Superhero Movies have been diluting the box office for a good decade now. Since the MCU in 2008, we have been inundated with superhero movies every year. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the torchbearer for the shared universe trope in movies, and it has led other companies to follow them. Including DC.
The DC Movies have largely been critically attacked, by film critics and DC fans, and its a damn shame. DC has, in my opinion, better characters and better comics. Though with cinema and television dominating the psyche of fans, it has led people to view Marvel more favourably. The marvel films are largely good, and the DC films are largely bad, and why is that? It’s simple: Tone and Delivery. It is hard for me to explain, but Indy 100 did an article on it, that makes a lot of sense. DC films are trying to be realistic, because Zack Snyder grew up reading Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns, and Alan Moore and David Gibbons Watchmen, universes which tried to place out of this world characters into…well, our world. Marvel comics know the concept is silly, Captain America goes back to 1940’s propaganda. What do you do? You keep the characters in their own world, and it works.
That is why Justice League failed, and the DCU has failed. Putting these characters in our world has tarnished them. So, if I was to be in charge of DC’s movies, how would I handle it? Here’s Ben Attwood’s Justice League.
The heroes are going to stay the same, for the most part. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, but not Aquaman, as he’s getting his own movie; we can establish him in that. The first major change I will make though is that I will add another hero: Green Lantern. Which one? Kyle Rayner. Why not Hal Jordan? Forgive me for this, but besides Cyborg, the diversity is not strong on this team. Having a part Mexican on the team will actually be beneficial. Also, I feel that the team needs a Green Lantern member.
In terms of villains, I will make my second major change: No Apokolips. You can begin to foreshadow it if you must, but I am going to say no extraterrestrial villains. I find those sorts of villains to be lazy and generic. Sure, Thanos is a big bad, but how many aliens have the avenger’s members faced, singlehandedly and as a team? Too darn many! So, the villain I would introduce as the biggest threat is Black Mask.
Black Mask is human, he’s powerful, and has a lot of tricks. He’s a powerful crime lord, and I think he can use his influence to make a major threat to the world.
As for supporting cast: Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Amanda Waller, Flash’s Dad, Lois Lane, Cyborg’s dad, Wonder Woman’s mum.
For my Justice League film, I debated leaving it where it was in the chronology or making it the first film after Man of Steel, thereby cancelling Superman vs. Batman, and moving Wonder Woman, and Suicide Squad until afterwards. Since I want to reset the entire DC Universe, I will do the latter.
The film starts after Man of Steel. Superman is a pariah. He killed Zod, Metropolis was basically destroyed, and he’s feeling pretty bad about it. How does he make it up? He becomes a tool of the US Government. He’s doing it as a way of retribution. His costume is different, its simple overalls he’s saving people from natural disasters, but he isn’t happy. He’s constantly shouted at by Amanda Waller because she micromanages how he does stuff. He’s supposed to do his job, but he tries comforting kids, he’s constantly disobeying orders to save people. Waller orders him to go on his next mission: to meet Diana Prince from Themiscura.
In Gotham City, the scene cuts to a warehouse, where someone is stealing from a warehouse. The robbers are trying to move stuff quickly, but one robber spots a Batarang lodged into one of the crates. Batman has arrived. This Batman is so different from the Battfleck version. No grunting and no guns, more stoic, and doesn’t speak once. He just has to look at someone for a confession, causing Batman to smirk, after which he takes out a tape recording of the confession and gives to Commissioner Gordon.
Batman leaves the Warehouse, and behind him is The Flash. Flash quips to Batman that he left something of his in Central City. He shows Batman a picture of a dead gang member with a Tattoo. Batman takes a look and says ‘Follow me’.
Superman meets Diana and they begin to befriend each other as Superman is her US government sanctioned bodyguard. Superman is accompanying her to the White House or a building like that when an explosion occurs. In the chaos, men with guns, wearing supervillain masks jump out. They’re not killing people though, they’re stealing things from the dead, the injured, and other people. One tries to get Diana, and she grabs his wrist and throws him across to the other side of the garden. Superman helps fight, as Waller cannot communicate with him. Superman and Wonderwoman fight alongside each other and manage to grab most of the gunmen. Wonderwoman has one of them wrapped around the lasso of truth, and he tells her they’re working for Black Mask.
