I am 30 years old. I have been a big comic book fan since I was 12. However, I freely admit that my preferences are 95% Marvel-based. Though I don't collect the books anymore, I still keep up with story events and reactions through the World Wide Web.
I genuinely knew little-to-nothing about DC growing up. I could name 30 X-men villains off the top of my head, but I couldn't name 5 Superman Villains to save my life. I had no idea who Green Lantern was until I was about 20, and I was 25 when I discovered there had been more than 1 Robin. In the past 3 or 4 Years, I have been making a concerned effort to really get to know the DC universe. Admittedly, the 'New 52' has helped with that considerably, really refining each character's convoluted origins and persona. Before this, all of my DC knowledge came from the 90's cartoons. Though I realize they are by no means canon to the comics, they do shed light on many of the plights and antagonists that general audiences may not know otherwise. When Batman Begins came out, I could say, "Hey, it's the Scarecrow! He's my favorite Batman villain!"
Because of this, I feel I have a unique perspective on this Justice League movie. Though I'm an avid comic book enthusiast, I have little more than general knowledge of DC. I am by no means a DC hater or Marvel fan boy, I like what movies are good, and I don't like what movies are not. (My only exception to that rule would be the X-men movies. They screwed everything up so bad I can't enjoy them. Though First Class was good, I actually have no idea why people like X2 so much. Wolverine is 6'5 and acts more like Indiana Jones than Dirty Harry. Scott is a whiny baby! None of them had ever heard of Warren Worthington up until that point! Am I taking crazy pills?!) Ultimately, it is the general audience's concept of the character that allows the movie to drive on or stall. Reality dictates not every member of the audience has a stack of Justice League comics at home. Not half of them. Go look at the sales records these books reach, not even a quarter of the people who go to this movie will have comic books in their closet. And as a general audience member (when it comes to DC), I'm going to give you a bit of what I feel is the perception of each of these characters, and how it applies to the JLA:
Bring back Henry Cavill, sounds great. If Man of Steel turn out fantastic, people will want more and more of this guy. He's Marvel's Iron Man x100. If people go bananas for him, then the JLA is pretty much in the bag. Still, I feel this is the single hardest character to pull off in the movie. And I have a strong feeling pretty much everyone reading this thinks just the opposite.
What is Superman? Plan and simple, he is the greatest superhero who ever lived. Hulk can get angrier and angrier and eventually gain infinite strength? Superman rolls out of bed with infinite strength, and he's calm and collected while he uses it. How many times have you seen Superman fail to lift something heavy that didn't involve a certain green plot device (which we'll get to later)? It doesn't matter if he's technically faster than the flash or not, he can do everything he wants to in a split second. He has telescopic vision, smoldering heat vision that can cut through virtually anything, X-ray vision, concussive/gale force breath, breath that freezes liquid faster than absolute zero, the strength thing, the speed thing, effortlessly unrivaled flight, doesn't need to breathe in space, immune to most radiations/heat/plasma, skin that could cut diamonds, and he has greatly underrated intelligence.
So what's my problem with this? Why in the hell would this guy EVER need teammates? Half the time I read up on a JLA comic, they're fighting someone he soloed 6 months earlier in his own series. What could Aquaman, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern ever possibly contribute that Superman couldn't easily do by himself? Obviously a great writer could make something out of this, as Thor was last seen teaming up with 5 other mortals to defeat an army inferior to the one he was ravishing in his own solo movie. Similar hiccup, sure. But the public perception of Superman is not that of Thor, despite what feats they have in the comics. Superman is the alpha, the omega, the ultimate. And now he needs Bruce Wayne's help to take on some unknown adversary? Bruce's brain would undeniably be of great use, but the second he throws on the cape, what would be the point?
And man, I don't want to see one more Superman movie about an average Joe with a shard of kryptonite taking on the Man of Steel for as long as I live. Jesus Lucifer, It's been done to death. It does appear he's fighting some supernatural powerhouses in his solo movie, which is good on one hand, but only strengthens my original point on the other. If he can do that....
