Tuesday, June 05, 2012

"JUSTICE LEAGUE" Happening. Maybe. Possibly. At Some Point.

So, yes, Warner Bros. is still trying to get a Justice League movie together, with "Gangster Squad" writer Will Beall being the latest to take a crack at the long-stalled project. Honestly, that Warners is working on this isn't news until they say YES to the script itself (studios comission scripts for potential projects all the time) and I suspect that the only reason we're hearing about Beall's script officially is so to bury the less positive announcement that "Wonder Woman" is getting a script from the writer of the "Green Lantern" movie. Ah, well.
It's simple math: "The Avengers" is the movie of the moment and (unless "Dark Knight Rises" or something else pops in an absolutely stunning way) probably THE pop-cultural event story of Summer 2012. If you're a studio executive and you aren't a least exploring options for a "team of superheroes" movie of your own, you are not being responsible to your shareholders. And if you already OWN a team of superheroes - say, one that's already more well-known and widely-recognized than "The Avengers" - if you aren't already MAKING that movie you don't deserve to hold your job.

What I like about this is that they don't seem to be waiting around to try and do a multi-film buildup like Marvel did. It could end up working out that way anyway - I wouldn't be totally surprised to see a toe or two being dipped in the continuity-waters in "Man of Steel" - but I don't know that it needs to. "The Avengers" was a different story - apart from The Hulk, almost no one outside fandom knew much about the other characters. Everyone knows who Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are. Even Flash and Aquaman are more widely-known that Iron Man ever was before the first movie. To my way of thinking, the smartest move Warners could make would be to make JL a top priority, get people under contracts and then figure out who gets movies of their own when the numbers come back.

And, honestly... while continuity-driven shared-universes are fun, Warners painted themselves into a corner in that regard by agreeing to Christopher Nolan's alleged "nobody touches anything Batman but me!" demands (which may still hold for Superman as well); and starting now would put them way behind the curve.

Obviously, my "best case scenario" hope would be that Warners has it's shit together and the already-cooking de-Nolanized Batman, "Man of Steel," Wonder Woman and Flash movies are being built to tie-in to this; but if not I don't think that many people would mind JL being a seperate thing, partly because (again, unlike "Avengers") these characters are bigger than any actor playing them could ever be: Whoever's wearing the Superman costume IS Superman.

17 comments:

Dave said...

I hope DC takes this film with the utmost seriousness. I don't know if they even understand the position they're in. If this movie fails, they're instantly going to be compared to Marvel and be made fun of for not being able to be as good.

If Avengers failed, that was it. DC wasn't trying a JL movie, so there wasn't as much to lose. They would probably pick up the pieces and move on. But if DC fails, it just won't end well for them.

This all said, interested and somewhat disinterested in the new Wonder Woman movie. On one hand, the new Wonder Woman origin has been incredibly well-received by masses and fans alike (excluding some of course), and I think would lend itself to movie form pretty easily while still able to have a bit of depth to it. Bob, what's your take on the new Wonder Woman reboot? I know Linkara was a bit harsh on it, but I personally think he was misinterpreting some things.

Still, I think it would've been best for DC to dip its toes and try out a Superman/Batman/World's Finest movie. Hell, without offense to Marvel, those two together would be enough to sell tickets.

Phil said...

I disagree with you on this, Bob.

Just jumping into a Justice League movie cold would've been fine back before Marvel Studios started their Cinematic Universe project.

But jumping into a Justice League movie cold now? Nope. It will not play the same to an audience.

Marvel Studios raised the bar of expectations of the superhero team movie because it specifically built a Universe around it via individual character films prior to the team movie. When it finally came time to see the Avengers, it all felt that much more epic since Avengers was playing in a larger cinematic landscape of it being one universe that seperate films all connected to. Audiences were wondering how Downey, Jackson, Renner, Evans, etc... were going to be interacting with each other and how their characters would be behaving in one space after seeing them in their own elements prior.

That's how Warners needs to do it. Just having a Justice League movie without any of the build up and universe building behind it is going to feel a lot less impressive and grand. Even worse, having seperate actors playing one character in one film while at the same time as the Justice League movie has that character being played by someone else will make the whole thing feel cheap and not official.

