Everything about Warner Bros.' attempt to make a Justice League movie by 2015 feels like a slightly desperate attempt to copy Marvel's success with The Avengers. Now that Avengers is one of the most money-makingest movies of all time, Warner seems to be more anxious to play catch-up.
The latest rumors, that Warner Bros. is considering handing the crown jewel of its comic book properties over to Brett "X3" Ratner or Terminator Salvation's McG, just smacks of desperation. Let's hope there's no truth to it at all. Even Zack Snyder, another rumored director candidate, would be a ludicrously bad move — I do not want to see Zack Snyder reinvent Wonder Woman.
So Warner Bros. must be kicking themselves right about now for having let Joss Whedon get away, given what he was able to do with Avengers. Whedon spent a frustrating year or two trying to make a Wonder Woman movie for the studio, back in 2006. In some alternate universe somewhere, Whedon directed two successful Wonder Woman films, and then went on to bring Wonder Woman together with other heroes. It could have been Whedon's Justice League, instead of Whedon's Avengers, in theaters this past summer. Now, instead, Whedon is signed to an exclusive deal with Marvel, creating a new TV show and helping to guide all their movies in the run-up to directing Avengers 2.
Meanwhile, Marvel Studios started its own movie franchise with a distinct disadvantage — not owning the movie rights to its most popular characters, like Spider-Man and Wolverine — and still built an empire, starting with Iron Man. (Imagine if Warner Bros. didn't have the rights to use Superman and Batman in films.) When Warner Bros. made a tentative first attempt to copy Marvel's game plan, the result was Green Lantern. Which is why we've ended up here.
It doesn't help that Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the Harry Potter films are both over, leaving Warners without a clear money-maker.
The rumors about Ratner and McG aside, it seems hard to imagine how the people who gave us Green Lantern could pull off a film that introduces a bunch of heroes who've never been on the big screen, and then brings them all together somehow. Although it would be kind of fascinating to have Avengers 2 and Justice League in theaters the same summer, which is what we could be heading for if Warners is serious about that 2015 date.
In any case, in the comments this morning on the Ratner/McG news, people were bringing up one excellent suggestion: Brad Bird, director of The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. He's probably the best option, if you really want to do a superhero team-up movie from scratch. Writes commenter GrendelKhan:
It makes sense in literally every way imaginable.
-Knows his superheroes
-Directed one of the best superhero movies of all time
-Can handle multiple A-list actors
-Knows his digital and practical effects
-Just made a profitable movie, which also redeemed a flagging franchise (even if I actually really liked MI 3)
-Somehow knows how to make movies that have great action, but that are also legitimately "fun" and "funny"
I bet he'd do something truly awesome, too, like pull in [Paul] Dini and company.
Make it so, Warner Bros. For great Justice.