MovieBob - Intermission
Advice From A Fanboy: Justice League

Bob Chipman | 30 Nov 2012 12:00
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NOTE: The following contains spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises.

On January 27th 1996, pretty much nobody outside of 20th Century Fox had heard of a movie called Independence Day. One day later, Fox paid an estimated $1.3 million to run an early advertisement for the movie (still unfinished at the time!) to run during Superbowl XX. 34 seconds later, the iconic shot of The White House being blown to smithereens by a massive flying saucer (an astonishing system shock to an America fifty years past Pearl Harbor and still five years away from 9-11) had immediately taken its place in the pantheon of unforgettable cinematic images, and the film was instantly the most talked-about upcoming movie event of the year.

The point is, most of the time nobody really knows which upcoming movie is suddenly going to become the next most-anticipated release ... although, occasionally, those of us who do this for a living can make an educated guess.

Mine? Well, The Hobbit: Part I - An Unexpected Journey will be released to theaters in about two weeks. A prequel to the Oscar-dominating, mega-grossing Lord of The Rings trilogy, it's expected to draw a huge audience, so studios are scrambling to have trailers for their biggest upcoming films "attached" to play in front of it. One trailer that almost all of those audiences can likely expect to see (as it comes from the same studio as Hobbit) will be The Man of Steel - the new Superman movie.

Despite being largely absent from the big screen for a few decades save for the awkwardly-received Superman Returns and frequently referred to as an out-of-touch character ill-suited to the modern world, Superman remains not only the universal symbol of the Superhero (which also happens to be the most popular movie genre in the world right now) but a cultural icon whose international recognizability is typically up there with Mickey Mouse and Christ. Footage from the film has been closely guarded outside of an understated teaser and a now legendary Comic Con sizzle reel, but the early word is that it's an insane, massive-scale action film (Zack Snyder of 300, Watchmen and Sucker Punch directs) that aims to make Superman "kick-ass" once again.

If this first full trailer can convey that it's a colossal movie experience that'll also refreshes a beloved icon, I'd say that's the stuff "next big thing" phenomenons are made of. Warner Bros. is certainly hoping so. They've now more or less officially confirmed that the film is intended to be the kickoff to a new wave of interconnected DC Comics films à la Disney/Marvel's "Cinematic Universe" project that will either leap directly to or culminate in a Justice League feature set to go head-to-head with Avengers 2 in 2015.

... Please allow me a moment to reflect on the fact that I just typed that and it's a true thing.


Thank you.

Unfortunately, unlike the widespread positive vibes that Marvel (now Disney) was able to ride all the way to Avengers, DC fandom is a ball of nerves about the whole project given Warner Bros.'s constant unceasing failure to make anything good out of any of these characters except for Batman. Seriously, check out a few of those links - it's just embarrassing at this point.

Well, fear not! As has been my snarky, egomaniacal want before, I here present to you (and anyone from Warner Bros. who might be visiting) a brief list of precautions that might be taken should the studio, filmmakers, etc., wish to prevent Justice League from turning out like the last time they made a movie about a League...

No Introductions Necessary

So far, the most encouraging news for me about a Justice League movie is that Warners' current schedule would leave them almost no room to make any other lead-in movies apart from Man of Steel (which was supposedly "converted" into an official lead-in relatively recently), meaning that League would probably have to introduce already in-the-business versions of the various members and then hopefully spin them off into series of their own depending on how they were received.

I like this idea. In fact, I love it.

If the JLA (they're more often than not called The Justice League of America) have one advantage in adaptation over The Avengers, it's that their three central "big guns" do not require much in the way of introduction. Outside of The Hulk (whom mainstream audiences mainly knew from the 70's TV show) and Captain America (whose image was widely known but not much else), the stars of The Avengers really did need full movies to introduce audiences to their world and supporting casts.

Justice League, on the other hand? Not so much. Everyone knows Superman: strong, flies, Clark Kent, Daily Planet, Lois, Jimmy, Kryptonite, Truth, Justice and The American Way, etc. Everyone knows Batman: Bruce Wayne, abandonment issues, Alfred, Batmobile, Gotham City, Bat-Signal, etc. Wonder Woman is the most widely-recognized female superhero on the planet, even if her exact details (and kinky origin story) aren't widely known outside of the magic lasso and Invisible Jet. Most of the supporting cast isn't hard to explain. Flash runs fast, Aquaman is "Boy Little Mermaid" with attitude, and the Green Lantern ... is probably gonna be on the bench for awhile because he did a bad thing.

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