Warner Bros is doing it all wrong. They are taking notes from Nolan simply because Dark Knight made so much money but the truth is the man isn't really a comic book fan. He was interested in Batman but didn't know much about him which is why David Goyer was brought in. It is wrong to take notes from Nolan in regards to other DC characters when he has no interest in comics aside from Batman.

Warner should start a seperate film division to adapt their DC comics, similar to Marvel did with their movie studio, and hire proper talent that know the comics well along with being able to conduct the business of hiring quality film talent that shares in the vision.

Nolan is not very involved in the new Superman film anyway, as he even confirmed. Warners needs to limit his influence and start matching Marvel's Cinematic Universe project or they will be left behind.

They still have a year to go before Man Of Steel is released. If Warners were smart, they'd order additional shootings for new scenes to add to it to start building a DC Cinematic Universe.

Aiddon said...

I...really don't care. I just don't see the point in a Justice League movie

Anonymous said...

You know I loved the Avengers a lot. Great fun and I'll be buying the Blu-Ray on release day....but personally all this "the superhero film gauntlet is thrown down/Everything this summer has its work cut out for it" attitude is kind of insane. Financially yes, I doubt anyone could beat it and as someone who hates the "superhero movies are formulaic trash" attitude, I'm glad to see it rises so high. Quality wise though? Eh...I can't say anything bad about it, but I can't really say anything exceptional about it either. I'm still struggling to bring myself to place it in my top 5 superhero films list and these sort of overblown sentiments are starting to make me feel the film is overrated.

Anonymous said...

I have never been a big fan of DC in the grand scheme of comics, and the only two Justice League characters I ever enjoyed were Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern. I've had enough Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman doesn't phase me one way or the other, and The Flash... runs fast, I guess. Aqua man never did anything for me.

That being said, I feel like a JL movie is going to feel like it's trying too hard to compete with Marvel. ESPECIALLY if Man of Steel bombs, and they put continuity stuff in it. Green Lantern tanked, and if they put continuity stuff into Man of Steel, and it tanks as well, it's not going to be pretty.

Daniel R said...

I don't think this is a good idea.

I'm still having to explain to a few of my acquaintances how this Spider-Man has absolutely nothing to do with the old trilogy or with The Avengers or how Wolverine not showing up in The Avengers isn't a stupid move on Marvel's part. Imagine how confusing things could get if Justice League featured a new Batman or Green Lantern so close to their last films.

Just explaining some of the stranger hero's like "The Atom" or "Martian Manhunter" would take its own movie. Hell, even "Aquaman" and "Hawkgirl/man" could be too much to simply introduce with an immediate Justice League movie.

If I was an executive at Warner, this is the course I would suggest taking; (None of these are my ideas of good films, just in quickly laying the ground work for a JL film)

1. Make sure Nolan intends to kill Bruce Wayne in the end of TDKR, as Batman's death could easily provide a situation in which the audience deems a reboot necessary to continue the series.
If Nolan decides against killing him, complain and get the door shut right in my face by Nolan while he yells "I do what I want!," sob quietly

2. Hastily insert some sort of cameo/easter egg into Man of Steel's closing credits.
"Mr Olsen, please don't photograph the crime scene while I analyze the evidence."
*distant bank alarm*
"On second thought, could you make sure no one touches it while I'm gone? Back in a flash."

3. Dig up Whedon's Wonder Woman script from the archives, use it and make sure "From the writer of The Avengers" is plastered on every single piece of advertisement I can make.

4. Green light (heh) a pseudo-reboot for Green Lantern, √° la Incredible Hulk. Perhaps starring John Stewart as he is more often associated with the Justice League in the minds of the public.

5. Quickly ready a Flash film starring Bradley Cooper who has made it audibly clear he wants a superhero in his resumé.

6. Release a new de-nolanized Batman film, with a few more fantastical elements to further separate it from the Nolan trilogy.

7. Release an Aquaman film on a reduced budget, wade through all the Entourage jokes.

8. Release a Hawkman/girl film on a similarly reduced budget, careful to include lots of call backs to reassure the public it is in fact connected to the other films.

