Saturday, December 1, 2012

Justice League Movie Should Not Be An Origin Story

The Summer of 2015 is the release date of The Justice League movie.  DC, creator of the legendary group, is hoping to create a movie that will move Heaven and Earth and fill fanboy pants with joy (or at least compete with The Avengers).

Joss Whedon was the wise choice for The Avengers and Marvel will be holding on to that gem of a writer for as long as humanly possible.  The simple let's-get-together-and-fight-evil model blended well with Whedon's humor and the creative use of the fan service.  But enough about them.  We have Justice League to talk about and I am certain DC is going to follow this similar story route.

Montage of Each Hero --->  Heroes Clash Relationally --->  Huge Evil That Threatens The World ---> Heroes Join Together and a Huge Fight Breaks Out

It's basically an origin story, which seems to be the only kind of super hero plot line we have been getting for the past five years.  But the question remains: do we really need to know the story of how they all came together?  I think we only care about these two elements.

Huge Evil That Threatens The World --->  Heroes Join Together and a Huge Fight Breaks Out

Let's be honest, everyone knows the story or at least can guess what is going to happen.  The characters meet, they clash with each other's personalities, but they find common ground to defeat the greater evil.  Marvel at least padded the painfully obvious plot progression with humor and epic hero moments.  DC might not have that luxury.  So here is another option.

Throw away the origin story

Do we really need to start on day one?  Other movie genres are not obligated by origin stories so why live by that rule?  Origin stories are very cookie cutter and make a very easy framework that builds up to a sequel, but they aren't imperative to the audience.  If you take into account that the audience wants to see each hero personality richly intertwining and interacting throughout the plot and a barrel load of epic fight scenes you don't need an origin story to pull that off.  In fact, origin stories try so hard to make sure you know where everything starts that it gets in the way of the character development.  Origin stories have kept Peter Parker from being witty and clever, Batman from being dark and brooding, Punisher from being merciless and Green Lantern from being...well that was just a bad movie.  It's not fun to watch your favorite hero personality slowly develop and not reach their character when you already expect them to be it.

So why not get there already?

Imagine a Justice League movie that starts five years into its story.  The Justice League has already formed and they know each other quite well.  We can catch the audience up to speed with some short montages about how they met and how Martian Manhunter formed the group, but nothing longer than ten minutes of back story.  The world already is familiar with them, the JLA are kicking serious butt and having moon base meetings.  I just saved the audience an hour of meaningless reactions and stupid introductions that would have been predictable anyway.

NOW...we can get into the meat of the issue and see how Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman work together since they are already deeply invested in one another.  The movie could jump right into the politics of maintaining a super group, the egos of each character and stress of being a world power.  If the movie assumes that they are already friends (Super Friends?) the relationships can build and reveal much quicker than if they had to introduce each other and focus on reactions.  The story arc would look like this.

Back Story of Rich History Between The Heroes  -->  The Relationship Struggle and Stress of the Team  --> The Mastermind Working Against The Team --> The World Loses Hope--> The Eventual Resolution

The big difference is that you can have some epic fight scenes anywhere within that story arc because the team is already together.  Also, this plays to DC's strength because the JLA story is all about super heroes thinking they are gods amid a helpless world and theweight of each ego struggling for leadership.  You will never get Batman's lectures to Superman about him not manning up to responsibility in an origin story.  At least not as deep.

As they say in my improv class: "don't try to get there...get there."  Origin movies are always trying to get there, but it's the sequel that gets there.  Tony Stark wasn't fully the Tony Stark we loved till Iron Man 2.

How cool would it be if the writer/director assumed you knew everything and treated you like you could figure it out (which is not too farfetched considering the fanboy following)?

But no! DC is never going to take this route.  Why?  Because an origin story is sooooooo easy.  It writes itself.  Most likely we have to sit through an hour of characters introducing themselves to other characters, characters reacting to characters for the first time and the super group introducing themselves to the world.  Then in the last twenty minutes we will see the big fight between Brainiac/Darkseid and then we can wait for the sequel where everything is setup.  This is all done so some fanboy's girlfriend doesn't feel left out.

Tell me what you think.    

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