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4 reasons why Justice League: DOOM is probably going to suck
Were you as underwhelmed by that trailer as I was? Well, it annoyed me enough to compile a list of reasons why this movie will probably be awful. You can't tell all the reasons from just this trailer, but I don't wish to burden you with the news links and extra videos I watched to gather as much info as I could on this project. I ended up seeing more and more bad signs as I went along, and it led to me needing to compile a damn list because there are just so many of them. Let's start with what I noticed first, what this movie very much isn't:
1. This is not JLA: Tower of Babel
I'm a fan of JLA: Tower of Babel, I own the graphic novel. I received it for Christmas at least 5 years ago and I've always liked the overall story, and particularly the way Batman had unique and calculatedly effective plans to remove some of the strongest people on the planet. When I heard that this movie was going to be based on Tower of Babel I was excited, as it would translate well to film. I was doubly excited when I heard it was the last thing creative dynamo Dwayne McDuffie worked on before his tragic passing, and while I have nothing but respect for McDuffie's legacy, this looks to be an awful adaptation. I am aware that it is only a loose adaptation, but this just doesn't feel like Tower of Babel at all. Tower of Babel was a story of strategy and cunning, and of trust issues. This barely resembles it beyond the plot point of these so-called plans being stolen from Batman, his contingency plans for if the Justice League went rogue. These plans are not what Batman would use, and he definitely would not use super-villains to deliver them. But that brings us to point number 2:
2. The cast of characters
Our Justice League is overall fine though there are definitely some problems which will be addressed in my last reason, but the antagonists are what really surprise me here with their utter lack of celebrity. To some comic book fans maybe this looks like the dream team of people to fight the Justice League, but to this comic book fan it looks like a bunch of chumps. Let's see who we're working with, shall we?
OK, these are all somewhat recognizable characters, even if the designs have been very altered. Beginning from the left we have Star Sapphire, a character who in comics is not a villain any longer. Great. Then we have Metallo, a character that doesn't exist in current comics. Awesome. I love Metallo but current DC continuity is still establishing him. Maybe it will be done before this movie comes out. Also, it is quite a loss that veteran actor Malcolm McDowell will not be voicing him in this incarnation. Then Bane. I have no problem with Bane, he's a fine villain for Batman and his featuring as the main villain of the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, so that makes sense. And then someone who makes zero sense, Cheetah. Wonder Woman in contemporary comics is fighting Greek gods like she thinks she is Kratos. Cheetah is a woman spliced with Cheetah DNA...or something, it isn't always the same and this movie could go in any direction with it. Any way you slice it, she's not capable of defeating the Amazonian princess, it's a total joke to assume she could take her out. I don't know if she will exist in current DC continuity. Considering the direction they are going in, it is possible they will leave her out. Then finally we have Ma'alefa'ak J'onzz. Don't worry if you don't know who he is, he is a Martian Manhunter villain and no one knows who he is. I don't think he exists in current continuity, but I'm not sure because DC has widely ignored the character. Still, he's a good foil to the League's martian. And then we have these two:
Starting from the right this time, that tangerine guy is really the Flash villain the Mirror Master. I'm assuming this is Sam Scudder because they cast Alexis Denisof, the man who portrayed Sam Scudder the Mirror Master on Justice League Unlimited. He was dead in comics before the relaunch, but I have no idea if he is right now. No version of the Mirror Master has yet to appear in the New 52 from DC. If they were to bring him in, considering the way DC has been treating their characters from 20+ years ago like forgotten gods, I would be surprised if Sam Scudder was still dead. A pity, I liked the new guy. That other man in this picture though is the real issue. Do you know who that is?
