superman: Legacy, he’ll at least oversee the Authority’s inception in the DCU, although he’s said a currently unnamed writer has been hired for a long time. Could those rumors of Daredevil’s Drew Goddard penning The Authority be true? We know he loves an ensemble, and it would make up for his Sinister Six and X-Force movies that never were. 

While we’ve pitched our own fanciful ideas for The Boys and Invincible to cross paths (with the latter supposedly getting a movie), The Authority is much closer to Swift spreading her wings. It’s been 15 years since Snyder’s Watchmen failed to capitalize on one of DC’s most promising R-rated IPs, so let’s see if lessons have been learned. The renaissance of hyper-violent superhero sluggers is here, and with The Authority poised to be the next big outing, we couldn’t be happier. 


Based in Manchester, UK, Tom Chapman has over seven years’ experience covering everything from dragons to Demogorgons. Starting out with a stint at Movie Pilot in Berlin, Tom has since branched out to indulge his love of all things Star Wars and the MCU at Digital Spy, Den of Geek, IGN, Yahoo! and more. These days, you’ll find Tom channelling his inner Gale Weathers and ranting about how HBO did us dirty with Game of Thrones Season Eight.



- Advertisement -