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Warner Bros. Wants a “Justice League” film by 2018

Honestly, the more I read about moves like this, the more I get inclined not to see it when it comes out.  In my mind, Warner Bros. is only seeing these properties as something they can make money off of, not respect the source material or the longtime fans of the comics.

It’s not a well-kept secret that since the end of the movies revolving around the Harry Potter books, Warner has been scrambling for a franchise to get butts in the seats of movie theaters every summer or so.  And watching Disney makes billions hand-over-fist with its various Marvel Studios films has them seeing green — both in envy and in dollar signs.

Confirming the studio’s plans for a movie based on its iconic super-team for the first time, Warner Bros. president of worldwide production Greg Silverman said the studio has set plans to make a “Justice League” movie.

Like “Man of Steel” and its follow-up, which starts production next month, “Justice League” will be directed by Zack Snyder. Henry Cavill is expected to return as Superman, along with Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot, who play Batman and Wonder Woman, respectively, in 2016’s “Man of Steel” sequel tentatively titled “Batman vs. Superman.”

“It will be a further expansion of this universe,” said Mr. Silverman. “’Superman vs Batman’ will lead into ‘Justice League.’”

A script is still in development and Warner has not set a release date, though the movie is unlikely to come out before 2018. Mr. Silverman would not comment on what other heroes might join Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the movie. However the studio has recently been casting the role of Cyborg, a half-robotic hero who is expected to have a cameo in “Batman vs. Superman” and then appear in “Justice League.” Other DC heroes who have been in Justice League comic books include Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern.

The plans for three superhero movies in relatively quick succession show how intent Warner is on catching up with rival Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios in building a cinematic superhero universe after years lagging behind.

Although the “Dark Knight” trilogy was a hit, Warner’s other efforts such as “Green Lantern” and “Jonah Hex” have flopped. A “Justice League” movie with a young cast that was to be directed by George Miller of “Mad Max” fame nearly went into production in 2008 but was killed at the last minute.

What worries me about a “Justice League” movie isn’t that it might threaten Marvel’s dominance.  If anything, it will lead to competition which will only drive Marvel Studios’ President Kevin Feige and Joe Quesada (Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer) harder.  It’s that Warner is showing why Marvel was smart to do what they did (build their universe through characters first, then the team) in the first place.

Prior to Marvel’s first “Iron Man” movie, the Hollywood thinking was “introduce the team, then build the players into franchises.”  Marvel inverted that.  Clearly, that is why they did “Hulk,” then “Thor,” then “Captain America” mixed in with “Iron Man 2” along the way before we finally got to “The Avengers.”   The point was, “origin story for each of them, get the masses knowing who these characters are, then have them team-up.”

Warner’s clearly has no intention of doing that.  Already behind in both years (and billions in revenue) of getting their comic book films off the ground — Superman and Batman films not included — they feel they have to jump head first into getting “Justice League” up and running.  Honestly, while the geek in me might be thrilled to see it finally happening, I have real worries that suddenly these film become origin story train wrecks and exposition dialogue dumps as characters tell the audience who they are, how they got their powers, and why they’ve suddenly shown up in Metropolis or Gotham City, or any of the other fake cities throughout the DC Universe.

Already the unnamed, already delayed “Batman / Superman” film is going to have appearances by “Wonder Woman” and “Cyborg” — two current Justice Leaguers in DC Comics — in it.  Will these characters be cameos, or will they be given subplot arcs which will only drag down the movie?  Nobody knows because reports and rumors keep coming out saying the script is constantly being rewritten.

At this rate, I’m half-expecting Aquaman in a post-credits scene which takes place at an aquarium.

As for sticking with Zach Snyder as director, honestly, after the mess he made of “Man of Steel,” I can’t think of what drugs the suits at Warner Bros. are on to consider him “Their Guy” when it comes to comic book movies.

 

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