It has been in the news for a while now that Warner Bros is desperate to capitalise on their rights to the DC catalogue. And following on the $1.5bn box office of Marvel’s The Avengers I don’t blame them. So when will this be happening? The studio has been bold enough to declare that the film will be ready for our eyes, ears and wallets by 2015, and while it may seem like a long way away there is a long list of things that need to be sorted before a film this big could be given the attention and care it deserves. So while a Justice League film is great news for everybody everywhere the seems to be a real lack of urgency and the project appears to be struggling to get itself out of first gear.
It is almost hard to fathom how DC/WB could have the two biggest comic book characters ever to headline this project and yet they are still lagging. Meanwhile Marvel took 2012 by storm, producing a brilliant movie with its own stable of stars and did it without their own poster boy Spiderman. So if WB really is serious about The Justice League then let’s take a look at some of the big moves and important calls that need to be made to really get this right.
1. Confirm Joseph Gordon-Levitt Is Going To Play Batman
This appears to be happening if you buy the latest gust of hot air from the rumour mill. Some spoilers of Dark Knight Rises here: JGL plays Officer Robin John Blake in the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy – yes, Robin as in Batman & Robin. The film closes out Bruce Wayne’s stint as the coolest character ever imagined and leads us to believe that Blake has been given keys to the Batcave. Many of us debated whether this meant he would be the next Bat and even whether director Christopher Nolan would be back to deliver it. I personally saw it as a fitting way to suggest the legacy continues without actually having to tell anymore of the story.
But now that I have flirted with the idea of JGL’s Batman continuing into the Justice League Movie I can’t get it out of my head. It would have been hard (and kind of stupid) to introduce a new Batman in the compilation film and do…well, justice to his story. But Blake’s story has been told. The sub plot to TDKR is essentially an origins story itself. This Batman would carry on the legacy that Nolan’s generation have adored but will still offer a fresh slate for the film to work with.
2. Make Sure Man Of Steel Kicks *ss
This is easier said than done, but it is imperative to the survival of mankind. Superman on film has been a mess for years now. The original superhero, this guy is almost as anonymous as the Martian Manhunter at the moment. But that is all set to change with the upcoming film from Zack Snyder, Man of Steel. There have been hints this film will lead into The Justice League and it truly needs to be the turning point for The League the same way Iron Man paved the way for The Avengers in 2008.
And when comparing Tony Stark to Clark Kent you would think that Marvel had the harder job to pull off. But having said that Stark is a character by the true definition of the word and fans want characters. Superman’s problem will be making sure the perfect alien has some character, some sort of conflict and flaw (while still being perfect). So let’s see how Snyder approaches it. Fingers crossed.
3. Enlist The Consulting Services Of Nolan & Nolan
Christopher Nolan has become a franchise in himself this last decade. His name gives instant credit to any production and he is yet to falter. He is a master storyteller with attention to detail from the script through to filming and post production. The work he and his brother Jonathan did storywise on Dark Knight is really something special. They captured Batman, his villains and Gotham itself with such accuracy and modernised the whole story effortlessly for the new generation. The level of control and creative input that Joss Whedon brought to the Avengers project shows that the expansive mind of someone like Nolan overseeing The Justice League would be immensely beneficial.
So Nolan is already busy in a producer role for Zack Snyder on the set of Man of Steel and that bodes well with the rumours of setting up a foundation for The Justice League Adding to that the rumours around JGL may also suggest that Nolan is already involved in the project – but that would just be me speculating gratuitously.
4. The Dark Realistic Feel?
Speaking of Nolan, if his involvement is to be believed then are we to expect a Justice League film that is searching for that extra layer of realism that is ever-present in DK and most likely the upcoming Man of Steel? This one I’m not confident in stating as a necessity but it is definitely an option for the project to consider. The benefit is that it adds depth to the characters and allows 2 hr+ productions to be absorbing from first shot to last. The grittiness on offer would be a clear and defining factor that the film, and DC as a universe, could own.