9. Release a sequel to the Man of Steel. Include a hastily put together post credits scene featuring the Batcave, Batman, and a holographic plan of a giant orbital station.

10. Reenact the JL cartoon intro with the real actors and with original theme music, sans Manhunter. Release at Comic Con. Hear the crowd go wild.

The road to a proper JL film is a long one, Warners is neither prepared nor patient enough to take it. Either they take their time setting this up or hope this script is so amazingly magnificent that they're able to set up and introduce a plethora of characters, give them a legitimate threat to fight, establish a connection with the audience, AND do it all in under 2 and a half hours.

I don't think a writer from Castle can give them that.

Elessar said...

Dear DC/Warner Bros,
Do you want to make a Super powered team movie for cheaper than Avengers, that's different enough that it won't be compared to the Avengers TOO much, just to test the waters? Well then I would like to remind you of two words.

Secret. Six.

Just sayin.

Love, Elessar

(PS: If you need a script, call me. Seriously, I could have one for you in 2 weeks).

Phil said...

"2. Hastily insert some sort of cameo/easter egg into Man of Steel's closing credits.
"Mr Olsen, please don't photograph the crime scene while I analyze the evidence."
*distant bank alarm*
"On second thought, could you make sure no one touches it while I'm gone? Back in a flash.""

That made me smile. :-)

MovieBob said...

@Dave,

I'll confess to not having read most of the New 52 "Wonder Woman." I'm told the writing is good, and I plan to give it a look, but what I was exposed to didn't grab me visually or narratively. I will say, quite definitively, that I detest the change to the origin story; and if the whole "male children of Amazons" subplot plays out in-reading as awful as it's sounded second hand... yeah, I can see myself hoping the movie stays as far away from that as possible.

To my mind, the only hope the character really has to become relevant again beyond iconography is for WB.DC to nut-up and stop being so terrified of how radical her basic conception is. Go back to formula re: Marston's initial setup of her as a radical warrior-woman vanguard of female-superiority, go as far in on the pansexual/kink/sexual-liberation aspect as a PG13 will let them; then balance it out with the more greek-myth heavy business from Perez's 80s revival. It's unnavoidable: WW is the "weirdest" of the big name JLA characters, you might as well OWN it - "Thor" meets "Wrath of The Titans" meets the femslash-y later seasons of "Xena."

It's basic three-character math: You've already got your Captain Kirk (Superman) and your Bones (Batman); you need a Spock. Wonder Woman is your Spock - odd, exotic, etc. You've gotta play up that oddness - she's more "earthbound" than Superman, but also more removed from the "traditional" human experience... and at the same time, not as pathologically-antisocial as Batman. She needs to be the JLA's "Wolverine," basically - not the Team Mom, the Team Riot Grrl.

Link_Shady said...

The Wonder Woman movie script done by the hacks that made the Green Lantern movie script? Oh man! that sucks.

On the bright side, the avengers movie... and rayman legends.

Chris said...

The one thing that a Justice League movie has going for it is that they have a bigger (or at least more well known) roster of planetary baddies. I doubt they would go with Legion of Doom and would hope they don't use Lex Luthor. But Darkseid, Mongul, Doomsday? They have a potential that has not been seen in a big budget superhero movie yet.

Omorka said...

I don't know - I suspect that releasing anything involving a more-fantastical version of Batman in the wake of the Nolan movies is going to confuse the mundane audience. And that's without even considering Wonder Woman (whom they could screw up by miscasting all too easily) or some of the less well-known heroes (like Aquaman or Martian Manhunter). I suspect they'd need to reboot both the Bat-franchise and the Green Lantern one first, unless they make some big moves to differentiate the JL versions from what came before. (I'd recommend this, myself, but I can't imagine Hollywood would go for it.)

Christopher said...

Crosspost from the BD article:

Honestly, I feel like I've already seen the perfect "introduce the Justice League to audiences" movie. Justice League: New Frontier. I seriously doubt anything WB throws together at this point is going to be nearly that thematically coherent or compelling, which makes me sad.

I kind of feel like the DC Animated Movies are going to be the best movie versions of any character not Batman or Superman we're ever going to get, though maybe the success of Avenger's will make that prediction wrong. I hope.

