MMM Podcast, Episode 104: Under Construction- The DC Cinematic Universe

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It’s the topic that just will not go away anytime soon. The conclusion of “The Dark Knight Trilogy” has left a void in DC-on-film while the undeniable success of “The Avengers” has made “Justice League” a natural choice for Warner Bros. to fill that gap. As of now, “JL” is headed our way in 2015 with on “Man of Steel” preceding it as the potential first step in a DC cinematic universe that WB can only dream will rival Marvel’s. Is the rapid response of a “Justice League” movie the best approach, or should WB learn from and apply Marvel’s successful formula for inter-franchise continuity? The Gentlemen play architect in this week’s show, as we look at the merits of each approach (and a combination of the two) in hopes of finally seeing more DC characters on film who do not wear a cowl, or sport a big red “S.”

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  • http://pauljustice.net Paul Justice

    I love this podcast, but I disagree on a comment on Batman. Making him the go to guy to get things done. That is what he should be, but it would make no sense at their first going. How would Batman get on this team, this loner vigilante who no one knows or trust. How is he believably going to take that role. And I say believable because that is the route they are going with the DC Universe, which I agree with.

    Each needs their own movie first. The cartoons worked because Batman and Superman had the team ups within their own shows before the JLA cartoon came. And did a decent job bringing in Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter and the others from the first episode, making other heroes come out into the light due to an epic world ending event.

    I really don’t see this movie having any way of working without going with individual build up first and or the Nolan’s involvement. I love the idea of merging TV and Film, a great way to build up both, but that is very risky unless they give the TV shows bigger budgets with good actors.

    Wonder Woman is that Ace to me, everyone knows the Trinity in comics, having a woman that can go toe to toe with Superman, will bring men that want her and woman that want to be her to the theater. Marvel does not have that character. Warner needs DC’s involvement because like Marvel, they know their characters.

  • http://none Adrian

    I must change my pants …..

  • Ace
  • Micah Evans

    How many times have successful solo franchises spun out of team books in comics?

    Even the X-Men with so many beloved characters has only succeeded with wolverine books.

    The excitement over a team up comes from first getting to know characters, and then imagining them teaming up.

    I don’t have much hope in this approach, though I do not want them to fail.

    The reviews coming in for gangster squad also aren’t encouraging, though who knows how much of that is the writing.

  • Lee

    This might sound crazy, but for JL, why not possibly kill, or badly injury Hal Jordan, at the start, heck he could be leading the Lanterns against the JL villian at the start of the movie, but they fail to stop whoever maybe.

    His ring is then given to John Stewart, and Hal kinda trains him in usage of the ring. My reasoning for that is you tie it to the GL movie to avoid having to re-establish who this guy is, but you also separate it, by having Stewart as the JL lantern, could even have Hal be for Solo movies, while Stewart is for JL ones.

    Also in terms of Amanda Waller AKA: Nick Fury, how would you guys think about making Batman that character? Maybe even have him in the shadows, disguise his voice when he talks, so never get to see who is playing him until the JL movie, or even have him in one film reporting on Superman to someone, then in a Flash movie, we see he is reporting to Nightwing who is watching Barry Allen, who he then asks ‘who’s the princess?’ Then in the Wonder Woman film we see Robin (Tim Drake) giving his report on Diana.

    That way introduce the Bat-family etc too, which also show this is a well established Batman, who until the JL movie would have always been in the shadows, and considered a myth by many.

    Just a thought, but if they go with a JL movie first then, I assume we get a scene, much like when Tony Stark watches video clips in Avengers, where we get Amanda Waller trying to convince someone to join the team, by showing us the members already on board and describing who they are, how they got to be who they are etc…will be a lot of exposition, but once done can move on.

    • Paul Justice

      I thought about Batman doing the recruiting, even having an individual scuffle with them to show who he is and where he stands. But that would only work with solo movies first, and I still don’t see how they would trust Batman in that commander type role when it is all their first times meeting each other.
      If Warner is set on a billion dollar box office like Avengers, they could still get that from a Worlds Finest movie, then do solo films, then get another billion from a JLA movie done right and not rushed. Its all about the character development and they can not get that properly from the first JLA movie and still have an action packed movie. All the development they squeeze in it will only slow the movie down.

