By Mother Brain
Since the massive success of the previous summer blockbuster, Marvel’s The Avengers, DC Comics and their parent company have been extremely desperate to compete at the box office. It’s no secret that they want a Justice League movie produced because it would be a major event movie featuring all the household names of the DC Universe: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter. Unfortunately, the more missteps that Warner Bros. makes, the better off that this movie should not happen.
When Marvel started their own independent studio with 2008’s Iron Man, they set the stage for a slow buildup to their most epic superhero movie ever with The Avengers. We’re talking three years of establishing each member of the team (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America) in their own solo films, tying them all within the same universe, and ultimately bringing them together. What’s more important is that the films were handle with delicate care by screenwriters and directors who approached each character as a comic book fan first. All the while, Avengers director Joss Whedon acted as caretaker and consultant for the cinematic Marvel Universe.
Warner Bros. and DC, however, have an odd tendency to jump the gun on their properties. When their Smallville television show heightened in popularity, fans expected the tail end of the young Superman series to transition into a new Superman movie franchise with actor Tom Welling already established in the iconic role. Since the studio wanted success in two different mediums, Warner Bros. refused to cancel Smallville and pushed to get Superman back on the screen ASAP. First came their failed attempt at the unproduced Batman versus Superman under the direction of Wolfgang Petersen. Then came Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns which had a vague connection to not only Smallville but also the 1978 Richard Donner film and it failed miserably. All through time, fans left confused.
As Superman struggled to fly again, Batman was resurrected after a horrible franchise death at the hands of Joel Schumacher with 1997’s Batman and Robin. Christopher Nolan with 2005’s Batman Begins set a new standard for comic book movies as well as film franchises in general. Rather than remake what came before it, Nolan remained Gotham City in a real world setting with a full Batman origin story and far more disturbing take on Batman’s greatest foes. The Dark Knight films would eventually eclipse Tim Burton’s 1989 film and every other adaptation that came before it.
Warner Bros. was willing to disregard the continuity of Superman and Batman in 2007 when they announced that a Justice League movie going into production under George Miller’s direction. Neither Batman star, Christian Bale, or the Superman of the time, Brandon Routh, were considered for it. In an attempt to rush production before the writer’s strike, the studio sought after unknown actors such as D.J. Cotrona and Armie Hammer to lead the film with a $220 million budget mostly shot in motion capture. Again, there was a serious disregard for fan perception. Soon, production delays, orders for rewrites, and the writer’s strike put Justice League on indefinite hold.
Meanwhile, Marvel’s success with Iron Man paved the way for lesser known comic characters to finally get the silver screen treatment. As the Dark Knight series remained strong and a Superman reboot was in the works, Warner Bros. hoped to capitalize on Marvel’s formula by making a Green Lantern movie. Previous attempts at less popular DC characters had failed to develop: Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman, Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow, David S. Goyer’s Flash, etc. If Green Lantern succeeded, it would open up new attempts at bringing those characters to the screen. Instead, it all went wrong as a result of hot shot casting (Ryan Reynolds) a technically competent director with a track record but no familiarity with the source material (Martin Campbell), and a screenplay that simply ripped off Iron Man’s formula rather than letting the movie stand on its own. When Green Lantern failed with critics and audiences, Warner Bros. opted to scrap these solo projects in favor of moving forward with Batman and Superman.
Now it’s 2013. The third Batman film in Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was the swan song of its director and its star, Christian Bale. Superman was rebooted as Man of Steel under Nolan’s producing efforts, Zack Snyder at the helm, and Henry Cavill as the new Superman. The latter was a box office hit but a mixed bag for critics and audiences. Warner Bros. is still hell bent on making Justice League and they consider Man of Steel to be the jumpstart to the potential film as Iron Man was to The Avengers; however, nobody has it clearly thought out. David Goyer, the screenwriter, says Man of Steel is outside the Dark Knight universe which means there must be a totally new Batman and both Snyder and Nolan have no clue how Justice League will be made. So if there’s no captain stirring the ship, why then jump aboard?
The point I’m trying to make is that a Justice League movie is too useless and nonsensical to make. No one under the Warner Bros. umbrella gives a damn about continuity in the DC Universe the way Marvel did. They can’t even figure out how to team an alien god and a brooding vigilante with a band of space warriors, cyborgs, and mutants without it looking silly. Case in point was the disastrous CBS television pilot produced in 1997 which was made without the use of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman due to legal reasons. One look at it and it’s just as bad as Captain America’s package bulging in his failed 1979 television pilot. If it didn’t work then, how in the hell will it ever work now?