Well, exactly as I expected, we’re seeing stories everywhere today that are stating conclusively that there will be a “Justice League” film onscreen in 2013.
When I ran that story last night, I took the time to send messages and e-mails to a few people who were in a position to know whether or not that was really going to happen, and I went to bed comfortable that we were right in stating yesterday that there’s not going to be a “Justice League” film in 2013.
So then today, The LA Times publishes part two of their Jeff Robinov piece, and again, they state that the film’s going to happen in 2013. They don’t leave much room for doubt, either.
Here’s the thing… I still don’t believe there’s a “Justice League” movie coming that close on the heels of “The Dark Knight Rises” and the “Superman” reboot. I just don’t. I do believe that 2013 will be an important year for the Warner Bros. superhero business, and I would not remotely be shocked to see “The Flash” come out that year.
I mentioned in my article yesterday that Warner should be a little gun-shy about getting “Justice League” onto the screen, and was surprised to realize how many people were unaware of quite what went down with “Justice League: Mortal,” the movie that they almost made in 2007. On that film, they had a great director in the form of George Miller. Yes, the same George Miller behind “The Road Warrior” and “Babe.” He had cast the movie completely, and he was deep into design with WETA for both costumes and digital effects, and the things I’ve heard about the visual plan he had for the film make it sound like it was going to be a bold interpretation of these characters that would be very different from any version we’ve seen before. This past year, many audiences discovered Armie Hammer for the first time in his dual role as the Winklevoss Twins in “The Social Network,” but you almost saw him as Batman, who would have been the star of Miller’s film.
The movie would have featured The Flash (Adam Brody), Superman (D.J. Controna), Wonder Woman (Megan Gale), and the Jon Stewart version of The Green Lantern (Common), as well as Martian Manhunter. The film hinged on the idea that Batman had built a device called The Redeye designed to spy on the rest of the League in case any of them ever went bad and had to be stopped. When the League discover the existence of the Redeye, it causes a rift and threatens to pull them apart until one of them really does go bad, and Batman becomes the only one who is able to figure out a way to bring them down.
The film would have been gigantically expensive, and Warner Bros. planned to get a good 40% of their budget back from an Australian tax rebate. They were rewriting the film quickly to jump into production, and then disaster struck. First, there was the WGAw strike, which forced them to stop the rewrites, and then the Australian government denied them their tax rebate, and so Warner had no choice. Days away from cameras rolling, they pulled the plug.
My guess is that Warner Bros. is going to wait to see if “The Avengers” works at the box-office (and creatively) before they finally make the commitment to a giant-budget team movie like this, and there’s no guarantee they’ll even be able to use Superman in it. If Christopher Nolan is going to be in charge of what happens to Batman after his trilogy of films concludes, as the Times piece also asserts, what would make him suddenly decide after years of saying the hates the idea that he suddenly wants to see Batman running around with other superheroes? Also, is it just me, or does it seem like a huge punch in the face to an audience to start talking about a reboot before you’ve even started production on the current film? I’m sure they’ll make more Batman films once Nolan isn’t directing them, but if there’s any way you could sap my enthusiasm for what you’re about to do, it’s telling me that you’re already moving on. Focus on one at a time, okay? If the third film is just a speedbump on the road to a reboot for the studio, why should I treat it any differently?
So can you make a “Justice League” without Superman and Batman? Sure you can. And you don’t even have to make origin movies for the heroes involved first. What you do need to do is tell a compelling story that justifies putting that many iconic characters together, and that’s not an easy thing. If they’re in development on a script already, great. That directly contradicts what I’ve heard, which is that they’re focused on individual films only at the moment, and that a certain red-suited hero has the inside track on being the next one in front of a camera. These aren’t cheap films or easy films to crank out in a year, though.
So I repeat… 2013? Not bloody likely. No matter how many times the Times keeps repeating it. And in two years, let’s meet back here and see who was right.