Several years ago, Warner Bros. and DC comics were moving forward with a Justice League movie featuring a batch of relative unknown teens playing all of our favorite DC superheroes. Reaction around the internet was hostile, to say the least and DC instead decided to focus on their standalone projects, most notably, Batman. But a lot has happened since that failed project and Marvel has written the blueprint for how to make a fantastic, ensemble superhero film.
Before I even get too far into this, let me make it clear that I feel DC has a much tougher task ahead of them than Marvel. The DC superheroes that make up the Justice League are not nearly as “human” as the Marvel superheroes that make up The Avengers. But the good news for DC is that they have what might be the most important aspect of any superhero film; Christopher Nolan. If he leads the effort to bring a Justice League film to the big screen, then Warner Bros. can start spending the money now. If THE AVENGERS taught us anything, it’s that giving the film to a director that knows and loves the material makes all the difference.
But they have some work to do first. The most important thing for DC to solve right now is the Batman problem. Christian Bale isn’t going to play Batman again after THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. If they can’t persuade him with tons of cash, then they’re going to have a problem finding someone the fans like and respect to take over for the caped crusader. There are rumors swirling around the net that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is going to put on the mask in the third film and if he does, then problem solved. If not, then WB will have to find a solution and I’m not sure it’s going to be possible without rebooting the franchise (which I don’t really want). The other problem is with Superman, but if MAN OF STEEL is a tenth as good as the Batman films, then Henry Cavill should be fine. If Ryan Reynolds is game, then Green Lantern would be set as well.
When it came to THE AVENGERS, I felt that Marvel had to get standalone films for all the major characters. For the Justice League, I think they’d be better to get MAN OF STEEL in theaters and then go straight to a Justice League film. I’m not of a mindset that Wonder Woman can carry her own film, but she’d be great as part of an ensemble. The same goes for Flash, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter and to be frank; I don’t think Aquaman or Manhunter should be in the film at all since their origins are far too complex for an ensemble film.
THE AVENGERS had a lot going for it, not the least of which was continuity with several other films that gave the fans a familiarity with all the characters. DC isn’t going to have that luxury, but it’s never too late to start. You can pull elements from the Batman films, GREEN LANTERN and the upcoming MAN OF STEEL and incorporate them into the JLA movie to give the feel of continuity without a Nick Fury-like character.
But if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Warner Bros. and DC, it’s that they don’t really know what to do with their superheroes. WB got lucky with Christopher Nolan, but other than that, their decisions with their superheroes have been head scratchers. But a JLA movie can work and if they take Marvel’s lead, they can have a movie that rival the success of THE AVENGERS.