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Warner Bros Developing Justice League Movie: Where's The Evil League Of Evil When You Need Them

By TK Burton | Industry | March 29, 2011 |

By TK Burton | Industry | March 29, 2011 |

Oh boy.

Warners and DC are apparently taking a page from Marvel. Marvel, as you know, is riding the wave of the successful, and likely to-be successful films building up to the massive, Joss Whedon-directed Avengers movie (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, as well as other players without a feature film — Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye). Yesterday, the LA Times ran a profile of new Warner Brothers motion picture president Jeff Robinov, and all manner of craziness was bandied about.

Now, we have confirmation on a good bit of it via the LA Times’ Hero Complex and some of it’s good, some of it’s interesting, and some of it is just bearfucking crazy.

Robinov confirmed what many have already suspected/knew, which is that after the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern film, they’ll get to work on an adaptation of The Flash. Also, despite the concurrently running David E. Kelley “Wonder Woman” show, a film version of the famous Amazon is also in development. Of course, we also know that Zack Snyder, for better or worse, is in the midst of getting a Superman film going, which will star Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner. So that’s The Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, and Superman.

Yes, they also confirmed that they are definitely moving forward with a Justice League film, slated for 2013. There are several issues with this:

None of the aforementioned DC movies are even out yet, Superman hasn’t even started filming, and the others haven’t even begun pre-production (or even have scripts). Which means they’re banking on success that is far from guaranteed. In fact, it’s unclear whether The Flash and Wonder Woman would shoot first, or come after a Justice League movie pending its success. Which would be sort of an interesting approach, actually. Introduce them all at once, and then spin them off into solo projects. It makes the idea of an origin film a bit more complex, actually.

Given all of those facts, 2013 is incredibly soon. Marvel did things the smart way — they made Iron Man, and upon its success, decided to move forward. Their Hulk film wasn’t a huge success, but it did well enough and a lot of people (myself included) enjoyed it. So they had a foundation, which they built upon (albeit clumsily) in Iron Man 2, and buzz is already pretty big for this year’s Thor and Captain America. DC and Warner Brothers have none of those benefits right now, especially given how leery people are of Snyder in the wake of Sucker Punch. But they want to pull all of those things together in two years. Yikes.

Thirdly, there’s no mention of whether or not the actors in those roles (again, only two of them even are cast thus far, and only one has a release date). That sort of continuity is important (though not necessarily critical — hello, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner). I’m assuming that Reynolds, Cavill and whoever remains to be seen will be signed to multi-picture deals much as the Marvel actors have been (the craziest being Sam Jackson, who inked a staggering nine picture deal with Marvel Entertainment). But of course, that makes one wonder about…

Well… Here comes the crazy-assed elephant in the room.

Most of you comic fans know that the Justice League revolves around a core group of characters (Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Aquaman, not to mention Green Arrow and others, are not in solo film development). There is of course one big name missing from the list a couple of paragraphs back… Batman.

For the most part, people expected that part of the reason a Justice League movie would never happen was because the Christopher Nolan Batman universe is totally at odds with the concept. It ignores the possibility of magic and aliens and super powers in general, instead focusing on a gritty, real-world approach to the character. Christian Bale’s Batman simply doesn’t fit into this framework.

Which means… yup: The dreaded reboot.

According to Robinov:

“We have the third Batman, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman…Chris Nolan and [producing partner and wife] Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.”

Here’s where the geeks snort in disdain, and I suspect I’m one of them. Given that The Dark Knight Rises is slated for a 2012 release, that means we’d be essentially see a “reinvented” Batman… the following year. Which is kind of crazy, because this isn’t just a matter of getting a new actor — it’d likely involve a new approach to the character in general, one that allows for a more, for lack of a better term, comic booky approach to the character (meaning it would allow for a more fantastical universe with aliens and Amazons and superpowers and whatnot). This is the part that seems poorly thought out.

Actually, the idea of a Justice League movie isn’t a bad one per se. It’s just that one can’t help but feel that Warner Brothers is rushing into things, to try to latch onto the current superhero craze. And DC has not had a good history of hero films, Batman franchise notwithstanding. Which means they’re planning on revamping their one success story to shoehorn it into a Justice League movie that includes characters that filmgoers have, as of right now, no knowledge of. It will be very tricky.

And possibly disastrous.

We shall see.

Oh, and we haven’t even started talking about who the villain(s) would be. Chew on those mind grapes.

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TK Burton is an Editorial Consultant. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.