How do you make a Justice League movie work?

Now that Marvel is reaping the rewards of years of planning and given us the ultimate super hero team up movie, naturally everyone is looking for DC to get in on this. DC however isn’t in a great position to get a Justice League out in the next few years, but let’s assume they decide to go ahead and try to compete in the same general time frame as Avengers 2. Where to begin…

A) Batman. This is the trickiest thing about getting this movie to work so let’s start here.

Obviously the Nolan Batman would not work in this context at all so that is out of the question. The next theatrical Batman should probably be a little lighter in tone anyway since we’ve had years of the dark and broody way. Surely though any attempt to reboot Batman this soon will not be received well. Spider-Man is getting a lot of flak for rebooting after five years, just imagine if Batman was rebooted only a couple years after the Nolan trilogy.

So then do you just recast Batman and throw him into Justice League as his first movie? I think that route is almost equally problematic. As unpopular as I know it is my solution would be to just not include Batman at all. Batman is by far my favorite super hero so it does pain me to say, but he’s already had more movies than any other hero, it’s time to give some screen time to someone else. Besides, I don’t think Batman works particularly well in the Justice League anyway, he is so outclassed by his teammates that we really don’t get to see most of the things that make Batman so great.

I know that Batman is a proven money making character though so it’s a tough sell, but it is the best course I think.

B) Superman. Using Henry Cavil seems fairly obvious, assuming that the new movie is good, which I do. I don’t really feel like Superman has ever gotten a really great movie like he deserves, but a movie of this scope with him as the front man would be a perfect fit.

C) Wonder Woman. She’s never gotten a theatrical film, which is absolutely criminal. The potential for a great movie is there though and this is what they should focus on immediately if they want a good set up for Justice League. The animated movie from a few years ago is an excellent blue print for how her lead-in movie should look. Casting will be of critical importance, but I don’t have any great ideas about it. My gut tells me to go with a strong relatively unknown, but my mind is open to possibly using an established star here as a draw.

D) Green Lantern. Using John Stewart is a no brainer for me both for the sake of diversity and the fact that Hal Jordan was recently butchered on the big screen. The question is whether or not he should be rebooted, I don’t think that is necessary. Green Lantern to me is sort of the opposite of Batman in that he works better in a larger universe than a singularly focused film. So just throw him in there as an intergalactic police officer, not much backstory is necessary.

E) The rest of the team. Filling out the rest of the spots is the biggest task remaining.

I think The Flash would work quite well, preferably with a lead in movie. He’s quite familiar for someone who hasn’t had a movie, and he works great in this context.

Black Canary would be a solid pick I think in light of how awesome Black Widow was, she could be used similarly. Plus another female balances the team well. No lead-in movie is necessary.

Martian Manhunter I think could translate quite well to film with his unique powers, and we haven’t really seen a hero like him in a film before.

I think Aqua Man should be avoided for now, it’s just a hard task to sell him as cool to general audiences, and that would be a task best suited for later if the franchise were to continue.

Cyborg is just boring.

So then my cast is Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Black Canary, and Martian Manhunter. That’s a solid core of six who are varied and interesting. Only two lead-in movies (Wonder Woman and The Flash) other than the already made Superman movie are necessary.

As for a villain, Darkseid would be just great, powerful and menacing enough to come across as a threat worthy of such a super heroic team up. Assuming Thanos is the villain for Avengers 2 though it might seem derivative if Avengers comes first. This might be helped somewhat if you give him someone more grounded to work with, someone like a Lex Luthor. I don’t know enough about the new Superman reboot to know if that casting would be a good match though.

My ideas may be very different from yours, so let’s see.

For The Flash by the way I’m picturing Neil Patrick Harris. Just throwing that out there.

Well, if the upcoming Superman movie isn’t utter crap… they should probably emulate Marvel - slap on a post-credit scene with some kind of tie-together element like Nick Fury. It might not have to be that elaborate, just a passing reference to Gotham City might do, to demonstrate that Superman and Batman exist in the same fictional universe. Then in the next DC movie (presumably a Superman sequel or a Batman reboot), drop another reference to Central City, or some mysterious amazon that just appeared in Washington. When Wonder Woman appears, do not start her out in her own movie, have her be a major supporting character in a Superman film.

