Marvel’s “The Avengers” has grossed over $1 Billion worldwide and is one of the most successful films in history. Yesterday it was announced that Warner Bros. would seek to duplicate this success by moving forward with the development of a much expected “Justice League” Movie. As a fan of the JLA and of its many members I should be ecstatic about this—but I’m not. In fact, given the information we have, I think it’s a pretty big mistake.
In brief, we’ve been told that Warner Bros. has hired “Gangster Squad” writer Will Beall to provide a screenplay likely to feature Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and The Flash. Not much is known beyond this—however if we take a look at what made the “Avengers” a success as an ensemble film we can see some things that DC will need to have in place but is choosing (at this point) not to pursue.
Marvel and Paramount did something really risky in seeking out an “Avengers” movie. Starting with 2008′s “Iron Man” they developed and filmed an establishing story for nearly all of the core team members of the film. “Iron Man”, “Iron Man 2″, “Thor”, The Incredible Hulk” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” all led directly to the ensemble Avengers movie and part of what makes “The Avengers” so awesome is that it is an indirect sequel to each of those films while still allowing the independent development of further stories with those characters. This was financially risky of course, because if any of the establishing movies was a box office flop then it would jeopardize the pièce de résistance that “The Avengers” was intended as.
DC has admittedly been in the movie business longer than Marvel, with most (if not all) of their films having come from Warner Bros. Still, the history of DC movies is . . . questionable at best. For each “Superman “there is a “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”. Each “Batman” has a “Batman and Robin”—in short for each good DC movie produced by Warner Bros. there is an equally bad one.
This checkered past is a concern on its own for DC fans, but the additional news that a “JLA” movie will ignore established movies that have been commercially successful such as Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy as well as “Green Lantern” and the upcoming Superman film “Man of Steel”—red flags appear everywhere. By ignoring what has been developed, a “JLA” movie begins with no establishing continuity for the heroes being featured. What this means is that Batman, Superman and Green Lantern will appear on screen in a different capacity than was established (or in the case of “Man of Steel”, will be established) by the preceding films which will create confusion within those stories. Add to this the fact that Wonder Woman and the Flash have no on screen presence thus far, and will therefore have to be introduced—possibly including their origin stories—in the “JLA” film, makes the film crowded and confused at the outset.
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