5 ways for Warner Bros. to get the Justice League movie right

Luke Owen with five ways that Warner Bros. can get the Justice League movie right…

As reported earlier today by the Batman of Flickering Myth, Gary Collinson, Warner Bros. are pushing forward with their Justice League movie that has been rumoured for quite some time now. In fact, back in 2007, WB came close to getting one out the door with the George Miller directed mo-cap Justice League: Mortal, which would have included a recasting of Batman despite Bale already sitting in the cowl.

Since then, Marvel and Paramount (and then Disney) put into a motion a 5-year plan for “phase one” of their Marvel Cinematic Universe. For those of you who have been living under a rock, this culminated in The Avengers, which is currently the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time. With such success from such a simple premise, it’s quite obvious why WB would want to capitalise on their available character roster. Unlike Marvel, WB own all of the DC characters so they don’t have to worry about not being able to use Aquaman because he’s stuck at Sony or not be able to have Brainiac as a villain because he’s part of the Superman lore at Fox. They have it all at their disposal.

My worry is though is that, if WB’s plans are to be understood, they are starting with the Justice League rather than finishing with it. So, I thought I would put my fanboy cap on and plot out 5 things DC and Warner Bros. need to do for this film to be as successful (if not more) as The Avengers.

1. Plan out in advance.


Where Marvel succeeded with The Avengers was more to do with the plan itself rather than the movie. Even if the movie had sucked, it probably still would have made a boat load of cash (the Transformers movies are evidence of that). But because Marvel laid out a 5 year plan, everything slotted into place. Deals were made in advance and a schedule was put into place so by the time The Avengers was ready for release, the general public knew who all the characters were, how they link together and how each of them act.

DC has an interesting challenge here however, as it’s not like their characters are unknowns. Batman and Superman are among the most recognisable comic book characters in the world. Wonder Woman is such a pop culture icon that she doesn’t need much of an introduction and The Flash has been a popular character in Smallville as well as mentioned several times over and parodied on The Big Bang Theory. On top of that, those who watched Entourage will know who Aquaman is, as a movie of him was being made in their fictional world. And despite the fact the movie was an unmitigated disaster, Green Lantern is at least now a known name in the cinema world. So of the six characters they would most likely pick, they’ve all in some form or another had an introduction.

Having said all of that, while the names may sound familiar, the back stories have not been established, nor has an actor been solidified in that role (save a few exceptions). A Justice League movie would benefit from each of the 6 characters having their own solo movies to establish character, motives and most importantly, the actor who is playing them. Which brings us to point number two…

2. Don’t recast.


Now this all does depend on the ‘epic conclusion’ of Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise. Should the Bats be killed off (given Bale’s recent comments, I don’t see that happening), they would have to recast Batman and that would make sense. But Christian Bale has established himself as Batman. When people think of Batman now, they don’t think of Michael Keaton or George Clooney or Adam West (sadly), they think of Bale. He has brought so much to the character that has not only registered with the comic book community but with your Average Joes too. Throwing someone new into the mix, in a multi-character movie to boot, would put them at quite a disadvantage.

With Man of Steel hitting cinemas soon(ish), it would make sense to keep Henry Cavill in the red and blue. But if the movie is deemed a failure, would Cavill meet the same fate as Brandon Routh and be re-cast? I know a lot people who were confused as to why Edward Norton wasn’t playing Bruce Banner in The Avengers after playing The Hulk in 2008, but imagine what the film’s success might have been like had someone else played Iron Man or Captain America? Audiences went in knowing that Chris Hemsworth was Thor and that Samuel L. Jackson was Nick Fury so the battle of ‘can they pull off the part’ had already been won. They could just settle straight into the movie and not ask questions.

So, in an ideal world, Warner would keep Bale as Batman, Cavill as Superman and (sigh) Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern. Should they re-cast those parts, it could be detrimental to the film (especially re-casting Bats).

3. Establish a villain / group of villains & his / her / their motives.


One thing The Avengers doesn’t get enough credit for was that they didn’t just establish their main heroes but they also established a villain and his weapon. From watching Thor we knew how much of an evil son of a bitch Loki can be and by watching Captain America: The First Avenger, we saw how powerful the Tesseract is. So when we went into The Avengers, we knew Loki was dangerous but with this new tool he could be unstoppable – hence why a team had to be formed.

For the Justice League movie, their best bet in order to ‘one-up’ the competition would be to emulate the Adam West Batman movie. While that may sound laughable, what made that Batman movie so much fun to watch was that Batman was fighting against all of his adversaries at the same time. We as an audience need to be given a good enough reason for why this team is forming rather than just dollar bill signs in the WB execs’ eyes. In this DC Universe, wouldn’t it be great to see Bane teaming up with Lex Luthor to take down the Justice League? It would certainly work out better than just picking one bad guy at random to take over the world and therefore having to spend half the movie establishing a) him and b) his motives.

