After The Avengers did super-crazy-good at the box office the WB announced that they would have their own big team up movie, Justice League, on track for a 2015 release. Well, they had someone working on a script but rumor is that’s been scrapped. They haven’t found a director, and now they’re claiming they want to see how Man of Steel does before they move ahead. They also seem dead set on not following the proven track that Marvel has by building the world with solo movies before shoving everyone together. They want to do the opposite because, well, it’s the opposite of what their rival is doing. There have been several articles on why this is a bad idea. Personally, I think Man of Steel is going to do fine. I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far, and despite fan-geek rumblings on message boards where every quote is taken horribly out of context or blown up to silly proportions (SUPERMAN IS GOING TO BE DARK AND REALISTIC!!!111!!!1!!) I think we’ll get a decent flick.
That said, I think a JLA live action movie is just a bad idea. The Avengers worked for several major reasons. One, they established world building through a series of decent-great movies people generally really liked that linked things together before the big team up. Two, they got a writer/director who knew what he was doing. Joss Whedon knows comics. He knows how to do ensemble stuff well (FIREFLY!!!!). He’s also a pretty great writer. They picked a great person to helm the project. Three, they got the right actors for the various roles. Four, Avengers is just easier to do in live action without it being silly.
Marvel comics have always seemed to be a bit more grounded in reality than DC. DC is more mythological/fantastical while Marvel has always been more sci-fi. Sure Avengers has Norse gods running around, but even that was explained with a more scientific approach- advanced science always looks like magic to those who don’t know what they’re looking at. But all the other members of the Avengers are pretty much just normal humans with sci-fi-explained tweeks that make them superhuman. Stark has a super advanced suit of armor and is a genius. Hulk and Cap have been genetically altered by science. Hawkeye and Black Widow are just crazy good at what they do.Nick Fury is Sam Jackson. See? All their powers are pretty much explained by and rooted in science, granted more sci-fi science, but science none-the-less. It all feels a bit more grounded, enough so when aliens come flying out of a wormhole and Banner turns into the Hulk and smashes the audience goes along for the ride.
With the Justice League you pretty much have a group of gods, and Batman. Sure Flash’s powers happened through an accident and GL is a very sci-fi thing; but you still have basically Hermes who can move at the speed of light and do stuff that just isn’t, as far as we know, even close to scientifically possible and a space cop with the most powerful weapon in the universe on his finger that can make anything he can think of out of pure will. Then there’s Superman and Wonder Woman. You know why Man of Steel is trying to approach the story from the point of view of “how would humanity react to finding out there’s real aliens and they can do all this powerful stuff?” and how Clark comes to grips with who he is? Because that’s more relateable to audiences than a boy scout demi-god flying around in underwear who can do just about anything. Audiences are going to ask “Why does Superman need a Justice League? Couldn’t he just have this whole thing wrapped up in five minutes and have time for a coke and smile before the rest of them even get there?” Wonder Woman is almost as troublesome. She is the daughter of actual gods, after all, and almost as powerful as Superman, depending on which comics you’re going by. Then there’s Batman. The Nolan Batman films played like gangbusters at the box office, and I loved them too. But if we’re honest those weren’t real “comic book Batman” films. They were mob movies with elements of Batman thrown in for flavor. If Batman were a rogue cop and Joker hadn’t had the makeup in Dark Knight you still would have had pretty much the same movie. That’s not the comic book Batman, and it’s certainly not the Batman who’d be running with the JLA. The Batman we’re looking for is the Batman portrayed in the Arkham Asylum games or the animated DC movies and series. Which brings me to my point:
The Justice League Movie should be CGI.
Don’t believe me? Watch this, I’ll wait….
By going the CG route like the example above the WB can avoid a lot of the problems of a live action film and actually make a movie that could still do huge at the box office without being a train wreck. First, people tend to be more likely to suspend disbelief when it’s animation, and you can get by with a lot more without it looking fake and/or stupid. I don’t know a single person who has seen that trailer above, comic fan or not, who hasn’t remarked how completely awesome that was. It was pretty dark, much darker than what they’d want to shoot for with a big movie, but it worked on a level that no live action movie is likely to. In CG the costumes don’t look silly. In live action, they kinda do. In CG you can get iconic voice actors who have been known for these parts for the last 20 years: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker…basically everyone who did the old Justice League TV series. They would already have the perfect built-in team to handle it: Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Andrea Romano. They’re the DCAU trinity of awesome that has made the last 20 years of DC animated products so freaking good. Let them move up to the big time and handle a big budget movie rather than these 70 minute long direct to DVD things. Pixar and Dreamworks have shown that big budget animated movies can do well. Heck, The Incredibles showed that it can work for superheros and make a movie that everyone loves. Its time for Warner Brothers to wake up and realize that their answer to the Marvel movies is staring them right in the face. That’s just my take on it anyway.
J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, and the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1- all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.