Earlier this week, comic book writer Mark Millar revealed that he knew a little bit about the ‘Justice League’ script that Will Beall was hired to write for DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers Studios. I’m aware that Millar has a tendency to talk a lot about things and sometimes the things that he talks about are a bit exaggerated, but this is what he had to say about what’s in store for League as of right now (via Cinemablend):
“His take on the team is incredible. Very real-world and not at all what you might expect. WB has a chequered history with their superhero characters. They’re great with their boy wizards, but less consistent with their DC stable. But my chum said that this could be a thing of beauty and has been in the works for a little while now, not just an Avengers knock-off. Best of luck to them. The tidbits I heard sound quite dark and mature, which isn’t what I expected. But word on Gangster Squad is great too so I feel this is in really good hands.”
Dark and mature, you say? While I’m sure that it’s a great script, I don’t think that dark and mature is the way DC should go with the Justice League. I’m not saying that it should copy what ‘The Avengers’ did by keeping things relatively light either, but what I am saying is that it shouldn’t be as dark as Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise.
Since word has been going around that WB & DC are planning half a dozen movies right now, Christopher Nolan’s name has been thrown around a bunch and he’s been called the godfather of DC’s movie universe or DC’s Kevin Feige. While the man is a very talented filmmaker, I don’t think that the style that he utilized in his series will fit the mold of the Justice League. It fits for Batman because that’s what Batman is. Batman has always been dark. That’s why he’s the Dark Knight. However, in the case of the Justice League, which brings together a group of very different heroes together, they would benefit more from being somewhere more along the lines of ‘Green Lantern’, except, you know, good.
Going dark isn’t always the answer. Marvel didn’t have to go dark to bring heroes like Iron Man or Thor to life. The most effective portrayal of The Hulk, which was in ‘The Avengers’, was largely comedic (except that one time), and Hulk is the darkest hero that the company has introduced in their cinematic universe so far. Obviously, I’m not talking about The Punisher or Blade because they don’t take place in the MCU, but even they weren’t as dark as ‘Batman Begins’ or ‘The Dark Knight’. The key was making them contemporary and believable, which Millar says Beall has down since he says the script is “real-world”.
Now, of course, sometimes going dark does work, as was the case with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. However, the huge problem with that movie was the execution. That movie had so much potential to be good, and way better than the other Snow White film that was released this year, ‘Mirror Mirror’, yet it had so many flaws in story and dialogue that the dark, epic nature of the movie was drowned out by bad character development and plot holes. So, if it was to go darker than what Marvel has going on currently along the lines of ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’, which I guess isn’t a terrible idea because DC needs to separate themselves somehow, they would have to make sure that the story and characters are solid. Looking at recent projects such as ‘Green Lantern’ and the failed ‘Wonder Woman’ pilot, DC has a bit of work to do in that area.
Still, don’t need to present a dark, gritty, mature, or hyper-violent version of their heroes to gain and captivate an audience. I don’t see most of their heroes, including The Flash, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, among others, fitting in a universe like that. Again, it worked for Batman because he’s Batman, but when bringing the team together, I think that they should all be brought into a more neutral-toned setting based in reality. As I’ve said before in a previous article making suggestions to DC, they could aim for a younger audience, while still making it suitable for older fans, like they did with ‘Teen Titans’, ‘Young Justice’, or ‘Justice League Unlimited’. Fans loved those shows, so taking the same approach on the big screen might be the ingredient needed for success. That, and getting a director who really understands the characters and stories, and that approaches them with reverence so as to maintain the aspects that generations of fans have come to love about DC. (Might I suggest Comic-Con darling Kevin Smith, who’s written some pretty good DC comics in his day?)
I may be a huge Marvel fan, but I don’t want to see DC fail terribly at the box office yet again since outside of Batman they haven’t been so lucky. I’m just looking out for you, DC!
What say you, DC/Marvel/comic book/movie fans? What are your thoughts on doing a dark and mature Justice League versus a lighter one?