    • Paul Justice

      one more thought, lets say the JLA film is done, a lot of things are recaped, Batman already has that role, and they briefly mention how some of them meet. Then comes the solo movies to show it (at the end of course) bringing everything together, making people want to see the solo movies.
      That way you don’t have that solo movie feeling, like what was mentioned in the podcast where in Iron Man 3 all you will think is “why don’t he just call the Avengers.” Due to the Leaguenot being formed yet.

  • http://gravatar.com/bobbywoodhogan bobbywoodhogan

    Great podcast again guys, personally I don’t want any cameos of Batman (or any other hero) Man of Steel. I want MOS to be its own thing but I’m fine with it been the first film to start off the DCU on film.

    I totally agree that they should do two Superman films and one Batman before Justice League. I think jumping into it straight from MOS could be a major mistake so that’s my preference.

    I think if MOS is a major hit they may rethink jumping into JL as they may think Superman is fine on his own and we already know Batman is. Hopefully this is what happens and they wait to do JL.

  • Mark-El

    Another great podcast. Personally, I think MOS is enough of a lead-in and introduction to a JLA movie. Everyone knows Batman and the recent trilogy will be fresh in everyone’s mind and I doubt Batman will be represented in a drastically different way. It may even add to the anticipation of seeing a new Batman for the first time in the JLA film. Hollywood has been successful in making action / adventure movies with ensemble casts for decades. An example and relevant analogy is the classic Western “The Magnificent Seven” based on the 7 Samurai. You had Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen as the leaders and core of the team recruiting members with different strengths to help a village under attack by Bandits. These two had the most screen time and can be viewed as Batman and Superman respectively. Within that team was a young and over confident guy who wanted to be part of the team but initially was not taken seriously and only later proved his worth. From memory this was the central arc of the movie and for the JLA movie maybe this could be Wonder Woman or Cyborg. The remaining characters had enough screen time and each had unique stories and characterizations represented so that by the end of the 2hr film you cared about them and their eventual fate (for some). Well worth a viewing if you haven’t seen the film. It’s a classic and so is the music score. M

    • Paul Justice

      two great movies mentioned, true classics. But unfortunately everyone that worked on those films have nothing to do with our current JLA film. Hollywood has greatly changed, and not for the better story telling wise. Too much is relied on effects.

    • Stock

      Great example, Mark. And I agree completely with that idea for a set-up. Obviously some character changes would have to be made in order to fit the JL line-up, but that basic story of recruiting individual talents to face-off insurmountable odds is a classic. And you will also remember that each of the 7 had their own demons to over-come, which made their sacrifice all the more meaningful in the end. Greed, cowardice, shame, and pride; all powerful motivators. I could get excited about a movie like that.

      As it is now, a possible Avengers copy, doesn’t move me at all.

      • Mark-El

        Thanks Stock and well said. I remember it well. Many motivations – and who has more demons than some of our beloved super heroes. Many parallels here which could be used for inspiration without being a direct copy. I’m going to buy the Blu Ray version over the weekend now.

  • pud333

    I’m of the belief that the only lead-up a JL movie needs in order to be successful is a successful Man of Steel film. People will watch Batman regardless, and so all that is needed is for Superman to be reintroduced successfully. There’s no need for any other movie. The difference between JL and Avenger, is that no one knew any of the Avengers well. Yeah, people had a base knowledge of Captain America and Hulk, but no one knew Iron Man well, no one knew Thor that well, etc.

    In order to sell JL, they have to just focus on Superman / Batman in the trailers. When people show up, they will be pleasantly surprised by how great the other characters are (hopefully.)

    Also, even if this doesn’t trigger a bunch of individual films, I would be fine if they had successful JL films, with Superman and Batman films in between. It would pretty much represent how the current DC situation is with their animated films: Superman / Batman sells, the rest don’t. That’s why most of those films have been based on those two characters.

