In less than two months, "The Avengers" will be hitting theaters. It's been several years in the making with five movies working to set up the events and characters for the sure to be block buster. With comic book fans and regular movie enthusiasts alike clammering to see the action with characters like Captain America, Thor, Ironman, and the Hulk, this might seem like perfect timing for another superhero team based movie. Over at Warner Bros. and DC comics, they have a superhero team that's more wellknown than the avengers ever started out to be and has arguably the two biggest super heroes in comics history: Superman and Batman. That's the justice league. So, with Marvel having put together four separate Xmen movies, two Fantastic Four movies, and now the Avengers, what's the hold up with DC? Wouldn't this be the perfect opportunity for them? Or would it?
I don't think that anyone would argue that a big part of the reason that so many people are as excited as they are for the Avengers movie is that they've had five good to great movies to build up for it. Marvel built on each of the biggest characters from the team in their own individual movies before going to the team movie. That gives each character a fanbase of some kind to start with. Not only that, but with the one exception of the Hulk/ Bruce Banner, they've kept the same actors and actresses on for the team movie. This is huge. People like a sense of coninuity with these types of things. You don't want Captain America to be played by Chris Evans in his own movie and then Joe Pesci in the Avengers movie. That's a bit of an exageration, but you get the idea. So, what would DC and Warner have to do to make this work for the Justice League? Well, first thing we have to do is look at the lineup. Probably the most popular lineup for the group in the comics in recent memory was that of; Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and The Flash. So, let's look at each of those individual characters, their movie status, and how they may or may not translate to the big screen...
There is reportedly a Superman movie already in the works. I think it's already begun filming in fact. There is yet another new actor taking on the title role. Personally, I thought Brandon Routh did a fine job in the role in the last movie. It was the story and dialogue that were atrocious in that one. This is something that we can't expect out this year though and who knows if it'll be a big hit or another disappointment? For some reason, the studios can't seem to get their heads around this character anymore. Maybe we can't go as squeaky clean and cheesy as in the 70s and 80s, but moving too far away is a death sentence to any potential movie. It's not the special effects that will make or break this character and the sooner somebody in power gets that, the better.
Obviously, Batman has been the big gun so to speak for DC in the last several years at the very least. However, if we go by the last few movies and the one coming out this summer, there are several problems when it comes to keeping continuity if that's what we're going for and the character being in a Justice League movie. First, this is the last Batman movie that Christian Bale is under contract to do and he may not be interested in doing another one. Next, from what I've heard, there's a chance Bruce Wayne may die at the end of the movie coming out this summer. Finally, there's the simple fact that in the Chris Nolan crafted Batman universe which the movies have taken place in, its just too based in cold hard reality. This version of Batman may not fit in a team of super powered people.
Outside of a direct to dvd animated feature, Wonderwoman hasn't seen any screen time other than animated justice league bit parts. The live action tv series which would have starred the character couldn't even get past the pilot. In fact, that didn't even make it to air. I don't know if the demand just isn't there for this character or if it's more of what has happened to Superman with noone who really knows what to do with the character.
This character has been in a lot of the animated and in particular justice league animated works in the last ten or so years, but has never had his own movie. This is one which if done in an interesting enough way, could be really good in my opinion. I mean all the elements are there for a good movie and some good stories, but even the comics which this character was created in haven't had much luck in that department. The number of good Martian Manhunter stories in the past decade or so can probably be counted on one hand. This is character that may have to be introduced in the scope of the team movie itself which could threaten to give him too much focus in a movie with quite frankly stronger characters in Superman, Batman, and even Wonderwoman.
Super strength, telepathy, and being the king of Atlantis hasn't kept this character from being the butt of many a joke over the years. While it may be true that over two thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by water, the conflicts which take place to determine Earth's survival as we know it almost always take place above water and generally on land in the superhero universe or in space even. And the fact that Aquaman prefers being in the water is even part of his name. I know he adds an element to the team, but the very nature of his character and abilities make it hard to find ways to include him in the team's adventures and any really good stories. I'm sure it CAN be done. But so far, it definitely hasn't been.
This character should be one of the easiest fits to the team and type of movie we're talking about here. He's got cool powers. He's used to being part of a team. There's already been a movie released around him.... Oh wait. That's right. The movie. That movie was so bad that even Ryan Reynolds doesn't seem to want to do another one and this guy seems to jump into any role he can find that's even remotely connected to a comicbook. Let's count... Flash (before it was scrapped apparently, but we'll get into that more in a minute), Green Lantern obviously, Blade Trinity, Wolverine: Origins, and I believe he's still pushing for Deadpool in a solo movie about the character. I don't know. I think the character could be saved, but they may have to completely ignore anything from the solo movie going into a team movie.
As I said, Ryan Reynolds has tried to get on board a solo movie for this character according to many rumors, but as of now there is no confirmation that this movie is in the works at this point. It's been a long road for the fastest man alive. Outside of cameos in animated shows based around other characters, the Flash has only ever been in the Justice League animated projects and a short lived live action show which I believe was either in the late 80s or early 90s. Still, there is a little more name recognition for this character than some others I think. And it really shouldn't be that hard to get a good solo movie going for him if DC and Warner really wanted to do it. Either way, The Flash would be a good fit for a Justice League movie just like he is in the comics and cartoons.
I think what we see from all of this is that DC is a long way away from being able to pull something together like Marvel is with the Avengers. But we can also see that for the most part, DC has the characters and the material to work with for good stories and movies. It's just a matter of bringing it all together. Things started clicking into place for Marvel when the comic company started taking more control of the film department. Maybe Warner needs to start thinking the same way and loosen their grip a little and give DC some money and faith to try and do the same type of thing. People liked these characters in the comics for a reason. If you don't change too much, I think the same will be true for the movies.