EDITORIAL: Tower of Babel Is The Best Comic To Adapt For JUSTICE LEAGUE
The Justice League has a rich history of interesting stories, but there is one that stands above all others. With a JUSTICE LEAGUE film on the horizon, everyone in charge needs to be looking to JLA: Tower of Babel as the inspiration for the team’s first adventure. Hit the jump for more.
For those who haven’t read the acclaimed JLA: Tower of Babel, well, go read it. The short version is: Batman has constructed contingency plans to deal with every member of the Justice League should they ever go rogue. Ra’s al Ghul subsequently steals these plans and puts them into effect, thus nullifying the League, and allowing him to enact his evil plot. Eventually they overcome their own demons and band together to stop Ra’s, but in the aftermath, Batman is kicked out of the League. You may also recognize this story as being the inspiration behind the animated film Justice League: Doom, as well as the failed Justice League: Mortal.
One of the most appealing facets of this comic is that it really gives each character their own time to shine. Every one of the heroes has to face their own personal challenge and conquer their own weakness. Obviously, certain characters (*cough* Batman) will be given more importance, but this way, no matter what, there will be time for every hero to get some level of action and development all to themselves.
Speaking of Batman, this comic uses him in a way that makes it very appealing as a plot foundation. Understandably, Warner Bros knows that Batman is their most popular character and are going to want to put him front and center. At the same time, no one wants to see Batman and friends versus evil. Tower of Babel is a happy medium, since he’s the most prominent character but hardly the main focus. Within the comic, Batman’s actions set the plot into motion and the main theme of the arc is whether his distrust in his fellow heroes is founded. However, even though things revolve around him, as mentioned before, the story is pretty fair about sharing time with everyone. Sure, he’ll get an extra spotlight at the beginning and the end to frame what he’s done, but the main body of the story places no extra emphasis on his personal showdown.
People have been wondering why Superman needs help at all. One of the biggest questions Justice League will have to address is why he needs a team surrounding him when he can presumably do everything they can and more. This story brings him down to our level, making him completely weak and vulnerable. It conveys why Superman needs the support of the League and shows his imperfections. It also gives him the chance to prove that his strength is more than just physical as he psychologically and emotionally faces what Batman had in store for him.
Tower of Babel also features the potential for some incredible action sequences. Each hero faces a very diverse problem and while we’d still get the standard team-up fight against the villain at the end, the middle of the film presents a chance to do something very creative. Explore The Flash’s super-speed and make us see the world how he does without stopping, take away Green Lantern’s vision and watch his constructs go wild, have Wonder Woman throw down with an equally-matched fighter throughout a crowded city. There’s so much room for interpretation and very little of it resembles the cliched set piece where heroes and villain meet in some unique location, fight for 10 minutes, and then the villain gets away.
Another important feature of Tower of Babel is that as long as the general premise remains, there’s a lot of room to change details without altering the course of the story. It’s not important how each hero is dealt with so much as the fact that they each have to face a weakness. Likewise, the villain of the whole piece can be easily changed. Ra’s al Ghul still works, but he’s been done before, and his role as a terrorist who wants the Justice League out of the way can easily be replaced by almost anyone: Vandal Savage, Prometheus, Maxwell Lord, Lex Luthor, etc. Any of them can fit into the villain’s role and it gives a lot of flexibility in terms of what kind of antagonist the director wants to use. Basically, there’s a good story no matter the villain or the intricate details of their plot.
Part of the reason the villain is somewhat inconsequential is because the real main antagonist of the film would be the Justice League themselves. Their own worst fears and failures are what they’re struggling with amidst Batman's betrayal of their trust. Intangible ideas like weakness and distrust are the real villains causing the League to fight, which makes for a lot more interesting story than a bunch of them banding together to punch Darkseid over and over.
Sure, Identity Crisis, Justice or Kingdom Come could all make very cool films, but Tower of Babel is an incredible story arc which presents a unique threat to the Justice League, and forces them to deal with a vast array of emotional issues and character developments unlike anything else. It offers a malleable structure, an ensemble of heroes and a distinct conflict. For these reasons, Tower of Babel is the best story to adapt for a Justice League film.
You read the piece, what do you think? Is this the right comic to adapt, or do you have a different story in mind? Let me know in the comments.
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