Since the announcement that the (tentative) date for the Justice League movie will be 2015 a lot of people have called it a mistake to both go up against Avengers 2 as well as rush a team movie into production without having solo titles first.
On the first point I can agree a bit, but the only real worry about going up against Avengers 2 will be if the script for Justice League follows the Avengers script too closely (such as using an alien invasion even though people keep clamoring for Darkseid to be the villain).
On the second point, however, I think people are taking too much stock in the Marvel film formula and forgetting that DC is a completely different beast and when you look at everything together the DC/WB doesn't need to invest in solo titles to make Justice League great. Here's my reasoning:
1. DC characters are more universally known. Outside of Spider-Man, not a lot of people know much about Marvel's other heavy hitters. But, I would put money on people at least having a passing knowledge or recognition of DC characters like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern (probably not Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, or Cyborg so much). It makes sense if you consider that without Superman there wouldn't be superheroes. Batman and Wonder Woman aided DC in defining the Golden Age of comics and Flash and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) were the launch characters for the Silver Age. They laid the foundation of comics as we know them today.
2. DC based shows have been a part of tv viewing for decades. We've had multiple live action series with Superman/Superboy (most recently with 10 YEARS of Smallville), a widely popular Batman show (for its time....not so much today), same with Wonder Woman (again, not so well viewed today but popular and innovative for its period), a Flash series (which I admit aspects of I felt were far better than Smallville and gave a far more mature and adult look at superheroes that we are finally seeing as the norm today), Birds of Prey, now we've got Arrow, and there was another one or two that's slipping my mind right now. We're on the 5th animated Batman show (that number includes Batman Beyond), two for Superman (the Fletcher cartoons being the first), the Super Friends (which was huge growing up for the 40-50 year olds right now), Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Young Justice, Static Shock, Zeta Project, and DC Animated movies are being pumped out left and right. We're about to get the 6th Superman movie (if you don't count the George Reeve film or the Kirk Allen serials), we just finished the 7th Batman movie (again if you don't count the Adam West era film or the 1940's serials), and a Green Lantern, Supergirl, and Catwoman flick (yeah, we really don't want to claim them but unfortunately I have to count them).....and that's not including lesser known character films like Constantine, V for Vendetta, or Watchmen.
I realize I'm missing a few things in there but its not about being 100% accurate and more about emphasizing the amount of overall DC exposure.
When you consider all of this together, you can see that for anyone that's going to go see a Justice League movie they've been exposed to these characters for years. Far more than Marvel characters, who never had a great running series (aside from Spider-Man) or even film prior to the successful of the first Spider-Man trilogy and Iron Man. As a result the DC image and these iconic characters are already an underlying part of American culture and have been experienced and enjoyed (even without reading a comic book) by just about anyone 60 and below.
Now, that type of history means nothing if DC/WB can't market the Justice League correctly......and here is where I really think they can get away with not doing solo titles. Instead of giving perspective audiences trailers about the film (okay, maybe one or two but not as many as we are getting for a typical movie these days), I think the better plan for DC/WB would be to have trailers about each character and what there backstory is (even Superman and Batman because repetition is key). A 2 minute trailer each showcasing their origin, how they acquired their powers (like Flash and Green Lantern) or how they were introduced to the world (like Wonder Woman and Aquaman). In a way having trailers mirroring ComicVines 3 minute expert videos. They can go as in-depth into the backstory of the character as they want but it allows the potential audience to get a feel for these characters before seeing them in theaters without the need to give each a solo film as a lead-up.
I don't think this would have worked at all for Marvel and the Avengers. Again, its all about the fact that DC has had more mainstream exposure than Marvel over the decades through various forms of media. Marvel had to basically start from scratch. However, with a good marketing campaign that focuses trailers and commercials on the characters instead of on movie scenes the potential director, producer, and writers can be free to leave those origin items out of the film and instead focus only on the story at hand and make it as great as possible.
When you consider the exposure facts do you think that changes needing solo films to set the tone for a team movie? Do you think that type of advertising campaign would work?