Reboot Green Lantern
It was revealed today that Warner Brothers are currently attempting to secure to direct Ben Affleck for a Justice League movie .
But we'd suggest they've got a few more things to sort out first. Starting with Green Lantern...
Despite its reputation, Green Lantern isn't an abomination.
As a franchise launcher, it's decent enough. But as a Justice League lead-in, it's awful.
For one thing, the bizarre decision to CGI Reynolds' suit means the character would just look weird next to Henry Cavill and co's gritty designed-for-the-real-world super-outfits.
But that's just a minor point - the whole film's Star Wars with superheroes tone is completely wrong for a team-up movie that presumably will follow the realistic template established by Warners' successful superhero movies (Nolan's Batman films, Snyder's Superman film).
And even the plot - Hal Jordan conquers his fears and learns to work within the Green Lantern Corps - means that his character's motivation would be flawed. He's just been accepted by one super-team, why would he suddenly decide to join the Justice League?
It could be argued that would provide a decent arc for Reynolds' League Lantern. Perhaps Sinestro frames Jordan for a space-crime that causes him to be banished by his new Lantern brothers, which forces him to join the League, but we're not convinced.
It would require at least one sequel to do that story justice, and audiences didn't particularly want to sit through the first one.
Warners needs to reboot, recast and rethink Green Lantern , before they even consider putting a Justice League together.
Release A Wonder Woman Movie
Wonder Woman isn't a Black Widow type character whom you can introduce as a supporting player in another hero's sequel.
She's as important to the League as Captain America is to The Avengers, and she needs her own fish-out-of-water film.
Joss Whedon knew it, that's why he took a Wonder Woman project to Warners, only for them to turn him down. The studio needs to stop kicking themselves for that mistake, and put a Diana Prince movie into pre-production as soon as possible.
A Wonder Woman film is an essential lead-in to The Justice League , it won't work without it.
This is the single biggest issue that Warners needs to fix before they put together a Justice League film.
Christopher Nolan has gone on record to state he won't be involved with the project.
And no Nolan, no Bale. No Bale, no pre-established connection to the Justice League universe, which means a lead-in reboot is required.
After the huge success of Nolan's Batman franchise, both critically and commercially, the pressure on the next Bat franchise is immense.
Introducing the next Batman is arguably more challenging than launching a Justice League movie series, and it needs Warner Brothers' full focus.
If it fails, the whole house of cards tumbles down.
Release A Flash Movie
The Flash is another key character for The Justice League movie, the only trouble is, right now, general audiences have literally no reason to care about him.
Sure, the outfit is iconic. But aside from a 1990 TV movie starring Dawson's dad, The Flash has practically no pop culture presence.
We bet that if you asked the average cinema-goer to name any of The Flash's alternate identities, they wouldn't have a clue. They probably wouldn't even know that multiple men have worn the suit.
This element is actually one of the key problems of bringing together a DC League - two of the main team-members have several alternate identities to choose from.
For Green Lantern, do you stick with Hal Jordan, or introduce John Stewart? Or please the fanboys by bringing in Guy Gardner? For The Flash, do you introduce Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West or Bart Allen?
For Marvel, it's simple. Thor is Thor. Iron Man is Tony Stark. Captain America is Steve Rogers.
So no matter who Warners chooses for Green Lantern or Flash, some sections of fandom will be disappointed. It's just one element that makes their task so much more complicated than Marvel's.
But whatever alternate identity is selected, a Flash movie is an essential element of the Justice League lead-in, it would be a mistake to attempt to introduce him in the main movie.
Hire A Director Who Can Oversee All Future DC Movies
Joss Whedon directed Thor's end sting. He turned in a new draft of the Captain America script. And he completely tore up the original Avengers Assemble script, to give it a top-down rewrite.
One of the major difficulties with creating a Justice League movie is that, currently, none of the universes are connected. And unless Christian Bale cameos in Man Of Steel , that's a trend that can only continue.
The Justice League project needs to be seen as exactly that - a project, one that needs a showrunner. One director who would be willing to focus on nothing else but superhero movies for the forseeable future.