3. Vandal Savage replaces Ra's Al Ghul
Yes, Vandal Savage, the immortal caveman with aspirations of world domination. There's no real reasoning behind his plans, no hidden agenda, just a desire to conquer the world, perhaps the universe. I like Vandal Savage, I like that Phil Morris will be returning to the role, and the character's plans often intrigue me, but using him here as a replacement for Ra's Al Ghul does not make sense. I do not doubt that Vandal has the strategic capability to carry out such a plan, his schemes sometimes unravel over the course of centuries, but I do wonder how he would get access to these files of Batman's. Ra's could only do it because he knows Batman's identity. If Vandal Savage learned Batman's identity and took files from the Batcomputer, why wouldn't he just kill Batman in a grandiose way, like by dropping a bomb on Wayne Manor? Savage has no desire to see Bruce live as Ra's does. Ra's wants Bruce to be his successor, to be the new head of the league of assassins, to become the head of the demon. Savage just wants him dead. I understand the similarities between Ra's and Vandal, they are both seemingly timeless engines of destruction and upheaval with complicated plans and desires for domination, but Vandal just wouldn't have the type of access to Wayne manor that Ra's has. Furthermore, why would you change it to Savage, a relatively unknown character, when there is a third Batman film on the way in under a year? Audiences were introduced to Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins, making him much more mainstream and recognizable to audiences, and we saw him again in the recent game Arkham City. Vandal Savage is a wonderful villain when he is used right, but he just isn't the same type of threat that Ra's is. Savage may want to kill you, to put your head on a pike in his throneroom, and he may be able to do it, but his methods will lack the finesse of Ra's al Ghul and his league of assassins. Savage might kill you, might find out your secret identity and use it against you, but Ra's will do it with style, and style is one thing Tower of Babel had, and this movie looks like it is sorely lacking.
4. It is chained to continuity...or maybe not
Do you notice anything unusual about this DVD cover? The Flash, one of the most important characters in DC, is not on it, and Cyborg is. In fact, he is in front, as if he was the most important character on the team, instead of a shoehorned in side-character that I still insist was done simply so DC could have an African-American as a top tier League member. The choice of Cyborg makes no sense, and it never has. DC, if you really want to do right by the memory of Dwayne McDuffie, put Static Shock into the league. No one wants Cyborg there, and Static getting his own title has been lauded by fans and critics alike. Static is loosely based on the character and Justice League member Black Lightning anyway, just promote him.
The influence of DC's New 52 is very apparent in this movie, and that really worries me. The Flash, the character so very noticeably absent, is not the one in the comic either. Though they got veteran Flash voice actor Michael Rosenbaum in the role, they also mirrored the comics and changed the secret identity of the Flash from Wally West to Barry Allen. Rosenbaum played an amazing Wally, but hearing his voice come out of Barry is awkward and feels wrong. Wally is a joking character, and Barry has always been more serious, and mixing these two does not work. Wally is still non-existent in the New 52.
And yet in some places it looks like they ignored it completely! The Star Sapphire is almost an ally in the current Green Lantern, and she is in no way the nemesis of the character. That title is, and always has been, Sinestro. Star Sapphire is really just confusing as that choice. Bane is not really mentioned in comics so far, and Metallo, as mentioned, doesn't exist yet. If Cyborg even has a nemesis I could not name it, probably because I can't name any.
Also absent from this movie are two players in the comic book, Aquaman and Plastic Man. Aquaman has his own comic, which is amazing, and absolutely warrants his inclusion in this movie that was already supposed to include him. Plastic Man has only warranted a brief mention in the New 52 and is apparently not in this film at all.
It really is a shame this movie looks to be going so far down the path of compromise and apathy, denying us a proper film version of the story JLA: Tower of Babel. We have a lot of fan-favorite voices for a lot of fan-favorite characters, but I don't like how they are being used. We will be denied the good story, the real intrigue, and the truly fantastc ways the heroes are all taken down, given instead to this cheap cop out of sending the right villains for the job. You want another reason Ra's al Ghul is better than Vandal Savage? Ra's al Ghul took out the league by himself. It is a travesty that this will be the last work associated by Dwayne McDuffie. Yes, I will end up seeing this movie. I'm a die-hard fan, and I can't help it, but I'm scared they're really going to wreck their source material.