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4 Ways DC Can Rescue the Justice League Franchise

By Noah Davis
Published on April 05, 2018
Justice League and Logo Eliminating Superman

As a fan of superhero movies and entertaining films in general, I so badly wanted the latest Justice League movie to be good; Batman is an awesome comic character, the die-hard comic fan in you always yearns for an appropriate portrayal of Superman and introducing new DC characters certainly adds allure to what was potentially a budding franchise.

This was supposed to be the type of comic book film that called for those crazy box office prop bets. You’d see them for the Star Wars films and so many others.

After the crazy success of The Avengers movies, fans (and bettors alike) should have felt good about betting on the Justice League franchise crushing at the box office.

Unfortunately, DC’s desire to match Marvel’s Avengers films produced an obvious rush-job with Justice League disappointing greatly. If entertainment betting sites had been taking wagers as to just how badly this movie would flop, there could have been a lot of money to be made.

It all started with the lack of marketing with the biggest character (Superman), and was followed up by feeble attempts to integrate him into the pitch. On top of that, to correct awful gaffes in the first rendition of the film.

In the end, Justice League couldn’t capitalize on the successful Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy or the fashion in which the Wonder Woman franchise exploded.

Instead, its predecessor, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice enlisted Ben Affleck as it’s Bruce Wayne/Batman and also introduced surprisingly weak role characters. Ultimately, the DC universe was frayed from the start and the critics didn’t bite on its forced humor.

Justice League was still a mild hit across the world, but critics came down hard, scoring it at a sluggish 40% on Rottentomatoes.com. That’s pretty telling, especially since Wonder Woman wrecked (92%!) at the box office and the Superman reboot (Man of Steel) wasn’t amazing and still scored a 55%.

The film was a slight improvement on the disaster that was Batman vs. Superman (27%), but it was a failure in its own right.

So, what can be done? To be frank, not a whole lot. The second Justice League movie is already slated for a 2019 release and most of what’s planned for that film has probably been put in place.

There are ways to reboot this thing and make it work, though. Whether that happens in the 2019 installment or in a total revival, years later, of course, remains to be seen. Either way, here are the four best paths to rescuing Justice League before (or after) it spirals out of control:

Shake up the Casting

One way is to do a far better job with casting. I understand the desire to bring in a few unknowns and to spice things up with new characters, but there were some huge misses here.

Movies like James Bond constantly have wagers for which next big star could take over the franchise and that’d be something interesting to see for Justice League’s future installments.

While it’d be interesting to note the pending odds for future Justice League cast members, they didn’t get everything wrong the first time around.

I actually like Henry Cavill’s Superman. Clark Kent is a humorless robot and Superman has never been all that funny. There doesn’t need to be forced humor there, yet Cavill is a good enough actor with his dryness to deliver some snappy wit.

Cavill is also a stone in terms of physique and his strong demeanor. He may be the best representation of what an on-screen Superman should look and act like, possibly ever.

I know the movies featuring Cavill haven’t blown anyone away yet, but he did all he could to keep Man of Steel afloat, and I don’t think you can say he’s the reason the other two movies struggled.

Superman in general is a difficult character to relate to and root for, but more on that in a bit.

The point is Cavill as Superman is not the problem. His supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired, though. If this movie is supposed to be DC’s response to Marvel’s Avengers, the comedy aspect is severely lacking.

So is the chemistry. I don’t hate Ben Affleck and Jason Momoa in their Batman and Aquaman roles, but they’re not exactly ideal. Momoa is a decent enough fit and he is another guy who can be a badass and deliver some dry humor, but he’s not who I’ve ever pictured when thinking of Aquaman.

I see someone like I Am Number Four’s Alex Pettyfer, Vikings’ Alexander Ludwig, or even Liam Hemsworth as more fitting actors.

If I were listing odds for Justice League cast changes, I’d certainly targets these guys depending on where the top entertainment betting sites had them graded.

It’s impossible to start from scratch here, though. Momoa does a fine enough job and he already has a feature film built around him.

Affleck is a solid actor and he plays a passable Bruce Wayne and delivers a fine older Batman. He just has always felt a bit forced and it’s tough to pick up where someone like Christian Bale left off.

There are mixed reviews here, but I would have tried to go a bit younger and get someone who is a little easier to play off the other heroes.

Jake Gyllenhaal seems like a far better talent that brings the playboy and physical aspect but can also match wits with just about anyone. He’s just the most obvious option, and he’d be a better Batman going forward.

Much like the James Bond actor odds I mentioned, I’d put Gyllenhaal as a leading candidate, should Justice League opt to move on from Affleck’s Batman.

Gal Gadot was and is perfect as Wonder Woman. There is no change needed there.

The other changes potentially come via Cyborg, The Flash and perhaps Lois Lane.

Amy Adams is a heavy-hitter at this point in a pretty impressive career, but she’s always been a bit dry for Lane’s character. Someone like Emma Stone or Isla Fisher could be too bubbly, but they’d probably liven that role up quite a bit.

