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Justice League May Not Fly Unless Man Of Steel Soars, Plus Why David Goyer Compares Superman To E.T.

Considering Warner Bros. Justice League film has a writer and release date, many of us assumed it was a done deal. Apparently not. Word on the interwebs is, if Man of Steel does poorly at the box office, Justice League could be postponed. Meanwhile, Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer calls his take on Superman more of a “first contact” type story. 

Variety posted an article today that said:

Further out, the studio’s planning a “Justice League” tentpole — encompassing DC Comics mainstays Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and the Green Lantern — on the order of Marvel’s “The Avengers.” Will Beall is scripting but no director has been attached yet.

Stakes are high for “Man of Steel.” Other than Nolan’s Batpics, Warners has not been able to effectively exploit the DC library. Its 2011 “Green Lantern” underperformed, and a “Justice League” film wouldn’t likely be in theaters before 2015, as Warner’s top brass has indicated that they are awaiting the results of “Man of Steel,” which opens June 14, before moving further ahead.

That first part about the characters coincides with the rumor we heard last week. It makes the most sense for Warner Bros. to go with heroes they hope viewers are already familiar with. But the part about it not likely being in theaters before 2015 confuses me considering Warner officially announced the 2015 release year. It made us tilt our heads because it’s the same year The Avengers 2 is set to be released but perhaps that didn’t even cross their minds. Perhaps they just needed to put it far enough out to give them breathing room from Man of Steel returns. Either way, another Superman dud would not bode well for Justice League.

As to its chances, Goyer spoke with Collider on his approach to Superman.

“We’re approaching Superman as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if it were real,” he said. “I adore the Donner films. Absolutely adore them. It just struck me that there was an idealist quality to them that may or may not work with today’s audience. It just struck me that if Superman really existed in the world, first of all this story would be a story about first contact.”

It’s an approach I can understand but not one I necessarily agree with. To me, Superman is hope. Above all other heroes, he’s the one that exudes positivity and inspiration. I’ll be honest, I’m longing for a superhero film that allows the audience to suspend disbelief and accept a film where superheroes are already a natural part of the world.

Goyer went on to say, “He’s an alien. You can easily imagine a scenario in which we’d be doing a film like E.T., as opposed to him running around in tights. If the world found out he existed, it would be the biggest thing that ever happened in human history. It falls into that idea of trying to humanize the inhuman. He’s made out of steel, he’s not made out of flesh, metaphorically speaking. We are portraying him as a man, yet he’s not a man.”

Whether you agree with Goyer’s vision or not can we, as fans, just make a pact to make Man of Steel a success? I know it’s selfish but I really, really, really need to see a Justice League movie happen.

(via Collider, MTV Splash Page)

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  • Orion Kidder

    The approach will be to start with doubt and fear, but then have him turn it around. Perhaps Lex will lead the charge against him and then the crowd will turn. Something like that. As long as he’s not a super-stalker, I’ll be happy.

  • Anonymous

    What worries me is if it DOES work, at least as far as the public is concerned, and DC decides that’s the direction to take the comic.

    I can see the film once and walk away – it’s the version in the comics I read twice a month.

  • Tamara Brooks

    I also wish that Warner Bros would stop making movies about comic book characters that strip all the fun “comic book” aspects from them. And I hate the whole “real world” thing they keep pushing – reality is what you present to the viewing audience. It’s whatever world you want to create. People will accept whatever structure and rules you put together. Because it’s a movie and not the “real world.”

    I just hope they put someone in charge of overseeing all the Justice League related flicks to ensure they’re tonally correct and do not suck. Like Alan Burnett who’s the most underrated of the DCAU but responsible for some of the best episodes through every series.

  • Rick Richards

    First, i agree with you in the true meaning of Superman. He is the man of tomorrow; so he must be hope. Focusing in the alien part would be stupid and opposite to the real character, the extraterrestrial origin is just an excuse to his powers and enemies (from my point of view).
    And seeing the poor treatment that DC is giving to his properties i hope that Superman does badly in box-office, making DC to reconsider the way they are taking.


  • Rachel Campbell

    I’m already criminally underwhelmed by Man of Steel, and that’s just from the trailers I’ve seen. I cannot imagine that it will be an effective setup for the Justice League project that they hope to greenlight, which I suspect would also tank considerably. I think WB and DC need to take a step back and reexamine their approach to movies as a whole.

  • Maggie

    I want to like Man of Steel, I really do. However, I’m just not sure about it — especially as I keep hearing more and more about it. So long as Lois Lane is treated all right though, I think the movie will be okay at worst. And by “treated all right” I mean like she should be treated, versus how the comics are actually treating my beloved Lois.

  • Eric Stettmeier

    “It just struck me that there was an idealist quality to them that may or may not work with today’s audience.” Yeah, because that idealism totally didn’t work at all in the Captain America movie. Oh wait, yes it did. Sigh.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve enjoyed the trailers so far but there is one aspect I have yet to see – probably because it’s too early in the promotional campaign – is the “action” aspect of the movie. A movie of this genre needs to be fun and/or thrilling. It’s that aspect (IMHO, the only aspect) that Superman Returns failed last time, not because they didn’t take the character seriously, and this movie’s success will depend a lot on the “fun factor” being there or not.

