Now that Man of Steel has broken the record for largest opening weekend for a motion picture in the month of June, the talk of the town has turned to building toward the Justice League movie, as WB has said they want that property in theaters by the summer of 2015. Now, if you haven’t seen Man of Steel yet, don’t worry about me offering up any spoilers here, because I haven’t seen it yet either. But I CAN offer up spoilers for the Justice League movie, as you can probably guess from the title up above:
It’s not going to be very good.
How do I know this, you might be wondering? Simply put, it’s going to be compared to The Avengers constantly, and, as I keep saying, it won’t be good.
Comparisons between the two properties are inevitable and perfectly fair. As soon as Iron Man was released back in 2008, people started buzzing about the inevitable Avengers team-up, and some of us knew that could only mean an equally inevitable Justice League team-up.
Whereas it seemed that Marvel Studios had a master plan for how to make their movie happen, DC/WB released The Dark Knight a couple months later, a movie so grounded in its own realism that the notion of a team-up with Green Lantern or Hawkman seemed absolutely ridiculous to even think about. Indeed, DC/WB showed with that movie that they had absolutely no plans for anything even resembling the Justice League. Marvel not only fired the first shot, so to speak, but they did so at a time when the other side didn’t even know they had a gun.
From there, rather than just fast-forwarding to the movie that everybody wanted to see, Marvel Studios went a different route and teased out bland, mostly mediocre origin stories for all of their major Avengers characters. By the time the first shot of The Avengers hit screens last year, we’d already spent ten hours, over the course of five movies, with the characters onscreen. This meant they didn’t need to waste any time at all explaining who Captain America is or how he got to that point in the story. As they say, the movie hit the ground running.
An added bonus was that, if you watched all five of those movies, you already recognized all of the actors who were playing the members of the team (except for one, but who would be confused about a guy who transforms into a giant green rage monster?).
By comparison, if DC/WB makes a Justice League movie TODAY, they’d be working with a Superman that about 56% of reviewers think is pretty good (according to Rotten Tomatoes), a retired Batman, and a Green Lantern that nobody ever wants to think about again, including the guy who played him (Ryan Reynolds is on record saying he’s done with the character unless the screenplay is written by God Himself). Which is, in a nutshell, my second point:
Other than Superman, DC’s movie properties are a complete mess right now.
Of the possible characters we might see in a Justice League movie, where are they at, right now, and how far do they have to go in order to team up together?
Ready to go. This is the whole reason why they’re pushing for Justice League in 2015, as all parties involved in this movie are ready to get to work on the team-up. Too bad there’s more than one character on the team.
Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne retired the cowl to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s… guy that he played in that movie. The studio has a couple options. They could either bring back Christan Bale, at which point, audiences will say, “I thought he retired,” and be very confused. Or they could bring in Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman, at which point, audiences will say, “I thought he was supposed to be Robin!”
Either way, once the characters come together, regardless of whether it’s Christian Bale or Joseph Gordon-Levitt under the mask, the first thing they have to say when they meet Superman is, “Hey, where the hell were you when Bane tried to nuke Gotham?”
Batman pretty much has to be a completely new face with no ties to Nolan’s universe, or it’ll just be messy and make the team-up weak.
They can either reboot the franchise, which would take a few years, or they can introduce a new Batman in Justice League. The latter’s more likely.
This would be like including Nic Cage’s Ghost Rider in The Avengers. That’s not a perfect comparison, because at least Ghost Rider was good enough to warrant a sequel. Think about that. As bad as Ghost Rider was, and it was plenty bad, it was still successful enough to get a follow-up. This movie tanked so hard that it made John Carter look decent by comparison.
Man of Steel sold more tickets in its opening weekend than this did in its entire theatrical run. It’d be ridiculous to think they’d include Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern in the team-up movie.
But just so that you understand that money’s not the only thing factoring in here: Green Lantern also only holds a 26% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes (not the be-all, end-all yardstick, either, by any means, but it’s pretty telling).
I’d guess they’ll just pretend this movie never happened, but here are their options:
– Keep Ryan Reynolds. Hope everybody forgives them.
– Drop Ryan Reynolds. Film a reboot.
– Drop Ryan Reynolds. Introduce a new GL in Justice League.
Thing is, if they try for a reboot, there’s no guarantee it also won’t be a commercial and critical disaster, at which point they’re back at square one. Odds are, as in the case with Batman, they’ll just introduce a new GL in Justice League.
David Goyer wrote a screenplay for this back in, like, 2004. Then it went through two other drafts, switching from focusing on Wally West to Barry Allen, and now it’s stuck in developmental hell, with only vague rumors surrounding the fact that somebody once said Bradley Cooper had expressed interest in it.
If you look at the Wikipedia page for this property, the last thing said about it was that the guys who wrote the aforementioned Green Lantern movie were hired to write the screenplay for this in the summer of 2010, with guarantees that it’d be ready to shoot by the end of that year. Now I’m not saying they CAN’T have it done by the end of 2010, I’m just saying that it doesn’t seem very likely.
Let’s say they shit out a green-light worthy script tomorrow morning, though. At best, this would be ready for a late 2014 release. So unless they’re planning on filming it at the same time as Justice League and releasing it six months ahead of time, I’m guessing we won’t get a Flash standalone movie before the team-up.
Which means, as is the case with Batman and Green Lantern, we’ll be introduced to The Flash in the Justice League movie.
These two are basically at the same point right now. Executives have expressed interest in moving forward with the properties very recently, but, as far as the general public knows, nobody is attached to any aspects of either production, currently. That could change in the next couple of days, though.
Nothing doing. I heard a rumor once, a long while back, that Don Draper was interested in filming a Martian Manhunter movie, but I’m guessing that was just some fanboy’s fantasy booking. As far as I know, no other main characters are being bandied about for Justice League.
So we’re looking at Henry Cavill carrying an all-new cast of characters into the Justice League movie, if they’re serious about sticking to their Summer 2015 release date. While that’s not a guaranteed disaster, the fact that we’ve already established how regularly this movie will be compared to The Avengers suggests that it won’t come close to measuring up. It’d be like having Chris Evans as Captain America and a bunch of newcomers as the rest of the team.
The novelty of having the team-up is to see all of the actors, reprising their roles, together onscreen. Nobody cares as much that Iron Man’s in the movie if Robert Downey Jr. isn’t playing him. Sure, you can get away with swapping out the guys who played the Hulk, and nobody will really mind, but it’s an entirely different story when you’re looking at swapping out your entire team.
If DC/WB wants to get their hands on that Avengers Money™, they’re going to have to slow down and invest in these characters. Batman needs a reboot, as does Green Lantern. Give Superman a sequel in the meantime. Then roll out movies for Flash and Wonder Woman – – Aquaman if they really wanna go nuts. Rather than shoot for a release in two years, maybe double that, and give us the Justice League in 2017.
Hopefully by that point, everything would be in place, and they can introduce us to their villain, Thanos, I mean Darkseid, with his army of Chitauri, oops, Parademons, coming through a wormhole, sorry, Boom Tube, to destroy New York, er, Metropolis.