michael dworkis and john elliott wonder if a movie about DC’s super squad can become a reality…
With the success of Marvel superhero squad movies franchises like X-Men and most recently, the cinematic juggernaut known as The Avengers, it was only a matter of time before the rumors that a Justice League movie would start up again.
Earlier this month, a story came out that Ben Affleck was being courted to direct the film [supposedly his camp has denied this], which made me beg the question “Can a Justice League movie actually be done?”
So I turned to two of Pop-Break’s foremost comic book experts, Michael Dworkis and John Elliott to weight in on the situation. –Bill Bodkin
Here’s the only way to do it right.
You have to take what’s out there recently and start some worldbuilding, so step one is actually hiring someone to “run” this phase of the development of the DC Cinematic Universe, the way Kevin Fiege ran Phase 1 for Marvel and Joss Whedon is now running Phase 2.
I’d hire a two-man team to commit to this task as a writer-producer-director unit. That team should be Zack Snyder and Geoff Johns. Geoff Johns is already running the DCU in print; he’s proven his facility here, and he cut his teeth working for Richard Donner at the start of his career. Snyder has verve, talent, and an eye for both flair and restraint.
So, once we have those two in place, what’s next?
No matter what, Nolan’s vision is going to be prevalent in everyone’s minds. Anything you do, people are going to compare, contrast, and find it wanting. A new Bruce Wayne is going to be crapped upon.
So what do you do? The clincher here is that Nolan’s films have to matter to make this work. Wiping the slate clean ruins a lot of momentum. So, my advice, is just keep going. You don’t reboot. For this Justice League movie, John Blake is Batman, and it’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the suit. Treat the Nolan films as phase 1 of this plan, with this being the natural phase 2 kicked off by Man of Steel.
We’d have a Batman that is wet behind the ears, trying to prove himself, and suddenly stuck in an age of wonders that is beyond his depth and totally unpredictable to the audience. And remember — Bruce is still out there, somewhere, to come back at some point. Maybe this film is about the Justice League forming and then Blake is killed, forcing Bruce out of retirement.
Henry Cavill is our Man of Steel for this movie. He has to be. And it remains to be seen how this is going to work, but I think this film should be the spiritual sequel to MoS–from the early trailers and little snippets, it’s clear that this is a Superman who’s going to be wrestling with the fine line between man and god, living in a “world of cardboard” (best scene from the JL TV show) and trying to decide if he’s a leader or a savior. Putting Superman into a position where he’s a loner with a heart of gold and has six strangers looking to him would be interesting. It’s got to be a team dynamic that removes his God complex, somehow, and I want to see Superman as a source of inspiration for this team instead of just a tank.
Well, that movie sucked, and they’re moving forward with a sequel. We also know that the script team for GL has completed a JL script, which is terrifying. The sequel to GL has to do three things: 1, it has to dirty Hal up, and give him an intensely personal reason for being a lantern, 2) it has to make Sinestro into a credible, sympathetic villain, and 3) it has to take Amanda Waller and make her into the glue that makes the Justice League come together. Angela Bassett’s casting gave me hope for this sort of logic in the first movie and it wasn’t used; well, DC now has a mechanism that can work like Marvel’s Nick Fury in tying these films together. And I want to see them use it in a darker, more interesting and subtly cosmic GL, in which we see Hal fail and have to build himself back up. Maybe Carol dies. I’d see a movie where that happens.
THE REST OF THE TEAM
In terms of synergy, it looks like we’ve got a new “big seven” going forward, and that means Martian Manhunter is out, and Cyborg is in. Wonder Woman needs to show up as the rumored teaser in Man of Steel, and we need to get one of the remaining three (Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg) in the next two films, as well. Maybe have Vic Stone show up as some sort of government alien tech guy in the next Green Lantern, and have the final tag for the GL film be about him hunting someone down in Central City and getting one-upped by a red blur.
