Justice League: How to Do it...Justice
With Man of Steel doing well in theaters the next step is an inevitable sequel but with the screenwriter David Goyer saying it is the springboard to a much larger shared DC Cinematic Universe, then that means The Justice League is right around the corner. The film had plenty of references to other characters in the universe such as Cyborg, Batman, and Lex Luthor. Obviously, this can be a knee jerk reaction from the success of Marvel's The Avengers doing so well in theaters. The difference between the two properties is that Marvel took their time building up their individual characters whereas DC wants to jump quickly into a Justice League film followed by solo films. It could work simply because the average movie-goer knows nothing about characters like Wonder Woman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter and even Green Lantern. All of these characters can be incredibly hard to build a solo film around for various reasons, but mostly because filmmakers do not think that their is an audience for them. If there is no audience, then they do not make money and this is still a money making business. The best way to do a Justice League film would be to have another Man of Steel movie that can continue to improve upon the success they had with that film but also bridge it closer to a Justice League film. The easiest way I could see that happening is by having Bruce Wayne visit Metropolis, but more on that later. The rest of this article will be about how the filmmakers can make each character work for this shared cinematic universe.
As a Superman fan, I am elated to see how great Man of Steel was. Not only was it a good singular film, but all the easter eggs setting up a bigger universe was all very well done. The question remains though, where does Superman go from here? To me it is simple, humanity is still unsure if they can trust Superman and even more so the military has an uneasy relationship with him. An easy transition for the next film would be to have Lex Luthor as a villain pointing out the flaws of having a "hero" like Superman. He could make the point that Superman's presence does more harm then good on Metropolis and his actions in "defending the city" from Zod would give him ample reasons to turn the people against him. However, that story has been beaten in too the ground quite a bit. I don't see them going from a heavy amount of action in the first film, to a more internal struggle in the second film. Instead, I expect it to be even. I find it likely that Lex will take the scraps of Zod's destroyed ships and find ways to turn them into a weapon of sorts. Doing so, he may create a pseudo- Metallo or Bizarro character. Bizarro in fact would work incredibly well, as Metropolis would see a man flying around doing horrible things, instead of heroic deeds like Superman. This would increase the distrust that the people of Metropolis have in Superman. Continuing the trend of ideology and symbolism from the first film, Superman stands as a symbol of hope, while Bizarro would then stand for a symbol of despair.
Wonder Woman is arguably the toughest of the heroes to do right. Filmmakers have a tendency to make her out to be more of a sex symbol then a full fledged character in more cases then not. Audiences will also rally behind the character as she stands for symbols of justice, love, peace and sexual equality whereas the more recognizable heroes like Superman and Batman stand for hope, freedom and injustice.They look for a good looking woman that can fill out the suit instead of an actress that fully embodies the role.That being said, casting is a huge part of getting the character right. As for the actual character and making her work on screen, look at Thor. People had the same concerns about him on screen, and he has rocketed to become one of the most popular figures in the Marvel shared cinematic universe. Thor came from Norse mythology, and Wonder Woman comes from Greek mythology. The first step in making Wonder Woman compelling to audiences is by creating a world that they can embrace. The film should start with her on Paradise Island, or Themyscira where all of the Amazons are trained. Placing Wonder Woman here first as a brutal but the most respected world of the land is a good start. The gods instructed that a contest be held to send one Amazonian into Man's World. Among the other Amazons, she is a Princess to the Queen Hippolyta, who forbade her daugter from entering the contest. However, she did so under a disguise and won easily. She was then given the costume that we all are familiar with for the Wonder Woman character and she was sent to Earth. From that point on, they need to give her a solid villain that will endear her to humanity. Enter Ares, the god of war. Ares will try to start a war between the Amazons and human-kind knowing that the Princess is know walking among them. This will force Princess Diana to choose a side, but instead she will try to bridge the gap between her two people, similarly to what Superman originally attempted to do in Man of Steel. After defeating Ares, this will endear mankind to Wonder Woman and also gather the attention of the other heroes like Superman.
The second part of the character is again, casting. She is quite possibly the toughest character to cast in the entire roster. Obviously the look is important, but the actress has to be able to be believable as a legitimate warrior. Previous rumors have included actresses such as Gina Carano, Gemma Arterton and Morena Baccarin. All are solid choices but they all lack one thing or another that would help make the character fully realized. My ideal choice would be Bridget Rohan. She is a bit of an unknown actress but her work on the show Legend of the Seeker proves that she is capable of wielding a sword and being believable in doing so. She also certainly looks the part with the long dark hair and big blue eyes.
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Warner Brothers has already stated numerous times that the Dark Knight trilogy has nothing to do with this new shared universe they are creating, which also means that they are in no hurry to reboot the character. They have more of a desire to get characters like Wonder Woman and The Flash going before a new Batman film. That being said, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman are the big three of the Justice League making them all incredibly important. In fact, the three of them all have similarities to the big three of the Avengers. How to incorporate Batman into the universe is the question now. With his easter egg in Man of Steel, I think it would be clever to have him appear as Bruce Wayne in Man of Steel 2. That way you begin to build up his character while also still allowing it to be a Superman-centric film. The way I would propose it, is that Bruce is in Metropolis on a business meeting with Lex Luthor preparing a merger of some sort. Bruce has no real intention of working with Lex, as he knows he is a megalomaniac and cannot be trusted meaning his real motive is to find out more about this mysterious Superman. The film could easily end with him taking up the cape and cowl, appearing behind Superman as he stands victorious and tells him that they have it upon themselves to do something better then themselves. They have it upon themselves to watch over more then just their respective cities, thus they start to form a team. The Justice League does not have a Nick Fury kind of role, but Batman could fill it as the man that puts the team together.
