A response to Justice League Defining The Icons by Aresww3
The focus of this article is how Warner Brothers should go about successfully adapting the members of the Justice League to the big screen in order to garner the best response from an unfamiliar wider audience.
JUSTICE LEAGUE: DEFINING THE ICONS A RESPONSE TO UP YOURS BY ARESWW3
I´d like to start this article by commending UP YOURS recent post “Justice League: Defining The Icons”, its a really good read, well worth checking out if you haven´t, and leaving him some comments. The focus of his article is how Warner Brothers should go about successfully adapting the members of the Justice League to the big screen in order to garner the best response from an unfamiliar wider audience.
While there were some points of his that I absolutely 100% agreed with, I also thought that his basic idea could be improved upon, and that there were somethings I would like to see WB do when dealing with these icons.
The 3 main things I felt after reading his article and what I wanted to discuss is:
1. Is Superman really the leader and should he be portrayed that way?
Now this misconception of the role of Superman has mainly been a result of Mark Waid´s fantastic graphic novel, Kingdom Come. It really is a master work, but as someone who admits his undying love for the Superman character, it is no surprise that in his comic he presents Supes as the leader, and, to a large extent the most powerful. My question is, is this the most endearing version of our favorite Kryptonian? Also if we want to sell these characters as equal in their own right, so that general audiences will be interested in followup solo movies, should we not present the members of the team as equals.
2. The eternal question who should be the Smart Ass of the team. There are two camps on this, many think it should be Green Lantern, others think it should be Flash. Those who are in the Green Lantern camp say Barry Allen from the silver age, was never the smart ass, and therefore think its more appropriate to stick to the source material, where Hal and Barry were founding members of the Justice League. Well, since I´m addressing this later on, in the profiles of each of the league members as I perceive them, I won´t go into this that much now. However needless to say, I have a problem with the traditionalist stance. One, I think it makes much more sense to the character of the Flash to be the funny, goofy one, which I´ll explain later. Two, I think Hal should be given a rest for two reasons, his film and now his animated show have flopped, and also for the sake of racial diversity and character diversity, I don´t think he´s necessary. I know I´m gonna get burnt for saying this, but give me a chance. :)
3. Alot of people don´t seem to understand Wonder Woman, but as an avid fan, I thought I could help, by taking the best elements of incarnations of her, and showing how she could fit in and appeal to audiences the most.
4. I´ve also done a profile for Martian Manhunter, cause I think he really ought to be in the movie.
I really thought carefully about the following profiles, and my biggest commitment is to how these characters could function together to make the best story. Its about the dynamic of the characters I´m looking at, not favoritism, or who were the founding members, and not because they were in the animated series. It is purely what would make for the most dynamic team, where each member has their place. One also that sets them apart from The Avengers. I hope you enjoy.
The Niave Idealist Of The Team. The Moralist.
Why the team needs him for their movie?
It´s obvious really, Superman is THE Superhero. The first, and the most continuously compelling. His story is simple, as elemental and as archetypical as Hercules or Moses. An alien immigrant, shot down from the stars, raised as one of us, but imbued with powers way beyond what any one of us could imagine.
In this sense Superman more than any of the other members of the group stands for and represents the core values cherished by humanity.
There is a lot of drama to be made of this situation, in that he´s a virtual demigod who sees a world that is grey in black and white terms. He´s also such a puzzling, paradox, as it is almost certain that if any humanbeing discovered they had such power, they would almost certainly be corrupted by it. Which always begs the question, perhaps he already has.
As a final statement, it is Superman´s perfect sense of right and wrong, which when seen through the prism of his God like power, make his relation with his team mates, especially Batman so interesting. His ultimate character flaw is he is the perfect human. He´d have to be at times the moral compass of the group, but nonetheless, his sense of absolute, will come into conflict with the world´s grey areas and his team mates, who are a little less idealistic, and more realist or down to Earth about how the world functions.
The Rebel Warrior of The Team.
Why the team needs her for their movie?
In the history of Wonder Woman, there´s been two popular takes on the character. One, is the goody two shoes, who almost strikes one as a female Superman. The other is a far more interesting character that contrasts in very complimentary way to the rest of the Justice League. That is the proto-feminist warrior, antiwar heroine, who is like a “fish out of water” in a world where women historically have been considered somewhat lesser than men.
