EDITORIAL: How To Make A JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie Different From THE AVENGERS

Marvel Studios' The Avengers was a game changer, there's no denying that fact. So what can a 90+ year old studio giant like Warner Bros. (WB) learn from their success?

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By Mark Julian - 6/8/2012


Marvel Studios' The Avengers was a game changer, there's no denying that fact. The film has set an impressive number of box office records and looks to be headed for a 3rd place finish on the all-time earnings chart. Quite the impressive feat for a studio that's only self-financed movies for the last 8 years or so. So what can a 90+ year old studio giant like Marvel Comics has a roster of heroes vastly different from DC Comics, so too must Warner Bros. differ their approach to a super hero team-up movie.

Hey Warner Bros., this is your chance to avenge your subsidiary, DC Comics by one-upping their rival in a competition that began 51 years ago. Marvel icon and creator, Stan Lee has made no secret over the years that he looked to DC for inspiration for many of the Marvel heroes we know and love today but tweaked the characters to make them more relatable; an adjustment which has resulted in Marvel becoming the dominant comic book company of the modern age. There is a common saying in the geek community, "DC did it first but Marvel got it right." Well WB, here's your chance to return the favor all these many years later. Marvel Studios has achieved something previously unprecedented in cinema, they've created a shared universe across 5 films and then brought the main protagonists of each film into one big team-up movie; essentially, they've brought the "Big Crossover Event" comic book blueprint to the world of movies. Obviously,the recent success of The Avengers has WB looking hard at their own superhero properties but I believe it must approach the situation from a new perspective. Simply following Marvel's formula may indeed lead to success but greater glory and revenue can be achieved if the focus is placed on WB's greatest comic book assets, the DC villains.



Today, thanks to cartoons and movies, the world probably knows Spider-Man, Iron Man and Hulk just as well as they know Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. However, I'd be willing to wager that more people know Lex Luthor, the Joker and Hades than say Green Goblin, The Mandarin and The Leader. It's a toss up between each companies' heroes but Warner Bros. has the distinct advantage when it comes to antagonists, especially since the rights to major Marvel baddies such as Dr. Doom, Apocalypse and The Kingpin are held by other studios. Heck, Batman alone has untapped rogues that could provide fertile fodder for 10 more Dark Knight films. Sure, we've seen Lex Luthor in plenty (every) Superman film to date but let's be honest, we've yet to see the Lex Luthor from the comic books (the closest we've come is Smallville) and even still, the likes of Parasite, Darkseid, Braniac, etc. are all ripe for a big screen debut. The Flash has his own unique cabal of adversarial foes and Wonder Woman has the Greek pantheon to battle. The mistake Green Lantern made was going with an immaterial Parallax instead of the cold and calculating Sinestro, a mistake I'm sure will be rectified in the reboot/sequel. In many ways, the villains of DC have the same relatablity as the heroes of Marvel. Often these individuals are flawed human beings who use their abilities for personal gain instead of the greater good. You take Lex Luthor and make him a force for good and you have Tony Stark, give Solomon Grundy a personality and you have the Hulk, Talia Al Ghul a slightly different career path and she's Black Widow and so on and so forth. My point is that there's an opportunity here for originality, a chance to be daring and focus on the villain's story and show a different side of the comic book world to the movie going populace. And what happens when the villains lose the climatic battle against their superhero counterparts? Why, they assemble of course.



In today's society, and magnified a hundredfold in the geek community, the ability to successfully implement an original idea in our "been there, seen that" era is invaluable and is the chief reason why Marvel's currently riding high. The other side of that coin dictates that Warner Bros. will never achieve the same level of success if they simply copy what we've just experienced in The Avengers. We've seen the alien invasion, we've seen the long, meticulous recruitment of heroes, we've seen atypical humor immersed in realism. An end-scene where Amanda Waller shows up to talk to Superman about the Justice League initiative is not going to have the same impact. Take the The Avengers formula and build upon it. Regardless of whether you're purely a fan of Marvel or DC, the fact is ticket sales for The Avengers were roughly the same as those for The Dark Knight. Add a 3D revenue boost to The Dark Knight and it theoretically has the better box-office numbers. Now imagine what a 'dark and mature film' taking cues from Christopher Nolan's movie formula and featuring Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman could earn. Applying Marvel's formula, a Justice League movie can still be original by following the DC antithesis of S.H.I.E.L.D., (maybe H.I.V.E.) in their recruitment of defeated villains to form The Injustice League. Instead of assembling superheroes to defend the Earth from threats that a secret government organization can't handle, a secret terrorist organization assembles a group of super-villains to combat an indestructible force for good, Superman. Apply the Marvel formula but play to the strength of the DC universe. When Superman is unable to single-handedly oppose this organized, calculated and ruthless threat to “Truth, justice and the American way,” he seeks out allies, namely heroes who have dealt with these villains before. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that isn't interested in seeing Lex Luthor, Black Adam and Deathstroke combining their talents to take down the Man of Steel. This method would also attract some big name acting talent who probably have no desire to play a superhero but would jump at the chance to play a menacing, merciless anti-hero (see Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger).