Ezra Miller is fine as The Flash, but Ray Fisher’s Cyborg did nothing for me. Maybe it’s because the character in general isn’t very exciting. Someone like Michael B. Jordan would have been perfect here.

Overall, I’d replace Affleck, Adams and Fisher, while considering replacing Momoa if I had a total do-over.

Where Is the Green Lantern?

There is also the issue that the role characters in Justice League just aren’t a ton of fun.

There are a lot of similar personalities being smushed together here, too. The Flash is a nice change of pace and Wonder Woman adds flare, but Superman, Batman and Aquaman are a little too similar.

Whether you agree or not, I think there are improvements to be made in the actual character inclusion and that goes beyond just which actors are cast.

The actual acting choices could be better, but the movie makers could also do themselves a huge favor by picking the right parts to be played to begin with.

Most of the pieces are in place, but were Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg the best the Justice League had to offer?

They are certainly members of the original Justice League, but the movie is omitting a big character; Green Lantern.

Seriously, back to the betting angle. If any betting sites wanted to post odds for new characters featured in Justice League II and beyond, how would Green Lantern not be the top favorite?

I just don’t see a way.

I know (and even he knows that), but perhaps it’s time for a Green Lantern revival. There is a right way to do that franchise and such a popular character makes sense to be included moving forward.

Expanding the Justice League should be on the table, too.

There are a lot of options here, but most of them are unknowns. Maybe the Justice League writers could flip the script and add in other DC juggernauts like Green Arrow, Robin, Joker, Catwoman, Deathstroke or the underrated Jason Todd.

There are other options, but the point here is to think bigger and try to include characters that would really add to the DC universe and not restrict it.

Eliminate Superman

One move could be some addition by subtraction. I know, getting rid of a huge character like Superman (gulp*) feels like an odd direction to go in. Superman is pretty much the face of the Justice League, after all.

He just doesn’t fit in, however.

Superman does not actually need the help of all these other heroes.

Realistically – as realistic as you can get in a fake world – Superman is a god amongst men and can overpower just about anyone.

Wonder Woman might be on his level, but that’s about it.

Superman is not as relatable of a character as these other options and the elite versatility (in terms of superpowers) he brings to the table ends up rendering everyone else virtually useless.

The movie tries not to let that be obvious, but Superman can do everything this group can do collectively. There isn’t a true need for other heroes, because he is the hero.

That takes the fun out of the Justice League idea, but unfortunately that’s where we’re at.

I love Superman, and Cavill does a great job with this character; but ridding this specific film series of this character might actually do it more good than harm.

Get a Different Director

The direction in Justice League and Batman vs. Superman was lacking. That shouldn’t surprise anyone, as pretty much everything Zack Snyder touches these days turns into scorching hot trash.

Snyder has an eye for action, but his films lack substance and often feel incohesive.

It is on the director to dictate the pace of a film, make sure everything pieces together perfectly and to also get the most out of his talent.

Snyder failed miserably to do that in the laughable Suicide Squad and he’s largely missed the mark since creating a gem in Watchmen. He rebounded with Wonder Woman, but it’s possible at this point that was a hiccup of success.

I’m not saying Snyder isn’t a good director. He’s had success and he’s made some really fun action flicks. However, I’m not sure he has the best hold on the DC universe and I certainly don’t think he’s been getting the most out of his acting talent in a lot of his movies.

Improve the Writing & Story

It isn’t all on Snyder, though. I mean, he did pen the first Justice League movie and is on tap for the sequel, but I’m sure he’s not the only person responsible for the script and actors ad-libbing.

If so, he shouldn’t be. Whatever the studio needs to do to rectify that, they need to make sure that the writing is top notch, the story is flawless, and the acting talent can pull off the witty lines they dream up.

Beyond that, the writing has to give way for these action sequences and the plot needs to first not be transparent and have adequate time to develop. If not, the movie is cramming too much into itself and it’s impossible to appreciate everything you’re seeing – let alone digest it.

Ultimately, the next installment of Justice League is coming and there’s little anyone can do to stop it. Hopefully, though, Zack Snyder and the other people making top level decisions can consider some of the things I touched on and actually set in motion some positive change.

It’s not a guarantee that you can take advantage of these changes before they arrive as a bettor, but the best entertainment betting sites tend to hop all over big news. If there are any changes coming, you will want to keep a look out for a route to profit from them.

Overall, I think the core of Justice League is fine, but it needs to be funnier, more believable and more cohesive. As long as Snyder is attached, and the actors remain the same, I’m not sure that can happen.

I don’t think that means Justice League 2 is a lost cause already, but I am not overly optimistic. Here’s to hoping Snyder and company prove me wrong. That, or Hollywood has the beginnings of a new structure for when they inevitably reboot this franchise.

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4 Ways DC Can Rescue the Justice League Franchise
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4 Ways DC Can Rescue the Justice League Franchise
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Trying so hard to match Marvel’s Avengers, the DC-run Justice League seemingly botched their own superhero series before it even got going. Here’s how they can fix it.
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