You can make an Avengers movie without Thor or without Iron Man, without Hulk or maybe even without Captain America. Not without all of them, of course, but if one of those four was omitted, it wouldn't have caused riots. They already dropped two original Avengers, what's another one? Though they're all big deals now, if you skipped one of their solo movies and just didn't include that character, it still could have worked. Up until recently, the Avengers have been on nearly a 50 year stretch where the Hulk was barely mentioned, much less on the team. Or you could claim RDJ is the reason it made 1.5B$ sure, but Thor/CA/Hulk solo movies still made a couple bucks, they could have worked up a smaller budget Avengers movie without Iron Man. Before his movies, he was a solid B-list superhero, so it's at least conceivable if they chose to leave him out. Replace him with Ms. Marvel, Ant-Man or Vision. On the same principle, Captain America could have been left out instead. He's the iconic leader of the team, but Marvel very well could have said, "Captain America doesn't translate well on the big screen." They could have made Tony lead the team, replacing Cap with a Black Panther or a Namor. And it was actually a bit of surprise to me they attempted Thor in the first place. Now despite what I said in the previous character analysis, you can't do this with Superman. If he's not on the roster, JLA doesn't exist, period. You could say the same about the other two facets of the DC Trinity, but they still don't apply as strongly as the Man of Tomorrow. He IS DC superheroes. Batman is more popular, sure, but if they only made Batman movies from now on, people would say DC had given up on their superhero roster. Superman is kind of the whole point to all of this.
So why did I write all of that under Woman Woman and not under Superman? Mostly, because I didn't want 5 paragraphs under Superman and 2 lines under Woman Women. But partially, because it has great meaning to her spot in this movie. Wonder Woman by all accounts should be the leader of the JLA. She just has 'it'. I think for the most part they just make Superman the leader because he's Superman. Batman usually doesn't listen to him anyhow. I don't have some biased toward her over any of the other characters, but she reads like a team leader to a 'T'. So what if they did leave Superman out? Wouldn't that balance the team greatly? Perhaps he doesn't need to be removed from the movie, but simply removed from the plot via meddling (without the green stuff). There just seems to be more drama when he's not around. I think that's the biggest problem with Superman Returns. It was a little dull because everyone knew exactly what was going to happen, he was going to avoid the kryptonite and win. There was never a sense of Superman in danger, even though he was knocked around a bit. He's Superman.
Alright, enough about him. What is Wonder Woman? Is she the other Thor? Tell me if this doesn't sound familiar: Warrior from a far off place, foreign to our way of life. A kingdom where she is heir, and she is also the most famous of their warrior people. She travels to everyday America, and quickly realizes that their way of life is far different from her own. Her warrior upbringing and commanding presence are seen as bizarre and mostly comedic to the average American. For her family, it's the monarch parent who questions her intentions and the sorcerer sibling who boils with contempt...
This movie has been done before. And even if she ends up being a TV show before JLA, or just a quick synopsis in the opening credits, it's a rehash, plain and simple. The biggest problem is Wonder Woman came out many years before Thor. You could even debate Thor's origins being a bit of plagiarism. But Thor's movie hit the screen first, and that's what matters. I also feel whichever company pulls out their 'Lord of Atlantis' epic first will ultimately dissuade the other from doing the same. Again, Wonder Woman is another character who has to be there if this movie is made. The biography will be tricky to dance around, but they can make it work. That costume though... it's going to take a lot more than a strapless, 1 piece bathing suit to pull her off.
Star spangled underpants, giant, awkward eagle on her chest concealing her bosom? [u]Sidenote[/u]: if she's from another country/dimension/land whatever it is, why is she covered from head to toe in American propaganda? Captain America I get, her... not so much.