Hopefully someone at DC is in the ear of every writer currently working on bringing a DC hero to life. The key ingredient to Marvel's success is that all of the top execs, directors and writers have been fans of the genre and have striven to stay as close as possible to the spirit of the source material. Foregoing a focus on the villians, if WB takes only one lesson from Marvel Studios then hopefully it's the realization that this their subsidiary has endured for decades because even though society has changed, their characters have stayed true to who and what they are, the Man of Tomorrow, a Dark Knight and an Amazon Princess. Perfect the formula Warner!



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108 Comments
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ksommer - 6/8/2012, 2:20 PM
I bet we get 200 comments with some version of "darker" mentioned.
invalensname5 - 6/8/2012, 2:31 PM
Good article. I like this approach.
Helena - 6/8/2012, 2:37 PM
It doesn't need to be different, it needs to be good. Who cares for drawing comparisons if you're having a good time at the cinema?
Azrael725 - 6/8/2012, 2:38 PM
I like your idea.
Azrael725 - 6/8/2012, 2:38 PM
oh and i love that drawing of Bat's rogues gallery. very cool
calin88 - 6/8/2012, 2:39 PM
Liked your article a lot, and would love to see anything near to this in a JL movie, but I'm going to say it plain and simple, you could never have a good CBM with 6-7 heroes(I assume WB would want JL not Trinity) and an equal number of villains. I f people thought The Avengers was overfloded with characters, what would this be? it's impossible to interract the heroes between them( in say 3 hours), not to mention the with the villains, the only way this would work is for fans and people who have knowledge and love for these comics, the other 80% of the spectators will be confused, a lot! Then again, I think The Avengers could have been a lot better if it wasn't supposed to be aimed at all audiences, but only to comic book knowers
BackwardGalaxy - 6/8/2012, 2:41 PM
It's a nice thought, but it's not different just because it's the villains assembling instead of the good guys. It's the same exact plot device, just with the antagonists.
GuardianAngel - 6/8/2012, 2:41 PM
I just hope that this time, WB listens to the fans rather than the money.
HelaGood - 6/8/2012, 2:42 PM
WB... always the follower...

GIVE US SOMETHING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
CapeWing - 6/8/2012, 2:43 PM
I feel that since we have had no lead ups, or cross overs in any of the previous films it would be best to open in present time, but do what was done for Batman Begins, flash backs with each one getting closer back to the present time until the rest of the film is in the present. This gives you the perfect chance to explain the teams origins while providing time for cross overs and lead ups to the present story line of the film.I would really like to see them take on Darkseide possibly, and not the injustice league only because of too many characters and not enough time to balance it all out. Not too mention the idea of earth being over run by aliens is always a good ticket sellar and lord darkseide is just as bad as they come.
JordanKing - 6/8/2012, 2:44 PM
It's a good idea, focusing more on the villains and all. But it could send the wrong message to young audiences especially. If they'd want to top the Avenger's success, they're gonna want to appeal to as a wide an audience as possible, and having Joker, Luthor etc work together to defeat the good guys may give them the wrong impression. Would parents want them to see that?

Avengers worked because it was safe as far as blockbusters go. It had a great word of mouth thanks to all the fan screenings etc, and it was a film that had a high re-watch value.

Oh and, I wouldn't class Hugo Weaving's Red Skull as an anti-hero, like at all. :S
crazyish - 6/8/2012, 2:44 PM
i really dig the idea of the villians banding together to fight superman...but i feel like batman is the more likely one to actually put the team together just because hes more tactically mindful....either way i just hope its a good movie
HugeCapfan - 6/8/2012, 2:45 PM
If there is going to be a Justice League movie, ... It'll be like a Star Trek movie. It'll be about Batman and Superman, with Wonder Woman being the moderator/brain/middle-woman -- The Main Three, Holy Trinity, big three, KirkSpockMcCoy team -- Lantern, Manhunter, Arrow, Cyborg, Canary, Flash, Aquaman, all just making cameos.
Helena - 6/8/2012, 2:47 PM
Why you people think a JL should be dark is beyond me. Superman is an incurable optimist, Flash is hopeful to the point of having become a Blue Lantern and GL is making jokes all over the place to keep the good mood. Because most of the JL are more than humans, like Superman, Manhunter, WW, there is no point to going post-modern and exploiting their human flaws like Avengers did, go brighter.
Hudson3D - 6/8/2012, 2:48 PM
It's late, i'm tired
Time for the 3D!!

