First off, I’m not interested in writing a review for Marvel’s The Avengers. Mainly because the internet is already flooded with various reviews and articles on how The Avengers beat the bad guys and obliterated box office records. It’s obvious that the world loves The Avengers (myself included) except for apparently 7% of the critics out there according to Rotten Tomatoes. What I am interested in writing about is how DC and Warner Bros. absolutely NEED to follow Marvel’s lead (no matter how much it may pain them) and create a series of their own super hero movies that lead to a Justice League film. I’ve already written about this before in my Justice League Assemble? post but I wanted to expand on those thoughts here in light of The Avengers (Hulk) smashing success. Beyond the Dark Knight franchise Warner Bros. has made a steady stream of mistakes throughout this generation of superhero films. Since Marvel has begun creating their universe onscreen Warner has been sitting with their thumbs up their collective butts waiting to see how this whole Marvel Studios thing will work out. Well, Warner, how does over one billion dollars worldwide work out for you? Yeah, I thought so. You should probably get to work.
Now that the Harry Potter series is over and The Dark Knight series is wrapping up, Warner Bros. needs to focus on and support the DCU films. The Dark Knight trilogy has had an amazing run and I’ve absolutely loved the dark tone and real world setting. That being said, The Avengers proved that audiences can handle a comic book world filled with colorful superheroes, monstrous villains, and cosmic level threats. In short, DCU movies need to be more comic-booky (I assure you, that’s a word). If you look at it from the comic book side of things the Marvel Universe has always touted itself as being more realistic and down to earth than the DCU. The heroes of the Marvel Universe are flawed. Citizens of the Marvel world have always been more critical of its heroes, simple things like Spider-man constantly needing to re-stitch his costume has always been emphasized and, for many years, Marvel even used the tag line “Your Universe” to indicate that the Marvel heroes live in a very realistic place. In contrast, the heroes of the DCU are essentially modern gods. The citizens of the DCU world practically worship their heroes and no matter how many times a hero’s costume is torn or ruined it always seems like they have a set of fresh costumes hanging in their closet. DC Comics has never pretended that their world was a part of ours because the world of DC is simply too fantastic. The DCU is a place of aliens, magicians, sci-fi wonders and infinitely more to list. The creators of DC Comics have always embraced that. And yet, for the most part, what we see in theaters reflects the exact opposite. Going forward, it is essential that the DCU movies be just as fantastic as the DCU comics they are based on. So, how should DC and Warner Bros. do this? Bear with me when I say this but I feel that the Green Lantern movie is heading in the right direction in showing us a more “comic-booky” world.
Despite its failures, Green Lantern succeeded in introducing to audiences (albeit a paltry one) the concepts of DC’s most popular cosmic characters. Warner Bros. really showed no fear (see what I did there?) by introducing us to a universe full of not only aliens but alien superheroes. They also explained to audiences what a power ring is and how it works. They also explained to us what Oa is and who the Guardians of the Universe are. They also explained…do you see where I’m going with this? The problem with the Green Lantern movie was that the film makers felt that they had to explain everything to us before the movie even started instead of letting the audience discover these things more organically throughout the film along with Hal Jordan. If they move forward with a sequel it should benefit from not having to set anything up and hopefully the film makers will give audiences more credit in being able to accept such a fantastic setting.
Let’s move on to Batman. Wait minute, doesn’t he already have a blockbuster franchise? (Before you answer that question be warned that it is, in fact, rhetorical.) Let’s take a look at the following quote that comes from a Comicbooked.com article also discussing a potential Justice League movie. “Batman does not need a solo movie, he is a name that people know and understand. […] Everyone loved the movie. Batman became iconic on a whole new level, and once again was the most dominant force in the superhero genre. […] Am I saying have Batman just show up in the Justice League movie without having [a] predecessor […]? Absolutely not. You can have Batman cameo in any one of those movies and the crowd will go insane.” I think this is absolutely the right call to make for Batman now that the The Dark Knight movies are coming to an end. It’s possible that Batman could even act in the capacity that Nick Fury did for the Marvel movies. He could detect (you know, because he’s the best at that kind of thing) a threat that he knows he can’t face alone and decides to contact other heroes to fight by his side. I know that Batman is a very solitary character usually but even the caped crusader knows when he is in over his head and this is where his cameos can come in. Some may think that this may be too similar to how Marvel tied their films together. Instead of using a hero like Batman, DC could go the opposite route and have Lex Luthor be what ties everything together with his Legion of Doom (trust me, they’ve come a long way since the Superfriends).
