A series of somewhat rambling thoughts on the execution of a Justice League film.
Something that’s sort of worth considering is where this film stands. A Justice League film is going to need to set up the rest of DC Cinematic Universe, which would inevitably be spurned from it. Since this film is coming first, you need to be able to set up a hell of a lot of things in it. This necessitates a wildly different approach to the one The Avengers took, because you’ve had none of the ground work set up ahead of time.
Whilst that makes things difficult, it’s not impossible. It just means you’re going to need a heavy focus on…
Now, this is where it starts to become a tad difficult. There’s three obvious ones you’re going to have to use – Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. It’s the three of them you’re really relying on – they’re massive icons, and having the three of them is already getting you close to that first billion dollars at the box office. Where you go with the others is the main consideration.
There’s two main things to take into account though. The first is how many people you’re going to put into this thing. Personally, I do think 7 Justice League members is sustainable, just about. You’d have to handle it quite precisely, and make sure to give them equal screen time – no focusing on Superman at the expense of Aquaman, for example. (He’s a seperate problem all of his own really.)
Also, diversity. It’d be really ridiculous to have another superhero film with 5 white guys and only one woman. So, I’m thinking that Jon Stewart should be the Green Lantern for this one (not the Daily Show guy) because that’s a little bit better, at least… It’s still not great, but I think for the first installment, you’re better off sticking with the traditionals, however of their time they are.
So, the line up we’d be going with is…
- Wonder Woman
- The Flash (Barry Allen)
- Green Lantern (Jon Stewart)
- Martian Manhunter
These characters would then, hopefully, be spun off into their own movie series’ as part of a DC Cinematic Universe, to make further billions of dollars. What that means is that this film would need quite a focus on the characters, more so than a film would usually – these people need to be 3D, living, breathing people in the minds of the audience at the end of it.
It turn, you’re not going to have the time to develop a villain, not really. This means you’re going to need to have either a pre-established one, like Loki in The Avengers, or one that’s really easy to explain. It’s also convenient to use one that will further the development of one of your main characters.
Ergo, the antagonist I’d elect to use is… the White Martians.
Following on from yesterdays post about the context of a Justice League film, and how to set it up, I’ll now talk about introducing the characters.
So, White Martians was where we left off. They’re actually the ideal villain for this film, I think, but I’ll talk about that in a bit. First, it’s the opening scenes of the movie, and the introductory scenes of the characters.
It’s these first scenes where you’re going to have to do a bit of the legwork in establishing the characters. There’s this movie saying, which I think comes from Hitchcock, where if you introduce a character doing their job well, the audience is more likely to connect with them. And that’s what needs to be done here…
Superman & Batman you can pretty much coast with. Everyone knows these guys, everyone knows their remit. I’d say with the two of these guys you can have introductory scenes where they’re as Clark and Bruce. Simple stuff really – Clark is working late at the planet where he gets a telepathic message. Maybe you can have the iconic phonebox scene after that, that’d be nice. With Bruce, I’m thinking someone could go up to him at a fundraiser and ask for help. “I’d be happy to donate any money I can.” “Not that kind of help…” Dun dun duh!
Green Lantern is a little bit more difficult, given that we’ve got the Ryan Reynolds film to contend with. What I’m thinking is that we should have a chase scene – Green Lantern is a space cop, essentially, so let’s show that. Here we’d quickly establish the powers that he has, and then go from there. When the alien drug dealer has been caught, his ring can bleep to give him a message. Pretty simple stuff. If you want, you can have Ryan Reynolds cameo, to say “yeah, they all work together and we can still have him turn up in a film at some point”. (It’s not necessary if that’d be confusing)
Aquaman is going to need some groundwork. Everyone is going to think of all the stupid jokes when people see him, so he needs to be instantly established as a heavyweight character. He also needs to make sense – more super strength is not what they need on this team. So I’m thinking we should swap that out for hydrokinesis – control over the water. (Also, he need not be dependent on the water, but is healed by it. Think Percy Jackson)
His scene, then, should show him taking out a massive great big sea monster single handedly. Standing on a cyclone. If that won’t stop the jokes, I don’t know what will. He should then get the message from a Dolphin though, so there’s still a degree of humour to him.