The down side is that to create a threat grand enough to call for a Justice League level of protection there would need to be some out there sh*t going down. Aliens and superpowers and other things that simply won’t blend into the “realism” angle. This is a tough one and I’m still not sold.
5. Get The Story Right
One of my major concerns upon hearing about The Justice League was that it may be an easy sell on paper but that doesn’t mean converting that paper to film will work. I remember watching the cartoons as a kid and just seeing Batman looking like a bit of a chump and I didn’t like it. I remember just thinking “Guys take a break, Superman is here, he can handle it.” There are so many elements to balance in this script that and the biggest risk is damaging the goldmine that is the Batman franchise.
Perhaps using the aforementioned realism angle would help integrate Bats into the picture. More realistic invasion would bring more convincing timeshare among the heroes. But beyond that I think the script should borrow a little from the Avengers film and play to the egos of the characters. There have been some classic comics that have pitted Batman and Superman against each other in a similar fashion to how Iron Man and Captain America clashed. The differences between Superman and Batman philosophy is a natural sub plot:
Batman may never kill, but he will torture, he will intrude, he will abuse and he will commit any act necessary to reach a greater good. Superman however is at odds as to whether he should even be involved at all. He is not from this planet and his super powers are too grand for many to even fathom. I think there is a strong case to pit these two first against each other and have them reunite – just don’t kill of Agent Coulson to make them reconcile.
6. The Other Guys
Enough about Batman and Superman. What about Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow and the Martian guy? This is a big roll call for a collection of heroes who have no film experience of late except for that dreadful mess from Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern. Will there be films in between? Will Green Lantern be rebooted? Will we get any cameos in Man of Steel? How many of them will simply be introduced in The Justice League? While the individual films from Thor and Captain America fall short of captivating stand alone projects they did offer a strong sense of familiarity to The Avengers. They also have much more enticing sequels in the making.
If we are going to get one establishing film then I would hope for Wonder Woman out of a simple curiosity as to how a female superhero would be approached. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as misogynistic as the next fanboy, but I am really keen to see a strong female lead. If not then maybe we can get Vince Chase to play Aquaman!
7. The Villain
So who will be the one villain willing and able enough to demand the attention of the Justice League? There are plenty to choose from but which one will fit the bill? We need a film that is real and gritty, full of undeveloped superheroes and needs room for sub-plots around the philosophy of heroics…Hmmm…
Will it be a band of supervillains that team up to counter the united power of good? Will it be some shapeshifting White Martians? Gorilla Grodd with an ape army or Ultra Humanite with a Clone army? Will it be a universe-destroying Anti-Monitor or the alien God Darkseid? Or will we see the terrifying mind-controlling alien starfish Starro?!?!?!
OK I’ll admit I just typed “top ten Justice League villains” on Google but what is most important is that the villain allows the JL to invoke Equal Opportunity amongst the members so they all get a shot. We want to see them all put to good use and the ending needs to be epic!
8. Get The Director Right
This is an obvious one but who will direct The Justice League? Seeing the influx of directors put their hand up to opt out of Star Wars duties you would imagine there are plenty with enough free time on their hands. I think it has been proven that comic book movies are working better with character driven directors who recognise the need for good drama and emotion to fill out the lengthy productions. Darren Aronofsky has never had a crack at action but he has that Midas touch aura about him. I’m not going to get into a messy director speculation here but feel free to go wild in the comments.
9. Push It Back To 2016
And finally if we really want all this to happen then I’m sorry but 2015 is too soon. New movies, new characters, revised scripts, Nolan-esque attention to detail all in three years? I don’t know if it can happen. It’s not like I don’t want this ASAP but Warner has to get it right. And I’m willing to wait another year if that means I get all of the above.
So what are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Or maybe you have some other big factors that should be considered. Let us know!
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