This also means that they need to work harder to establish that all of these characters live within the same Universe. Mock Batman Forever and Batman & Robin all you want (please do, they are terrible), but they actually did try subtly to set up the fact that Gotham and Metropolis are in the same universe (“The circus must be half-way to Metropolis by now”, “This is why Superman works alone”). I’m not suggesting that these lines were put in by WB to cleverly set a Superman / Batman movie should one happen, but these simple touches subtly installs knowledge into an audience that these characters could cross over – just like we did when Tony Stark showed up at the end of The Incredible Hulk.

4. Don’t just do it because The Avengers made a lot of money.


Because that’s what this news feels like. DC and WB should want to make this movie because it would be awesome, not just to balance out cheque books. Get someone in with a passion for this, get someone who can understand the characters and bring out something in them no one knew existed, get in someone who can raise the bar of this movie just as Joss Whedon had done for Avengers. Get in… get in…

5. Get in Christopher Nolan.


Of all the people walking this earth today, no man alive and well has done more for the Batman character than Christopher Nolan. After 1997, we all thought that Bats was dead and buried, but Nolan swooped in like the Batman to Joel Schumacher’s Joker and revived the series. He impressed so much (and made so much money) that he was brought on to help out with the Superman re-launch. If they trust him enough with their two huge money making franchises, surely they’d have the faith to put him in charge of this too. Plus, with Nolan comes David S. Goyer and Wally Pfister, and that team has a license to print money. If there was one man who could plan this out sensibly, it would be Nolan.

So in a nutshell, that’s what I think DC and Warner Bros. need to do in order for the Justice League movie to not only succeed, but compete against The Avengers. When you lay down all the chips, Marvel did everything right in their execution of their super hero team up, will DC learn from their success or just dive in at the deep end without so much as a creative thought?

Some could argue that DC shouldn’t just copy what Marvel did and do it their own way. But my counter-argument would be why fix what isn’t broken? If DC makes a Justice League movie next year with a whole new cast and crew with no lead in and without establishing anything, the movie will suffer. Sure, it would make a lot of money – but it won’t make Avengers money.

Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.

Around the Internet…

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisjohnsongoffe Chris Johnson

    I say keep Chris Nolan away from this, including his universe. They really need to be careful with how they treat audiences. Create an entirely new universe, new set of rules and circumstance in which we can believe all these other superheroes had existed under Batman&#39;s nose.<br /><br />… Or just don&#39;t make it right this very moment?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesalanbetts James Betts

    Nolan went to great lengths to make the Dark Knight trilogy grounded in reality rather than superpowers (so much so that laughed at the idea of Bane when I first heard). I also think that not re-casting Bale would put the other characters at a disadvantage, because his Batman has so much history the emotional connection to him might be greater than for the other characters. I still thinking

  • Brianlepak51

    Way off on what needs to happen. They absolutely have to recast and start over on the series; the Avengers series had scripts that were written in conjunction with one another. Trying to take a realistic Batman and put him in a world where there&#39;s an invincible alien from Kansas flying around, an intergalatic police officer, a demigod with an indestructible rope, a man that runs as fast as

  • Pryde78

    I think your wrong about the superman return what hurt that movie was superman having a son Brandon Roth played a good superman and was hand picked by christhopher reeves wife superman return was about how superman would adjust to a world that didn&#39;t have him for five years and how will a world adjust to him this not the fan in me speak either I don&#39;t like the new superman suit superman

  • danny

    Then don&#39;t want MOS simple as that. Go watch the Christopher reeve impersonator Brandon Routh on his wooden and emo performance of Superman.

  • http://twitter.com/CGLuke_O Luke Owen

    Just to address some of my points as I feel they&#39;ve been lost somewhere down the line.<br /><br />RE: Bale as Bats – Funnily enough, I&#39;ve always felt he was the weak link in Nolan&#39;s Batman. In the grand scheme of things, I rate him as one of the worst Batmans – but that&#39;s personal taste. Having said that, he has established himself as the character and audiences recognise him.

  • Vishalgoswami77

    1)This is very well put down coz DC&#39;s characters have got loads more potential than Marvel&#39;s, plus we&#39;ve got Nolan&#39;s expertise of film-making &amp; the amazing universe of Batman he&#39;s presently established in our minds.<br />2) Superman will taste the same success Batman did with Nolan&#39;s supervision. Green Lantern&#39;s box office failure can be redressed if Nolan directs

  • Migilicuty11

    Best solution: don&#39;t do this at all!<br /><br />It&#39;s clearly a cash grab. They aren&#39;t going to wait 5 or 6 years to properly introduce characters/stories. They are green with envy and want that Avengers type money. Therefore, they won&#39;t take the careful plan of action as Marvel did (even if they did, the &quot;copycat&quot; approach would be pathetic…but hey, it&#39;s Hollywood)

  • Anghus

    i actually disagree with #2. I think if youre going to be the anti-avengers, recast everything except maybe Superman since that isn&#39;t even out. You could use Superman as the one cohesive element or even completely recast. If this is a fresh launch into fresh features start with an entire new cast. That&#39;s part of the excitement for this thing is new faces in familiar roles, which is

