Doing Justice to the JLA

When Warner Bros. announced that Zack Snyder would not only follow up his Superman reboot <i>Man of Steel</i> with <i>Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice</i> but also a two part <i>Justice League</i> movie (a move that makes that <i>Batman v Superman</i> subtitle a lot less hokey), Newsarama's wheels immediately started spinning: what elements would be necessary for the perfect <i>Justice League</i> film? <p>Since that initial announcement, some elements of the film have come forth as by-products of <I>Batman v Superman</I>, including some members. Snyder recently <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/27403-zack-snyder-promises-bigger-enemy-to-fight-in-justice-league-movie.html">revealed</a> that there’s a bigger threat still lurking to challenge the League when they inevitably form. <P>That being said, there remains a lot of questions. Moreover, we’ve got a lot of hopes and dreams – after all, this is, arguably, the biggest superhero team of all time we’re talking about. <p>So, Zack... can we call you Zack? You’ve got some time. <i>Batman v Superman</i> isn’t even out yet. We get it. But here are 10 things you should be keeping in mind until then.

Lighten Up, Snyder

Warner Bros. shouldn’t get too wrapped up in trying to ape the Marvel Method when it comes to films, but if there’s one queue they take from their crosstown rivals it’s that maybe guys like Superman, Flash, and Green Lantern shouldn’t be so grim ‘n’ gritty. Setting up a world where Superman and Batman are going to inevitably clash may have necessitated a darker approach, but once they meet the rest of their super friends, maybe it’s time to take a turn back towards the light. <p>The <b>Justice League</b> movie should be the biggest, brightest spectacle to hit screens in years – since the first <i>Avengers</i> film. Give these characters a sense of humor and adventure, and let them fill the larger than life roles they have in comic books. <P>So lighten up, Zack! Except for...

KEEP THE DARK KNIGHT 'DARK'

Call us crazy, but Batman should kinda be the guy on the team everyone else is a little afraid of. This may seem a little contradictory to our previous entry, but that’s kind of the charm of putting him next to guys like the Flash and Green Lantern, who are more lighthearted and adventurous. <P>This may be an easy one to deliver on, as Ben Affleck’s Batman, while somewhat closer to the comic book version of the character than Christian Bale’s take, seems to take major cues from Frank Miller’s hard-boiled version of the Dark Knight. Of course, there’s no telling how a guy like that could change when teamed with a bunch of colorful costumed pals. <p>In the comic book, Batman has worked with just about every superhero team that exists in the DC Universe. And although it's tempting to make him more jovial around other people, implying he's lighter with friends, the character works best when he sticks to the same dead-serious character traits he utilizes in his solo stories: Obsessive detective work and fancy gadgets combined with amazing fighting skills and a knack for scaring the bejeezus out of criminals, not to mention his allies on some occasions. <p>A dark, gritty Batman <i>can</i> can co-exist with other heroes. In fact, that's three-quarters of the fun.

IN BRIGHTEST DAY, IN BLACKEST NIGHT

Going by the rest of the cast, it stands to reason that Hal Jordan is the likely candidate to sling the ring in the <b>Justice League</b> movie – and recent unsubstantiated rumors seem to bear that out. But with the <i>Green Lantern</i> solo film replaced with <i>Green Lantern Corps</i>, the door is open to any number of prime candidates. <p>We’ve made our own <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/22467-could-this-be-the-dc-movie-green-lantern.html">prediction</a> about which GL might pop up, but what we’re really hoping for is a Green Lantern who brings a new dynamic to the team. Hal Jordan has the cocky showboat role down pat – but is that the best option for the cinematic League? John Stewart’s straight man role could make for a great foil to a more upbeat and energetic Flash. And then there’s the dark horse choices – <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/22467-could-this-be-the-dc-movie-green-lantern.html">including Jessica Cruz, who would bring another female presence to the team</A>. <p>All we’re saying is, let’s keep our options open. Maybe the obvious choice isn’t always the best one.

B-LISTERS

Knowing what we know about the cinematic Justice League’s roster – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg – it looks like we’re gonna get an all-killer-no-filler line up. But is that leaving something important on the table? <p>The big guns may be the most recognizable parts of the League, but the team’s “B-Listers” have always been its heart and soul. Even the Avengers had Hawkeye and Black Widow. Could the League find room for Firestorm, the Atom, or even someone like Martian Manhunter, who have all played important roles in the team despite not necessarily being marquee names? <p>That may be trying to pack too many characters into the team, but with two parts to tell their story, there’s plenty of space for cameos and guest appearances from some lesser known Leaguers. <p>Well, a movie appearance would certainly help that right along, wouldn’t it? The key here is to make sure he’s not just another Superman - sure, he has shape-shifting abilities on top of it all, but the super strength and flight sure looks familiar. So why not play up what J’onn used to really represent: the heart of the team. As a character who hopes so desperately that these larger-than-life beings can work together to create a world even greater than the one he so recently lost, J’onn can give you some unique perspective to a growing team. Not to mention, the special effects options of a Martian Manhunter finally cutting loose in the third act are an exciting prospect. <p>J'onn also has an ever-increasing profile thanks to his presence in the <i>Supergirl</i> series. And though that universe isn't connected to the world of the films, Martian Manhunter would be a great surprise member to throw in when <b>Justice League: Part One</b> lands in 2017.

