DC on Film: In a World Where the Suits Don't Panic
This paper is a follow up to my previous thoughts: DC on Film: A Logical Incoherency.
In that essay I argued that the suits at Warner Brothers/DC panicked and behaved in a reactionary way, when Man of Steel did not make a billion dollar-plus in worldwide ticket sales. This one decision led inexorably to two films, that I argued, should not exist: Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (in the form it ultimately came to us in theaters).
I argued that the films: Green Lantern and Man of Steel need sequels to complete the character arcs of Hal Jordan/Green Lantern and Kal'el/Clark/Superman.
I will say, here, that if Zack Snyder had been allowed to make Man of Steel 2, as we know he wanted to, instead of Batman V. Superman (conversely, as we know he had not wanted to), fans of Superman would have seen the Superman that they know and love, from the comics books, come to fruition.
I think the cancelled part would have redeemed the "first" Man of Steel film, in the eyes of fans. They would have said to themselves: Of course! It was a journey! Then they would have rushed to stores, in their tens of millions, to buy the first film, quite probably in a way that made up for lower than expected turnout in theaters for said "first" Man of Steel film.
Does that make sense?
Before We Get To A Proper Justice League Film
Let me say one more thing about my previous essay, before we move on to something else.
In my previous essay (DC on Film: A Logical Incoherency) I argued that the deep conceptual problems with Justice League (in the form that the film ultimately came to all of us in theaters) is largely due to the fact that the film was forced to refer back to a film that does not exist: Man of Steel 2.
If Zack Snyder had been allowed to make Man of Steel 2, Superman's character arc would have been completed; and then that "World Without Hope" business in the newspaper headlines, in the Justice League film (in the severely depleted form we know it to have come to us in theaters), would have made sense.
But of course, if Man of Steel 2 had been made, there would have been no need to make the conceptual abominations of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League (in the severely depleted and distorted form it was released in theaters).
But let's move on.
Let's imagine that we are in an alternate reality. Let us imagine a universe in which the suits at Warner Brothers/DC did not panic just because Man of Steel did not make a billion dollars-plus in worldwide movie ticket sales.
Let us wistfully imagine together what might have been, for the DC cinematic universe.
Okay, in this universe, the suits at Warner Brothers/DC did not panic just because Man of Steel did not make a billion dollar-plus in worldwide movie ticket sales.
As it "now" stands we have:
- The "first" Green Lantern movie (w/Ryan Reynolds)
- The "first" Man of Steel movie
- Suicide Squad
- The Wonder Woman movie
- Green Lantern 2 and Man of Steel 2, so that those characters can complete their character arcs and become in personality, behavior, and outlook, the heroes fans of the comics can readily recognize.
- Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, himself, should be recast; but Henry Cavill is perfect as Superman.
- The Aquaman movie
You Get A Movie; You Don't Need A Movie
Before we come to a proper Justice League movie, it is appropriate that certain characters get their own movie first.
Wonder Woman, or Diana is, technically, a native of the planet Earth. But, of course, for all intents and purposes, she might as well be from another planet. She is an Amazon from the undiscovered island nation of Themyscira, previously known as "Paradise Island." We need to know something about where she comes from, as it relates to who she is, and what makes her "tick," as it were.
And while we're at it, who are those beings known as "Greek gods," whose blessing we are told, is the source of Diana's powers?
Green Lantern and Superman require their own, separate movies for obvious reasons. They are both intergalactic characters: Superman in actuality; and Hal Jordan by extension, which is to say that although he is a native of Earth, in a perfectly ordinary way --- the source of his powers and the legacy behind them are intergalactic, and indeed, perhaps as old as sentient life itself in the universe.
Aquaman requires his own movie because his situation is even more complicated than Wonder Woman's. He is a man of "two worlds," as the old saying goes. His father was human, an Earth man in the perfectly ordinary sense. His mother was the queen of Atlantis.
Atlantis is, technically, on Earth. However, for all intents and purposes, it might as well be another planet, since nobody has found it up to now, and nobody even thought it was real.
Flash and Cyborg do not --- I repeat "do not" ---- need individual, separate movies of their own to establish their character, prior to a proper Justice League movie.
Question: Why am I saying that Flash and Cyborg do not require stand alone movies in order to pre-establish their characters prior to a proper Justice League film?
Answer: Because Flash and Cyborg have good old, humble Terran origins. The are good old Earth men from the good old American cities in the good old U.S. of A. And, that aside, we have a more interesting use for them in putting together the Justice League in the alternate universe, where the suits don't panic.
Justice League in a World Where the Suits Don't Panic
First of all, I would not have Batman in any live-action Justice League films; he doesn't belong there.
