With the box office success currently being enjoyed by Superman’s cinematic return in Man of Steel, most people (including hardcore fans like myself) automatically assumed that Superman would likely get another solo film in the near future. For whatever reason, Warner Bros. has been extraordinarily timid when it comes to building off of one franchise into something larger, and in an age where The Avengers became the third highest grossing film of all-time, we were left scratching our heads wondering why WB wouldn’t want to replicate that success with one of the original superhero teams, the Justice League.
After Man of Steel hit in theaters last month, the press asked all sorts of questions about the League to the people now likely to be involved: Zack Snyder seemed enthusiastic, but expressed a desire for one more Superman outing. Screenwriter David Goyer basically said “bring it on,” and Superman star Henry Cavill said that a team-up between perhaps the two most popular and iconic DC Comics characters, the Dark Knight, Batman, and Superman would really intrigue him.
It seems that Warner Bros. has agreed with Cavill.
Although, at the time of this writing, the WB panel has yet to take place in Hall H of San Diego Comic Con, the LA Times’ Hero Complex blog is reporting that WB is expected to announce that the follow-up to Man of Steel will be a film teaming up the “World’s Finest heroes,” Batman and Superman, for release in 2015 (which, by the way, was Justice League‘s rumored release year).
This is, of course, massive news for anyone that’s ever cared about these characters, since it will finally show a concerted effort on WB’s part to finally create a cohesive DC Universe on film that so many fans have been clamoring for for so long. While a Batman vs. Superman film was greenlit and partially developed back in the early 2000s by director Wolfgang Peterson, that effort ultimately fell through for a number of reasons: Batman and Superman had been absent from film screens for a while by that point (Batman since 1997 and Superman since 1987), and it was unclear to the studio if such a film would prove viable as a result. From that development process ultimately came Batman Begins and, eventually, Superman Returns.
The difference today, of course, is that now both properties are proven. The Dark Knight Trilogy was widely regarded as critically and commercially successful, and although Man of Steel‘s critical reception was lukewarm, audiences reacted very positively and the box office has been the strongest that Superman has ever had. (having recently crossed $621 million worldwide). With Superman now firmly established commercially, and with all of the preliminaries out of the way creatively, the stars are aligning to bring, arguably, the two most popular superheroes in existence together again, for the first time.
But wait, there’s more.
In addition to the Batman/Superman news, The Hollywood Reporter has learned that DC will also be prepping a film version of the Scarlet Speedster, The Flash, for 2016, with that ultimate team-up we always suspected was coming in the pipe for 2017 in Justice League. With Batman and Superman firmly established in their team-up, a League film could go a long way in introducing (or reintroducing) some of DC’s best characters (and yes, I count Hal Jordan among them). While I’m extraordinarily pleased that a League film is finally going to be coming officially, in many ways I’m almost happier that DC is ready to take a chance on a brand new solo franchise that’s been one of their most enduringly popular characters. The Flash, to me and many other fans, seems to have incredible potential for a live-action, big budget film treatment. The very nature of his powers mean that he would be able to use his speed in visually intricate and amazing ways, and after the innovations of bullet time in films like The Matrix and the use of slow-motion speed in many of Zack Snyder’s own films, the visual spectacle that The Flash could grant has very few limits.
That’s before even getting to his character. If they choose to use the Barry Allen iteration of the character, then he has a unique niche in relation to other comics characters that could be greatly exploited due to his job: a forensic scientist. CSI at super speed? Sounds good to me. The Flash also has some of the best villains in comics, hands down, with many recent writers greatly expanding the character and motivations of “the Rogues.”
All in all, today is a great day to be a DC Comics fan, and there will be a lot to look forward to in the coming days, months, and years. The ball is in WB’s court now, and as long as they have the right creators and cast on their side, then they should be able to deliver. Well done, WB. I’m glad to see that you’re warming up those cold feet. Maybe they invested in some Superman socks?
UPDATE: Zack Snyder announced at the WB panel that the new Batman/Superman movie (which doesn’t have a title yet) will be inspired by, but not a direct adaptation of, Frank Miller’s seminal “The Dark Knight Returns.” Check out the logo seen in Hall H below, via Film.com.
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