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And So It Begins

Warner Bros. Says It’s Tapped Writers to Script Justice League, Flash, and Wonder Woman Movies

If there’s one thing you can say about Warner Bros., it’s that it saw the looming storm of The Avengers from years out, what with talking crazy about how they’d be rebooting Batman as soon as Christopher Nolan was done with it, in order to make a Batman franchise that would fit better tonally with their new Green Lantern and Superman movies so that a Justice League movie would even be feasible. What you can’t say is that they did anything of substance about it. But now the company that exclusively owns the film rights to the oldest and most well established superheroic characters in history has just seen 1.3 billion reasons to aggressively push a their own team movie franchise. That’s the $1.3 billion that The Avengers has clocked at the box office so far.

Before we get into the details of who the writers are, lets go into a little establishing information about how DC’s characters get made into movies and how it’s different from the way The Avengers happened. DC Comics has been wholly owned by Warner Brothers for decades now, meaning that Warner Bros. fully controls the movie rights to these properties, and for decades, DC was pretty much the only one of the Big Two comics publishers to get high grossing big budget movies out of its properties. Then came the 00′s, when Marvel had a good, if sporadic, run in the movies by handing out movie rights to Spider-Man and the X-Men to Sony and Fox, respectively. But it was sporadic: Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Electra, The Hulk… by the time we got to X-Men and Spider-Man three, fans were groaning more than they were cheering. And then Marvel did something pretty interesting, in a dying print industry. It opened its own movie studio, and started making a series of really incredibly, against-all-odds-of-how-things-usually-go-with-comics-and-Hollywood, successful movies about its biggest superhero names, culminating in, against all odds, a movie that stands as the third highest grossing movie in history and is still in theaters.

So to recap: Marvel, yes, has come under the ownership of Disney, and likely we haven’t even yet seen the ramifications of that transaction, but the company is fully in control of its characters in movies in a way that DC is not. Warner Bros. is where the buck stops on whether a DC character project gets greenlit and who works on it.

So who has Warner Bros. told Variety will be working on these adaptations? Will Beall, a guy whose only work that’s currently not in some stage of pre- or post-production is editing handful of episodes of Castle, is working on Justice League. But the tapping of an unknown writer whose first feature length film has not been released yet is not as teeth grindingly frustrating to me as taking the guys who wrote Green Lantern and asking them to write The Flash and Wonder Woman.

Teeth grinding, because the problem with Green Lantern was, at it’s very core, that is was terribly written from the ground up. Not just plot holes or bad dialogue or continuity mistakes, but just a movie that betrayed a fundamental misunderstanding of the dramatic arc. A movie that I was rewriting in my head after the first twenty seconds of narration. I’ll allow that a lot of Green Lantern’s problems felt like studio meddling (of exactly the kind that Marvel doesn’t have to worry about because it is its own studio), from executives who were terrified that audiences wouldn’t be able to grasp the concept of “space cops” and thought that throwing an extra few million at the special effects budget late in the movie’s gestation would fix it. It also had, you know, four writers.

And maybe, when those guys are split up and working on separate projects, things will turn out okay. But the success of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, the only successful DC movie franchise at the moment, is founded not just on the storytelling talents of Nolan and his writing crew, but also on his absolute refusal to bow to studio pressure, even on something as story-trivial as 3D conversion. It would behoove Warner Bros. to follow the example of those movies: find proven talent that has a specific vision, and then let them do their job.

And until it becomes clear that Warner Bros. is doing that with the Justice League, the Flash, and Wonder Woman, my advice is not to get excited about it, in the same way that we were all very, very skeptical that The Avengers would ever happen once upon a time.

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  • J.S. MacDougall

    Don’t quote me on this but I believe I read an article about the Green Lantern film that Warner Bros. felt the directing was poor rather than the script. I disagreed.

  • J.Lee Milliren

    They should go back to Joss Whedon and tell him they were joking about rejecting his Wonder Woman movie pitch

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  • Ray G

    What DC/Warner Bros will have to do if they want to mirror the success of Marvel is the following:

    1 – If your plan is to have a Justice League movie, then consider the lineup of that film to be something along the lines of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Aquaman.

    2 – Don’t reboot Superman and Batman just to be in this film – the public already knows who they are.

    3 – Concentrate on the three films of Wonder Woman, Flash, and Aquaman and treat GL like how Marvel treated the Hulk.

    4 – For starting off concepts for the three films consider something along the lines of:

    Wonder Woman – 300 with Amazons taking the place of Spartans
    Aquaman – Entourage already told you, Spider-Man underwater
    Flash – CSI with superpowers

    5 – When it comes time for the JL movie, I would think that if you follow the Avengers then Supes is your Thor, Bruce is your Tony Stark, Diana is your Captain, GL is your Hulk, with Flash as your Black Widow and Aquaman as your Hawkeye.

  • Life Lessons

    Excuse me but WTF?!?!?!? IS THE NAME JOSS WHEDON SO HARD TO PRONOUNCE?!?! Ok, sorry didn’t mean to shout. And Amen J.Lee Milliren.

  • Life Lessons

    Yes, yes a thousand times yes! Now please throw in some Whedon and can you please become the studio head for this endeavor? 

  • Life Lessons

    I second your script.

  • Travis Kyle Fischer

    I wonder if this means Flash and Wonder Woman will both spend 40 minutes exploring Hector Hammond rather than the main character as well.

  • Andy Kapellusch

     Not to get picky…But Wondy would be their Thor (Powerhouse Warrior from another, Separate Mythical Place). And Aquaman would be their CAP (Special Skill-set, All Purpose Skill-set, Man out of his Element but Still EXTREMELY viable as a character).

  • mwakholi

     I want to spam everyone involved in these projects with this. this is perfect.

  • Geena Phillips


    I agree about part of the problem being that DC does not have the autonomy from its corporate parent that Marvel has. However, I would posit that this cuts both ways, and isn’t necessarily always bad. Given how DC editorial is being run these days, do we really want them dictating how non-comics properties are handled? For example, imagine a Young Justice TV series forced to be in line with the current Teen Titans comic (which is truly wretched). Or look at all the DC Direct animated movies; would the quality be anywhere near as good with Dan DiDio in the driver’s seat?

    Just something to consider.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone else want to make a bet that this movie won’t actually eventuate. It’ll be one of those movies that we hear a lot about but WB ends up closing down due to lack of interest in the scripts?

    Because that’d be my guess.