If Harry Lennix has his way, the Martian Manhunter will become a detective in the DCEU.
Speaking at a fan event, Lennix related how his character, who finally debuted in the Justice League Snyder Cut, could have a bigger solo story later in the expanded film universe.
The Manhunter from Mars
One of DC Comics’ most iconic characters, J’onn J’onzz was the sole survivor of his Martian race brought to Earth by accident. He uses his shape-changing and telepathic powers, along with abilities on par with Superman, to protect Earth.
One of the biggest twists of the Snyder Cut was when Martha Kent (Diane Lane) visited Lois Lane, encouraging her to get back into the world following Superman’s death. As “Martha” stepped into the hallway, she transformed into J’onn.
J’onn then turned into a form DCEU fans already knew: Calvin Swanwick. The character appeared as a general in 2013’s Man of Steel and was promoted to Secretary of Defense in Batman v Superman.
Speaking at Justice Con, Lennix related he had actually been considering quitting acting before being offered the role.
This is one of these crazy stories where I was literally about to retire and go back to teach school. I was fed up with it and I had been on the show – the show, the show got canceled.
Curiously enough it was Dollhouse, Joss Whedon’s show. It was on for a year and a half and it got canceled. And then my agents decided I guess that I was washed up and kicked me off the roles and I couldn’t get decent auditions for a little while there.
Then my phone rang and it was my new agent saying ‘Zack Snyder wants to cast you in Man of Steel.’
The performance reignited Lennix’s love of acting. A few months after Man of Steel, he earned the role of FBI chief Harold Cooper in the hit NBC series The Blacklist.
Lennix is the second actor to play the role in live-action as David Harewood portrays J’onn in the CW Supergirl series.
The Snyder Cut ends with the Manhunter meeting Bruce Wayne and believing it’s time he comes out in public to aid the world.
This has led to fan hopes of a Manhunter movie that would explore J’onn’s origins and why he took on the role of Swanwick.
Lennix stated that rather than some epic super-villain conflict, he would prefer J’onn to have a more “down to Earth” mystery story.
“It would be great to see him as a detective. There are some iterations where he is a detective. Even if he is still Calvin Swanwick by day. To actually have him do some detective-type work where he can use his special skills.
We can see that diplomacy can be a kind of superpower. When you are a member of a cabinet where maybe world-ending fights in the sky might not be the most effective or practical way to deal with it.
He could use his skills as a detective and his intelligence to avoid or avert some kind of catastrophe”
This would tie into the character’s long history. When he first came to Earth, J’onn took on the identity of John Jones, a police detective, and later a private eye to investigate crimes.
The comics have also played on the idea of J’onn having other superhero identities across the world to understand humanity better.
J’onn vs Joker?
The actor stated that should there be a Justice League 2, he would want to see scenes of J’onn dealing with Superman (as aliens on Earth), Wonder Woman, and intrigued by Batman as a human among these powerhouses.
Lennix even tossed in the idea of J’onn facing off against a major DC enemy.
“I’d like to take on the Joker in some way, you know what I mean? I’d pick the Joker rather than those kind of other-worldly ones. The Joker is just a nutbag, who would be very interesting to take on.”
One JLA storyline had the Manhunter use his telepathic powers to briefly render the Joker sane, although admitting the Joker’s sheer madness was nearly impossible to control.
While that may seem complicated, the idea of the Manhunter popping into other DCEU movies could work.
After all, J’onn is a shapeshifter, so even if Lennix himself isn’t available, the character could take on a different form to observe other heroes in action.
While the character’s future is up in the air, Lennix is clearly happy finally to have brought his Manhunter to life for fans.
Justice League the Snyder Cut streaming on HBO Max.
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