In a move that will likely be unsurprising to comic fans, Warner Bros. has officially announced plans for a live-action Justice League movie. In addition, Warner Bros. confirmed that Zack Snyder will direct the long-awaited, most anticipated superhero team-up story. Warner Bros. has long-desired to make Justice League a reality, and finally the film appears on the horizon. However, in their fervor to try to duplicate the success of The Avengers, it appears that Warner Bros. could be rushing the Justice League movie out too hastily.
Warner Bros. president of worldwide production, Greg Silverman, revealed the studio’s plans to The Wall Street Journal. Silverman stated on the planned superhero team-up film, “It will be a further expansion of this universe. ’Superman vs. Batman’ will lead into ‘Justice League.’”
Although Warner Bros. has officially announced the Justice League movie, the actual execution is still easier said than done. There are still two more years until the May 2016 release of Batman vs. Superman, a sequel to last year’s Man of Steel. Warner Bros. expedited their plans for a cohesive cinematic universe based on DC characters by inserting the more lucrative Batman character into the mix. And while Man of Steel did decent business, it pales in comparison to the stronger efforts from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). For example, the recently released Captain America: The Winter Soldier will soon surpass the worldwide box office take of Man of Steel at $668 million.
Batman has proven to be a strong, established brand name at the box office. However, this new iteration of the character will not be the version composed by director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale. Instead, this version of Batman will be played by Ben Affleck. Affleck, who is also an Academy Award-winning writer and producer, has been a polarizing choice among fans in the role. Granted, properties such as these are no stranger to heated arguments and debates with regards to casting. Heath Ledger’s casting as The Joker for The Dark Knight, over seven years ago, was widely reviled among the comic fan community before the late actor leaped off the screen and literally stole the show. Still, Ben Affleck had only mediocre success when playing another comic book superhero character before in Daredevil, a property known for some of its darker and edgier stories — much like Batman.
While Warner Bros. is certainly taking the initiative with moves like securing Snyder, some may also wonder if this is a more reactionary effort to Marvel’s overwhelming success with The Avengers. As a result, the Justice League movie looks like a project that is being hastily rushed by Warner Bros. Previously, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment were unwilling to pull the trigger and take advantage of a DC-inspired cinematic universe.
Marvel Studios took a lot of time and painstaking effort in their lead-up to The Avengers. However, it appears as if Warner Bros. is trying to have their cake and eat it too by attempting to duplicate Marvel’s success, but doing so even more quickly than Marvel accomplished the feat. Despite being a film meant to focus on Batman, Superman, and Lex Luthor, the movie will also introduce Wonder Woman and Cyborg. Both characters have already been cast for the film, with Gal Gadot set to be the first cinematic iteration of Wonder Woman and theatrical actor Ray Fisher playing Cyborg.
Considering this is only DC’s second foray into their own attempt at a cinematic universe, it appears that Warner Bros. wants to get started on a Justice League story right off the bat by bringing in other characters. This is unlike Marvel’s strategy of establishing members of The Avengers with their own solo-films ahead of that film’s release between Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. DC Entertainment is trying to dive right in by squeezing Batman and the other Justice League members into only their second movie. As a result, fans and moviegoers alike will not be very well acquainted with many of the newer characters in a Justice League film.
The most interesting aspect of all this is that several years ago, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson rejected Marvel Studios’ model as one DC Entertainment could possibly follow. She espoused to IGN: “People make an assumption that we’re going to mirror Marvel’s strategy, for example with Avengers. We do have a very different attitude about how you build a content slate. And it isn’t necessarily about connecting those properties together to build into a single thing. We think we’ve got great stories and characters that will lend themselves to great standalone experiences, and that’s the way we’re focusing on it.”
Now in 2014, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment are taking the exact opposite approach, an approach much more similar to Marvel that does incorporate connecting properties together into a single thing. But in doing so, the entities appear to be trying to rush it too quickly. Nelson also went on to say, “But there is not a single thing we’ve done that has been reactive to Marvel from the creation of DC Entertainment to today. People can speculate, but they are wrong.” The people Diane Nelson mentions as “speculating” do not seem so “wrong” anymore. Less than a year after Nelson made those comments, Warner Bros. released the Green Lantern film based on the DC Comics property. The film was a thud at the box office and critics alike. Green Lantern failed to launch a film franchise that likely would’ve stood alone.
In short, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. tried to exploit the intellectual property of DC Comics their own way. Ignoring the vision of Marvel’s model, their direction ultimately faltered. Now, having seen what Marvel Studios could create with their franchise, which currently sits as the most profitable movie franchise in cinematic history, Warner Bros. is going back to try to emulate Marvel’s model. However, in doing so, Warner Bros. appears to be rushing the Justice League movie way too hastily.
Opinion by Jeffrey Harris