Monday, December 03, 2012

"Justice League" Playing It Safe Already?

Uh-oh.

Warner Bros. cannot catch a break in their awkward dash to get "Justice League" onto the big screen for 2015. They already faced having to open the pic in the same relative space as "Avengers 2," and then found out that they'll also be contending with "Star Wars: Episode VII." All of this, of course, comes on top of the fact that the whole project is hinging on "The Man of Steel" doing the kind of business (and audience word-of-mouth) that no DC superhero not named Batman has done in the 30+ years between "Superman II" and right now.

Now, their working choice of nemesis for the "Justice League" screenplay (currently being hammered out by Will Beale) may have been discovered by Latino Review - who are very rarely wrong on these things. If they're right... honestly, I'm a lot less enthusiastic for this project already.

READ ON if you want the details...

 
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According to Latino Review, The Justice League will face off against DARKSEID, alien dictator from Planet Apokolips.

Meh.

He's not a BAD choice, certainly. He makes sense from a plot standpoint, he has lots of foot soldiers and flunkies to make trouble, he's passably-familiar to non-devotees because he's been in a bunch of the cartoons and he's "powerful" in the sense that he can get into fistfights with Superman. I get the sense that that last one is the main reason he'll be onhand: WB's approach to their DC properties is easily shallow/disengaged enough for me to believe they take the "Superman is too unstopable to be compelling!" thing seriously.

Problem is... even though Darkseid came first by many years, he's really similar to prospective "Avengers 2" antagonist Thanos; and even if "League" were to open first Thanos is likely going to be hovering around in the various Marvel movies over the next two years - no matter how you slice it, this is the exact wrong way to go if your trying to not look like your playing catch-up to another movie. Honestly, even Lex Luthor (who I still wouldn't count out in some fashion) again would be automatically more interesting because of the kind of scheme a mere human would have to be working to challenge a team of near-demigods.

Also problematic: Unless their hiding a massive (and, frankly, rather unwelcome) "It's actually ALL about Darkseid!" angle from "Man of Steel;" he doesn't really have much of a connection to the other characters or their worlds - he's not anbody's father, brother, mortal enemy, etc; and there won't be any movies in-between the retcon him into being involved in some new way.

That's actually the most potentially interesting thing about Darkseid being in a movie: that he's part of a much larger pantheon of cosmic figures in Jack Kirby's cult-classic "Fourth World" books. The prospect of all that business turning up would be spectacular... but probably not going to happen. Kirby's "New Gods" have a silly-name problem (a sample: "Granny Goodness & Her Female Furies"), and like Darkseid they were designed to live mostly seperate from the rest of the DCU until the line faded (Kirby was a great artist, prolific-but-batshit-insane "idea man, yes... not-so-hot as a writer) to mostly being background noise for "Darkseid: Catch-All Big-Bad For Any Scenario."

So... yeah, it'll come as no surprise if you read my column over the weekend that this doesn't exactly fill me with hope. Definitely doesn't mean the movie will be "bad," and it's totally possible that they've got an interesting story to tell with him or a bigger picture yet to be revealed ("Darkseid... aaaaand also a ginormous army of enemies from across the entire DCU!!!"); but this just isn't as immediately 'cool' to find out as Loki was ("a magic user whose more about fucking with The Avengers' mind-game style than brute force? Interesting!") and it just feels like an incredibly safe, calculated, risk-averse move in a movie (and genre) that needs to be anything but.

I could, of course, be completely off-base on this one.