The Justice League Movie: Who Should Make the Team?

With the recent announcement that there will (officially) be a Justice League movie from Man of [...]


With the recent announcement that there will (officially) be a Justice League movie from Man of Steel director Zack Snyder, one has to wonder just what the approach will be that Warner Bros. will take. The obvious choice -- since it's a new thing, and what DC Entertainment have been pushing -- is the New 52 version. After all, we've got Cyborg, right? That's a giveaway. Of course, Cyborg appeared in the Justice League: War and they cut Aquaman out to make room for Shazam. That's just a reminder that, as much fun as it is to speculate, there are other things at play in terms of what drives these decisions... ...and so, yeah. The teams we're singling out below probably won't be directly adapted no matter what. But if it were us? Well, we'd take an existing team and an existing story and use that as a starting point The teams we're suggesting, with a little help from regular reader Kevin Allen, would be...

justice-league-unlimitedCartoon Network's Justice League Justice League

and Justice League Unlimited introduced a generation of viewers to the core members of the League, as well as a wide variety of later cast members, and was willing to explore new pairings that the comics had never considered and commonly would have the team break up into smaller groups. This could be a great way for viewers to get to know whatever characters aren't introduced, or don't get a lot of screen time, in Batman vs. Superman.

jla-new-world-orderMorrison's JLA

This is on pretty much everyone's list. Even with the introduction of Cyborg and the attendant suggestion that the New 52 League is more likely, there have been plenty of fans speculating or hoping that somebody like Jason Momoa or The Rock would actually end up playing J'Onn J'Onzz the Martian Manhunter in the film. That could work, actually, even in the context of a League that included Cyborg, if the movie were an alien invasion tale not unlike the arc that led into JLA, in which the team had to fight White Martians. With a bit of tweaking, there could be an easy way to introduce J'Onn as an agent of the villains who then realizes that what they're doing is wrong (or something like that) and joins the League by the end. In any event, Morrison took over following the Giffen/DeMatteis years (more on that later) and a series of subsequent, half-hearted efforts by editorial to shake off the more character-driven and small-scale League built during that era and return it to the widescreen action blockbuster that featured all of DC's biggest guns. With Morrison, they gave him (and artist Howard Porter) a new #1 and carte blanche to do it all at once, rather than trying to build it slowly and organically as they had been doing with writers like Gerard Jones, Dan Jurgens and Mark Waid along the way. With DC's seven biggest heroes on board (and later the addition of some of the types of high B-listers you expect to see in the title), it returned to its place at the top of DC's sales charts and has remained the publisher's most successful team franchise since.

Justice LeagueThe New 52 Justice League

The New 52 Justice League actually takes some cues from the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, without actually being that team. You see, when the Justice League first came together, they didn't have the Avengers syndrome where the heroes distrusted or disliked each other but had to overcome that to work together. Occasionally, there would be squabbles...but DC's heroes tended to be more godlike and flawless than Marvel's in the early days and so the Justice League tended to be a bit more free of internal conflicts, unless they were created to serve a specific story. Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire reinvented the team as basically a workplace drama with higher stakes, and were able to have them squabble and fight but also come together, giving more of a sense of the humanity behind the characters than most team titles (excepting perhaps The Fantastic Four) are generally able to do. If that sounds great to you, then you're on board with a big chunk of the audience, who bought and enjoyed (and in many cases still do) that League for quite some time after its introduction. The problem? It was full of B- and C-list Leaguers, with usually one or two A-list heroes sprinkled in at any given time but as likely to leave by the start of the next arc as not. This wasn't actually a problem for the reading experience, but for the "brand" of the League, it was. So why do we say that League -- with Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and the like (more on that later) -- bears some similarities to Geoff Johns and Jim Lee's reinvented New 52 League? Because if you look at the first couple of arcs of Justice League in the New 52, the team doesn't always get along, doesn't always trust one another, and there's a healthy undercurrent of humor running through the characterizations (if not the stories themselves). It feels a bit like they basically took the lessons of the Giffen/DeMatteis League and applied it to the Morrison League (with some minor tweaks like having Cyborg in it instead of Martian Manhunter). From a purely marketing point of view, this makes sense becuase it's the team that's in the comics and eliminates the risk of the publisher doing silly things in order to contort the books to more closely reflect a popular film ("Back in Black," anyone? Or Nick Fury, Jr.?)...but it's also a bit of a gamble because it would mean that in order to keep the film in sync with the comics, they would have to keep the lineup fairly stable between now and then, which hamstrings storytelling. Of course, more and more, the big publishers are relying on trade paperback sales in the bookstore market to reach new readers as the direct market appeals more and more to readers who have been around forever. So maybe they aren't all that worried about what's going on in the monthlies as long as "Justice League Volume 1" matches.

justice-league-international-winickGeneration Lost Justice League

This version of the team, written in a year-long, biweekly miniseries by Judd Winick, is probably the most recent one to have a lot of humor mixed with action, and so feeling like a somewhat more anarchic version of a Marvel Studios movie. It wouldn't probably fit with the dark and gritty feel of Man of Steel and so s pretty unlikely...but it's worth mentioning simply becuase from an abstract point of view, it's arguably the easiest to film, with a less godlike team that generally faced global (as opposed to universal) threats, but for whom the stakes were still incredibly high. The miniseries itself also served as an example of how to introduce new team members in a short amount of time (Rocket Red and, to a lesser extent, Blue Beetle since the rest of the heroes barely knew him at that point) that the audience is able to not only understand but embrace. Again, this probably won't happen...but they could stand to take some lessons from the Winick series and the Giffen/DeMatteis books that inspired it. Spinoff, maybe?

justice-league-detroitTHE DETROIT LEAGUE, BABY!

Hey, they're shooting in Detroit. Somebody make this happen!