Gigacrusher45 - 6/8/2012, 2:49 PM
This is what they need to do.

First I want to say I agree with the article and an idea to take advantage of this would be instead of a Nick Fury recruiting heroes it should be a Lex Luthor recruiting villains from each franchise to connect them.

For Batman, regardless if Nolan or Bale return to the franchise they should (if possible) continue the same timeline with a different actor (even though Bale and Nolan continuing would be the dream) but in this version open up Batman's world to the Justice League.

Man of Steel can easily throw on a after the credits scene to attach itself to Batman or Green Lantern.

In Green Lanterns case they need to take the Incredible Hulk route (staying in the same timeline but reboot the cast) or just make up all mistakes in the sequel still with Ryan Renolds (to at least keep some continuity).

As for The Flash and Wonder Woman that's a whole other article. And maybe add one or two more like Aquaman, Green Arrow, or Martian Manhunter. Just so everyone knows Aquaman is badass. He's not the "Super Friends" version everyone for some reason only sees him as.
Montross - 6/8/2012, 2:49 PM
This article could really use some paragraph breaks.
TheAmazingSlade - 6/8/2012, 2:51 PM
The only director who made a successful superhero team up movie is Joss Whedon. As he said he won't be making a Justice League movie because he said the characters are bigger than Marvel and more difficult.
deadpoolstaco - 6/8/2012, 2:52 PM
good article and an interesting idea
TheBigBoss917 - 6/8/2012, 2:53 PM
Flash is the next adaptation that needs to be done imo
Hudson3D - 6/8/2012, 2:53 PM
LMAO tea..... BTW,, totally agree about the flash movie my friend..
superotherside - 6/8/2012, 2:57 PM
Cool idea and nice write up Mark!
Ranger14 - 6/8/2012, 2:59 PM
" The tone must be dark as well there is no doubt in my mind about it."

I would really like someone to explain to me what that means.
Tao1 - 6/8/2012, 2:59 PM
ill say it now, forget the heroes make villan movies where its about the bad guy not good
Hudson3D - 6/8/2012, 2:59 PM
FLASH RULES!!!
Gigacrusher45 - 6/8/2012, 2:59 PM
It seems like everyone is bringing up the maturity level of a Justice League movie. It can't be the dark level of the Nolan's version. Can't happen and bad idea. The rest of the Justice League characters don't fit that tone only Batman does.

It should be as mature/dark or whatever as The Avengers, which was very evenly toned. It had jokes and light moments but it was evenly mixed with issues the team had to work through and the obvious danger of an invasion.
95 - 6/8/2012, 3:10 PM
I hope Warner Bros. considers IMAX (70mm celluloid) as it's little niche for box office gross boost over stereoscopic 3D. We'll see if they're heading for a 3D future with Man Of Steel.
dnno1 - 6/8/2012, 3:10 PM
I would tend to agree that DC has some more memorable villains, but the one thing that Marvel had going for it with their Avengers' film was the fact that they had a good string of successes with their films over the last 10 years - particularly with Iron Man. Because of this "Marvel's Avengers" was more like a sequel (i.e. "Iron Man 2.5", "Thor 1.5", and "Captain America 1.5") than it was a new film. The fact that sequels tend to do better than their predecessors (especially when the proceeding film was a hit) helped boost its box office take. Justice League could have a similar success if they leverage both the Batman and Superman franchises (but the next Superman film has to be successful).

One might think that the WB coming out with a Justice League film might just be a knock off of Avengers, but it actually is quite different. The Justice League has a vast gallery of villians like Starro, The Royal Flush Gang, Project Cadmus, General Eiling, Amazo, Maxwell Lord , Imperiex Prime, the Injustice Gang, and Darkseid, that could be leveraged to write numerous stories, so this could be an enduring franchise. The one word of warning I have for the studio is to avoid trying to re-imagine some of the villains too much. Fans want bodily villains and not the cosmic astronomical leviathans (i.e. cloud monsters) that have garnered lots of criticism from fans over the years. Avoid doing that, focus on making a very good Superman film and you will be on the road to having a successful Justice League movie.
Jordanstine - 6/8/2012, 3:11 PM
This is what I posted on another forum, regarding WB decision of either rebooting or just picking up Green Lantern back:

If WB really wants to pull off a Justice League film, they really have to be conscious about the other hero's films especially because, unlike Marvel's heroes being more down to earth, DC's heroes are more "Godly".

