This should be fun- watching everyone rush to laugh at Warner Brothers for pulling the Johnny-Come-Lately act that the same people have for months laughed at them for not doing!
However, news that Warner Brothers has jump-started development on a Justice League Of America film comes from Jeff Sneider at Variety with the note that the hiring of Will Beall (Gangster Squad, Logan’s Run, Lethal Weapon 5) actually occurred before The Avengers made a billion point three fucking stupid dollars. Turns out Warner Brothers saw the writing on the wall when Marvel’s crossover was still shooting, and hired Beall to write them a team-up flick of their own (likely not long after he turned in that Gangster Squad script).
You’ll recall the George Miller iteration of the JLA film that was gearing up (as confusingly as possible) long before The Avengers had taken shape, circa The Great ’07/08 Writers Strike (remember those heady days when Nikke Finke was, oh so briefly, not a total piece of shit?). That project had folks like Armie Hammer and Adam Brody starring, and seemed like it was going to create the awkward scenario of two simultaneous Bat actors. That collapsed, but momentum picked back up again last year as WB began moving on a JLA film again with the goal of getting it in theaters by 2013.
At the time it was made clear that the JLA universe would be separate from the other DC franchises like Man of Steel and Green Lantern. I see no reason why that would not still be the case. I still think it’s kind of half-assed and weird (kind of TV-feeling, in a way), but it makes some kind of sense to isolate the team film and let the rest of the franchises bounce around as they will. It may not make quite as many hundreds of millions of dollars as Avengers has, but it will be interesting to see a cinematic hero universe built from the team-up, outwards. And then again, it may make exactly that many hundreds of millions of dollars.
I’ve harped on this before, but I still find it weird that people try to equate the traditional comic book Marvel Vs. DC rivalry to the film universes, even though that shit doesn’t scale. Marvel began this cinematic endeavor as its own autonomous studio that depended wholly on its successes to continue, and will likely operate much the same way despite being acquired by the mouse house. DC has long been a total subsidiary of WB, and has never operated with the kind of single vision that the Marvel MCU put together.
It’s like mocking an oil field for not operating like a coal train- the business models have always been different. What this has provided us is with the best of both worlds- a beloved IP like Batman has been stacked — entirely on its own — amongst the Potters and Matrix flicks and Ocean’s movies as a property to be individually developed, while Marvel has orchestrated a grand plan where the individual pieces have served a whole. So for this reason we’ve gotten a lot of unique, singular takes on Batman (some good, some bad), while with Marvel we’ve seen a lot of decent, but compromised films lead to something epic and web-connecting. To put it more simply: consider that this year alone will have provided us with two entirely unprecedented experiences as a result of both approaches, neither of which could have happened as they did at the opposite studio. Your mileage may vary on which has provided you more raw hours of entertainment — and the scales would be more balanced if flicks like Green Lantern and Superman Returns were actually good — but there’s certainly a creative value to both.
Cool things could come of a bigger cinematic DC universe, but I personally feel it should either be done all the way, or not at all. My own personal aesthetic OCD demands consistency, and two men of steel running around is going to bug the shit out of me, and probably more than a few of you. I predict the next few years will be fascinating and frustrating for those paying attention to WB/DC’s efforts. Of course now begins the fun of wondering what kind of villain will draw these heroes together, how the origin of the team and new characters will work, and all those other fan-exciting questions…
Thoughts are welcome below.