Saturday, June 07, 2008

JLA Movie question

Yurgh. I'm looking over my last few posts, and if the tone is any indication, The League needs a jobby job. How seriously am I really supposed to ask you Leaguers to take this business? And yet I ramble on for 10,000 words.

That's a sure way to keep a readership. Sweet Christmas.

Anyhow, I asked for some blog topics the other day, and a few folks stepped up. Steanso sent me some ideas that, if put into place, would end in an arrest. My favorite, though, was taking Lucy to various places and see where she could get in. I would have started, of course, with the State Capitol.

Simon asked how I felt about the now-shelved George Miller directed Justice League movie. Well, Simon, I'll tell you...

That movie was going to be all kinds of terrible. And the universe can do without a terrible JLA movie. I'm not sure what sort of alternate universe much of Hollywood works in, because it just doesn't seem like it should be too hard to "get" the JLA, but everything I'd read leading up to the cancellation notice was the same sort of cockamamie nonsense I'd read regarding Superman revivals before Singer got ahold of the property (ex: Ashton Kutcher as a Superman who has a destiny to fulfill on the planet Krypton. Which, btw, has NOT exploded.).

The idea of the Miller movie was, I believe, to drop the viewer in on the JLA after the JLA was already formed, thereby consciously avoiding what could be a fascinating origin story, wrought with drama and what-have-you. Instead, we'd see an internal split within the JLA. A team which we just met... so why we were supposed to care that they were having issues, I do not know.

This inter-office politicking would, no doubt, have led to "the unnecessary super-hero fight". The super-hero fight is the fight people always THINK they want to see between superheroes, but, really, you're usually so painfully aware of the fact that its a perfunctory fight before the heroes come to terms and go after the actual threat that the whole thing always feels like a waste of pages in comics.

The Original Seven of the JLA

It should be noted that WB was not planning to use the pre-cast Bale and Routh in their respective roles as Batman and Superman for the JLA flick. Which seems it would, at best, dilute the brand WB should be promoting for their own product. And, essentially, tell the audience "we don't take any of this seriously enough to bother to cast the same actors, so don't you worry too much about it, either."

And, of course, one of my chief complaints was that it seemed a CW or reality-show casting producer had gotten ahold of the movie and was going for the Tiger Beat sort of actors. Pouty-faced young Hollywood, intended to draw in the girls, 10-17, I guess.

If Iron Man and Batman have taught us anything, its that one not only doesn't need to cast young CW network-types, but that fans react much better to adults in these roles (depending on the role. We can go young on, say... Wally West.). A little age can lend superheroes a bit of gravitas that, a show like Smallville has never been able to muster.

I don't have a particular JLA origin story in mind I want to see, but I DO KNOW that for WB to launch a franchise, they need to give the audience a starting point from which to work. And that means an origin story. Not a JLA dysfunctional-family story.


By the way, the rumor (and evidence from the stinger at the end of Iron Man bears this out) is that Marvel is putting out an Avengers movie in a few years. After they've established several characters in their own feature films, starting with Iron Man and continuing on with a Cap movie, etc.... The common thread seems to be Nick Fury meeting with the characters in each of these movies as they're rolled out.

I can't tell you how smart this seems. WB's plan was to put out a JLA movie, and then do spin-off's of various characters. But... if the JLA movie wasn't any good (and it didn't look like it would be) wouldn't that manage to hurt seven potential properties?

Not only does Marvel's formula give each property a chance to get in their unique origin story and set up the characters, the audience will have a built-in affinity for the characters which will make the Avengers movie a near guaranteed financial success. Narratively, the movie also won't have to waste the time necessary to introduce characters, give them some special plotline, etc...


Just think of those Rock and Roll Hall of Fame jam sessions where you see all those guys rocking out, and even some of them you don't know... and even if they're playing some song you don't like all that much, its still cool to see Elvis Costello, Sting, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and all sorts of other folks all sharing a stage. You know each of them individually pretty well, and even if you don't love, say, Tom Petty... you can maybe respect him a bit more just because he's sharing the stage with these other guys you DO like.

And, man, I think Marvel knows how to do this pretty well from their comics, so the chances of a decent movie are already pretty darn good, if they produce through the newly established Marvel Studios.

Really, what CAN'T Warner Bros. and DC learn from this?

Each of these guys could probably carry two or three movies on their own

DC would do well to begin introducing the Original 7, or at least several of the Original 7 in their own movies FIRST. They don't necessarily need a through-line like Nick Fury to pull them together. But why water down the concepts by forcing them into a JLA movie for their first appearance, and muck up what could be a pretty good feature film for that property before its ever seen the light of day?

There's a rumored Green Lantern movie in the works. Its only at the script stage, but its got pretty decent writing talent attached with Marc Guggenheim (who does movies, TV and comics). Its supposed to be a Hal Jordan origin story, which is a good sign. Supposedly they're also talking about a Green Arrow movie, but that's rumored to be based on the formerly abortive script called "SuperMax" which was about a super-villain prison. And didn't touch on GA's origin at all.

And... there have been rumors of casting for another Superman movie (for some love interest, I believe).

So... get these movies out there. Give the DCU some time to breathe. Unlike Marvel, who has seen success with Spidey and other non-Avengers, the DCU has the advantage that their big guns are now (or have at some point) been in the JLA. Whatever they build on now with their movies COULD build right into a JLA movie.

We'll see.

Two last things:

1) The failure of a single JLA movie translates to potentially killing 20 movies or so. If 3 movies could be made for each member of the JLA, plus, say, 3 JLA movies... that's a lot of movies which one failed JLA movie could potentially screw up.

Now, I live in a life pretty muddied with delusion, but I do think that we're talking about at least ten other, non-JLA movies. A few Supermans, Batmans, GL's alone come out to 9 movies. Surely a WW movie is possible. So... you do your own math.

2) If the producers are worrying about the budget for a JLA movie, they're missing the point of the JLA. The JLA is huge. But, mostly, they need to pick up some Morrison-era JLA comics to see what epic storytelling in the JLA can really mean. Or, possibly, something like Ross's "Justice", or "JLA: Liberty and Justice".

Don't think Superfriends, think "The Right Stuff". Think "Superman: The Movie" times 7.

I'm just saying.


Simon MacDonald said...

I'm glad we are of like mind on the issue of a JLA movie. It seems to be a bad idea from the word go.

The League said...

I always get concerned when directors seem that bent on bringing "their" vision to the screen for well-known characters, and everything I read made it sound like that was the priority over making a good movie. WB needs to find a vision that works on the screen for each characters, not dilute things with a movie rushed to the screen.