By fodigg 26 Comments
With the recent announcement of the Batman/Superman film, these proposals have become more popular, but obviously there have been a number of quality threads debating various JLA film concepts and casts for a while. A sampling from the first few pages:
- Let's Be Real--Not Every Member of The JLA Needs A Lead-In Film
- Who should be the villain in 1st Justice League live action film?
- Shared Film Universe Confirmed, JLA Movie On The Way
- Making Sense of the 'Justice League' Film Rumor
Although I've replied to a lot of these already, I wanted to collect my recent thoughts into a central blog. So here goes.
For my JLA concept, I'd use a smaller, non-standard cast (I'm convinced the JLA has always been "the trinity and friends" anyway) designed to provide a range of different archetypes, powers that work well visually without too much expensive CGI, and a group that won't crowd the frame or be too hard to juggle once you factor in supporting characters as well.
I would reframe the frequent criticism of DC characters as "too different" or "too larger than life" as a group of outcasts seeking a surrogate family. I would start the film with Clark & Bruce already friends and all other cast members publicly known, although unintroduced to each other. Finally, I would want a villain who presents a sufficiently sinister face and has a lot of peon followers to get tossed around but is ultimately no match for a unified Justice League. Thus, the formation of the League is a clear path to victory.
/** Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are having a conversation on the outdoor balcony of Wayne Manor. Clark is dressed in his typical rumpled reporter garb while Bruce is, for some reason—probably habit—wearing a full tuxedo and gesturing with a glass of champagne that he hasn't touched and probably won't.
WAYNE: This will never work.
KENT: Why not?
WAYNE: Look at who we are!
/** As he lists each personality, overlapping scenes flash, showing the character in question.
WAYNE: The indestructible last son of an alien world…
/** Superman doing superman stuff, showing off his wondrous (and terrifying) power.
WAYNE: …a real-life demi-goddess right out of the Hellenistic age…
/** Wonder Woman armed with spear and shield fighting a hydra-like creature in the middle of a city.
WAYNE: …the disgraced monarch of an underwater kingdom…
WAYNE: …a shut-in made more of inter-dimensional, unknowable machinery than human flesh…
/** Cyborg, stripped of his armor and devices in a dimly lit living quarters deep in STAR labs, slowly closing himself into a sinister-looking regenerative isolation chamber.
WAYNE: …and ME.
/** Batman fighting a monstrous Killer Croc on a rooftop. Croc tears into him, spraying blood everywhere. He knocks Batman to the ground and roars. Batman stands back up—tattered suit and tattered flesh hanging off of him—draws a sparking shock-baton, and roars back.
WAYNE: I'M the "normal" one. You can't make a team out of loners and outcasts. Not on this scale.
/** Clark pauses for a moment to think about it, then responds calmly and confidently.
KENT: If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: just because you're different, doesn't mean you have to be alone.
Very simple "gather together to beat the baddy" plot:
- Setup: Superman and Batman have been working together and learning to trust each other while the US government tries to work out its official policy toward superheroes. The pro-faction is led by Steve Trevor, who is trying to spin Wonder Woman as a government-controlled asset. The anti-faction is led by Amanda Waller, who sees Wonder Woman as a foreigner, Superman as a super-powered killer, and Batman as a dangerous vigilante.
- Catalyst: A fight between Superman and a group of Religion of Crime cultists (who are after some magical artifacts) in an foreign setting creates an international incident when Wonder Woman and Trevor's ARGUS commandos show up to help. This puts the issue of "what to do" about the superpowers into stark relief. Trevor/Waller essentially go to war over defining government policy. Clark has concerns that he's getting to cozy with the US government and decides he wants to organize independently. He starts coming up with candidates.
- Turn 1: Waller gets wind of what's going on and starts sabotaging attempts to form the league. Meanwhile, the RoC agents are revealed to have been working for Vandal Savage, who is tracking down pieces of the original meteorite that gave him his powers (which has since been split up and bent to mystical purposes). While Waller's and Trevor's troops are fighting each other—and forcing the JLA members to choose sides, caught in the middle—Savage successfully locates the last of the meteorite pieces and initiates his dastardly plan, to use the power of meteorite pieces to grant himself a literal version of the "Mark of Cain" that will grant him dominance over others.
- At odds, the League seems fractured and doomed. Wonder Woman supports Trevor's group. Superman doesn't trust either group and just wants the league to get together on their own. Batman thinks Waller might have a point. Mera wants to kill Trevor and Waller and be done with it. Cyborg wants to retreat back into isolation.
- Midpoint: Savage and his true plan are revealed when he successfully completes the ritual and seizes power. He initiates an attack on an iconic location (anywhere but New York) and declares himself ruler over the "desperate, pathetic masses" of the Earth, forcibly converting thousands to the Religion of Crime as his loyal foot soldiers.
- Waller's group and Wonder Woman/Steve Trevor put aside their differences to try and stop Savage but are defeated. Savage seems triumphant.
- Turn 2: Wonder Woman, bloody from battle, goes to Superman/Batman and provides a final call to action. Cyborg and Mera meet up with them on the way, having decided on their own to return, and they begin a final assault against Savage's seat of power.
- Climax: Big battle, JLA are victorious through the power of friendship and teamwork, but also lots and lots of punching.
- They all eat shawarma and go home.
- Mera is caught in the middle of a resurgent Atlantis/Xebel war where she has to convince Arthur to return and seize the throne.
- Cyborg finds a familiar piece of technology that seems to call to him. It starts pinging at him and then boom, he's on an alien world fighting gods.
- Brainiac invades and starts bottling cities. The JLA have to stop him.
- A crazed Professor Ivo creates the Amazo robot, but it increases in power so much that it becomes a threat to reality itself.
- Circe manipulates the distrustful agents of the government into creating horrific versions of the Justice League to oppose them: Genocide, Doomsday, Prometheus, etc. Then she turns them loose.
- I went with Mera over Aquaman because 1) I wanted to even out the gender balance a bit, and 2) I think Mera's abilities will be easier to show on-screen: she can always carry water with her the way Aqualad did in YOUNG JUSTICE. Her presence also still provides an in for Arthur and Ocean Master to be introduced later for an Atlantis-themed plot.
- I wanted to show Cyborg's arc as one of healing, returning to the exuberant, brilliant, athletic personality he had pre-accident though his body has still been permanently changed. His arc should be front-and-center as it's parallel to the formation of the team. There should also be a subplot for reconciliation with his father.
- No Flash: Too hard to get right live-action.
- No Green Lantern: The film flopped too hard.
- No Martian Manhunter: Thematically there's already an alien on the team and he's got so many super powers he'd out-shine Superman.
And that's that. Probably not the most unique proposal but I think it'd work.