Maybe Superman himself is the central element. He flits over to Gotham to check out rumours of this violent vigilante, then later is at the U.N. when Princess Diana of Themyscira demands recognition, he meets Hal Jordan and is already aware of the existence of the Guardians but didn’t know (and is surprised to learn) that an Earthman has been recruited, and somehow finds out there a super-speed character in Central City and checks that out.

Then something dramatic happens, something against which Superman himself is of limited use, and the others step up. I admit, I don’t like stories like this, and the animated universe had lots of them, but I recognize it’s hard to have Superman and Batman on the same team without the former completely overshadowing the latter.

My honest recommendation is don’t make a live-action JLA movie. Make a hard PG-13 animated one, like Justice League: The New Frontier, but without all that “Centre” crap.

If Man of Steel is good, I’d much rather see a World’s Finest or Trinity movie as a follow up. Even though the Justice League has been in development forever, any actual movie now is going to feel like (and maybe will be) a cheap imitation of Avengers. And no matter how good, it will suffer from that comparison.

With a Trinity movie, you get to quietly reboot Batman outside of the franchise and you get to launch a Wonder Woman franchise if she resonates enough with audiences. You also get epic superhero team action while avoiding Avengers comparisons.

Not really - there are enough “versions” of Batman to accomodate. The DCAU version is no weaker than Superman, but certainly less specialized, and with far more flexibility.

C’mon, you wouldn’t want to see a live-action Justice League of the same quality as the DCAU?

I think it is too late for them to do what Marvel did and start with separate movies. Doing that would delay a theoretical Justice League movie for at least 5 years which is too far away. They will have to just make a Justice League Movie and then maybe spin movies off that.

I also think in a pinch they could get away with just limiting a movie to the big three, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and then maybe expand to the Flash, GL and Aquaman later. Less characters will make the movie easier to make (both in terms of script and FX) and I think just having Superman and Batman together in a movie will get enough assess in the seats to counteract the one fan of the Flash who boycotts because he isn’t in it.

DC already has one arm tied behind it’s back with movies because over all (and I am painting with a wide brush here), their characters are just broader and less down to earth than Marvel’s are. On the comic page that can be an advantage but as a movie it is a hurdle you have to overcome.

If Superman is good, the next movie should be World’s Finest pairing Superman with (a new) Batman. This pairing has been shown to be irresistible when Batman is written as a brilliant strategist with a wide distrustful streak. For instance (in some continuities) when they first meet, Batman has a lead-lined cowl - as he has independently deduced (detective) that Superman has X-ray vision after studying his feats. Batman also bluffs that he’s rigged with a heartbeat monitor that will detonate a hidden series of bombs should he be killed. That’s act one. Intro a villain who can only be matched with both might and gamesmanship, and the rest writes itself. Have a Wonder Woman teaser post-credits.

ETA: this way WB tests the waters with their two proven draws. If the movie doesn’t do record business, they’ll know they have no hope of selling Justice League. More likely, this teaming would be the ideal springboard.

The problem as I see it is that every restart of the Superman & Batman stories has built them up to be the biggest, baddest thing ever in their world. They’ve made veiled hints at there being a few other things going on out there, but the sole focus of a Batman movie is BATMAN. They’re also kinda sunk by the fact nobody’s made a Wonder Woman movie, and the Green Lantern movie seems not to have been well received. And, I think you summed it up well enough in “E) The rest of the team.” Whoever those guys are. You know, the ones who aren’t Superman or Batman.

I think their best bet for a movie would be to restart ALL the franchises AGAIN, at the same time, for the specific purpose of a Justice League movie. Given the number of restarts, my assumption is that this would not go over well.

Cast Wonder Woman as Nick Fury - a mystery person who assembles everyone together - but instead of that character going off to the side and manipulating the rest, she would lead them.

With a lead character, particularly a woman, the comparison to the Avengers goes away. The Avengers tried to give equal billing to everyone. (Instead, you have something more like Captain America, but where the minions are superheroes instead of regular joes.) It also solves the inherent problem that a solo Wonder Woman movie would have - how to make it seem like it’s really all about the story, not the bustier. She could have her own movies after she’d established herself as a serious character on the big screen.