Aquaman and Wonder Woman need their own films at some point to hold this whole thing together as a franchise, but there’s too much pop culture damage to those franchises right now for it to stick. It’s going to take some series PR work.
Meanwhile, give The Flash his own film, and use the current comic as a blueprint–it’s CSI at the speed of light, with a cop driven to be the best forensic investigator by the death of his mom, who gains fantastic powers and has to learn the balance between speed and thought. The thing about the Flash is that his powers are always handled in a sort of boring fashion, up until the gorgeous new reboot by Francis Manapul, which adds crazy new visual ideas and dimensions to how a guy who runs fast can work. Barry Allen’s speed has to feel kinetic and fun and creative and useful, and someone with the right mix of energy and wonder needs to be cast. Throw in the time travel angle at some point and learn that his speed led to the death of his mom via a vengeful villain, and you’ve got something that feels a little bit like Back to the Future meets NCIS meets Spider-Man. I’d watch that.
My thoughts for now. To be continued. –John Elliott
Should the Justice League movie happen?
Who would not want to see the best and brightest of DC Comics in one feature film? Marvel put Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow all in one film and both comic and casual movie fans approved the movie, as evidenced by its huge box office draw. The biggest push Marvel had going into Avengers, is that we were told that movie was coming. So we expected Nick Fury in some of the movies, and we wanted to see it all come together. DC has been standalone from the start. Only rumors and blind hope for a Justice League movie is all we had. Batman was certainly not a precursor, the Green Lantern movie was not even close, and we can only sit and wait patiently to see if Man of Steel will have any hint of a future team-up.
We just saw the end to the Batman trilogy from Christopher Nolan. While the third movie did prove it success with a large box office bank, the conclusion felt a little lackluster and a bit of a letdown. We have the new Superman film, Man of Steel, on its way, and now talk of a Justice League movie has everyone buzzing. Throw in Ben Affleck to the mix, and boy do we have something to talk about.
Can Justice League meet the same success as Avengers? No comic loyalist likes to see a comic movie fail. Look at Green Lantern. If that did not scream bomb to you, then you must have already been in the shelter before the film disastrously hit. You have to look at what we already have from DC.
We have Christian Bale as Batman. Sorry, I just do not see him as a main player. He could be lurking in the shadows, literally. I just do not see Cavill and Bale having a conversation in their respective hero roles. Superman, with a nice speech about truth and justice, and Bale trying to say more than ten words without hacking a hairball. We saw Bruce and Selina off on some romantic getaway, leaving Robin John Blake as his successor to the cowl. While many were annoyed at the brick-to-the-face reveal that the legal name of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is Robin, by no means did anyone say will he actually use the name. He could still be called Batman. He could be Red Robin, Nightwing, or maybe it is a completely-insane swerve and his real name is Jean-Paul Valley. Alright, except that last part. Even I went too far. The point is, John Blake is a character outside of the comics, and only within the Nolanverse. Should the Justice League see input from Nolan, one could see Levitt don the cape and cowl. I agree, his death, due to inexperience or a rookie mistake could bring Bruce Wayne back into his harsh reality, and perhaps that scene could mirror the demise of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker in the comic books.
As I said earlier, can we really see Henry Cavill as Superman, standing next to Batman? For that, and any other character to work, elements of the dark, serious tone of Christopher Nolan and his work must be present in the film. We have seen from trailers that this is not at all the same boy scout from Superman Returns or any of the original films. This will be a very different, and likely a darker tone on the maturing Clark Kent.
Ryan Reynolds, as much as I despise him in the Green Lantern role, would probably work for the League. Hal Jordan joins with other heroes. He has already encountered aliens, so working alongside a Kryptonian, an Amazon, and maybe a fish-translating king of the sea, will seem normal compared to his recent adventures. His cocky, brash attitude might be the contrast this team needs. If every member of the team has a gloomy background, this film will wind up more depressing than Grey Gardens. I would be concerned that the memory of recent films could tarnish a team-up. This is a long shot, but perhaps the use of another human Green Lantern, such as Guy Gardner could round out the team. Maybe this time they should case Nathan Fillion?
Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and…?
Like the Avengers, the roster is huge and with various re-tellings of the origin throughout comics, it allows for different members to be included in the team. If they stuck with the league from the current New 52 comics, we would see Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg round out the team. If they opt for other teammates, perhaps Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Green Arrow, or maybe Booster Gold?
Alright, I apologize for mentioning Booster. Hey, he had one appearance in Smallville and SyFy had planned on a series for him…
Here is my big concern. Take any of these characters, and who exactly are they, and why should anyone care? Marvel spent years telling audiences who their players are and why we care about them. Characters like Hawkeye and Black Widow, while not major characters in previous movies, were presented long enough for viewers to know who they are, and why we should care. Do we need a movie featuring each DC character? No. Marvel never gave us a movie about Black Widow, nor Hawkeye, and they did not need to. Give us a Flash movie, and Green Lantern shows up (since Hal Jordan and Barry Allen are buddies in the comics), to warn him that something big is coming. Or vice-versa, but I would much rather see a Flash movie than another GL flick. While the Wonder Woman television show got canned, have her appear at the end of another film. We do not need a two-hour movie about a woman trying to overcome the odds and survive in the world of man. Last I checked, women are probably a bit more powerful than men these days, so I think the origin of Wonder Woman might be a bit dated. Should a Wonder Woman film see production, we need another hero, I cannot see a successful film with her as the sole focus.
Maybe at the end of the Superman movie, he looks up at the sky and asks “Am I alone?”
Then a barely understandable voice growls out “No.”
Maybe we do need Booster Gold after all.
I am not a fan of Ben Affleck. As an actor I think all he does is produce the same character over and over. Armageddon anyone? Most of his scenes involve a dumb-struck or slack-jawed look on his face, and I can never tell which emotion he is supposed to emit, but all I see is… “Derp.”
He was fine in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and I liked him in Good Will Hunting. Both roles were supporting or minor contributing roles, which are fine for him. I just have yet to ever see Affleck in a starring role where I can say I enjoyed his performance.
While he did do a good job of being director of films like Gone Baby Gone, and producer of Stolen Summer. It does not give me hope for Justice League.
Here is why. Marvel spent years building towards this big film featuring all their big comic book heroes. Each film had a different director, producer, and writer. Joss Whedon, the genius that he is and yes I buy that hype, tied it all together like Lebowski’s cherished rug. Whedon delivered a movie that had every aspect that a comic film needed. Serious plot, humor, witty banter, the dialogue between characters, and even had further character development.
Whedon is a comic guy. Affleck is also. However, I do not find Affleck to have the know-how to deliver a film of Avengers caliber. DC has done next-to-nothing in comparison. We have had three Batman movies, a failed Green Lantern, a bomb with Jonah Hex, an untested new Superman movie, and a boatload of rumors for the next DC hero flick. DC/Warner Brothers wants a rumored 2015 release of Justice League? This seems unrealistic, and I just do not believe Affleck has the power to whip up something watchable in three years. Marvel may not have intended to build up Avengers during the seven years of superhero cinema releases, but whatever they did, worked. All we have is a dark and at-times unintelligible Batman, a Green Lantern no one wants to see, a canceled Wonder Woman television series, and a year away from the Superman reboot, Man of Steel.
Should Affleck truly take the reins I wish him the best of luck, but unless they get some damn good writers, and by damn good, get the boys actually writing the DC comics, such as Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, or Grant Morrison, I fear an Affleck-based Justice League movie will once again prove the failure of DC, and the dominance of Marvel films at the box office.
Perhaps DC should consider making it an animated movie. Their animated DVD offerings have been spectacular, while interestingly, Marvel has failed to deliver a good animated release. Very interesting indeed.
Notice I did not bother mentioning Daredevil? That one is right next to DC’s Catwoman movie, in the never-should-have-been-made category. –Michael Dworkis