The Flash is another easy one. His scene should involve a bank robbery I’m thinking, similar to the start of The Dark Knight. Men with guns are threatening clerks and accountants – Thug #1 is about to shoot Clerk #1, but instead of hearing a cry of pain, we hear a clink. A bullet, dropped onto the floor.
The Flash caught the bullet! High speed antics ensue, demonstrating that the Flash is, in fact, very fast. As police arrest the thugs, a detective can approach him, and begin talking about an upcoming meeting…
Wonder Woman is, irritatingly, the only one of these guys who actually needs a set up film, because she’s kinda complicated. Picture her as the Thor equivalent – going into The Avengers without any of the Norse/Alien backstory would be difficult to say the least. It’s actually a shame to skip all the big backstory stuff out, because there’s potential for a really, really awesome film.
Anyway, working with what we’ve got. I say… hmm. This is a tad difficult actually. Okay, pretty much everyone is going to know who Wonder Woman is, at least as an image. Pretty woman who fights stuff (although they have to ditch the costume for the movie). Fine, you can sort of get away with that. Explaining who she is as a person is kinda difficult – there’s a lot of Grecian mythology stuff, and World War Two military ideas…
Hmmph, this is slightly ridiculous. Can we just have a scene where Wonder Woman fights a dragon or something? (If not, I say we have Diana Prince, Grecian Diplomat, in an embassy. It works, kinda)
Then we have Martian Manhunter, around whom this team is built. J’Onn has brought this group of people together because the White Martians are intent on taking over the Earth. Now, here, J’Onn is essentially the Doctor – he is the sole survivor of his race, the Green Martians, and lead the fight against the White Martians. (Who should maybe take on a different name, because colours of Martians might be unwieldy)
Anyways, he’s assembled his group, and brings them together in… a warehouse, probably. From there, he teleports them up to his spaceship – the Watchtower!
Anyways, character dynamics. Does what it says on the tin really. How they relate to each other, or should, in this film. (Meaning divergences from the comics)
Do we have to work with Man of Steel canon?
I guess we’d have to, wouldn’t we? It’s just that it is really bloody annoying. Apart from the fact it was an appalling film, it makes the idea of shared DC Cinematic Universe… well, difficult to say the least. People already ask things like “Oh, why doesn’t Thor/Hulk/Iron Man go and help Captain America/Hawkeye/Black Widow with Red Skull/Mandarin/Loki?” of Marvel, and they’re all relatively self contained.
If you’re working with Man of Steel as canon – well, the world would be a ridiculously xenophobic place, and everyone would hate Superman. This can sort of be worked into the plot, just about, but not with character dynamics.
You can’t have every character hate Superman. That’s ridiculous. The most you can manage is wary at best, really. But… hmmph, we’ll work with what we’ve got.
Other than that though, the characters of the Justice League actually work really well together. Sort of surprisingly, they’re all similar in some respects, so they would actually… become friends relatively quickly, as opposed to in The Avengers, when a group of quite different people were all coerced into working together by a shifty organisation. The only immediate friendship was Tony and Bruce, the others… not so much.
Flash and Green Lantern would both get along relatively well, since they’re both policemen, essentially. Superman, Batman and Martian Manhunter would all connect over their lack of a family – and I think that needs to be a sort of a theme here, how people are stronger together, and it can be examined through them. Aquaman and Wonder Woman would probably get along okay – they’ve got the same sort of mystical background thing going on. Maybe WW can pick him up on casual sexism or something.
The main negative relationship would be between GL and Superman. Green Lantern is not going to like Superman, definitely, at least at first. And that would be because GL’s job is to protect the Earth from dangerous aliens… and Superman is one of them. Hey, maybe Superman represents a failure on GL’s part – that could work quite nicely actually, tying in with the idea that these guys need to work together to save the day.
I’m imagining GL giving Superman a speech like this: “The ring translates for me. That symbol means hope. Is that who you think you are, a symbol of hope? You are a terrorist of the worst kind. The entire planet fears you. You are responsible for the deaths of thousands. If you think about endangering the lives of any of these people again.. the Green Lantern Corps will crush you, like you crushed those people.“
(As you can tell, I hated Man of Steel. But I’m trying to make it work…)
Note: This was originally split across three posts (Context and Execution, Introductions, Character Dynamics), with the intention being to do a fourth instalment outlining the plot and the structure. I never did complete that fourth piece, leaving this (all three, now presented together) is somewhat unfinished.