Meanwhile, Back at the Hall of Justice: The Pitfalls of the Justice League Movie

104justiceleague Separator

by by Marcus Luera

We all knew when The Avengers was a mammoth hit that Warner Bros/DC was going to fast-track a Justice League movie.  For almost as long as Marvel has been putting together its Avengers movie, Warner and DC have tried to launch franchises and get its live-action act together.  Unfortunately, the only franchise that has had any steam is Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  Both Superman Returns and Green Lantern were disappointing for fans and critics alike.

As you can imagine, the announcement of a Justice League movie has many worried about how the powers that be will handle the movie.  The Avengers hit all the right notes: casting, writing, characters, and the director.  One misstep and the franchise, along with a few more potential franchises, could go up in flames.  In fact, many say the movie is doomed from the start, but I believe it can still be good and fun.  They just have to know they can’t remake The Avengers.  So what can be done to help the film, and what might hurt it?

Let’s start with directors. There have already been a few candidates that have passed or were just rumored to be in talks.  First up was Nolan himself, already beloved for his Batman trilogy. He was asked to consult on Snyder’s Man of Steel, and passed.  His realistic take on The Dark Knight may have worked for those films, but I don’t see him fully getting other characters in the League.  Then there was Ben Affleck, who has become a more sought after director than actor in recent years, rent The Town to see why.  I don’t know if this was a rumor or if he, too, passed.  The latest has the Wachowski Brothers in line to handle Warner’s next potential franchise.  The Matrix was really good, but rest of the movies drew the ire of fans.

So, who then?  Well, there is Zack Snyder.  He made both 300 and Watchmen, and they were good movies, too. Man of Steel is next on deck for him, and fan/critic reaction to this movie could go a long way to getting him the job.  No longer tied to Marvel, why not Jon Favreau?  Iron Man was really good.  He took major chances with the movie and it paid off big time. What about Peter Jackson?  Lots of fanboys and fangirls love his Lord of the Rings movies.  Whoever is chosen, they have a huge mountain to climb and a big Whedonesqe shadow to get out from under.

The writing was a big part of what made The Avengers fun.  It had the right amount of humor, danger, action and fun.  I have said it before, but there was not fanboy, kid, or movie-goer that did not get a little glassy-eyed at the panning shot of the whole team together.  The writing and the performance of Mark Ruffalo saved The Hulk from movie purgatory.   I have read articles that say the JL movie needs to have characters fill slots filled by Avengers, and that would be a big mistake.  Can characters crack jokes? Sure. Should there be conflict within the team? Absolutely. But under no circumstance should there be a scenario where they go, “We need an Iron Man type, let’s use Green Lantern to fill that role.”

The reason the characters were so well-liked in the movie was because they were not changed to fit the movie.  Hal Jordan is not a wise ass, he is a beat cop.  Depending on if they use Barry Allen or Wally West, the Flash has the smart mouth.  Superman is the Boy Scout, Wonder Woman is fierce, and very much the warrior, Aquaman is a man of two worlds and is sometimes at odds with himself.  Round out the team with Martian Manhunter, alien in every sense of the word, and the brooding wildcard of Batman.

Which brings us to the story, what would bring these characters together?  Darksheid is always a good way to go, and Geoff Johns’ use of the character was good and effective with his current run on the book.  Some argue this is also a misstep with Thanos being the villain for Avengers 2.  I am not opposed to the Legion of Doom, but one villain for every hero would be a huge cast and at a certain point they would become nothing more than a punching bag.  Also, Warner/DC seems to be going for realism versus Marvel’s embracing of the costumes and all that comes with that.  Now this could be a way for them to go and give a good contrast to The Avengers.  Not sure how I feel about it, but it is a thought.

As far as casting goes, I honestly believe they won’t (and hope they don’t) use Bale, Reynolds, and Cavill. Could you picture Bale talking to Wonder Woman like that? That being said, that leaves six roles to be filled, three if they decide not to go my way.  The hardest to cast would be Wonder Woman, based on the fact a movie has been in development for years, and a TV pilot was burned after the release of pictures of the actress in a costume.  If they go the CG route with Martian Manhunter, then Lawrence Fishburne would be great.  With Flash, it all depends on who you go with, Barry or Wally.

There are still some pitfalls, like do they go the Marvel route and do each character on their own and then bring them together? My suggestion is no, if they go that way it could be five years before we see the movie.  My suggestion, since their animated movies are so good—trust me, is to re-release these to hype the live-action movie.  Use the Justice League movie to launch the other franchises. Taking the different approach to Marvel may pay off in the end.  The big thing is not to rush it out just for the sake of putting it out.

If they take the time and do it right, it will be every bit as good as The Avengers and the only comparisons will be the same ones the comic have.
Photo Credit: Geekology

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    4 Comments

  1. JoyefulOctober 4th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    One of the major reasons why the Marvel Cinematic universe is working so well is because of the time invested with each major character. The previous movies helped establish the characters AND those actors as the characters (except the Hulk – thank heaven for Ruffalo). So when the Avengers rolled around, the familiarity and continuity made it even more enjoyable.

    DC’s live action universe is so scattered, making a JL movie will only draw comparisons to what Marvel has already done so well. And without that continuity in the background, I don’t think it will fare as well.

    What DC should have done from the get go was focus on their Animated Universe – those movies are mostly incredible. And if we MUST have a JL live action movie, the names Bruce Timm and Paul Dini better be all freakin’ over it.

  2. BobOctober 4th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I definitely agree with the idea that you should start with a team film and launch or re-launch the other films from that. Waiting to see ‘Man of Steel’ until I think that Superman could fit in a team movie. He could be the one character that I would continue into the JL. Just because he’s Superman, I think he fits in a superhero team much better than Bale’s Batman would. Plus, the timing of a Justice League movie would be perfect timing to relaunch movies for a more comic-style Batman and a better Green Lantern.

    For the villain/storyline, I almost say go with something classic. Maybe make Starro work somehow. I think everybody would love to see Darkseid. He’s the easy choice for a villain/storyline. To the casual moviegoer, it might be too much of a rip-off of The Avengers. No matter what, it has to be big. There has to be a reason why Superman, GL, Wonder Woman or whoever couldn’t handle it by themselves. White martians?

    For director, JJ Abrams could be a good choice. Once the next Star Trek movie is complete, he may looking for something big to sink his teeth into. I was open to the idea of Ben Affleck because The Town was amazing and Argo looks to be great as well.

    Casting: Superman – Cavill; Batman – Ryan Gosling?; Flash – Chris Pine might be good (I could see him as GL too); everybody else, I say find mostly young near unknowns or tv stars ready for the big screen. I think most of the time “all-star” casts don’t make very good movies.

  3. BobOctober 4th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Joyeful, I think that you’re right that the reason the Marvel cinematic universe is working so well is that they spent so much time devoted to the characters. I don’t think that should be the cookie cutter approach though. A great Justice League movie to me would be one that could stand alone without having to see 5 other movies to know what’s going on. I think it’s the same as comics. If I only want to read JL, I shouldn’t HAVE to read Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, etc. If I love a character, I should WANT to then read those books. With the animated films, one of my favorite is New Frontier. It easily introduces each of the characters and even gives an origin of one. It then connects them to a bigger threat than any of them can handle alone.

  4. MarcusOctober 5th, 2012 at 10:34 am

    You forgot Geoff Johns.

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