For most of the past year, comic book movie fans have been taking the existence of a Justice League film for granted, even though the existence of such a project has yet to be officially confirmed. It's kind of hard to fault the reasoning, mostly because of A) the massive, influential success enjoyed by Marvel Studios across multiple films and mediums, B) Man of Steel had a number of comic book-centric Easter eggs peppered throughout it, and C) a sequel to that same film has been announced that features non-Superman characters like Wonder Woman, Alfred Pennyworth and, of course, the Batman.
DC Universe Progress
After going from one film that introduces a new Superman to a direct sequel involving some of his most famous fellow DC Comics characters, the next natural step would seem to be a team-up project akin to The Avengers, but featuring the first modern superhero team: the Justice League.
It may be a bit of a leap, but that would seem like a logical assumption to make, right?
Well, according to Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer, maybe not.
Last week, in an interview with IGN that brought up this very topic, Goyer seemed to suddenly become very coy and noncommittal about the future of a DC Comics cinematic universe in the near, or even foreseeable future. And before you say something like, "Well that's his job, of course he'd downplay it!" This isn't the usual "we might, we might not" type of speech that leaves the possibility of active work on such a project open in the minds of the general public.
This sounds a lot more like they currently have no plans, and haven't even really started thinking that far ahead yet. Everyone else, including the studio heads seem to be, but the actual people making these new movies have not. In the interview, he said,
"I mean, it’s too early. I know that Warner Bros. would love to make their universe more cohesive. There have been a lot of general conversations about that, but it’s really, really early. I’m not sure. Marvel has had enormous success, but I’m not sure that everybody should try to emulate them either. It’s just been vague conversations so far."
So, for fans hoping that Batman vs. Superman is the first step in some grand, master plan for a DC cinematic universe, it may not be a bad idea to temper those expectations a bit since the creators don't seem to be making any solid plans at this point. As far as observing the success that Marvel Studios is currently enjoying, Goyer says that he's enjoyed these outings as a fan, but not as anything more than that.
"You have to admire what Marvel's done. It's really hard to create a brand, I mean, where people will follow your brand. Pixar's done it, and now Marvel has done it. It's really, really hard to do, because there's not a lot of brand loyalty anymore. They've created a cohesive universe, so I really admire what they've done."
The Two Sides of His Comments
On the one hand, his language is admirable because it shows a focus beyond merely copying the proven Marvel formula of a shared universe. The fans would pick up on that kind of cheapness, and Goyer doesn't seem at all interested in simply replicating what other people have done. He seems to be interested in the storytelling first.
On the other hand, he has to know which way the wind is blowing. The DC universe in comics did the concept first, and is home to some of the most timeless characters in the history of superhero storytelling, including the character that originated it. Movie fans, while largely loving and enjoying the films that Marvel Studios are putting out, also tend to enjoy the characters from the other major publisher. In 2012, the year that The Avengers ruled the box office roost, a superhero film featuring only one character from DC's library managed to take in nearly 75% of the Marvel team-up film's worldwide box office.
The Dark Knight Rises may not have been as acclaimed as its predecessor, but it certainly demonstrated that audiences have enough love to go around when it comes to superheroes. The fact that Man of Steel also performed strongly and that the Justice League is a superhero team that both predates the Avengers and has Superman and Batman in the top two positions would seem to make it a no-brainer. Granted, May of 2016 is quite a way's away, which means Goyer and company have plenty of time to make the right choice.
Let's hope that they do.
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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