I think you would mostly want to stock the group with weaker characters. You could throw in Superman or someone else in the mega-leagues, but to keep the movie to stay on the track that there’s a lead character, you present the issues of working with and trying to manage someone whose capabilities are so far beyond everyone else and has his own mission in life, beyond the team.

An example lineup: Green Arrow, Black Lightning, Flash, and Black Canary.

The Flash, Atom, Green Arrow, Elongated Man, and Wonder Woman to start. After a couple of minor mess-ups they get the job done, attracting the attention of Superman. After a movie or two Batman joins in.

I’m not sure how well this would work in a live-action depiction. The complete lack of leverage for basically everything the character does would be terribly obvious.

Being able to stretch and mold your body freely could be useful in many real-world circumstances, but not in most of the ways that are depicted in comics. Most circumspect is that elongation is rarely going to be useful compared to morphing (to look like someone else) or flattening (like, to slip under a door).

Also his name is the Elongated Man.

Could be worse.

I don’t see this panning out well for a general movie audience. Comics? Sure. The same people that swarmed to Avengers? No way.

WB would be fools to not put their biggest, most commercial cash cows out front. Make no mistake, Marvel would have TOTALLY had Wolverine and Spider-Man right in the founding of the Avengers if the rights weren’t elsewhere. And even though that’s comics blasphemy, they’d be in the right (read rolling in dough) to do it.

DC’s big three must be there from the word go. Flash and a GL are an easy fourth and fifth. Round out the sixth and seventh with another woman and a minority, and you’ll have to dip deeper into the obscurity/fan favorite pool – so that’s a win win. Hawkgirl screens better than Black Canary despite the comic’s continuity, and avoids the doubtless comparisons to Black Widow. The newest Blue Beetle was a young Mexican kid. They could play him up as the Spider-Man wisenheimer/smartalec who the audience identifies with by virtue of his newness to the superhero world and rookie status and general sense of awe. Two women, a black guy (GL), and a Hispanic kid would really round out what is too often a team of middle aged white men.

No offense but if you pitched that to a studio, you would be fired. The only reason a Justice League movie would exist is to have Superman and Batman in the same movie. Everything else is expendable.

Sure, I would. I’d also like to see controlled fusion in my lifetime.
And unicorns.

Seconded. If the team doesn’t start with those two, or at least one of them, forget it. At best, you’d get an updated version of that cheesy 1997 pilot movie.. In contrast, the latter seasons of Smallville had a pre-Superman Clark Kent as the primary, meeting up individually with proto-versions of Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hawkman, etc. then assembling them for team action after they were individually established. If that had been turned into a JLA series (as was strongly hinted at various times), I’d’ve given it a shot.

Then what would be the point of making a Thor movie, an Iron Man movie, or a Captain America movie? Only the Hulk was known outside of comicdom of the Avengers characters when Marvel made the first movie for that character.

DC and Marvel are, presumably, both business-savvy and shrewd dealers, but there’s a distinct difference between when they produce comic book films and when Hollywood does it on their own. Hollywood just wants to cash in on a known-product. DC and Marvel do the best by having a wide roster of money-making material. It gives them more copyrights to sell, more toys to sell, a wider audience, and the ability to develop multiple movies in parallel.

:eek: In my opinion, Captain America is in the rarefied air of “Tier 1” comic book characters. The ones even my grandma has at least a passing familiarity with.

For what it’s worth, the Fantastic Four movie made plenty enough money to justify its sequel; Reed Richards didn’t look that goofy.

Here’s the Google Trends for Batman, Superman, Spider Man, The Hulk, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, and Captain America, respectively:

http://www.google.com/trends/?q="batman"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="Superman"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="spider+man"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="the+hulk"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="wonder+woman"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="iron+man"
http://www.google.com/trends/?q="captain+america"

I can think of reasons why certain results would come back higher than expected - for example, “hulk” is a word on its own (hence my use of “the hulk”), and people might refer to a woman as a “wonder woman” because of something impressive she did - but I can’t think of any way that the results would come out lower than the real world trend.

Captain America and Iron Man were both nothings before their movies, so far as the general public was concerned.