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Could a Justice League movie succeed?


Caleb dissects DC's Avengers-esque alternative...

Could a Justice League film succeed?

A little over a year ago I reported that DC and Warner Bros. were finally getting things in gear and going forward with a Justice League feature film. And now that the script has been handed to Will Beall (Castle, the Logan’s Run remake), it seems that the on again/off again project will finally see the light of day. There is also word that Warner Bros. has seven other DC movies in the works (not counting Man of Steel or any future Green Lantern or Batman film), which include Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Lobo, Suicide Squad and Shazam.

Aquaman - the latest in a long line of comic book heroes to get a cinematic adaptation...However, the biggest question on my mind at the moment is this – will these all be standalone films, or will we get small clues and cameos along the way setting up the Justice League film? Marvel went about things the right way, starting with 2008’s Iron Man, where the now famous post-credits tags were allowing each individual film to be eventually tied all together, so that the heroes could all assemble for to be a part of The Avengers. Iron Man 2 went so far as to have Nick Fury and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow be major players in the film to further establish their characters and placement in that particular universe. Up until now, DC movies have all essentially been pretty self confined, outside of a throwaway mention of Metropolis in1995’s Batman Forever. And since Zack Snyder has no intention of tying Man of Steel in with any other films – plus Nolan and Bale leaving Batman’s world – there is talk of utilizing the characters in a completely different way than they have been/are being established.

So who might be invited to the table when the Justice League finally comes together? Obviously, Batman and Superman would have to be part of it for popularity’s sake (even though, in the original comics, they were only honorary members, leaving it open for lesser known heroes). The news of Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Green Arrow getting their own movies makes for some interesting additions to the group, although nothing has been set in stone yet. Even Shazam has been a member in the comics and was involved in the animated series Justice League Unlimited, and he would be an excellent stand-in for Supes were he not available. Other possibilities would be Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern (and if WB heads decided not to bring back Ryan Reynolds, there are three other incarnations of Green Lantern, not counting Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern, who was a member of the Justice Society), Hawkgirl or Hawkman, or possibly Cyborg. One could even add Plastic Man if they felt the need for comic relief. There is a vast history to this group, with decades of comics and many members past and present to choose from, so there’s no shortage of candidates.

The other hint they need to take from Marvel’s movies is to keep the film roster low, at least for the first movie. One of the best decisions filmmakers made with ensemble films like X-Men and The Avengers was to not overload the film with heroes, or for that matter, villains. Once you get the group established, you can start adding to the roster, but too many characters ultimately leaves them all vying for screen time; and too much back story can wind up with many separate subplots that take away from the actual story you’re attempting to tell. This was done exceptionally well with the animated Justice League program in the first two seasons, where there were only seven characters, all of whom shared equal screen time and all pulled their own weight.

As with Marvel, DC need to avoid over-loading their movies with villans...

One also has to look at who to utilize for villains. Over the years, there have been so many terrific storylines, with a wide range of villains to fight. Lex Luthor, Ra’s al Ghul, Sinestro, Vandal Savage, the League of Doom and even The Joker have been just a few of the baddies that have taken on the JLA over the years, as well as other threats not pulled from the usual Rogue’s Gallery. I would suggest using a threat that isn’t as well known to the general audience, but because not everyone going to see the film would be a comic book fanatic like myself, I’m sure they’ll probably go for a more familiar face. Either way, you would need a threat that would be worthy of an entire team of heroes, like the threat posed by Loki and the alien army in The Avengers.

If this film were successful, it could mean a possible Crisis story done later down the road, or even adapting Jeph Loeb’s brilliant Superman/Batman storylines for future films. I truly hope DC and Warner Bros. do this right, and the eventual film is a success, because DC – while having produced some outstanding direct-to-video animated features – haven’t had the greatest track record with their feature films. It’s time for DC to rise up and prove to the world why their heroes are worthy of the silver screen.

See also:

New Dark Knight Rises trailer isn't good, it's stunning

5 lessons DC could learn from Marvel, movie-wise

EXCELSIOR! Why the Future of Movies is Marvel

Andrew Garfield wants to play Spider-Man in The Avengers 2

Leonardo DiCaprio could have played The Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises


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