Though the Dark Knight is one of the most dangerous men on Earth, he is, fundamentally, what is called a "street-level" character, as he does not have super powers.
Also, the source material, itself, gives us a way out. In other words, excluding Batman from live-action Justice League films can be justified based on the source material.
Now, casual fan of the material that I am, even I am aware of at least one Justice League animated movie, in which it was revealed that The Batman had devised secret back up plans to defeat each and every one of the Justice Leaguers, in case any or all of them ever went "rogue."
We also know that, from time to time, during his term with the League, in the comic/cartoon source material, Batman would take some "good-natured" ribbing about being merely a non-super powered guy dressed like a bat.
Why don't we use that to construct an alternate history that looks something like this:
- Bruce Wayne doesn't come into full control of his assets (including the Wayne corporation), via his dead father's will, until the age of thirty. (We need to give this character time to: graduate high school, four years of college; and get some martial arts/ninja training, knowledge of such things like chemistry, biology, physics, criminology, languages, etc.)
- Let's say that from the age of thirteen, Bruce Wayne was an exchange student in Japan, where he just happened to be placed with the family of Ra's al Ghul --- where Bruce Wayne's mind and body are honed to a razor sharp edge, over a period of ten years; and Ra's al Ghul frequently speaks of his suspicions of super-powered beings he calls "unholies."
- He returns to Gotham at the age of twenty-three. He goes to college, starts to establish the persona of the returning prodigal son/playboy, man-about-town, and all that.
- He uses his college years to make "part-time" forays into clandestine crime fighting from the shadows. His costume and shtick undergo many changes and evolution before it solidifies into the costume and shtick that Dark Knight fans know and love.
- At the age of twenty-seven, Batman is recruited into the Justice League, where he serves with distinction for ten years. And by the way, he is recruited by none other than Superman.
- After it is revealed that Batman devised back up plans to deal with the League, he is thrown out of the team, and he goes back to working solo.
- He creates a remote subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, that specializes in providing home security systems and personal security devices, that not only provide the user with defense against normal human thieves and attackers, but also meta-human thieves and attackers.
There, with Batman dispensed with, let's get on to the rest of the Justice League.
What should their mission be?
To defeat Brainiac, a malevolent, sentient, world computer of Kryptonian origin, who I'm sure needs no introduction.
Which character(s) should act as the catalyst for bringing the team together to face this threat?
Flash and Cyborg.
Why Flash and Cyborg?
Because Flash and Cyborg can be far more credible as prophetic voices than The Batman ever could.
It has to do with the nature of the powers of Flash.
He runs fast, right?
Flash's connection to the Speed Force gives him far more versatility than that. He has full control over his molecular structure: for instance, he can vibrate his body so fast that it becomes intangible, allowing him to phase through solid objects; and he can extend this capability to any object or person he touches.
He can run around an opponent so fast, that he creates a vortex, which he can use to either suffocate his adversary or send him to another dimension. He can trap opponents in the Speed Force, from where there is no escape.
He can deliver the "infinite mass punch," by running faster than light speed, getting up his momentum, and delivering a punch that has the impact of a white dwarf star.
He can vibrate his body so fast, that light does not reflect off him, rendering him invisible.
HIs most important capability, for our purposes, is the fact that he can travel through time and other dimensions.
What this means is that Flash can:
- Run twenty years into the future, and see the coming of Brainiac; and then run back ten years into the past to alert the members of the team Flash and Cyborg want to recruit.
- This way Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, can arrive in their early-thirties, having prepared themselves for decades. They will have grown up with a very specific sense of purpose.
What is Cyborg's role in this prophetic package?
Flash needs Cyborg to "run the numbers."
In the more sophisticated science fiction, involving time travel, "The Future" is never treated like a monolith, or one thing. There are multiple possible futures, each one with a different percentage probability of coming to fruition. For instance, Future A: 20% chance of manifesting; Future B: 60% percent chance of manifesting, and so on.
Let's say that Cyborg calculates the odds of the Brainiac threat at something like 93.2567%, so that preparations must be made for the eminent arrival of Brainiac.
One advantage to this approach, with Flash and Cyborg, is that they can both be cast with very young actors. These characters can, in fact, be the youngest members, while simultaneously being the wisest members of the team.
How can we get more insight into who Flash and Cyborg are?
Well, I thought there could be a scene of Flash in meditation, contemplating the Speed Force, and becoming one with it, in a kind of astral projection. As he is doing this, we could see his origin story.
We could have the same deal with Cyborg, except that he contemplates the dimension of Cyberspace, the World Wide Internet in its raw essence.
Yeah, I think that's enough.
Thanks for reading!