Well FINALLY. Warner Bros. stopped heming and hawing and announced that they are actually making a Justice League movie! Hoorah! And it’s going to be directed by Zack Snyder. Hoo…rah? In a big reveal at the WSJ, president of worldwide production Greg Silverman revealed that the JL movie will be a sequel to 2016’s Batman vs Superman, and both will star Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Godot as Wonder Woman. The role of Cyborg is also being cast. The Justice League movie probably won’t appear until 2018 at the soonest, however, meaning you will be able to completely high school or college before you see this film. Meanwhile, Marvel will have put out a Woodgod movie.
But there is more! According to the piece, films based on Shazam, Metal Men, 100 Bullets, and Fables are also in development for a total of nine films. Wonder Woman? Well, everyone thinks it would be great but the story has to be right, and blah blah blah. Clap your hands if you believe, Tink!
In a companion piece, the WSJ’s Ben Fritz digs in to what DC head Diane Nelson, DC CCO Geoff Johns and WB topper Kevin Tsujihara have to do with all this. Kremlinologists, stand by!
Although she oversees the small but profitable comics business, where digital publishing has become a priority, Ms. Nelson’s focus is coordinating a studio-wide DC strategy.
Her approach is the opposite of Marvel, which maintains a continuing narrative and cast of characters across all of its projects. Samuel L. Jackson, for instance, has appeared as superspy Nick Fury in “Avengers,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and the TV show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Ms. Nelson has instead encouraged Warner producers to develop diverse and even contradictory takes. The Batman in “Superman vs Batman,” to be played by Ben Affleck, will be different from the one in “Gotham” and in coming direct-to-DVD animated movies and videogames. A kid-friendly version of Batman even appeared in February’s hit “The Lego Movie.”
“It isn’t about a single approach to everything,” said Ms. Nelson. “It’s the right character matched with the right talent in the right medium.”
According to this piece, Johns is heavily involved as a consultant on scripts, visual designs and titles, and he isn’t a stickler for continuity like the time when “DC staffers in New York asked an animation executive to change a script because the villain Man-Bat wouldn’t be physically strong enough to carry the Penguin (the Batman foe) on his back.”
Oh where to begin. If you want to know why DC is moving to the West Coast, I think that snarky story tells you everything you need to know.
Nelson’s “encouragement” of the scattershot approach mentioned is because, unlike Disney/Marvel’s ability to do things as a team for the greater good, Warner Bros. has always been a bunch of jealous factions. This is something that Tsujihara has been tasked with changing, but this system has been in place a looong time, and it will take a while.
I’ve been told for years by insiders that one of the problems with the WB movie slate is that for years a lot of top execs there just didn’t “get” superheroes. That’s pretty obvious from all the fits and starts on even the simplest projects, and misfires like Green Lantern. However, once again, this has to change. There are only so many Harry Potter books and Lord of the Rings appendices….however there are hundreds and hundreds of in-house comic book properties. So, someone had to bite the bullet.
Before this news came out I was reading this piece by Jeff Gomez and Fabien Nicieza about how not only has WB fallen behind Marvel’s 14 year movie plan, but even the enthusiastic comic book movieing of Sony and Fox.
What’s stopping (or at least slowing) Warner Bros., while studios like Sony Pictures and 20th Century Fox announce elaborate, interconnected film series for its Spider-Man and X-Men/Fantastic Four Marvel sub-universes? That’s a mystery perhaps only the Dark Knight detective can solve.
The piece was accompanied by this stark chart. I’m sure more than a few execs at WB have looked at versions of this chart as well.
The WSJ piece also included this chart. IT’s a gamble but if it pays off, it’s so so worth it.
I’m not as much of a Snyder hater as a lot of people, but he has a proven success behind him, and obviously he gets along with people, so giving him the JL movie was a natural, seeing as Christopher Nolan is finished with all that comic book stuff. At least he does understand the source material, as best he can. Disney/Marvel is all about being cheap and nimble and building the stardom of actors like Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans, and making Captain America 2 in six months. WB is all about looking classy and hedging bets. It’s kind of how they have to be after Steel and Catwoman.
On the other hand, WB is going full steam ahead with all kinds of TV projects involving DC/Vertigo characters. And Fox is thinking of getting in on that, too, with a possible X-Men TV show.
Just to finish up here, 2018 is a long way away, and I guarantee we’ll see more DC-based movies before then. (Wasn’t Guillermo del Toro working on a bunch of projects, including Justice League Dark, as well?) All of the hesitation and aversion at Warners is going to end…because it has to. This is a comic book world, and we are happily living in it.