Female vulnerability is just something she just can´t comprehend. And although she is wise enough to believe in the principals of peace, she is more that ready to turn to some good old fashioned beat downs, if those who intimidate through fear, turn their gaze on the vulnerable. Even ready to kill those who themselves would kill or harm people who cannot defend themselves. But the most important thing is despite all these qualities, WW has a regal sense of grace, and femininity. She is not just a woman turned into a man, so as to be an action hero. She is woman through and through.
There´s something very interesting about this side of Diana, that would translate so well into film. Men would love it because, we all like the fantasy of powerful sexy woman with attitude. And, women because of her sense of the absolute equality between men and women, her dignity, and her ability to act on her principles even if they come into conflict with the moral sensibilities of the rest of the team. She is raised as warrior first, and, if she needs to take down an enemy to save a team mate or an innocent, she´ll do it without fear of consequence and in style.
The fact that she shows that a world run by women would actually be a hell of a lot better than the patriarchal world we call home, is an inspiring message that should be touched on, and in the end the fact that she comes from paradise, immediately justifies her convictions in the face of her team mates objections. To a generation of women and marginalized voices, who throughout history have been unjustly convinced of their ineptitude, I think this version of Wonder Woman would be someone female, ethnic or gay audiences would respond well to. A lot like like Burtons Catwoman, but obviously for very different reasons.
The Shadow, The Badboy, The Strategist
Why the team needs him for their movie?
Batman is such an iconic figure. Again Like Superman, he´s a figure who is so elemental to the human psyche, he could be considered an Archetype. The dark avenger, who´s trained himself, body and mind, to the cause of turning fear on those who use fear as a weapon. Armed with a wonderful array of high tech weapons, but that is not the Batman’s greatest weapon. His greatest weapon is his will to act. In his endless crusade against the forces of evil, he has adopted many of their methods, but only one rule separate’s him from his sworn enemies, he will never kill, he will never be judge, jury and executioner.
In the Justice League, he is the dark side, the shadow, he knows the real world, he´s tasseled with the worst of them, and he´s seen the face of evil. This makes him cynical, reclusive, brooding, arrogant, and, untrusting. He´s essentially the bad boy of the League and we all know how we like a bad boy. The one who keeps his cards close to the chest, and only in the final analysis do you realize he had the upper hand all along.
My hope is they really kit him out for the JL movie, give him a genius intellect and tactical superiority over the rest of the team.(Apart from maybe WW) I don´t want to just see Baterangs, smoke bombs and, such. He needs to be as potent as he can be as a human, so that we really get a sense he deserves to be amongst the Gods. The same goes for his villains.
Obviously a great character who´s sense of daring do, appeals to almost all of us.
The Flash (Barry Allen with Wally West character)
The Joker Of The Team. The Everyman We Can All Relate To.
Why the team needs him for their movie?
I think the Flash if done correctly could be a real break out star. Wally West, is the kind of guy everyone will get, he will be the guy in the film who speaks from our perspective. The one who might piss off WW, with insinuating one liners. The one most willing to abuse his powers a little. Or, who plays up for the media. The one who puts the villain straight in his place even though he´s 10 times less powerful than them. The one who straight-up runs his mouth when everyone in the audience knows he shouldn´t. Thats why Wally West (or the Wally West character but called Barry Allen if that makes everyone happier) needs to be in this movie.
One might say well Batman has no powers, so he´s the one we´ll relate to. And, of course we´ll love Batman in his own right; but Batman is at his best when really he´s a nutcase that no one can relate to. Why would this guy with no powers and extreme wealth dedicate his life to running around beating the crap out of low lifes and super villains? His will is beyond human. He´s the peak of humanity, he´s estranged from it, that´s why he´s so compelling. The same goes for Green Lantern. Think about how he got his powers, an super intelligent alien species chose him to be one of the guardians of the universe, because of the power of his will. That does not sound like a clown to me, that sounds like a disciplined badass motherconuker. Flash got his powers through a freak accident, he´s the one whose most likely to be excited and realize just what an amazing ride he´s suddenly been put on. But he´ll also be a sort of human conscience for the group, when they are to above humanity and still looking to the stars, he´ll be the guy we all relate to cause he´s just one of us, who found one day he has amazing powers. In that sense I think it should be left to The Flash, to be the guy to humanize the team, who says what the audience is thinking, therefore allowing us to accept the reality presented.