Anonymous said...

I love to see healthy discussion, even if it is sadly so early in the game. Firstly, if DC wanted to it wouldn't have to jump straight into the JLA film... it's got the two most widely recognised superheroes in the world in their back-pocket.
Marvel's problems with licensing and contractual ownershup regarding most of it's heavy hitters (Spidey, Wolverine/xmen) meant that it HAD to test the waters with the pre-Avengers films, establish audience familiarity/expectation with it's B-roster. I mean no offence to the Avengers as heroes, but Spiderman is Marvel's flagship hero as much as Supes/Bats are the forerunners for DC.
Which brings me to my point... Superman meets the batman! Because as shiny and exciting as this mashup-concept is, we're really returning to our pulp roots. This sort of shit happened all the time in previous eras (frankenstein vs wolfman etc
I wanna see Batman try get the better of the goody-two shoes godling, and then join forces to fight...whoever, because THAT'S all you need. Building a universe has the potential to take years: It's taken 4 years (still an amazing achievement and bravo Joss Whedon) to get here. Within 1 or 2, we could be treated to a setup story of the two big boys of DC, and everything else can fall into place after: JLA movie can come out after without that urgency that they'd almost CERTAINLY let squander the opportunity like Green Lantern.

Guess all we can do is wait and see.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

A Wonder Woman script being done by the writers of Green Lantern? Kill me now.

Seriously, take Brian Azzarello's TERRIFIC New-52 Wonder Woman run (it's not over yet, but it's FANTASTIC) and adapt it. It's that simple.

Yes, there's been some heated debate about certain aspects of it, but at its core it's a really good story about family and how they can drive you frikkin' nuts. Much like Greg Pak did later on in his Incredible Hulk run.

As for Justice League, I honestly don't know that it'll work.

Yeah, DC/Warner Bros. HAS to look into it, but if they jump right into it, it'll seem like they're just trying to soak up The Avengers's leftover cash; however, if they wait too long or try to build a world meticulously like Marvel did, they could conceivably have missed the superhero movie craze by the time Justice League comes out.

Besides, you'd have to spend a LOT of time trying to explain who Martian Manhunter is ... unless they use the New-52 cast and dump him for Cyborg, who would be significantly easier to explain.

Despite all these issues, I have a strange feeling that DC/Warner Bors. is going to use Man of Steel to hint at something relating to Justice League, but I guess we'll find out next summer.

Well, people who are actually going to see Man of Steel will: I have no interest in it for numerous reasons.

Oh well. Peace out!

B.L.C. Agnew said...

Smartest thing WB could do - apart from optioning Whedon's Wonder Woman script which they're apparently too stupid to do - is just release a JLA movie with the League already formed at the beginning.

Sure, it'd be great if they can get Henry Cavill in as Supes, but recast everyone else. Forget Reynolds, just go the Timm route and use John Stewart for your Green Lantern, and use the JL movie to give people insight into the more "obscure" characters (i.e. everyone who's not one of the BIG THREE).

Most importantly, this movie should NOT feature an origin story. Crib some notes from Burton's original Batman and have the ass-kickings-in-tights commence from the first scene, and then use a "new" member to the league as an audience stand-in to get everyone up to speed during the second act. They can also bounce off the other members to encourage character development. Hey, they could work pretty much just like Green Arrow did in Justice League Unlimited.

. . . In fact, the more notes you crib from the DCAU series, the better.

Popcorn Dave said...

The worries about Wonder Woman and the rest are legitimate, but the real focus should be on Superman and Batman. Get them right, and the rest of the team will fall into place much more easily. Wonder Woman and Flash solo films are all well and good, but it'll all be for nothing if no-one likes the new Batman.

DC/WB's best strategy would be to try and do a good film of just those two keystone characters teaming up, and then make a "big five" Justice League film as a sequel (maybe with some solo films in-between). Mainstream moviegoers are going to roll their eyes at another bloody Batman reboot so soon after Nolan's films, but Batman teaming up with Superman? There's something new that might get the crowds in. Also, focusing on those two characters means the film has time to develop them both (and more importantly, differentiate them from previous versions), creating a strong base on which to build a franchise.