We love Ben Affleck, we think he's a brilliant director. But what makes him great - his skill at delivering unusual crime dramas and small-scale passion projects - also makes him wrong for the Justice League franchise.
Warner Brothers needs to find the right man or woman for an extremely tough job.
And we have a polite suggestion for who that person could be...
Hire A Director With Passion For The Comics
Joss Whedon is a card-carrying comic-book geek.
He's created titles spun off from his own properties, including Fray , Serenity , Buffy and Angel .
And long before he was involved with Marvel Studios, Whedon had written for Marvel Comics, on Astonishing X-Men , Runaways , and several specials, as well as making several behind-the-scenes contributions - he was a special advisor on Civil War .
He's even written for DC - albeit only once, on their Batman/Superman title.
Basically, Whedon did his homework. If Warners are serious about competing with the Avengers Assemble juggernaut, they need to find a director with a similar level of comic-book insight.
So, again, that probably rules Ben Affleck out. We know he's a comic fan, but there's a large gap between comic fan and comic creator.
It might sound like a leap, but we think that Kevin Smith might be Warners' best bet.
We know, we know, he's lost his way a little bit recently, becoming combative and contrary, particularly in his dealings with the media.
But we remember the Kevin Smith we loved, the man who made Mallrats , Clerks and Chasing Amy .
Okay, so they weren't exactly action epics, but they did contain frequent nods to comic-book lore.
Not only that, but like Whedon, Smith has written actual comics - for Marvel, and - most significantly - DC, on some of their key books.
He's even collaborated with Warner Brothers on big-screen comic-book adaptations in the past.
In fact, his involvement with the Superman franchise fell apart because he was too passionate about the source material.
In 1996 Smith pitched a Superman story to producer Jon Peters. Peters agreed to let Smith write the screenplay, with two strange conditions. One, Superman had to wear an all-black suit. Two, Superman should not fly, as it would make him look like "an overgrown boy scout."
Smith responded by handing in a script that described Superman as "a red-and-blue blur in flight, creating a sonic boom every time he flew."
That's the equivalent to Joss tearing the original Avengers Assemble script in two, and restarting from the perspective of a fan.
A large part of Avengers Assemble 's appeal was the fact it looked like a live-action comic-book, complete with splash panels and two-page tracking shots. To recreate that magic, you need a director who is as comfortable writing comic-books as they are reading them.
Smith is passionate enough about Superman's comic-book identity to turn in a script the studio didn't ask for. He cares about Batman so much that, in a recent podcast, he was unable to describe an emotional scene in The Dark Knight Rises , because he was crying so hard.
He's the closest thing DC has to a Whedon, and he should be put in charge of the Justice League lead-in movies as soon as possible.
He might not have much action experience, but he can learn on the job through working with the directors of those lead-in films, gradually building to helming the Justice League movie himself.
Put Together A Realistic Release Schedule
One element of the Ben Affleck story doing the rounds today that seems to have gone fairly unnoticed is the revelation that Warner Brothers is planning to release Justice League in summer 2015. If it's true, it borders on madness.
Not only will that put the property up against Joss Whedon's Avengers Assemble 2 , the sequel to the most successful comic-book movie of all time, it gives the studio just three years to get its house in order, and release all of the lead-in films necessary to mimic Marvel's template.
There's a small chance the studio is planning to ditch the lead-in strategy, and just release a stand-alone Justice League movie, but as we've made clear, that's risky. It's just too many heroes to introduce in one film.
To put it into context, Marvel spent four years introducing The Avengers - longer if you include Iron Man's marketing period, which was fairly constant throughout 2007.
And, believe or not, before 2007, cinema audiences didn't care about Iron Man. Marvel made them care.
They also managed to make Captain America a worldwide hit, and gave teenage girls long-lasting crushes on a Norse God.
The contribution this care for character made to Avengers Assemble 's record box-office cannot be underestimated.
If Warners chooses to make a stand-alone film, we're sure it'll be successful. But successful isn't good enough for a studio of their standards.
But if they do it the right way, they could have a series of films to beat their much-missed Harry Potter franchise. If they don't, they could have another Green Lantern on their hands - plenty of high hopes, and even more disappointment.