I watched “Captain America” on DVD last night and really enjoyed the movie, which brought Marvel’s World War II-era hero to the screen this past summer, all over again. The little sneak peek at next May’s “The Avengers” movie was fun. To say I’m looking forward to “The Avengers” is an understatement. The fourth issue of the “Avengers” comic, the one in which the heroes thawed Captain America and he joined the team, was the first comic book I ever owned, kindly given to me by an older friend.
But as much as I’m looking forward to “The Avengers,” I’m puzzled as to why DC — an arm of Warner Bros. — has been unable to get a “Justice League” movie into gear.
It’s not like “Justice League” can’t be translated into other media besides comic books. The “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” series, set in the animated DC universe created with “Batman the Animated Series,” was a faithful adaptation of the comics. The “Unlimited” series expanded the membership of the League to include dozens and dozens of characters, both delightful and obscure (who would have thought of an entire episode built around hapless blowhard Booster Gold? Yet it was one of the best of the entire series).
And DC has also had good luck with “Justice League” animated in longer form, particularly “Justice League New Frontier,” a retro story based on Darwyn Cooke’s great graphic novel that set the hands of the superhero clock back to the 1950s and introduced Batman, Superman, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman (not to mention a host of yes, obscure characters). Heck, even TV’s “Smallville” had a version of the League on a TV budget.
So there’s no reason a “Justice League” movie can’t happen, except:
– The Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale “Dark Knight” movies. With the third, “Dark Knight Rises,” coming out next summer, Nolan seems to be ready to wrap up his foray into the character’s world. Much has been made over rumors that Nolan and Bale don’t want their “realistic” Batman to be seen in the same movie with a bunch of other “fantastic” costumed characters. Of course, “Dark Knight Rises” features not only Catwoman and Bane in outfits that would turn heads on most sidewalks. So maybe Nolan is loosening up his standards.
– DC and Warner Bros. can’t seem to get any other characters launched. “Green Lantern” came out this summer and really wasn’t very good. “Wonder Woman” imploded and never got made. “The Flash” has been in the planning stages for years.
– They tried to make a “Justice League” movie a couple of years ago, even picked the cast and began pre-production. Actors like Armie Hammer were fitted for costumes. (Why hasn’t footage or pictures of Hammer in Batman drag shown up online?) But then a writer’s strike happened, production in Australian fell apart and, frankly, I wonder if somebody didn’t lose their nerve. Remember Nolan’s reluctance to have a bunch of colorful costumed characters in the same room together? Maybe it was catching.
In the time it’s taken for DC and Warner Bros. to make a good “Batman” movie, begin another one, start work on a “Superman” movie and make a mediocre “Green Lantern” movie, Marvel — now part of Disney — has released two “Iron Man” pictures, a good “Hulk” movie, “Thor,” “Captain America” and is putting the finishing touches on “The Avengers.”
Will we ever see the members of the Justice League swooping down from their Watchtower to take on some globe-threatening menace?