The Green Lantern (John Stewart)
The Undefined One, The Soldier.
Why the team needs him for their movie?
The Soldier Of The Team And Connection Between Man And Gods.
John Stewart is the best Green lantern for a Justice League movie. Its not that I like him most of all the Green Lanterns at all; I actually like Hal or Kyle a lot more. I grew up reading Kyle actually. But the real beauty of John is that his back story is so undefined and therefore has great potential, without fanboys getting up in arms about who plays him and if they stuck to the source material.
What we know: he´s had a military history, he was a soldier, we assume he´s fought some war or another. Almost inhuman before he´s even given his power ring. His will is superhuman which is why he´s given the power ring. I think this mixed with the fact he´s a black soldier, could make for a very interesting story, perhaps introduced in the JL movie itself. Hal could even be brought in as a mentor figure. (found out later)
In a way John is a very undefined Green Lantern, unfortunately in his run through the animated series and the comics, he´s mainly been a token black.
I believe the Justice League Movie has the opportunity to correct this and make a real original character out of him and it will add a bit of diversity to the group as well, which I at least hope people think is a good thing. I understand, the comics started one way, but the fact is the way the comics started in the silver age is in a time, when racial, sexual equality and representation were not really big issues for comic publishers. We as moderns ought now to be a bit more open minded. But hell, if you don´t agree with that logic, lets look at it from a story stand point.
I think there´s a rich history of the social and political implications of African Americans involved in US wars to draw on, to really make his character relevant and relatable.
John´s military history is often referenced in the animated series, but not explored.
I mean was he a badass special ops guy? Was he a true patriot, or did he feel used in unjust wars? Was he in the Gulf War? Afghanistan? Vietnam? Or, maybe a fictional satirical conflict? Did some tragedy happen to him at war? Was, he a P.O.W at one point for instance? How was his life as an African American before the war? Did he face any challenges as a black man? Was he unjustly treated by police? How would some of these experiences change his attitude towards being a superhero?
How will they differ from an idealistic middle class all American country boy? A billionaire who faced tragedy at an early age, but has nonetheless been afforded all the privileges society has to offer? A Princess, who comes from a Utopian society, in which the idea of racial tension or division is a ridiculous and cruel notion? An alien, who´s seen the cruelest side of war? And, a Generation X slacker, who struggles to take anything in life seriously?
As long as they don´t make him a token black, but make him a real person that has faced the adversity and issues that soldiers face, or, African Americans have faced (obviously not too heavy) he would be a great distinct and interesting voice in the JL.
The Solitary Figute
Why the team needs him for their movie?
I really think its a mistake MMH is not making it into the movie and here is why.
He connects to each character in very interesting ways. Much more so than Cyborg.
If Cyborg is chosen I will already know the writer of the screenplay is lazy, because he´s just an easier choice than MMH rather than thematically as important to the JL.
Why do I say this? Because in his own way, MMH is a perfect middle ground between the characters, which is what makes him their heart and soul. There is either an intimate connection or contrast he has with each of them.
1. He possesses the great powers of Superman which makes him a virtual God to humans and therefore a threat. They also both face the dilemma of being immigrants to this planet, but from a very contrasting perspective i.e. Superman was an adoptee to this planet since infancy, while MMH came to this planet in adulthood and aesthetically is very different to us as well.
2. His tragic past gives him a great deal of wisdom and forsight like Wonder Woman, but contrasts in the sense that his wisdom has grown from the tragedy and turmoil of his species eradication, while hers is born of her world which is a vision of justice and peace.
3. He comes from tragedy, watching his family murdered like Batman.
4. He was a soldier and knows the horror of war like Green Lantern, John Stewart.
5. And he contrasts absolutely with Flash, who is the everyman, while MMH unlike any of his teammates is truly alone in the Universe. Alien in everyway from humanity.
This gives Jónn a really fascinating dynamic with all of the characters. I see him as alienated, most of the time confining himself to the Watchtower, not wanting to engage with humanity, And therefore garnering distrust from us, as he´s seen as some distant unstoppable God in the sky.
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