If you have a character as godly as Superman, wouldn't he know of the the world scale galactic invasion of the Parallax on earth? So if something as huge as the Parallax invades earth, wouldn't Superman be able to sense it with his super-hearing and super-everything? I mean he could sense trouble all the way in Asia, a whole continent away while still in Metropolis and still save them after all and make it back in time for lunch.

WB can always say "Clark still wasn't Superman at that point yet when Hal was battling the Parallax". If that's the case then, the events of Green Lantern should have some kind of effect on the Man of Steel film, i.e. people already knowing that there are aliens and they had just been recently invaded and attacked.

I think one of the reasons The Avengers solo movies worked was that, each of the heroes had "smaller scale battles" in their solo film before coming together for the big battle in New York.

DC heroes are more like "Gods" with all their godly superpowers, that they're battles can't just be small, but has to be godly too otherwise they just wouldn't be challenged according to their vast powers, and audiences will notice that.

That is why Parallax has to invade the earth and try to engulf a city against Green Lantern. That is why a regular human like Lex Luthor has to cause continental earthquakes in 2 different Superman movies involving Superman having to stop nuclear catastrophes, and doing things in space like turning back time or throwing the ocean floor, etc.

I think a Green Lantern reboot, even with a different GL like Stewart taking place mostly in space would be the better fit to tie in with a Justice League film.
Jordanstine - 6/8/2012, 3:14 PM
P.S.

With that said, rather than DC copying Marvel's formula of introducing their heroes with stand-alone solo films first before assembling them into The Avengers...

Should DC instead do the opposite and use a Justice League film to introduce their heroes first and spin them off into their own solo films later on?

???
Hudson3D - 6/8/2012, 3:18 PM
I promise this is my last irrelevant post of the day.
I swear these boobs are coming out of my screen..
So go grab your glasses... Good night all.
Fogs - 6/8/2012, 3:18 PM
Nice read. I really hope they come up with something really as good as the Avengers was. But different.
Jordanstine - 6/8/2012, 3:20 PM
@Mark Julian

"The key ingredient to Marvel's success is that all of the top execs, directors and writers have been fans of the genre and have striven to stay as close as possible to the spirit of the source material."

But didn't WB already kind of do that by making Geoff Johns basically in charge of the Green Lantern film?

I agree with you, but it's got to be more than just that.
Jordanstine - 6/8/2012, 3:27 PM
@Owlman



By making him ride mean looking sea creatures.
95 - 6/8/2012, 3:31 PM
How could they make a Justice League movie different from The Avengers? Simple -- by making a shitty movie.
timepuzzler - 6/8/2012, 3:35 PM
Your argument was excellent...right up until you dredged up the ole' "Dark Knight would've performed better than 'The Avengers' if it had been 3D" chestnut.

Gods, does anyone really believe that 3D makes a movie better?

I disagree. Had 'The Dark Knight' been in 3D, the integrity of the cinematography and screenplay would have been compromised.

Anyway, you have some excellent points. Thank you for the mostly excellent read. Next time, for the sake of your own credibility, please leave out TDK fanboying.
ironpool007 - 6/8/2012, 3:35 PM
The Justice League movie and what ever solo films they ecided to build up up to it need to be about heroes coming together on their own. There was never a government figure in the comics saying the heroes should team up. They should go with the classic origin of the Martian Manhunter warning the heroes of emminent danger, and then they decide to together on their own. The government idea worked well with The Avengers because that blueprint had been layed out cleary in The Ultimates. Sure, at DC, you have Amanda Waller. But her thing is the Suicide Squad. Give the team a liason in the form of Steve Trevor, like in the new 52 Justice League.
superbatspiderman - 6/8/2012, 3:38 PM
If thet did a Justice League movie where they stop an alien invasion then it would be a huge Avengers rip off so I would want them to fight the Legion of Doom or some other group of super villains. That is how they should approach JL.
Fonzieismypal - 6/8/2012, 3:39 PM
Ugh. For the love of god would people stop pretending dark=intelligent. We're not five. Make a smart movie with a good story and themes that aren't painfully obvious. And don't distance the film from the source material because it seems darker. That's [frick]ing stupid. If The Avengers has taught us anything it's that a movie made for fans can be appreciated by all.
marantaz - 6/8/2012, 3:52 PM
Essentially the same thing I said yesterday, and I'm still not sure it will work. Outside of Supes and Bats, DC/Warner has failed to generate any interest in their characters through film. I seriously doubt WW would succeed on her own, GL didn't, and putting them into a team film ... well, I doubt WB/DC has the balls for it. But maybe, after the Avengers, making a JL movie will be easier if done by presenting a threat to the earth ( one that Supes can't beat alone, as you say here) that requires them to join as a team. People might find it easier to accept now that the Avengers has made it believable.
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