Reports of similar attacks across America are occurring, and the police are swamped. We see Green Lantern and Cyborg fighting together against a gang that has basically taken over a city during a huge riot. Batman is fighting in Gotham, taking down various thugs, and Flash is joining in; giving one-liners and being funny, showing a fun dynamic between the two. All the while, on CCTV, Black Mask is watching the violence. Black Mask’s threat to America is that he can mobilise any gang, they’re all loyal to him, and he can basically own the streets.
Flash contacts Green Lantern and Cyborg, who join him and Batman in Gotham, and Batman explains Black Mask’s origins and what he’s doing, and speculating that there is a huge plan afoot, so the four men form an alliance to fight off the next attack. Despite there being 4 heroes, 3 of which with special abilities, Black Mask’s forces basically decimate them, just by numbers alone. The loose alliance with 4 men protecting one city isn’t enough. Batman gets beaten up stopping riots and violence in the streets, and though he manages to stop it, he get’s beaten up. The riots in Gotham lead Superman and Wonderwoman to join the group, and together, they temporarily stop the attack.
Superman and Wonderwoman begin to work together to help injured people, and we begin to see Superman becoming happier throughout the film. Part of his sadness was feeling like he was an outsider, that he was bad for humanity, that he wasn’t good enough. Now, people are not apprehensive towards his help, they’re thanking him. Amanda Waller even gives him a compliment. This is juxtaposed with Batman and Flash. They stop the crimes in Gotham, but Batman wasn’t able to save everyone, there’s dead people, cops, and there’s a little girl who’s lost her parents. And what this scene demonstrates is that both Batman and Superman realise they need to be a part of something bigger, and they cannot just close themselves off.
Together, the 6 heroes determine where Black Mask is going to strike next, and we see the team working together. Batman and Superman, through initial apprehension, shake hands, Wonder Woman speaks to Flash, and basically doesn’t get his jokes, and he and Cyborg form a bit of a duo. They find out he’s going to strike Metropolis, where the team all fly to on a chartered military plane that Batman found. It’ll be a fun few scenes, trust me.
When we get to Metropolis, a large group of thugs are marching down still wrecked streets, construction sites, with fire, pitchforks, guns, knives. Black Mask is within the crowd, and then the six heroes stand in the group’s way, and there’s a stare down. All the heroes are walking in a line, and they get laughed at. Superman rips his overalls off, and he’s wearing the costume. And the fight ensues. Wonder Woman beats the snot out of lascivious thugs, Batman is using smoke bombs, batarangs are flying, he’s dodging Molotov cocktails. Flash is disarming thugs, and Cyborg runs in and knocks them all out. Green Lantern projects arrows to people escaping, and uses his powers to save kids, and fight off thugs. Superman takes on Black Mask directly, and there’s an even-handed fight. Superman isn’t using his full powers on him, and Black Mask isn’t holding back. In the film, I’d have this cool bullet time shot of all six heroes in slow motion punching guys to Ballroom Blitz. It’ll be awesome, and Flash will be punching thugs at normal speed because he’s super fast.
All six heroes round up thugs, and they all take on Black Mask, and he gets knocked out. No one dies, buildings get damaged, and a few people get hurt, but no death. The film ends with the six heroes getting the key to the city, and Superman announces that he no longer works for the US Government. He’s starting a new team to protect and help people…The Justice League.
And that’s how I’d have made Justice League. A fun movie, less grit, a chance for Henry Cavill to be a real superman, a much more interesting set of stakes, where its numbers against powers, and a villain with big stakes that isn’t an alien or a demi god. That’s how it should be, it should be fun, and it should be colourful. Cinema is escapist art, so no more grit. No more blood.