DC and Warner Brothers told Variety this week that they are officially getting the ball rolling on a Justice League live-action movie.
For those of your unfamiliar with the Justice League (which, I hope, isn’t too many of you), this is the big-ticket DC team including (but not limited to) Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter… the list goes on. At some point in DC continuity just about every superhero in their universe is involved with the Justice League in one way or another.
You would think a geek like me, still coming off that Avengers high, would be excited about an announcement this big.
You’d be wrong.
As I’ve said in numerous entries before, Marvel and Paramount did everything right in order to provide us with the awesomeness which is the Avengers movie. They did something unprecedented in cinema by not only creating a universe for one movie or one set of sequels, but by creating an entire multiple-character, multiple-setting, multiple-franchise spanning overall continuity. This took an immense amount of setup and an enormous amount of planning. It also took the cooperation of directors, producers, and actors all of whom were committed (contractually or otherwise) to the end result, which was the Avengers movie.
In modern Hollywood, a world where the simplest extra with a line can become a primadonna let alone people who have actually earned that right, it was a nigh-impossible task to get that many stars to align to create something of this magnitude and have it truly go off perfectly.
Now, seeing dollar signs which have been so brightly visible for decades that their light is just reaching other galaxies and encouraging aliens to come and invade us, DC and the Warners want to get in on the act.
It’s not unlike DC to take a knee-jerk reaction to something that’s hitting big for Marvel. They’ve been doing it for years. I’m not going to get into an argument about which is the superior brand as far as comics go. Both have their merits. I’m just saying that DC, being the older and slightly less hip sibling, sees Marvel, the younger, edgier sibling with cooler friends, having a really good time and constantly wants to emulate that hipness. Marvel’s friends will listen to DC’s stories but, most of the time, DC’s stories are just trying to one-up Marvel’s and sound awfully similar.
DC is that hipster who tries too hard. When Marvel comes up with something fresh, DC says, “Yeah, we were doing that before it was cool,” despite all evidence to the contrary. And, when you call DC on any kind of bullshit, they just say, “Oh, well, that happened in another universe. You’ve probably never heard of it. It’s still really underground,” or they change their story altogether and say, “Well, that’s because this dude was punching reality and it made everything change, but that’s probably way over your head because we’re so edgy.”
Look at Alan Scott, the newly-gay Golden Age Green Lantern (or, Green Lantern of Earth-2 in the New 52). This was done specifically in response to Northstar, Marvel’s long-time gay member of Alpha Flight and sometimes the X-men, marrying his partner in the pages of their books. As a matter of fact, DC didn’t announce the inclusion of an openly gay superhero in the New 52 universe until the week after Marvel’s gay wedding had already occurred. They promised that a big-ticket superhero would be revealed as being gay as a result, and we wind up with Alan Scott. He’s not “A” Green Lantern, he’s “THE” Green Lantern. Difference being he’s not a member of the Green Lantern Corps, his power comes from a totally different source, and he resides on a parallel earth.
Too much of a strain to make one of your big superheroes on Earth-1 come out of the closet, DC? When you said it was going to be big, I was really hoping Superman would finally come out, but that’s just personal opinion. Marvel did it strong because they’ve got no problem with adjusting to the times and playing into current events. DC did it half-assed because Marvel did it and DC doesn’t want to be seen as the old homophobic guy in the corner muttering slurs.
Ok, I guess I am taking sides. And digressing.
DC can never and will never produce an adequate Justice League movie in the same vein that Marvel was able to build the Avengers. If they did so, it would take more than a decade and probably more ret-conning and rebooting than even DC is used to.
The Richard Donner Superman Universe is a universe unto itself. Every Superman movie made to this point has taken place within that universe. It is not the same universe as the Tim Burton/Joel Schumaker (sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little when I typed that second name there) Batman universe. It is very clearly not the same as the Christopher Nolan Batman universe. It’s not even the same as the craptastic Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern universe. Nothing is united, nothing intertwines, and it would take too much effort to pull it all together into one coherent universe.
DC would need to go into things as Marvel did – knowing from movie one that this was going to lead to the big show in the end. Marvel did this with Iron Man and carried it straight on through to the Avengers. Marvel’s benefit to this was that they were starting fresh with new movies. It let each movie become its title hero’s origin story eliminating the need to squeeze everything into the main event.
This, of course, would mean at least two big reboots from the Warners. Superman’s reboot is already underway with Man of Steel. But, if you want to include Batman in the Justice League movie, that would mean an arbitrary reboot post-Dark Knight Rises. Something like that so soon after what’s sure to be the epic conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s vision of one of the greatest comic book characters of all-time runs the risk of alienating fans, both casual and hardcore alike. To reboot a franchise so soon after seems not only like a ploy for more money but also as a show of low confidence in the staying power of the previous franchise.
Those two debacles aside, you would also need to make at least a Wonder Woman movie and a Flash movie to round out the team. Green Lantern was vague enough that you could sandwich that movie into the lot, but Marvel’s success was never about shoehorning something into place, it was about fitting the pieces where they belong.
The main problem with DC’s properties is that most of them are so contrived and antiquated in their origins, that people lose interest almost immediately. Wonder Woman has been presented as a possible vehicle for every hot brunette actress who ever existed and has fallen apart or been flat-out denied every single time since Lynda Carter put on the bracelets back in the day. It seems cursed and doomed to failure.
Without at least the Big Three – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman – you’re not going to have a good Justice League movie. I think there is too much that DC would have to invest and with DC’s track record of movies (Chris Nolan Batman aside), they’re on a fast-track for a train wreck if they really decide to pull this off the quick and dirty way. We’re talking original bootleg Fantastic Four type train wreck.
It seems to me that DC will probably take the quick and dirty route, as they do every time Marvel one-ups them somehow. Will I see the Justice League movie if it comes out? You bet I will. I’m a fanboy. I’ll be in line opening day. Will I like the Justice League movie if they do it the way I think they’re going to do it? Probably not. But, that’s ok. It’ll just give me more stuff to blog about, and you guys like that whole blogging thing, right?
Until then, true believers. Make Mine Marvel in the movies. Except for Batman. Batman’s cool.
Keep fighting the good fight.