The MCU is doing wonders at the moment, managing to hype people to unprecedented levels with a fight between superheroes and a guy they’ve never heard of whose never managed to get out of his chair in over five years. Meanwhile the DCMU has managed to do two movies with a crazy space hobo, one movie about a clown hooker and one that has Ben Affleck apparently doing everything……. he can to get his name off the project. But this is not the only way it could have gone. We could have had a Justice League back when Marvel was still talking about an “Initiative”, we could have had a Justice League from the man behind “Fury Road”, an altogether more human Justice League a………………………………….
For those who don’t know this wasn’t some big wig idea, some pie in the sky. There were scripts and actors, costumes and locations all lined up and ready to go. So why was it canned, was it simply no good? Well let’s find out.
We open on a funeral for a fallen hero and then promptly flash back to find out who but not so far that we have to sit through an origin story for each one. In fact we don’t get an origin for any of them as though people may at this point in our society know enough about who the super friends are that we can follow along a two hour toy commercial easily enough. So one point to JL:M as far as I’m concerned. Heroes do exist; Wonder Woman is talking to the U.N, Batman is stalking the shadows and Arthur Curry is sat on his throne sulking that nobody takes him serious as a hero nor as ruler of two thirds of the Earths surface. Meanwhile our story begins proper with Flash is stuffing his face at ‘Planet Krypton’.
Things are going so well that we’re on the verge of declaring world peace when J’onn J’onzz comes under attack. Yet he’s not the only one, soon every member of the not yet formed Justice League is coming under attack. The Martian Manhunter set aflame because you know fire is pretty much everyone’s weakness really despite what Pokemon would have you believe, Aquaman is given a crippling fear of water, Barry is sent vibrating through the planet unable to stop or even slow and the man behind all this; THE GODDAMN BATMAN! Well not quite. See while the “gun” was his, the trigger was pulled by one Maxwell Lord and Talia al Ghul. Together they have usurped control of Batman’s Brother Eye that he has set up in case one of the supers go rogue. This would be the movies second major point.
Now with neither Brandon Ruth nor Tom Welling as Superman and Christian Bale not only not appearing as the Dark Knight but telling the Justice League to wait until he was done with the role before letting them have a shot. Some say that the movie got canned because of the writers strike and others due to Australia pulling their tax brakes at the last minute. However there is the belief that these were all excuses for a DC not willing to commit to a universe just yet. To rest on their “Dark” and gritty trilogy that would earn them so much acclaim, to count the pennies made by a Superman show with no Superman or to rely on that upcoming Superman Returns sequel that was still pencilled in at this point. Did they really need three superman? Did they need to run the risk of annoying Christopher Nolan and least of all Christian Bale who are still held up today by some as the pinnacle of the super hero movie genre?
Well the answer is yes. Now I’m not saying the script is perfect because it’s not. Barry Allen is essentially Wally West and that’s made all the worse by Wally West also being Wally West. Despite the world being at stake the movie doesn’t carry too much heft as it breezes along planting jokes and easter eggs throughout. Yet it carries two big strengths, no origin stories and a villain that most people won’t have already seen and got bored of already. It is also fairly true to the characters and most importantly, fun. There is no desperate shoe-horning or some big epic continuity just a focus on making good film. Everyone is given their moment in the sun and the focus is on Barry before even Oliver Queen had his own show. In fact the way he talks about his powers and the speed force in the script make me wish we would have gotten the film for some of his scenes alone. Yeah Batman comes of as kind of a dick but he doesn’t tow flaming cars through the streets full of dying people and sure Superman just kind of floats there doing nothing but his talks of protecting the innocent and doing the right thing no matter what give me more faith in this guy than the space hobo that WB gave up pretending is even possibly dead as soon as the credits had rolled.
For those of you too lazy to read there is a script read on youtube with Casper Van Dien as the man of steel for those of you worrying that his tag on this site may be going underused.