Now that Man Of Steel has proven to be a hit at the box office, demand has increased even more for a Justice League film. It’s unfair to Man Of Steel because the natural thing would’ve been for a sequel to that Superman film. It’s also unfair for the Batman franchise being that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy concluded last year. Normally, the focus on the franchise would have been on rebooting it not taking part in a team film.
What is driving the pressure for a Justice League film is the phenomenal success of Disney/Marvel’s film The Avengers. To say that The Avengers was a game changer isn’t a small statement. That film proved that it is feasible to present an entertaining, well crafted film that utilizes many characters from a shared cinematic universe. But it’s not unprecedented. Remember Universal Studios decades ago did this with their horror movie monsters fighting each other in films.
Warner Bros. and DC should’ve gotten the ball rolling years ago and put references of the larger DC Comics universe into their DC films.
They did put in very minor references in Batman & Robin (where Batman mentions Superman) and in Superman Returns (a PA announcement could be heard about a Gotham City train), but that was it. Christopher Nolan refused to have any mention of the other DC characters in his Batman films, so that opportunity was lost. Ditto with 2011’s Green Lantern. In Man Of Steel, Superman and Zod battle by a satellite that belongs to Bruce Wayne’s company, so that is a Batman reference. Plus, some there’s a blink-and-you-miss-it Booster Gold reference during a fight scene. Yet all this pales to Nick Fury’s surprise, substantial cameo at the end of Iron Man, which led to more Marvel Comics universe references in other Marvel films that culminated with The Avengers.
DC could go the same route but they don’t have the time. Fans want a Justice League film now. They’ve grown impatient with the studio’s glacial progress. Besides many higher ups in DC and Warner Bros. have stated that they don’t want to copy Disney/Marvel’s formula. Frankly, it would be the best thing to do, but with Disney/Marvel charging ahead and greenlighting films, Warner Bros./DC can’t afford to do that. It becomes a game of catch up and they’re way behind.
Nonetheless, many fans are going insane with the lack of communication from Warner Bros./DC on the status of the Justice League film.
This proves that they are taking this matter seriously and want to put out the best possible film. While there is pressure to make the film already, they don’t just want to rush out and slap something together. Given the failure of Green Lantern, Warner Bros./DC know they cannot alienate fans.
Taking Time To Do It Right
The latest rumors have it that TPTB would rather put out a sequel to Man Of Steel before a Justice League film. That solves a few problems, namely by giving them more breathing room to pick the right creative team for a Justice League film. At the same time, the rebooted Superman is given time to burnish his credentials and hopefully include more overt references to the other DC heroes in the sequel.
One advantage DC had over Marvel at one time was that their heroes were more well known in the public mind than Marvel. This led to Marvel’s methodical method of introducing their slate of heroes beyond Spider-Man and the Hulk in the films that led to The Avengers.
DC doesn’t have to introduce Superman or Batman. The only dilemma with Batman is that he must be recast since Christian Bale recently announced he wasn’t returning to the role. The question now is should Warner Bros. produce a new Batman reboot before the Justice League film? If so, that will push back the team film even further. If they don’t then Batman gets shafted and the character deserves a proper solo film. There is also the matter of whether or not audiences are ready for a new take on Batman.
As for the other DC heroes, Green Lantern had his film a couple of years ago. They could either recast the role like the Hulk was, or keep Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, which is easier. His casting wasn’t what was wrong with Green Lantern and recasting will add unneeded pressure while trying to find a new actor to play Batman.
Wonder Woman is well known outside of comic geek circles. She can be introduced in the Justice League film. The Flash can also be introduced and even tell the story from his eyes (or Wonder Woman’s) as he gains his powers and meets the other heroes. If the character proves popular enough then the Flash gets his solo film, or he winds up as Hawkeye.
Right there are the five core members. Throw in Aquaman, since he was one of the team’s founders, as a mysterious hero. The focus wouldn’t be on him, but on how the first five heroes meet and get along with each other. The inevitable sequel can introduce Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, Black Canary and others.
Sure, Disney/Marvel is ahead of the game now , but Warner Bros./DC can’t be second guessing and worrying about their rival. Just choose the right people to put out the best possible Justice League film.
Still, in order to address the pressure, a decision needs to be made soon and announced. Perhaps that is what is intended with the upcoming Comic-Con. We’ll find out soon.
Lewis T. Grove