It’s the “we need Joss Whedon, but we can't have him and we can't clone him… suggestions?” Edition! Oh Justice League movie, you may, finally, really and truly be happening. After the George Miller version got close enough to get funding, costumes and actors before the money ran out, Warners have finally stuck their head out of the cave again and a Justice League movie script has been offered to Ben Affleck, purportedly.
Who, purportedly, said no.
Which is a real shame as Affleck's a hell of a director and he'd bring a distinctly Whedonian (this is now a word) feel to the personal dynamics of DC's heavy hitters.
But, Holden McNeil has better things to do, so this week the Blogbusters ride to the rescue of the largest virtual superhero franchise in movies…
Who do you think should direct the Justice League Of America movie?
Alasdair Stuart: Well my first two choices were Joss Whedon and James Gunn and they're both Marvel boys through and through. I'm gutted Affleck turned it down because he's a fantastic director and could nail the interpersonal relationships and the punching, which are, let's face it, two of the central elements of the JLA.
So who else?
Duncan Jones, the director of Moon and Source Code . Jones has exactly the right grasp of character and idea needed to handle the DC Universe's heavy hitters and he can work big, as shown by the train explosion in Source Code . That movie is, to my mind, one of the least interesting science fiction movies of the last few years, but the problems I have with it lie far more with the script than Jones' direction. He's smart, he's detail oriented, he's good with actors and crucially he comes from a tiny budget background. It was gutting to see the George Miller JLA movie fall apart because Miller's a wildly eccentric genius, a man who's as happy directing animated movies about penguins as he is ones about the last highway cop left in a world gone feral and mad. It would have been demented and glorious and looked like nothing on Earth, because Miller has the same background as Jones; small, creative, punky. After all, Joss Whedon's background prior to The Avengers was a cult TV show, another cult TV show, the world's cultiest cancelled TV show, it's critically lauded but financially unspectacular movie sequel and another cult TV show, that then got cancelled. Interesting things happen when you give the eccentric underdog movies like this and I'd love to see what Jones could do with it.
John Cooper: A Justice League movie would indeed be big slice of awesome, and if it was up to me I'd make Ang Lee do it. Yes, I know there are detractors from his broad and metaphorical version of the Hulk, which started out great but ended with the baffling “big face in a lake” scene. Despite that, it had a great understanding of Bruce Banner and knew how to balance character and action well.
DC comics are tonally different to their Marvel neighbours, where the Avengers was all smart mouths and "smash, bang, wallop", the principal DC heroes are more majestic. I doubt the Nolan version of Batman would work, or if the growly plank Chrisitan Bale would give a monkeys for joining a movie where he's not top billing, but perhaps that's a blessing in disguise. Getting right the holy trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman would be key to making the film work.
Following the Marvel model of giving all characters their own movies is a good way to make money, but there are clearly pitfalls if they don't perform well. As much as I like Green Lantern it felt like a bit of a wasted opportunity, opening a refreshingly vast universe of alien adventure only to close it again quickly and end the movie in a grey dull warehouse. Have Doctor Who and Star Wars taught us nothing? Thinking out loud I reckon a sure fire way to success for DC, and a way of getting the team up movie off the ground a bit quicker, would be to use less well-known superheroes. Craft a film placing them firmly in the DC universe full of cameos, fleeting glimpses and background noise of the other superheroes. Who would you use? Well I'm glad you asked, my favourite, and oft overlooked member of the JLA: J’onn J’onzz, The Martian Manhunter. Imagine him played by Zachary Quinto coming down to earth to observe and ensure Earth doesn't meet the same fate as his home planet. Just don't mention Mars.
Laura McConnell: I'm not sure DC can pull off a JLA movie, because they haven't invested anything in getting the Justice League members into the public eye. Sure, there's Batman (who feels too dark and "edgy" right now to pull off a group movie) and Superman (who is unproven in his current incarnation), but do The Flash, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman have enough pull in the movie-going public for people to want to watch this movie? Enough people to make it worthwhile for the studios? I doubt it. With the recent success of The Avengers , someone will want to try, but The Avengers was done after years of single superhero movies that worked on their own. DC doesn't have that, and say what you will about Marvel, the movie continuity thing was a brilliant move. Without it, well, I'm just not sure a JLA movie would work.
Not to mention a group superhero movie should be fun, at least in my eyes, and DC seems to be all about the dark right now. I think The Avengers worked because it was a rollicking good time, and I just don't see Batman and Supes pulling that off, at least not in their current cinematic forms. So, sorry, JLA, I've have to say it: I might be wrong, but for now, I've got to make mine Marvel.
Steven Ellis : I have to say I have absolutely no idea who could direct a Justice League film. But whoever it ends up being, I reckon they really will have their work cut out for them.
I heard a rumour that Christopher Nolan was a possibility, and with his involvement with both the Batman and the Superman reboots I think he may be a good idea. But I find it hard to see his real world take on Batman sharing screen time with Superman. And how would it all be retconned in considering how Nolan's Batman trilogy ended? Would Christian Bale play Batman? Would it be a new take on Batman?
To be honest I find it hard to see a JLA movie working at all. With the whole Avengers movie thing Marvel took the time to set up the universe and introduce the characters over separate films. For a JLA film to work I think DC or Warner would have to do the same thing. I mean, we all know who Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman are, The Flash too, and some of the other team members are a little less well known. The JLA concept is something else the movie-going public might not be as familiar with. We also don't have current versions of any of the characters that people can latch onto. The latest Batman film trilogy has just ended, Green Lantern didn't do so well, Superman is just about to be rebooted and there are no plans for any of the other characters to be put to film. Any prospective JLA film would have to set up the universe and the characters and the team and also tell a story. Which is quite a tall order for a single film. There has been talk of releasing individual character films but with the limited success of Green Lantern , and the exception of the upcoming Superman reboot, there doesn't seem to be plans to do any other films.
The idea of a JLA film featuring DC's three biggest hitters and a whole host of other characters all being lumped together for one film without any ground work just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. I think it's a bit of a hard task. What works on the comic page might not work quite so well in the cinema and it seems like DC and Warner have looked at Marvel Studio's movie successes and just said "I want some of that". The kind of success Marvel has seen won't just happen for them overnight.
Matt Risley: While it might seem like the easy answer, I have good reasons for opting for Christopher Nolan.
Not only does he have exceptional experience with resurrecting the Bat-franchise, but he knows how to handle both huge casts ( Inception ) and cerebral action (pick any of the Bat-flicks), and his forthcoming producer credit for Man Of Steel ensures that he understands what makes Supes tick.
While The Avengers is obviously the bench-mark to beat when it comes to superteam superhero movie hook-ups, Whedon's super-snappy, wit-filled banter wouldn't sit so well in a DC movie universe that errs towards a more serious, grounded take on the genre. So who better than Nolan?
So there you go, the Justice League movie director query solved. Personally I think they should let them all make their own versions, release them, and then fight, Harry Hill style. That would rule. Know what else rules, sidekicks! A Nightwing/Robin/Batgirl analogue has just made her debut in the excellent Smallville Season 11 digital comic and that's got me thinking about sidekicks. So next week, we'll be answering:
Who do you think is the best sidekick in genre fiction?
See you in seven.