At the moment, Justice League must be one of the most obvious movie ideas in Hollywood. Marvel's The Avengers has just become the most popular non-James Cameron movie in history (though not really), and The Avengers comic-book was devised (back in 1963) as Marvel Comics' answer to the Justice League of America, DC Comics' team comprised of their most popular superheroes. What's more, thanks mainly to Saturday morning television, the Justice League was always far more well-known to the general public. The most famous members of the Justice League -- Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman -- are probably still more famous than all of the Avengers combined.
Moreover, Batman excepted, Justice League is currently America's most popular ongoing comic-book, easily outselling The Avengers. This is a no-brainer! Why hasn't the Justice League film been made yet?
Warner Bros is targeting Justice League for 2015. It's about time, as this has been in planning for years. Forget the "curse of Superman"; this project seems truly hexed. Even George Miller, the producer/director who has had hits with everything from Mad Max to Happy Feet, couldn't get this one off the ground.
In 2008, he was trying to make the movie (known, for some reason, as Justice League Mortal) for Warners, but was up against more setbacks than any super-villain could provide. A screenwriters strike began just as the movie was about to commence production. Afterwards, he moved production in Sydney, to use the Australian Government's new 40 percent production rebate for Australian producers. Miller was turned down, as the project was deemed "too American," without enough Australian content to qualify for the rebate. "A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking," said Miller. (We can only guess at how he feels that The Great Gatsby, the great American novel, was recently filmed in Sydney and given the same rebate.)
But if bureaucrats and unions were bad enough, wait until you meet the fans. Miller might have counted on support from comic book geeks, but many fans despised the very concept of this film (and as production hadn't started, the concept was all they knew). "Let's face up to the facks [sic]," wrote 'Jack', a poster on the website Obsessed with Film. "This film is going to suck."
Their all-knowing wisdom wasn't limited to fortune-telling. "There is ZERO interest in this movie. Do you hear me -- ZERO!" said 'Jack' (presumably a different one) on the site /film (slashfilm), in a message directed to Warner Brothers. His pessimism, if not his expertise, was shared in post after post.
We can perhaps expect more of the same as more details are released of the latest Justice League. However you make a comic book film, comic-book fans will protest. With Miller's ill-fated production, the fans' main concern was the cast, which was regarded as both too young and too obscure.
Similar protests had ensued in 1999 when Hugh Jackman was hurriedly cast as Wolverine, the most popular of the X-Men. How could an obscure Australian, best-known to his compatriots as a song-and-dance man, possibly pay a Canadian mutant who was (according to the official Marvel character guide) a foot shorter than him? Fortunately, he was pretty good, so people stopped complaining.
Miller, also an Aussie, was obviously hoping that more superheroes would be found in his homeland. He cast Australian model Megan Gale as Wonder Woman. Gale would certainly look the part of the Amazon princess, but with very few acting credits, it was uncertain whether the supermodel could play the superhero.
In the U.S., where Gale is an unknown, fans protested once again. They were also unhappy with the other choices: Adam Brody as the Flash, rapper Common as the Green Lantern, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, and Armie Hammer as Batman. "There are times when no-name actors are better in films," says 'Cenzo' on slashfilm, "but in this case it seems the crew is relying on the brand names of Superheros [sic] to sell the flick... and they are greatly mistaken."
There would be another problem with this: Half of these characters have already been cast in the movies. Following the lead of The Avengers, Warners would presumably prefer to retain the actors. According to one fan site, an "industry source" (whatever that means) has said that Justice League might introduce the new Batman, now that Christian Bale has departed. All going well, it would have Henry Cavill, star of next year's Man of Steel, playing Superman (though Zach Snyder, the director of Man of Steel, has suggested otherwise). It might even have Ryan Reynolds as the Green Lantern, even though his solo outing was underwhelming.
(Super-geeks' note: The Green Lantern of the Justice League, recently played by Reynolds, is not the same one who was famously outed in the comics back in June. That was a Green Lantern from a parallel world, whose weakness is not the color yellow, but anything made of wood -- something that adolescent boys would probably find highly amusing.)
Movies based on the Flash and Aquaman are on the table, so whoever plays those heroes might get a two-movie deal. Wonder Woman, however, has enough troubles of her own. Her own solo film was mooted over a decade ago (as a possible Sandra Bullock vehicle), and is still in planning. A television pilot last year, starring Adrianne Palicki, was not well received. If Wonder Woman is ever released, she probably won't be played by Palicki. Or Megan Gale. Or, indeed, Sandra Bullock. Indeed, if this project continues at its current speed, perhapsChloë Grace Moretz will be ready by then.
The new Justice League project will have a new script, a new director (whispers have included Ben Affleck and the Wachowskis) and we can safely assume, a completely new cast. The movie world is awaiting the details with excitement -- or in the case of many fans, deep fear that they will get it wrong once again. Still, whatever the news, Warner Brothers can depend on one thing: most of the fans who have scorned it, sight unseen, will be among the first people queuing to see it.