  • Elizabeth Gorman

    This to infinity. If it’s from a comic book, why make it “realistic”? It’s from COMIC BOOKS. It’s already a different reality so enough with the damn “real world grittiness”!

  • CommentsSectionsAreDumb

    I’m of the opinion that if you can’t say “Truth, Justice and the American Way” without rolling your eyes or smirking, don’t tell a Superman story. The E.T. aspect was also an immigrant allegory. Powers in comics come from all sorts of cornball, purely by chance circumstances, but in the case of the “original” super-hero they come from the same place that gave modern America it’s strength.

  • Sonny Crockett

    “Underwhelmed” by the 2nd trailer?! Seriously?!…That trailer was awesome…..
    I’m being sincere when I ask this…….what would have made you like/love it?

  • Laura Truxillo

    “We’re approaching Superman as if it weren’t a comic book movie, as if
    it were real,” he said. “I adore the Donner films. Absolutely adore
    them. It just struck me that there was an idealist quality to them that
    may or may not work with today’s audience. It just struck me that if
    Superman really existed in the world, first of all this story would be a
    story about first contact.”

    Soooo…they just straight up admitted that they aren’t making a Superman movie. They’re making a movie about an alien with superpowers, but they’re deliberately taking away the things that make Superman Superman.

    Nice of them to be clear and up-front about how much they just Don’t Get the property they’ve been handed. Gaiman said it brilliantly after the bomb that was the Spirit movie–you can’t put a comicbook on screen, but if you want to succeed, you will try to capture the actual feel of the comic. Apparently, DC still isn’t listening. Grim and Gritty worked for Batman because Batman is Grim and Gritty.

    But y’know what worked for, oh, almost every Marvel movie? Being FUN. Having FUN. Because Superheroes–are FUN.

    I’m actually glad that they won’t be doing JL if this doesn’t perform well. I think they should take a break and learn where they’re going wrong and fix that first.

  • Laura Truxillo

    I think they keep tripping up because, say, the Iron Man movies were “realistic.” And so, to some degree, were Cap and Thor, and thus, the Avengers. It took place in a world that we could understand, with a lot of mundane little worries and moments and jokes about Supernanny and donuts and things.

    But Warner Bros keeps hearing that and falling into the trap from the 90′s–where realistic means Dark. I’m still a little baffled that they think that.

  • Laura Truxillo


  • CommentsSectionsAreDumb

    Plus post Vietnam, Watergate 1970s America was just as, if not more of a cynical audience than today. The idealism of Superman and Star Wars is one of the reasons they were so succesful. This whole idea of hedging your bets against cynicism has no place in a Superman story.

  • Fortyseven

    If they can’t get this right, what’s the rush to see them fuck up a Justice League film, too? :P

  • Janis Wright

    Warner seems fairly clueless about what makes comic book movies succeed. It is the injection of the Heroic into daily life, and the struggle of people (with or without superpowers) to balance heroic and human. Also, stuff has to break or blow up, people be saved, and the costumes and villains not be too lame. Humor is necessary, but too much is a death sentence. Superman as Starman? Sounds like they may ignore the main aspect of Superman’s character: He loves earth, his family, home, and humans, but will never ever fit completely in. Except in the Justice League.

  • Artisteroi Rlsh Gadgeteer

    the only reason to see this so far is to get a better movie later.

    here’s an idea: make the good one first

  • strife

    Sounds like the haters are fans of Superman Returns and have short memory. I’m glad WB has a different approach than Marvel, and I don’t think “fun” and “light” are the same. If people didn’t have fun watching The Dark Knight trilogy, then it wouldn’t have been so successful. Iron Man was directly inspired by Nolan’s Batman as director Favreau had stated, so all the hate on ‘realism’ and ‘dark is kind of unwarranted. I’d rather have serious depth than shallow fun.

  • ACF

    I agree. This comment made me realize why I liked the Amazing Spider-Man movie. The first Spider-man movie was a generic action movie, with a mostly generic romance. The Amazing Spider-Man was a Spider-Man movie; it had the witty, spidey-style banter; it had perpetually unresolved romance, and it had Peter acting in a way that seemed entirely like him. I liked the movie because it was like the comics. I’ve never really read Superman, but I appreciate that you need to match the tone of a work when you adapt it.

  • Tamara Brooks

    I was also underwhelmed – for me it’s because it seemed so morose. The music was heavy and the whole vibe was just…sullen. Superman should, regardless of dire happenings and emotional underpinnings, inspire feeling of hope. I got no hope out of it. I mean, that shot of him taking off should’ve really gotten me excited and it didn’t. I reacted passively to it and that’s wrong. I saw a version of the trailer where a fan subbed in The Williams Score and it felt so much better. But overall I’m very suspicious and frightened that it’ll be a mope-fest.

  • ACF

    I could see myself liking that approach.

