Corto Maltese is a fictional South American nation in the DC Universe, originating from the Batman mythos.
A small island off the coast of South America, it was the location of the Corto Maltese Revolution that was first seen in Dark Knight #3 - Hunt the Dark Knight. Corto Maltese was confirmed to exist in the mainstream DCU at the end of Time Masters #4, where there was a tossed-off reference in a newspaper headline: "More Arms to Corto Maltese." The Corto Maltese islands were occasionally referenced in other DC Comics since.
The islands were mentioned to be the location of one of a number of Lexcorp '33.1' project labs that were located throughout the world.
Dark Knight Universe continuity
"Corto Maltese" first appeared in Frank Miller's graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns as the name of an island at the center of an incident not unlike the Cuban missile crisis. Corto Maltese was also the site of a rebel uprising in the second issue of the series. The tiny nation received the arrival of Soviet Destroyers of its coast. Superman was sent by the US Government to fight the Soviet presence there in secret, until the battle became too intense and the Soviets unleashed the Coldbringer Missile, which weakened Superman considerably, as noted by Batman before their battle at Crime Alley.
In other media
Corto Maltese was referenced in the 1989 Warner Bros. feature film, Batman. Photojournalist Vicki Vale traveled to Corto Maltese and took photographs of its revolution's aftermath. Her photos were selected for an article in TIME Magazine.
In the film, Vicki spent time in Corto Maltese, where she shot a series of gruesome photographs during the violent rebel uprising. When The Joker saw Vicki's pictures on the cover and throughout the magazine that showed a desert war zone that was strewn with dead bodies, he remarked: "I don't know if it's art... but I like it".
Corto Maltese serves as the main locations of the 2021 film The Suicide Squad. The film depicts it as a Caribbean nation caught in a civil war between revolutionaries and its dictator government. The titular team are sent in to destroy Jotunheim, a Nazi-run prison and laboratory complex holding the fabled Project Starfish. It is revealed that Project: Starfish was actually funded by the US Government in order to weaponize the alien telepath, "Starro".
- Also referenced in the CW show "Arrow" in multiple episodes.
- In the show Smallville, Lex Luthor was mentioned as running labs on Corto Maltese.
- Corto Maltese was the name of a comic book character, a sailor in the South Pacific and elsewhere, which was created by an Italian cartoonist named Hugo Pratt. There were several Corto Maltese comic books and movies, although there were few, if any, in English. It could be assumed that Miller's use of the name was a tribute to Pratt, since in Italy, they were both published on the periodical "Corto Maltese". Reportedly, the character was chosen to be from Malta because he "had to be Mediterranean, while was also somehow part of anglosaxon culture (...) because in alglosaxon narrative tradition there's more magic, more legend; (...) the only Mediterranean who could have these features was a Maltese" (Hugo Pratt in an interview to Nives Millin, 1973). The name came instead from the Spanish word "corto", which means sharp, cunning, and refers the character's attitude.
- Several clips from or entire movies of Corto Maltese are found on YouTube. The official Corto Maltese website in English is: http://cortomaltese.com/.
- Batman: The Dark Knight
- Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight
- Legends of the Dark Knight #31 - Family