He fits in here just fine, but I do think it should be Ryan Reynolds. Yeah, the solo movie wasn't sequel-worthy, but it definitely helped establish the character. To bring in a different actor or a different character altogether may require them to spend time setting up his backstory. That just makes another character who needs it, and ultimately the movie will be flashbacks and origin stories for the first half of the movie. They've already established Hal's the only human lantern and he has a willpower greater than any lantern who's come before him... only to bring up another human lantern with no connection? You can incorporate a weaker movie into the overall Cinematic Universe while making few references to it. Though they recast the actor, that's essentially what Marvel did with The Incredible Hulk. Other than the line about leveling Harlem, it didn't really even matter if that movie was made. But what does matter is Ryan Reynolds is a star, he is known as being the Green Lantern, and he can survive some pretty terrible movies like Hugh Jackman did as Wolverine on sheer star power.
Putting in John Stewart would be a little strange, putting in a different guy playing Hal Jordan would be even worse. Though the movie was bleh, it didn't wreck any grand designs of the DCCU(?).
People always refer to the DC Trinity being Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman. But even before I picked up a single comic, I had heard of the Flash as much as any of them. He has an iconic power, and other than a few of his spinoff heroes/villains, his power is very much unique. Marvel has Quicksilver, but most would argue he doesn't even have remotely the same power. Wonder Woman is one of a hundred flying, super strong heroes. Batman has a laundry list of competitors/rip offs that rely on engineered toys or know martial arts, and are crazy smart. But the Flash IS super speed superheroes. It's him. But they really need to tone his power down significantly. I'm familiar with a comic where he saved half a million people from a nuclear explosion by taking each one
across the lake from the city to an abandoned field. 1 by 1. 500,000. And the whole event took about .5 seconds right before the bomb went off. There is no dramatic scenario you can make where this person exists. I fret to bring him all the way down to Quicksilver levels, but that may be what it takes.
What to say about this one... can they make a fight scene where he's side by side with the other four in a perilous situation? This isn't Black Widow and her hand guns standing next to Iron Man. In order to put Superman + Flash + GL + Wonder Woman in serious danger, it will have to be WAY over Batman's physical cap. Can they make him fighting a separate battle against normal foes in a different setting that is simultaneously just as important as what Superman is doing against the big thugs? Maybe he's getting to the computer to help save the world while Superman and Co. stall? Yeah, sure. But would it really be the team movie you paid to see?
Now, for my opinion on how the movie should be handled:
This is not 'what they need to do', as that is quite pompous and usually not entirely accurate. Instead, it's a 'what I would do.'
A big joke about the Avengers before it came out was that it was just Iron Man and friends, or Iron Man 3. For that it was in jest, for this I think it should be literal. Have the movie open as essentially Man of Steel 2, have an event take place that knocks him out of the fight, and then the other heroes slowly, yet independently gather to the point of chaos as heroes normally would. You could use this Superman-less time to dive into each character, including how Batman views more powerful heroes than himself. This would be the time you set Wonder Woman up as the natural born leader she is. And then after the team has conflicted with the adversary, you bring back Superman. He could act not as their savior, but as the conjoined team's equal. Not totally unlike how the original Green Power Ranger's robot was essentially the same as the other 5's combined. A poor reference, but a few of you would understand where I'm going with this. It would both exemplify Superman's importance to the world without belittling him to make him fit like they did a bit to Thor. And also, When Superman and Batman are in the same movie, are people really going to care what happens to Flash or GL? Superman needs to be sidelined for a bit for everything to flesh out appropriately.
Darkseid may also fall under the 'rehash' insignia, as a similar character has already developed in a similar movie. And if the rumors are true, Thanos would serve an identical role in Avengers 2, pushing it a little to the extreme. There are so many great stories in the DCU, as well as villains, that they need not keep going back to Darkseid as the only logical choice. I think a Death and Return of Superman story WITHIN the DCCU Justice League origin story would be ideal, myself. In the comic it was Steel, Cyborg Superman, Superboy, and Eradicator. In the movie, the JLA would have to come together because the greatest hero the world will ever know was taken before his task of defending the people was complete.