Considering some of the announcements that have been made in the last day or so, I think that now would be a good time to have a look at what DC need to do if they want to ever get their biggest and best team onto the screen.
1. The Build Up
There are two ways DC could approach this, either go in hard and fast with it as a stand alone film, or do what Marvel did and have a slow build up. The Marvel Method has been proven and is proven to be very profitable, even for characters that before hand weren’t very high in the general publics perception (step forward Mr Stark). Now considering the profile of DC’s main stars this would be a sensible way to go, provided they don’t have another Green Lantern like flop. However, there is a question of where to start the build up. The ideal place would be with this years Man Of Steel, but with the Justice League pencilled in for a 2015 release date, that doesn’t give them a lot of time (we’ll come to that later. With a Batman reboot and/or the Worlds Finest movie also slated for 2015 (I’m not sure if the Batman reboot and Worlds Finest are the same thing yet), at least Batman is sorted before Justice League happens, but that still leaves the rest of the team. Unfortunately, Green Lantern is still too fresh to be given a reboot and because of the slating it got they aren’t likely to want to do a sequel, so that one is in deadlock for the time being.
2. Extend The Timeframe
They shouldn’t be trying to compete with The Avengers. Even if you use Man Of Steel as a starting point for the movie, Marvel still got there 5 years before you. So don’t rush it. It took Marvel 4 years of movies to bring Avengers to the screen, whilst DC want to do it in 2. It’s the Justice League we’re talking about here, people will come and see it anyway, just like people will go to see the Avengers anyway if they’re up against each other. Take some time and make people care about the characters before throwing them into the big movie.
3. Characters Are Critical
Obviously Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are in, but the rest of the team has to be thought out very well. The Justice League is easier than the Avengers in this respect, because DC do have a definitive team, everyone will expect Green Lantern and Flash. It’s just deciding which GL or Flash. Hal Jordan or John Stewart, Barry Allen or Wally West. Beyond that, do you include Aquaman or Martian Manhunter, considering how maligned the former is by the general populace and how under appreciated the later is. And then there is the question of the villain. Obviously Darkseid would be the obvious choice, but Marvel have pre-emtied that by showing Thanos’ big, ugly mug at the end of Avengers. Still there are plenty of villains to choose from, just so long as they get the story right.
4. Get the right staff
With this sort of movie you can’t afford it to go wrong. If we look at the major superhero successes in the movies we can see a pattern emerging. Those involved loved the comics. Raimi, Singer, Nolan, Whedon. All comic book nerds. The best way to ruin a superhero movie is to have no-one in one of the big three roles (writer, producer, director) who isn’t invested in not just the movie, but the ethos of the character. The casting has to be right as well. Cavill and Bale did pretty good jobs with the big two and with Bale signed out of doing any more Batman, they’ll have to find a pretty good replacement. The same goes for the rest of the characters.
5. Tell us a story
Justice League will be like The Avengers, a movie about a group of people coming together to become stronger than they could be alone, that is the essence of a super team. But, it’s the story of them realising this that will get the audience interested. The movie (and any build-up movies) should focus on the human element behind the heroes. And they shouldn’t make it a Batman and some other guys movie. The guy might be the goddamn Batman but it can’t all be about him in the same way that Avengers wasn’t the Robert Downey Jr. show. One character can be the main focus, but the others need to be involved enough that it doesn’t feel like a solo movie with a famous supporting cast.