Another part the of the role is of course casting.Christian Bale did a fantastic job with the character, but he is not coming back, neither will Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If either of them were put in the part, then it would confuse audiences making them thinking that the Dark Knight trilogy is then a part of the DC shared universe. Thus, I think it is obvious a new actor will play the part. Armie Hammer had once been attached to the role, but it doesn't seem likely that he can carry a project, which could change depending on his success on The Lone Ranger. I think it is likely that for the casting of every role they will likely go the route of cheaper and lesser known actors much like Marvel did. With that being said, they could dive into the pool of actors that star in television shows. Andrew Lincoln stars in the vastly popular Walking Dead, and clearly looks the part of Bruce Wayne
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Another character that will be interesting to see how they handle is of course Green Lantern. Martin Campbell's take on the film was not received well at all, but in the end, it might be easier for them to continue that take on the character. Rebooting the character could be a difficult task as they could potentially struggle seeing how much CGI goes into the film. With all of the props and everything already set up, they could just pick up where they left on and go forward. The case of Green Lantern could potentially be very similar to Marvel's The Hulk. The Incredible Hulk didn't do well in theaters, but after his turn in The Avengers, there was a demand to see more of the character in his own film. That could be the case for Green Lantern. However, the flip side of it will also be, do they keep Ryan Reynolds in the part? I honestly think he did an okay job and merits another chance. That being said, I could see an actor like Chris Pine doing well in the role as well if they decide to keep Hal Jordan as the Lantern. It seems very likely that they will go ahead with a sequel, as the studio has confirmed back in April that they are eyeing Joseph Kosinski (Oblivion, Tron) to direct with David Goyer possibly attached to pen the script.
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The Flash is another intriguing character, but difficult to adapt for the big-screen. It is incredibly surprising that no one has tried as of yet. The best route to go would be to make him Barry Allen, as a street smart forensic scientist. They can play the aspect of him being a genius as well seeing how well that would go with the Justice League (similarily to Bruce Banner and Tony Stark being so called "science brothers" in the Avengers). Of course with his "fast" nature, his mouth can be just as quick as he is known to be quite the wise-cracking hero. The difficult part about making a film of his is the fact that he has a lack of compelling villains that help him evolve as a character much like Batman, Superman and Green Lantern do. There are two villains that come to mind that could work as a decent enough villain for The Flash to face off with. Captain Cold and Mirror Master. Cold was a criminal who was thwarted by Barry Allen's The Flash during a bank robbery, and during his time in jail he worked with kinetic energy and developed ice powers that could slow down the Flash. Mirror Master works as a villain as well for similar reasons.
Another aspect of what can make The Flash a hit with audiences is of course casting the right actor in the role. Continuing the trend of casting actors from hit television shows, the lead actor from Supernatural, Jensen Ackles would make for a solid choice for The Flash. He has the comedic timing down for the role, but his steady performance in Supernatural shows that he could handle the dramatic and action elements of the Flash. In particular, making the transition from being a demon hunter in Supernatural to a forensic scientist does not seem too be to big of a jump. Something also should be said for the fact that Jensen Ackles has been the runner up for the role of Captain America, Hawkeye and Star Lord in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. That being said he indeed has a place among Hollywood, and filmmakers would agree. He could for sure bring an audience to the theaters thanks to his fans from his previous work, which seems to be coming to an end which frees him up to take on a new role such as this one.
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Aquaman gets a lot of heat for being a useless superhero, but that is simply not the case. He has just become an easy target for uninformed comic book readers. Following the success of Man of Steel, Warner Bros. seems inclined to make another film surrounding a hero sooner rather then later. One of the characters that is up for that is indeed Aquaman. Aquaman is indeed a compelling character that grows up believing that he is human only to find out that he is heir to thrown of Atlantis. His real name is not Arthur Curry but instead it is Orin. Having the knowledge that he is naturally compelled to take care of the matters of the sea, he is still inclined and drawn to humanity. He sees that the world is constantly polluting the sea, killing some of his friends in the process which as a result causes Atlanteans to revolt. This puts Aquaman in a precarious situation, that of course he quells. All of this could work on screen due to the very scary notion of how real pollution is nowadays, having seen the increase in tsunamis and tornadoes. This ideology is something that filmmakers could capitalize on due to the fear we have of nature, and how we continue to do wrong by it. However, it is wrong to think that the film would be that simple. Aquaman would still need a strong villain that would force him even more to take matters into his own hands in Atlantis while also protecting all of the globe. Triton would make for a good villain, and with his god-like connection he could bridge the gap to Wonder Woman. Triton in an inevitable film would challenge his chair on the throne of Atlantis.
Aquaman is slightly easier to cast then other parts due to his physique. Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy could fit the bill as he has shown he is capable of pulling off action scenes, but his show works with Macbeth kind of themes. That will bode well for him in the role of Aquaman and the inevitable necessity to sell being the leader of an advanced godlike civilization while also still maintaining his humanity. Hunnam is still a bit of an unknown actor but he has recently begun to branch out as he is the starring role in this summer's Pacific Rim, which will tell whether or not he can carry a film or not. He is a powerful actor, there is no doubt about that, but filmmakers tend to go with a sure thing rather then an unknown actor who has never carried a film in their career. Hunnam is a strong choice, and was previously a runner up for the role of Thor for what it is worth.
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Now, there are other characters that could be included such as Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, but I firmly believe they will focus on the bigger characters first. That of course, is not a shot at Manhunter, but he is still a supplemental character in the Justice League. It is unlikely that he would get his own spinoff film, so that being said, it is likely he would be in the film but as a smaller part. I would not be surprised to see characters like Green Arrow, Black Canary or Cyborg thrown into the mix at some point or another as well. I will write a follow-up article to this one talking about who should be the villain for the Justice League to face off with.
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