Welcome to Hollywood Justice, our new weekly column here at Splash Page, where we examine the film and TV plans of DC Entertainment, and how they relate to the comic book stories of the Justice League, its members, and other DC heroes, published over their more than 70 years of history. For our debut, we’re going to run down some of DC’s bigger properties, and see where they stand at the moment in terms of reaching the big-screen.
In recent weeks, rumors have been heating up about DC’s premier superhero team, the Justice League. It was recently reported that in the wake of the heirs of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster losing the effort to reclaim their ownership stake in his creation, Warner Brothers has decided to move full-steam ahead with their challenge to the box office supremacy established by “Marvel’s Avengers.” The two superhero team franchises will apparently go head to head in 2015, with the “Justice League” script being written by Will Beall, but no director, cast, or plot details have been announced yet.
Superman’s future on the big-screen is the clearest of the DC properties, with filming on his next movie, “Man of Steel,” having already been completed and the film scheduled for a June 14, 2013 release date. The movie will be directed by Zack Snyder (“Watchmen,” “300”) and stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, and Kevin Coster and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent. With the inclusion of Zod, audiences might expect a new take on the storyline from 1980’s “Superman II,” but leaked toy commercials have suggested that Zod’s attack on Earth this time around may constitute a full-fledged military invasion.
The Batman franchise is in an odd position. With the massive success of Christopher Nolan’s vision recently completed in “The Dark Knight Rises,” DC is faced with the question: “Where do we go from here?” Any future Batman films will surely be compared to the Nolan ones, and held to that high standard, which will be very difficult to live up to. And yet with the “Justice League” movie in the works, the pressure is on to come up with a new installment that will fit in with the universe they plan to build. Nolan, who is serving as producer on “Man of Steel,” has declined to play a similar role on future Batman films (or for that matter, the “Justice League” film), leaving the question of who will guide the franchise very much an open one. One thing that does seem clear is that Warner Brothers is opting for a reboot to the franchise, given Nolan’s very definite conclusion to his saga. Some rumors suggest that the reboot may not come out until 2016, meaning that that new incarnation of Batman could very well make his debut in the “Justice League” film.
The problems with the Green Lantern franchise have been discussed extensively in the wake of the disappointing reception for last year’s film starring Ryan Reynolds as the intrepid space cop. Green Lantern seems destined to have a role in the “Justice League” film, but will Warner Bros. go for a reboot after one disappointing film, as they did in the wake of “Superman Returns,” or do they soldier and perhaps simply come up with a better script or a change in director for a future “Justice League” film? Initially, they seemed pretty clearly headed for a direct sequel with Reynolds still attached, but as weak numbers came in, reports began to come out of a possible reboot. It’s not clear what WB’s plans are at this point, but with Marvel having made a success of secondary characters like Iron Man and Thor, the question of “Why can’t DC do the same?” won’t stop being asked until they get a win in that column.
Although a Wonder Woman film is still in the early development stages, that hasn’t stopped rumors from flying. Variety has mentioned that Michael Goldenberg, one of the writers of the “Green Lantern” film, has been tapped to pen the screenplay. And director Nicolas Winding Refn has expressed his interest in directing the film, suggesting actress Christina Hendricks, who worked with him on “Drive,” for the role of the Amazonian Princess. Whether or not that particular collaboration comes to fruition is anyone’s guess. It should be noted that there is also a Wonder Woman television show in development for the Warner-owned CW network, but bringing the first major female superhero to the big screen is a goal that Warner Brothers has long sought to achieve, and isn’t likely to give up on.
The Flash film has gone through a number of screenwriters, with an initial draft written by Dan Mazeau (“Wrath of the Titans”) collaborating with DC’s Chief Creative Officer (and writer of Flash comics) Geoff Johns. The film was subsequently turned over to the writing team of Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, and Marc Guggenheim (Green and Guggenheim both have written for the comics). It’s unclear what the current status of the project is, although IFC reports that Barry Allen, who currently holds the Flash title in the comics will also be the movie’s Flash. In comments to the site, Mazeau suggests that the film is still a going concern for Warner Brothers, but whether the Flash will first make his big-screen debut in the “Justice League” film remains to be seen.
Hollywood Justice is your weekly destination for all things DC Comics, from the Man of Tomorrow to the Caped Crusader, from television to film and beyond. Let us know what you think in the comments section or on Twitter!