We all know that comic book movie adaptations are a risky business when it is featuring one or two specific superheroes right? Well just imagine how bad things can get when you try to produce a superhero team movie. Sure Bryan Singer lucked out with the X-MEN franchise, but I think his success had a lot to do with the characters being cast exceptionally well and being a more mainstream team. Now Warner Bros. is taking on the task of producing a JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA (JLA), which is a diehard fan favorite but doesn't have quite the casual fan following (*it should be noted that the film was scheduled for a 2009 summer release, but is now postponed indefinitely.) First let's examine the team.
This is the team I know.
The Justice League of America debuted in The Brave and the Bold issue #28 in 1960. The line-up featured Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter. It has since then changed over the years, but really shined when it consisted of the above mentioned core members. When it did get its own series titled Justice League, the roster was the same minus Superman and Batman who later rejoined the group. This was essentially the group that laid the groundwork for other superhero groups like The Fantastic Four, X-Men, WildC.A.T.S., The Avengers, The Defenders, Justice Society of America, Teen Titans, Suicide Squad and Doom Patrol. They became the archetype for "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" in comic book history.
Each character had a specialty that made them indispensable.
Superman was the power hitter for the team with super strength, super speed, heat/x-ray vision, super cold breath, flight and invulnerability. His only weaknesses are Kryptonite (meteorite chunks composed of his now destroyed home planet) and magic.
Batman was the strategist who called the plans and organized the roster to be as effective as possible. His limitations of lacking powers never kept him from staying toe to toe with the super powered villains.
Flash was the scout who could go ahead and check things out undetected. His speed gave him the ability to be in and out of a situation and assess it before anyone knew he was even there. He also had an accelerated healing factor similar to Wolverine (that writers always seem to downplay of forget
completely) so it gave him the advantage of recovering quickly in a fight.
Better than Routh possibly.
Wonder Woman was the relief hitter to Superman. She had pretty much all of the power he has to a slightly lesser degree, but without his weaknesses. Some people consider her to be the female Superman and I tend to agree.
Green Lantern was the architect of the team. He used his mind and power in sync with one another to create constructs with his ring to suit any needs. His only weakness was the color yellow (an impurity to represent Parallax that has recently been changed, hence it is no longer a weakness.)
Martian Manhunter was the group's center balance. He had powers rivaling Superman and Wonder Woman with the addition of telepathy which help the group be in contact with each other mentally. His weakness was fire.
Now that is the rumored line-up for the movie as of today, tomorrow who knows. I have to say that this is looking like a disaster in the making. I know what you are thinking, "Craig, these is some of the best heroes in one movie. How could you not like this? It's like the comic movie equivalent of the Frito Lays variety pack." Okay only I would say that. The problem here is that you don't sit down and eat the whole pack of Doritos (tortilla, nacho cheese and cool ranch), Fritos and Lays Potato Chips in one sitting do you? You might eat two of those flavors, but you get full. Well the same logic applies to the movie. I can give you examples of what I mean.
X-MEN was a great series of movies, but let's face were an over-glorified Wolverine/Jean Grey/Magneto series costarring the rest of the X-Men and Brotherhood of Mutants. They really limited important characters to being supporting members of a team where everyone should have been noteworthy. Storm, Cyclops, Colossus, Banshee and Havoc were all crucial team members. Havoc was not even in any of the movies. They had Siren (Banshee's daughter) in X-2, but I don't count that. Halley Barry was considering not being in X-2 or X-3 because of the lack of importance in her role in the first movie. As much as I hate whiny actors or actresses for complaining about lack of on screen time, she made a point without knowing how she made it. Storm was leader of the X-Men when Professor X (or to a lesser degree
Cyclops was not present. Every member is cool enough to carry the movies so don't play favorite. Fans are going to love whoever you put the spotlight on (well maybe not so much for Cyclops, after all he can't even control his lack-luster optic blasts which is pretty weak as far as super powers go.)
What happened to Ryan Reynolds as Flash?
Now the opposite end of the spectrum was FANTASTIC FOUR. They have always been one entity. Even though each member had solo comic book series, you are not going to see a Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Human Torch or The Thing movie (I'm of course referring to the inevitable Wolverine and Magneto movies.) Their dynamic is that they work together to be a singular functioning group. They have the added bonus of being a small group so they could all get equal spotlight without eating up too much time.
The reason JLA will fail is because you know that they are going to focus on the main three character (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) and leave the others fumbling around in the background like the three stooges trying to extract a tooth from some poor hapless victim. There is no possible way to give them all equal time and they all deserve it. Not to mention that we have been bludgeoned to near death with Batman and Superman movies for the last 20+ years. I am not saying any of them are bad (with the exceptions of the Batman movies after the second one. Batman was not meant to have visible nipples for Frick's sake.)
Secondly they seem to be using a line-up from the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon. That tells me that they are going to oversimplify every one for mass consumption. I know that there is going to be a limited amount of time to explain everything. In an ideal world where money grows on trees and there is no poverty and disease, they would have already made origin moves for the lesser known characters. We all know that money does grow on trees, but it first must be cut down and processed into paper for the money. The other things are far from reality and so is my idea. I just know they are going to leave things out, mess things up or not explain things properly. What's worse is that it will leave an indelible stain upon the good name of the JLA. I guess they can always wait 8 years and make JLA Begins. That is just my take on this topic and since this is my column I rule!
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|The Alpha Craig|
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