    My ideal: MoS becomes a huge success, making Cavil a star. Because the Batman reboot is starting with JL, you hire a big name actor to take the role of Batman. (As odd as it may sound, I like someone like Ryan Gosling for the role. Someone that people know and like, but can disappear into the role. That’s Ryan Reynold’s problem as GL. Have you ever watched anything he’s ever done and thought, “Wow, I barely recognized him! He totally became the character!” No. You always think – at least I do – “Oh hey. Ryan Reynolds is acting as himself again.”)

    As for the other characters, you can hire unknown to semi-known actors, so you end up a range of actors, but the heavylifting is done by the DC Trinity. Less so with WW, but if you can hire someone who is not only statuesque, as well as incredibly gorgeous with acting chops, WW will be fine.

    In the end, if WB advertises JL as essentially MoS II, and/or Batman reboot, so be it. All I care is that the first few movies are successful enough that it gives WB no choice but to strike while the iron is hot.

    As for GL: What a disappointment that movie was. What I want to see in JL for GL: I want massive constructs. I want GL to send a tidal wave and crush an army. I want GL to have a construct of soldiers fighting the bad guys, etc. I want massive, creative, etc. The fault with GL is that the writers weren’t creative enough to think outside the box. Just because he’s human, doesn’t mean he has to be unimaginative. GL’s ring is supposed to be the most powerful weapon in the universe. The only limits to it are the writers’ imagination.

    Flash: I would LOVE to see him run around the world. Remember the scene in JL Unlimited where he runs around the world and beats the snot out of Lex Luthor (who I think was taken over by Brainiac at the time? I could be wrong about that…) Anyway, I picture him running around the world and striking Darkseid from all sorts of angles, at incredible speeds. That would be an awesome visual.

    I could go on and on and on. I’ve probably written too much as it is.

  • Stock

    I have to agree with those who think MOS is enough of a lead-in to a JL film. Nolan’s Batman is done, and no tie-in should be implied IMO. This Batman may have to face Darkseid, in Space, after all, and where would our more realistic Batman fit into that picture? Better to have him as a new Batman, with many of the same character issues of trust and cynicism, (a perfect off-set for our Kansas farm-boy), but one not entangled with Nolan’s history.

    But I’m with Mark-El. If JL is going to copy any movie, let it not be the Avengers, (which many will claim it is no matter what) but let it be something familiar and classic. Mag 7 is a great example, but not the only one. I would look to the Westerns though. The really good ones like Rio Bravo or Unforgiven. Something that makes JL not just another super-hero movie. Which it is.

    • Paul Justice

      If I thought JLA could make a billion from just fanboys alone, then I would agree with you all about no tie in needed, as DC has been around strongly since the 40s b&w Batman Seriel, to movies, cartoons are almost non stop to current times. Unlike the Avengers. DC heroes as a whole is more known in the public eye. Even Aquaman was more known than Ironman before the movies. Maybe Warner is counting on that, but I’m not.

  • Stock

    Again, how long are you willing to wait for this movie? I’m hearing a lot about Batman re-boots and another Supes movie before JL–it takes years for these movies to be made. Intros to many of these characters is unnecessary. These characters came out before WWII. Believe me, they are known quantities.

    You used the Hulk as an example. The Hulk was created during the Kennedy administration. He’s been portrayed in many different mediums since then. If you don’t know who the Hulk is, you never had any interest in seeing the Avengers anyway. That’s why I loved his characterization in Avengers, because Banner did remind me of Bixby this time.

    They need to do this sooner rather than later. Soon, it won’t matter. Superhero movies are becoming much like Sherlock Holmes movies of the 40s. There will be a waning interest if they are just churned out for the purpose of introducing characters that have been around for decades. I’m willing to see these characters on screen as a totally original story, without lead-ins, without deep explanations of who they are. Let the movie itself introduce that as best as it can. We just don’t have time, fellas. This reign of Superhero movies will not last forever.

