James Gunn and Peter Safran will be announcing their DCU lineup in a matter of days, and while I don’t think they’ll be announcing a Justice League movie, I think it would be a good move. I still have faith in them going in another direction though too.
In a tweet, James Gunn said that they would only be announcing “a few projects from their first chapter.” The term “a few” appears to mean different things to different people, but my guess is that they will announce three projects. As I stated before, I don’t think any of these projects will be a Justice League movie, but I think it would be fun if they were.
James Gunn has already stated that he is working on a Superman script, but this Superman movie could take place right after a Justice League movie. I could see it taking place right before as well. The Superman movie could show the man of steel facing down a world threatening enemy like Brainiac (who we desperately need to see on the big screen) and he starts to realize that some threats may require a team of super powered individuals. He could know of these other heroes and in the Justice League movie, he has a reason to make contact with them.
A Justice League movie could give us a glimpse of the different worlds of these unique heroes, and focus on them learning to work together. Afterwards, they can go their separate ways and we can learn more about them as individual heroes. This would make things a little different from what we’ve seen before with the first phase of the MCU, and even the DCEU.
There may be some hesitation to go this route, since the DCEU seemed to rush things with Man of Steel, Batman VS Superman, Wonder Woman, and then Justice League as opposed to the MCU Phase 1 lineup of Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and then Avengers. A three movie build up doesn’t seem like enough compared to a five movie build up, but the build up may not be necessary at all, especially if the heroes are going to get their own movies afterward anyway. It seems that one of the issues for the DCEU was that it was constantly getting compared to the MCU. Hopefully, the DCU can take what some of what worked from the DCEU and the MCU while adding something of it’s own.
An ensemble movie shouldn’t need other movies to preface them in order to work. It worked out well that way for the MCU, but it shouldn’t always be a necessity. Of course, part of what worked well for Zac Snyder’s Justice League was that it was long enough to give proper character development to characters like Flash and Cyborg who we had only seen small glimpses of before, so the question is, how do you make a good ensemble movie that has the right amount of plot and character development.
Many action movies, including the individual MCU movies have at least a small team. For example, Captain America Winter Soldier has a team made up of Cap, Black Widow, and Falcon. You might consider Nick Fury, Maria Hill, and even Sharon Carter as part of that team. Of course, all of those characters except for two were already established before that movie so let’s look at a few ensemble movies that work well.
One of the first movies that comes to mind is Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. However that movie does have over three hours to show us who the characters are and the first DCU Justice League movie probably won’t get that. On the other hand, another great one is James Gunn’s own Guardian of the Galaxy. His Suicide Squad movie was also really good, so it would seem fitting that he start off with a Justice League movie right away.
The first Guardians of the Galaxy had five characters meet up and team up and it worked really well. Yes, one of those characters was a talking tree who only says three words, but I still felt like we got to know him too. Guardians of the Galaxy had some well thought out interactions between each character. The characters flaws were fairly obvious and entertaining to watch, and they informed on their personalities.
Star Lord is given the most back story but the others receive quite a bit as well. Part of what really works well are the connections between the characters. For example, Drax’s family was killed by Ronin who works for Thanos and Gamora is Thanos’ daughter. This leads to Drax taking action and trying to kill Gamora. Then you have Star Lord, and Rocket who just want to steal or find valuables and then sell them. Star Lord gets the power stone so Gamora tries to get it from him because Thanos wants it and Rocket wants to sell the stone and hand Star Lord over, and of course Groot just wants to be a loyal friend to Rocket. Now, I’m hoping we see how those two meet in a flashback in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3, but anyway, back to the DCU.
The threat against the world, whatever it may be will be the most obvious thing that connects the members of the Justice League, but as we see with the Guardians, the connections can be more intriguing than just that. Some of the Justice League members could have already met, and or have certain reservations about each other. After all, the conflict among the Avengers was part of what made each of the Avengers movies work so well. The creators of the Justice League movie just need to find that conflict and those connections and capitalize on them. Of course, that is easier said than done, but with James Gunn behind it, I think they could pull it off.
An alternative to a first time team up, could be an already established team like there was in the first X-men movie. A good direction to go with that is to have one or two newcomers like they did with Wolverine and Rogue. The DCU Justice League movie could have an already established team of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash with John Stewart Green Lantern, and Hawkgirl being the newcomers or maybe Flash is the newcomer. There are many ways to go. Again conflict and connections would still be important components of making it work.
Luckily, the members of the Justice League have vastly different backgrounds especially depending on who is on the roster. My ideal roster is the same as the Justice League Animated Series which is Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Hawkgirl, and Flash. All of these characters definitely have different backgrounds and perspectives, and if they were put together in the right story with the right cast, and director, it would make an incredible movie.