  • Ben White

    I think starting with the Justice League film is a great idea. It makes the most sense and if treated properly, can easily be done. Its not like we haven&#39;t had ensemble films before which use the first ten or twenty minutes to set up each character, for example the A-Team movie. It may not have been great but it successfully used that first ten or twenty minutes to set up the film well.<br />

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frankie-Addiego/511600464 Frankie Addiego

    Grrr, the mytho of the mighty Nolan &quot;saving&quot; Batman continues.<br /><br />1) For a movie deemed &quot;the worst movie ever made,&quot; [i]Batman &amp; Robin[/i] cracked $100-million in the US box office and another $200-million or so in the international box office. Not to mention, [i]Batman Forever[/i] was the 2nd biggest hit of 1995.<br /><br />2) In the wake of B&amp;R, Batman

  • Alex Murphy

    Well grounding the Nolan Batman universe in reality is all well and good, but we also need to understand this is the first 10 years of Batman&#39;s universe, before there were the unbelievable villains, and writing off the believability in a JLA movie is an easy fix, just show a scene similar to the sequence in Hush where Bruce and Thomas Elliot visit Metropolis and see superheroes. <br /><br />

  • Vishalgoswami77

    1)DC Comics has made movies with immense character backstories, emotional linkages and deep sense of judgement, so people expect more from these movies more than Marvel, therefore JLA should not be assigned to just any director but only someone whose reputed expertise has been tested and approved, like Chris Nolan.<br /><br />2)Although some people think Nolan should be excluded from this project

  • Vishal Gos77

    1)DC Comics has made movies with immense character backstories, emotional linkages and deep sense of judgement, so people expect more from these movies more than Marvel, therefore JLA should not be assigned to just any director but only someone whose reputed expertise has been TESTED AND APPROVED, like Chris Nolan.<br /><br />2)Although some people think Nolan should be excluded from this project

  • Osahon8701

    i think someone is jealous if marvel studios planned for the avengers they have every right to enjoy their success and besides the avengers rule any thing dc n justce league do will b just plain copying hahahaha

  • da master

    good luck on getting christopher nolan involved in a justice league movie, thats not his style, nor is that what he wants. ever notice how the last two batman movies there were no mentions of other heroes or even side kicks (gordon&#39;s son got more screen time than barbara herself)? he wanted that world separate from everyone else. i admit, would be awesome if he was involved (writer or

  • Brent

    Here&#39;s a hint, and it would suck, but drop Batman. It&#39;s too soon to make a new Batman work and Bale won&#39;t come near this. Drop Batman and connect superman and latern

  • iraptor

    Casting Ryan Reynolds would make this an immediate &quot;no watch&quot; for me. I hate that guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ej.liwag Ej Liwag

    one thing DC has to put it in it&#39;s mind is that it doesn&#39;t matter what happens to Christian Bale&#39;s character in the end of RISES<br /><br />Nolan created the Dark Knight like V for Vendetta, he may die but his idea, his iconic role and legendary name will never die. Someone will take the place. And it would be nice if in a Justice League movie, Batman never takes off his costume. He&#

  • http://www.facebook.com/ej.liwag Ej Liwag

    what i meant on the last part btw on &quot;make it seem like so&quot;<br />is that Bruce Wayne makes himself disappear to be just Batman<br />never being Bruce Wayne, just being Batman

  • http://twitter.com/HolyFranchise HolyFranchiseBatman!

    They could always have Henry Cavill rotate the Earth backwards and erase all of the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy… but on a serious note, I think they&#39;ll use Justice League to fully reboot Batman.

  • Hewerdine

    I&#39;m definite Chris Nolan wouldn&#39;t want any part of this ensemble…But it doesn&#39;t mean it can&#39;t be as good as the Avnegers. Now listen boys and girls. Casting should be: Batman- Chris Pine, GL- stick with Ryan Reynolds (hey you cracked critics, the film may have not made good impressions on many but story-wise it did do justice), the Flash – Bradley Cooper, Superman-Henry Cavill,

  • http://www.facebook.com/ej.liwag Ej Liwag

    hehehehe true dat~!<br /><br />btw they could begin JL with Superman and the others being recruited…..<br /> By BATMAN. this could be a new Batman with Superpowered enemies. But it<br /> must be that this Batman must be in JL as an established character. he <br />recruits other supes because he saw something fell from the sky that he <br />needs assistance, one would be Martian Manhunter the

  • http://www.facebook.com/ej.liwag Ej Liwag

    After Seeing the DARK KNIGHT RISES today<br /><br />what i said about BATMAN either not taking off his mask the whole JL movie or either there&#39;d be a new one under the cape but noone knows that it isn&#39;t WAYNE or something else /wink<br /><br />CAN HAPPEN with JL<br />there can be no reboot<br /><br />before you say NO NO NO There must be a reboot<br />WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE first

  • Kol Drake55

    Nolan also was able to cut and paste some really good Batman arcs to make movie one and two… and sort of 3. Not sure he can do that with a Justice League set — none of their story arcs has been &#39;big enough&#39; to be movie worthy. Not even if you claimed &quot;Infinite Crisis&quot; or &quot;Darkest Night&quot; as the arc to emulate.