  • Tamara Brooks

    Also, I’m very afraid that they’ll get the characters wrong. The Dark Knight Rises proved to me that Nolan will ignore basic tenants of a character in order to serve the story he wants to tell. (His reaction to the end events of The Dark Knight is antithetical to the Bruce Wayne/Batman we all know. I appreciate why it was done like that from a story point of view but there are other, better ways to have done that.)

  • Tamara Brooks

    The problem is that WB is trying to make EVERYTHING “dark & gritty” – it works for some characters and doesn’t work for others. Making Superman “dark & gritty” is the exact opposite of what the character is all about. Because he’s not Batman and he’s not Iron Man (who’s an a-hole sometimes alcoholic with good intentions and dark impulses).

    This is not to say that there shouldn’t be danger or heaviness in the film but it can’t be done in the same way. I mean, have you seen Superman: The Animated Series? There are some really disturbing moments in there but that didn’t change the hopeful tone of it.

    As for Superman Returns, the problem with it wasn’t tone. The problem was some (most) of the plotlines.

  • Kay Livingston

    It is so incredibly frustrating that people who make these movies take the source material and go, “Millions of people for decades have loved this, but it’s UNCOOL. I’m going to make it COOL.”

    Stop thinking you know what’s going to stand the test of time! Batman and Superman have ALREADY stood the test of time.

  • Ryan Colson

    Man of Steel is prolly gonna bomb; TTFN JLA

  • Laura Truxillo

    I do like the other Spider-Man movies (Spider-Man 2 is in my top 5 superhero flicks), but I agree. Amazing Spider-Man had its flaws, but it really did feel like some classic Spidey stuff, from the trash-talk/banter to the way he moved, to the arrogance that didn’t go quite as overboard as TM did.

    I’m not the world’s biggest Superman fan, but I think a lot of the “Superman is boring!” hate that comes out in droves is from people who think of the character as being defined by his powers. And that’s stupid. Because Supes is a flying brick, and those are a dime a dozen. What defines him is his outlookand his idealism and his sheer capacity for hope. DC’s been gettin’ that stuff wrong all over the place.

  • Laura Truxillo

    “Sullen” is probably the best word for it. I haven’t been wowed by any of the trailers either, and that’s why. It doesn’t look like a trailer for a Superman movie.

  • razorstar90

    People people people. DC/WB need to differentiate their superheroes from the Marvel formula to set them apart and avoid comparisons. The only thing similar between movies like Iron Man and TDK is that they both feature comic book characters and that’s about it. Marvel and DC are essentially different so their movies should be different as well. Since Marvel has the light-hearted comedy thing down, DC has to (IMO to thrive) offer a different kind of superhero movie. One with more depth and weight to it (not Dark but definitely a bit more serious and insightful). The Man of Steel from what I’ve read is going in that direction and future DC movies should as well

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I loved the Dark Knight trilogy, because the tone fit the character. Batman is broody and gritty and hard. It’s not going to work with Clark. And I feel like they are marketing it as though it’s a Nolan-style Batman movie. I hope it’s not really like that, or it won’t work.

  • Laura Truxillo

    That’s what it’s looked like from the get-go to me. A huge case of “Well, this worked really well for Batman.”

    Granted, that’s without seeing anything but the trailers and production images. But, well…design, color, and photography are pretty important to the tone. I mean, Batman:TAS had a gloriously unique visual atmosphere that Superman: TAS never even tried to mimic, even if they used the same basic character models, because the folks making those understood that you don’t tell a Superman story the same way you tell a Batman story.

  • Liz Baker

    I don’t really want to see the JLU movie patterned after Nolan-style grit and “this isn’t a comic book movie you guys!!!!!” nonsense, sorry. :( I like TDK, but by TDKR I was exhausted from all the pretension to “real, serious” movies. These directors just seem ashamed of their source material, the same way Michael Bay was, and that shame and desperation to make a “better” movie is egocentric as well as just plain depressing.

    I mean, they don’t even want to use the franchise names. It’s not “Batman”, it’s “The Dark Knight”; it’s not “Superman”, it’s “Man is Steel”. Imagine a full collection of epithet movies on your shelf — “The Spectre” and “Amazon” or whatever. (Sorry, I don’t know GL or WW as well.) Maybe they’ll also give the JLU movie a euphemism and it will just be “The League” because justice is sooooo last decade.

    So, no. I will not be helping to make these movies a success. I have better things to spend my money on than projects where no one has any faith in or interest in the source material and all anyone cares about is not losing cred with their too-cool-for-school director friends.

  • Anonymous
  • Brian

    See, since Marvel is making movies people want to see, DC has to make movies they don’t. Makes sense.

  • Brian

    In what world was Superman Returns “fun” or “light”? People dislike Superman Returns for much the same reasons they dislike what they’ve seen of this one.

  • Rachael Daniels

    Considering Nolan’s realistic take on Batman was (before the Avengers came along with there 3D glasses and huge spectacle ) the highest grossing comic book movie. More than Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Spiderman 1-3 and the Amazing Spider etc etc etc. Even TDKR made more than those individual Marvel movies. People obviously wanted to see that. Superman and DC movies are going down the same road. Makes sense