BATMAN v SUPERMAN STINGER

We're hoping Warner Bros. has learned from Marvel's example that planting a seed of "shared universe" in a hit movie can go a long way toward building anticipation for an ensemble film. <p>Of course, it sounds like this will happen with <i>Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice</i>. After all you've got the "trinity" at the heart of the League appearing in the movie, along with cameos from Aquaman and other long-time members. It all says "Yes, we’re going to do this," whether the League actually takes shape in the body of the film, or in a stinger scene. <p>Really, this is almost open advice to <i>all</i> superhero movies - people like those after-credits scenes. They’re fun, and give you that one extra moment where, after the come down of the conclusion, you get to leave the theater feeling invigorated and excited for something brand new. If you’re going to outright steal an idea: this is the <i>one</i> to do.

DARKSEID

The biggest superteam in the universe needs an equally fitting enemy to square off against – and who better than DCU’s biggest baddie? Darkseid, the lord of Apokolips is arguably the premiere villain of DC Comics, and moreover, he’s got a history with the most recent incarnation of the League, with his attempted invasion of Earth sparking the team’s formation in the "New 52." <p>Yeah, maybe there’s a Thanos comparison to be made, but still – a cosmic level bad ass is the only challenge worthy of the newly formed Justice League. And with a two-part story to tell, there’s plenty of room to explore the New Gods mythos attached to Darkseid, or at least to bring in his entire legacy of villainy -- and his army from Apokolips.

STUDY THE DC ANIMATED APPROACH

The good news for Warner Bros. is that a bunch of pretty darn good Justice League adaptations have already been produced in the last few years, including a handful of animated films and, of course, the <i>Justice League</i> and <i>Justice League Unlimited</I> animated TV series. <p>These two seminal Cartoon Network series showed DC's heavy hitters getting along and traveling all over the DCU. Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and the rest of the DC Animated crew did a lot to road map the best way to bring those heroes to casual viewers, and that show's done a lot to teach the modern generation of kids and young adults who the team are.

JUMP RIGHT IN

Start this movie with a team already in place and already working together as a well-oiled machine. These are the world's greatest superheroes, so let them act that way. The first scene of the film should be the assemble heroes taking down a mid-level villain with ease, and ramp up the threat from there. <p>A Justice League that kicks butt from the get-go will set them apart from their avenging brethren and get directly down to business. Think of it more like a Bond movie with the high-paced action setup than your typical superhero flick with an entire act without superheroics. So jump right into the action, jump right into the superheroes, jump right into the Justice League: we need the team to start, not the individuals. This may be exactly what happens if the League does get its start in <i>Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice</i>. <p>Which isn't to say they shouldn't have their chance to shine...

DIVIDED THEY STAND

If there's one storytelling device that feels specific to the Justice League, at least when it comes to superhero comic books, it's that the team will split up into smaller groups to deal with problems in separate chunks before coming together as one team for the big finale. <p>It's a neat trick that not only gives a structure to the overall story being told, but also answers the obvious question of "Why does a team with Superman, the Flash and Green Lantern even <em>need</em> those other guys, anyway? Let the Trinity (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) shine but give all the team members get some of the spotlight by splintering them off into smaller sub-groups until the third act.

JUST FILM MORRISON'S JLA

Now don't hold this against us, because this last one makes much of the previous nine suggestions somewhat superfluous. But with all due respect to Geoff Johns' current run and other great writers of the past, Grant Morrison's <b>JLA</b> <i>is</i> the coolest Justice League run, well, ever. <p>Though Morrison didn't quite have the classic "Big 7" line-up (Wally West and Kyle Rayner were Flash and Green Lantern, respectively, at the time, and Aquaman had a hook), his pantheon of the Gods-inspired take on the superteam was, and still is, pitch perfect. <p>His storylines and threats were of a proper cinematic scale, and Morrison's plotting was only eclipsed in execution by his characterization and take on the team dynamics, highlighted by perhaps the coolest <i>and</i> most bad ass Batman in <i>that</i> character's history - whose badassedness was only enhanced by the brighter, shinier superheroes around him. <p>Take Morrison’s approach to the team and combine it with a cosmic level threat like Darkseid and a “greatest hits” version of the characters, and you’ve got the makings of a definitive <b>Justice League</b> film.

10 Things We Want From a JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie

Date: 07 January 2016 Time: 09:00 PM ET