May 19, 2012

With the Success of The Avengers, Is a Justice League of America Movie Next?

Do we really need to look past the success of The Avengers, which is well on its way to becoming the highest grossing film of all time, for a reason to get a Justice League of America movie into the production pipeline? Give Marvel Studios, parent company Disney, and everyone else involved credit -- they played it perfectly. Beginning with the first Hulk movie, they introduced the characters, gave us the backstories, teased audiences, and most importantly, got us all emotionally invested in the individual heroes and franchises (The Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.) 

Part of the reason The Avengers is doing so well is because it was the result of a slow and well planned and executed build -- one character at a time; one movie at a time. And even as they were making gobs of money with the individual films, everything was being set up for a big team-up. We knew years ahead of time that a mega-movie featuring ALL of these characters was growing ever closer.

So can someone tell me why Hollywood isn't more aggressive in their partnering with DC Comics to achieve the same thing? Dating back to 1960, the Justice League of America is older and has FAR more backstory than The Avengers ever did. In large part, this is because the JLA has a deeper roster of characters with rich histories that predate (by decades) all of the Avengers -- with the exception of Captain America. And few would argue that the JLA counts among its members, two of the three single most recognizable comic book heroes in history -- Superman and Batman (the third would be Spiderman.) 

So why no JLA movie? 

Maybe because apart from the Superman movies and the two separate Batman franchises, the top DC characters have never really been given a chance on the big screen. Instead, we've inexplicably seen lesser characters like Catwoman, Jonah Hex, and Swamp Thing. Sure, we got Green Lantern last year -- but why no Flash movie? Why no Aquaman movie? How about Green Arrow and Black Canary? (They're at least as movie-worthy as their Marvel equivalents, Hawkeye and Black Widow.) And why no Wonder Woman? All are great characters, fully capable of carrying one (or more) films on their own. If Hollywood would do these movies right, and then put these characters together with Superman and Batman in a Justice League of America movie, you'd have a film property that could rival, perhaps even surpass The Avengers

Yet a quick search of the web for DC Comic movies gives us very little to hang our hopes on. Green Lantern 2 appears to be on track, but Aquaman can't seem to make it off the small screen. The Aquaman TV series that spun-off of Smallville a few years ago never got picked up by a network and was released on iTunes. A movie version (reportedly attached to Leonardo DiCaprio's production company) remains little more than a rumor -- one slated for 2015 at the earliest. 

Screenwriter David S. Goyer, to his credit, has completed scripts for both The Flash and Green Arrow and has fought to get them into production. Both are (or at least were) close to being official, but The Flash (if and when it is ever confirmed) now seems more likely to come from Green Lantern writer Greg Berlanti. And a Wonder Woman movie, despite tons of rumors about Megan Fox starring in the title role, also seems a long ways off. (Even the updated TV series got shelved.) Serious web searching finds the film in the always-vague "in development" stage. 

Maybe the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill and set for release next June, will do well and serve as the first step towards a JLA movie. All signs point to Man of Steel being a can't miss hit. Let's face it, if you can't get a hit superhero movie by teaming director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) with screenwriter Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan (the duo behind Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises) then there's just no hope. 

Odds are, with such a stellar creative team, and an all-star cast that includes Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon, Man of Steel WILL do well and hopefully jump start the aforementioned Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman productions. From there, it would make sense for Martian Manhunter to make an appearance in Green Lantern 2 and/or a Man of Steel sequel. Then, with the core members of the JLA having all been introduced, best case scenario, we could finally get a JLA movie sometime around 2017... 

One can only hope...

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