After waiting so long for DC Comics to have a large, consistent and potentially universe-wide presence on the silver screen, recent rumors about the speed at which the Justice League may be coming to the screen have some fans of the characters understandably concerned. While there's certainly been a lot to get excited about for the forthcoming sequel to Man of Steel (like the inclusion of Batman and Wonder Woman alongside Superman), could the speed at which a DC team-up film comes to fruition be a cause of concern? It certainly seems possible.
On the One Hand: It's Everything DC Comics Fans Have Wanted
In the past, we've talked a lot about how Warner Bros.' insecurity about its DC Comics properties have been downright maddening. While it's true it had developed a Justice League film briefly in 2007, Warner Bros. has always seemed largely reactionary to the innovators over at Marvel Studios. It was likely the success of the first Iron Man film that even convinced them to take a chance on Green Lantern in 2011, but it just went about it wrong. Not long before Man of Steel was set to release last year, rumblings emerged online of the possibility that it may be the last DC Comics film at the studio for years.
Obviously, something has happened. If rumors are to be believed, the properties of DC Comics now seem to be a whole lot more important to Warner Bros., with new Time Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara talking in no uncertain terms about the viability of several other DC superheroes, the studio's commitments to more interactive entertainment, and now the development of several new TV series featuring DC characters across multiple TV networks.
Adding to that the enormity of the characters already cast in the forthcoming Man of Steel sequel, it really does look like the Justice League is the next logical step in the exploitation of DC Comics on film. Why not film Man of Steel 2 (or Batman vs. Superman, or whatever you want to call it) back-to-back with a Justice League film? While the first effort with the new Superman didn't do any Dark Knight numbers, it definitely proved that audiences had an appetite for the new adventures of Superman, and if you couple that with the obvious love the public has for Batman, you can't really go wrong! Why not use those two characters as a springboard into a story featuring all of DC's biggest characters?
On the Other Hand: Rushing Is Never a Good Idea
Since the only movie that currently exists on the same level of a proposed Justice League film is 2012's The Avengers, let's do a little comparison: leading up to the big team-up were four films from Marvel Studios introducing the principal characters individually, in addition to one sequel expanding the groundwork for said team-up.
When deciding to go down the path of a team-up, Marvel Studios had always intended to lead to The Avengers. The opening salvo of Marvel Studios' "Phase One" took the better part of a decade to plan (longer if looking at previous iterations of the released films), with four years between the release of the opening shot of Iron Man and the ultimate team-up. Marvel's methodical attitude toward the creation of its shared universe has led to virtually unprecedented reward, creating a cinematic shared universe across multiple properties (and now mediums), with nothing but momentum behind the Marvel brand.
As far as we know, the earliest discussions of story for the film that ultimately became Man of Steel occurred in 2008, but didn't fully coalesce until about 2010. With Christopher Nolan serving as a producer, he said on the record that the approach to Superman would be similar to his own work on Batman, in that the character exists alone in his own world. After Man of Steel was determined to be a success at the box office, Warner Bros. announced a sequel including Batman barely a month after the first film bowed in theaters, and soon after confirmed that Wonder Woman would be appearing in the film alongside the World's Finest.
For those in the know and who have followed the productions of these films for a long time, if it seems like Warner Bros.' approach with its DC properties is a bit more off the cuff, that's because it is. It certainly seems like a far more cavalier approach to a massive blockbuster than even a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. Should that be an inherent cause of concern?
The next couple of months should be very telling about the direction that DC Comics on film will take in the near future. With the Man of Steel sequel set to commence shooting very soon, it's likely that any decisions about shooting a Justice League film back-to-back have already been made. If it is in fact coming on the heels of the Batman/Superman team-up film, then of course we should all hope for the best. It's never a bad idea for comic book fans to temper expectations, though.
As a DC Comics fan, I have been waiting most of my life for the Justice League to come to the silver screen, but if it really is coming to fruition this quickly, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit worried.
That does it for this week's Comic on Film! What do you think of the rumors that Justice League will be arriving so soon after the Man of Steel sequel? Do you think there's truth to them, or is it all a bunch of hot air? Do they make you excited, or concerned? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and we'll see you right back here next week!
Chris Clow is a geek. He is a comic book expert and former retailer, and freelance contributor to GeekNation.com, The Huffington Post, and Batman-On-Film.com. You can find his weekly piece Comics on Film every Wednesday right here at Movies.com. Check out his blog, and follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.
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