However, in order to even talk about potential hero or villain cameos, there needs to be movies for them to cameo in. I’ve already talked about Green Lantern in this post and Man of Steel and other potential DC hero adaptations in a previous one. I’ve also talked about Wonder Woman in another post but this quote (also taken from the same Comicbooked.com article mentioned above) made it impossible for me not to mention her again. The author begins to talk about which DCU movies he thinks should build toward the Justice League one and then he says the following: “This of course would be followed by Wonder Woman, who will have to heavily rely on other heroes to make her movie work. I hate to be the person to say this but women superhero movies just don’t work. I’m not saying they can’t and won’t ever work, but right now in this day and age for some reason female superheroes are not on caliber to male superheroes.” Not only do I completely disagree with this but, frankly, I find it fairly offensive. First of all, what exactly is this statement based on? Elektra and Catwoman? Those are the only two female superhero adaptations that have been made as of late. Granted, neither of those movies are good as they were severely mishandled but let’s not denigrate an entire sex of superheroes because of two movies that were clearly half-assed. I mean, the Elektra movie got the basics of the titular character right (Well, they said she was an assassin at least) but everything else was bungled. As for Catwoman’s on screen appearances, we have yet to see an accurate portrayal of her. Batman Returns was close (at least the character was Selena Kyle) but why, oh why has Catwoman always had the same “dead lady brought to life by kitty licks” origin. Catwoman is an ex prostitute turned cat burglar. It’s as simple as that. She likes to steal stuff for fun and help out down on their luck women so they don’t have to go through what she did. Also, she likes cats.
My point is that Wonder Woman can be an incredible franchise if put in the right hands. And if Warner Bros. is afraid that a feature film will flop they can look at this way, Wonder Woman is DC’s Thor. Don’t get me wrong, they are entirely different characters of course but they do have their similarities. They are both connected to mythical gods and come from mystical places. Both eventually find themselves defending humanity from various threats sometimes including evil family members. Both use magic based weapons to fight back to forces of evil. And, most importantly, they both appreciate a good mead.
Seriously though, the similarities exist and Warner Bros. can use this to their advantage. If the studio is worried about men not wanting to see this because it stars a female superhero then they can introduce Steve Trevor as the all American bad-ass that he is. Cast the role with a popular male lead like Chris Pine. Star Trek is crazy popular right now so they can feed off that too. In the current Justice League comic book Geoff Johns has turned Steve Trevor into a Nick Fury type and it’s working wonderfully. Just like in the comic, Trevor could be the Justice League liaison and become another string that ties these franchises together.
The question of a Wonder Woman movie (and other female superheroes) is all over the web and this quote from a Yahoo! Movies article brings me to my next point. “The big issue seems to be that studios are waiting for somebody to take the first step and prove that a female superhero film can actually be successful. The failure of Catwoman and Elektra seems to have made everybody overly cautious. Perhaps if the Black Widow gets her own film after The Avengers, that will finally open the floodgates.” Warner Bros. needs to start taking more risks. Which leads me to yet another quote from an article on the LA Times Hero Complex site (then, I swear, I will get to my point). “No one could be prouder than Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, the Hollywood upstart that launched in 2008 with “Iron Man” with a “risky” leading man in Robert Downey Jr. and “an actor playing director” in Jon Favreau.” Warner Bros. needs to stop thinking like whoever it was that fired Joss Whedon and hire someone who thinks like Kevin Feige. This is someone who is clearly not afraid of taking risks and knows talent when he sees it. It’s very possible that Warner Bros. has found that someone in a couple of people. First off we have Chris Nolan whose involvement in projects like Man of Steel may mean it’s possible that Warner Bros. may be counting on him to continue to work with them in constructing the DCU on the big screen. Also consider another big player on the DC side of things. Geoff Johns. DC created the role of Chief Creative Officer just for him. That means that he has the responsibility of overseeing the characters of the DCU when they appear outside of the comic book realm. Hmm…could that also mean movies? If I had to guess, I’d say that’s a big yes. It seems to me that these two would have to work together by necessity. And if they don’t, then THEY SHOULD. Nolan and Johns could be exactly what Warner Bros. needs in order to pull off the onscreen DCU in a way that could rival Marvel’s success.