[List] - Justice League Film Part 1: Which Version Of The Team Should Appear On Film?


So, lets say that DC and Warner Bros can get their act together and make a Justice League movie. I say they can't, but lets pretend for a moment. Marvel faced a similar choice with the Avengers, and went with the original, classic, some might call iconic lineup. What's open to them now is introducing other fan favourite lineups in possible sequels.

While the Avenger's team in nearly always in flux, with members coming and going, dying, being replaced by aliens, evil robots, or being wiped from existence, the Justice League has remained basically the same for the entire 52 year history of the... holy shit, I only just realised that DC introduced the New 52 during the 52nd anniversary of the Justice League. Unless, did the New 52 start this year or last? Because if it was last year then no, I was wrong, and DC are still idiots instead of subtle geniuses.

Anyway, if you hit the jump, we'll go through the major eras of the Justice League, and which might fit best on film.

The Original Justice League

Introduced in 1960, the League was an attempt to capitalise on the success of the Justice Society and, of all things, American League Baseball. Superman and Batman, despite being members, rarely appeared in the title, holding their own team-ups over in World's Finest. The team remained at seven core members for quiet some time, though other major players like Green Arrow would join them for adventures. Appearences in the Justice League book helped bring minor characters to the interest of readers, and is probably responsible for the longevity of many of those characters. Back then, The League was an excuse to see the heroes interact, and be nearly defeated by new, usually alien villains, like Starro or Despero. These were heroes that had existed for decades, firmly established in their own titles, and had a superhero community that united them outside of the League. This League was made up of friends, lending aid to one another.

Conclusion: Not cynical enough for the modern world.

Justice League Detroit

You know you've got it rough when Aquaman is the biggest name you've got. In the mid eighties, just before the Crisis wiped everything out, the Justice League broke up, all the founding (aka: good) members left, and the team moved it's headquarters to Detroit. The title was a miserable failure, and even adding Batman to the team couldn't save it. You know you've got it rough when you still suck, even after adding Batman. These heroes, save for Aquaman, Batman and the the Martian Manhunter, were all B or C list heroes, names that weren't then and aren't now ever at the forefront of anyone's mind (though, many members have went on to establish themselves elsewhere, just never at the level of say, Black Canary). Briefly became Justice League International, before the universe collapsed in on itself.

Conclusion: This team is a living joke.

JLA

It was nearly a decade after the Crisis before DC brought the team back. Streamlined, this basic design has been the blueprint for all versions since. Grant Morrison structured it has an analogy to the pantheons of the Gods in classic mythology, and as such, membership was reserved for only the most powerful members of the DC Universe. Threats were generally global in nature, something that even Superman couldn't fix alone. Remember also, this came at the beginning of the Dark Ages of the nineties, when Superman has risen from death, Aquaman had a hook for a hand, and Hal Jordan had went mad and tried to kill everyone. The organisation was much more militarised, consisting of headquarters, units, calls to arms, and activations. These teammates didn't hang out together, they worked together, and barely got along while doing so. The best way to describe this period: Gods on Earth, are Pissed.

Conclusion: Dark and gritty is good, but you need some levity. The smaller team works best on the big screen, though.

Justice League of America

During the second Crisis, the team fractured due to increasing mistrust among the team (something of a theme of the era, as it was during the JLA days that Tower of Babel came out, introducing the idea that Batman spies on his teammates). The new team was specifically chosen by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman to compliment each others powers, fill in gaps in abilities, and make the most effective super powered team on the planet. Except they didn't, and gave membership to whomever was involved in their first case. But the idea was smart, even if the book was deeply flawed, especially in the beginning. The lead picture is pretty telling: this was a team that had senior, seasoned members acting as both mentors and partners to younger, less experienced heroes. Green Arrow passing the title over to Red Arrow, Vixen stepping forward from her Detroit days. This was a team that had a two tier system, and each tier was more of a family then the JLA, but still not as close as the originals.

Conclusion: This is the structure a good Justice League movie should take: the original three being well established and good at their jobs, bringing together heroes that show promise, and helping them achieve it.

New 52 Justice League
The latest incarnation takes everyone back to square one, and throws them together haphazardly. United by the sort of global event characteristic of the JLA era, each hero is in the the early days of their careers. No one works well together, everyone's personalities are at odds, and there is very little team unification. It's still early days, but really, the only thing that keeps this team together is the current crisis (little 'c', that). Now, where I have seen, recently on screen, something very similar to all that? I'm drawing a $1.4 billion dollar blank...

Conclusion: Of course this will be the one they go for. Geoff Johns can't see past himself (see Green Lantern and all of its failings) when it comes to material, and despite half a century of storytelling, they would ultimately settle for something like this. The fact that it will look exactly like the structure of the Avengers won't help them out with the critics, though. I wonder how similar the New 52 is to the unproduced George Miller script from a few years back? The actors ages would have been about right for these versions.

Justice League Unlimited

The best of all possible worlds. Drawing inspiration from the JLA era, though because the original core team was so small, they eventually became quiet close (very close, in some cases). In fact, part of the push of the Justice League of America relaunch after the second Crisis was to bring the comics more in line with the show, which was, and is, extremely popular. The team roaster is practically identical, and the books was briefly written by the show's power house, Dwayne McDuffie (also responsible for the best of the direct to video animated movies DC has put out).

Conclusion: This is what they should be doing. For all DC's failures at live action movies, they are killing it with the animated material. Marvel's animated stuff is amateur hour compared to DC. Be it series (The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice), movies (Justice League: Doom, Superman and the Elite), shorts (DC Nation on the Cartoon Network), they are matching superb voice acting with fantastic animation, and Warner's is happy to fund it because it costs a tiny fraction of what the live action stuff would. And, it makes them money (except for Wonder Woman, which is one of the best of the animated films, but made the least money, and therefore is responsible for the cancellation of all other female-oriented features in the line. Boo).

Final Conclusion: They shouldn't make a Justice League movie at all. When they do, they'll make something close to the New 52, it will suck, and we'll have to wait ten years before Warner's is willing to take a chance on anything not Batman again.

So, what should they do? Tune in next time for:

or, An Adaptation Too Far...
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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