  • Jean

    Good podcast as always. There really should be a Batman re-boot before the JL movie, but it’s not going to happen. I’m sure WB’s just feels like things wouldn’t move fast enough for things to be done right. Having a hard time thinking about the contents of this podcast to be honest. I’m bummed and distracted because I just read that The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall weren’t nominated for best picture and as usual Chris Nolan gets snubbed as well.

    Once again I won’t be watching the oscars (I haven’t watched since The Dark Knight was snubbed in 2009). And I never will again honestly. The best picture category can now have up to ten nominees, and that is only because of the outcry over The Dark Knight being snubbed. So now one of the truly great trilogies in movie history has no best picture or best director nominees. It’s a horrible injustice and all I have to say is “F you academy”, they just continue to shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to ratings and all under the guise that they are better than that, meaning they won’t nominate fluff in their eyes.

    I look back at my favorite movies from this past year, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Skyfall, Dredd, Argo, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hobbit, Lincoln and Haywire and how many those were nominated? It’s just sad. I am a big Tarantino fan, but he is no Chris Nolan. Yet Tarantino always gets nominated for almost every movie he makes. It’s strange…oh well, they just don’t get and never will. With WB’s wanting to rush out more “fluff” superhero movies will move further away from being taken seriously now. But then again, even if they made the best movie ever and it was a superhero/comic book movie it wouldn’t get nominated for an oscar, that has been proven now. Sad, sad day.

  • Michael Lalaian

    Love the show as always. Regarding Sean’s comment “The movies are the movies and TV is TV” do you apply that same kind of separation to the Marvel universe? One of the exciting things about the upcoming SHIELD TV series is that it will be a vehicle to introduce some lesser known Marvel characters that wouldn’t necessarily be able to have their own solo films right away, but if they are a hit with audiences they could then easily move those characters, and the same actors, into The Avengers or into a solo film series, all within the same continuity. What do you think would be the fundamental difference between Marvel going that route and DC/WB doing something similar with Arrow and Amazon?

    • Mark-El

      I think the main difference is that Marvel has planned this carefully from the earliest stages so that a SHIELD series feels like a natural progression. I can’t comment too much on Amazon but Arrow is already set in a Nolanesque type world where super powered or cosmic beings don’t exist – which does not correspond to world that the Man of Steel and the JLA occupy. They would have to fundamentally change the format of Arrow which will feel forced and may affect its future. The fact that Superman in the Man of Steel may now occupy a shared universe already feels forced to me as this was not the intention of the film from it’s “Inception”. While on this topic – as much as I am looking forward to MOS (and JLA for that matter), I’m not sure how I will feel if the closing credits reveal Batman or other heroes since at its core this should be a Superman film. If Henry Cavill appears in the JLA film so be it but I don’t want MOS to come across as a setup for a JLA film.

      • Paul Justice

        I think DC is going for the Nolan formula in all their films, and trying that with Superman is the ultimate test if it will work. If Supes is to be the worlds first superpowered hero, at least to come out in the open, I don’t believe that will hurt Arrow in the least. They already have Slade and Deadshot which is comic bookie. Now the news showing reports of Superman will just tell non comic book fans of Arrow what universe they are in. I think it might help the show. The mention of Batman and Superman could not hurt, as long as they keep it as realistic as possible. Well not insanely realistic. I loved Nolans Batman, but my Batman would not moop around fir 8 years on a cane, he would be out there fighting crime harder than ever, not just against organized crime, but all crime. Nolan’s Batman could not beat Superman, but mine could everyday of the week.

  • Q

    I’d like to hear the Gentlemen’s opinions on David Goyer as a prospective director for the Justice League movie. It occurred to me that he & Joss Whedon have Hollywood directing/writing credits and well received comics writing credits in common. After looking them both up on Wiki, it seems that Joss has had more experience & success(even b4 Avengers) & I have heard some harsh critiques of Goyer online. I do remember plenty of concerns about Joss b4 Avengers came out, although I was optimistic particularly due his comics background. I’m wondering if Goyer could be a great choice 4 similar reasons & I don’t recall his name being thrown out there w/the usual suspects. What do you guys think? Please use this on your next podcast. I really enjoy listening 2 ur opinions & would like 2 know what u think. Thanx.