Marvel’s wild success with their Cinematic Universe has their competitors scrambling to catch up, and as their Phase 2 kickoff, Iron Man 3, continues to dominate the box office, attention keeps turning to main rival DC/Warner Bros. and their continually-fluctuating attempt at their own Superhero All-Star Jam with a Justice League movie.
We have covered much of this ground before: will Zack Snyder step in to direct? Or will DC’s go-to story architect David S. Goyer take the reins? What “concrete” news there is about this project points toward the most level-headed approach possible by the studio: wait and see what happens with Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel, despite strong hints that Man of Steel will somehow acknowledge the larger DC Universe and Superman’s place within it.
In a recent in-depth interview with THR, Damon Lindelof covers a wide array of topics from Lost and Star Wars and Star Trek, to his involvement with World War Z. Lindelof also touches – albeit briefly – on an interesting topic: the ‘problem’ with Justice League. There’s a pretty direct attempt to pull out some information about where the project stands, but Lindelof answers indirectly:
Lindelof: The Justice League problem? I think a lot of that depends on Man of Steel. The Justice League problem is not a problem of, who is the bad guy that Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, Superman, whoever you decide to pit them against. The problem is: What’s the tone of that movie? They’ve been struggling with launching their own tone. The tone of Green Lantern is very different from the tone of The Dark Knight. They clearly inhabit two entirely different worlds. You want to feel like someone is establishing a world where the Justice League can exist, maybe Man of Steel is that movie. If Man of Steel works, and it’s great, I think it starts to make sense where Paradise Island is in that world. Because that’s an entirely different world than the one Christopher Nolan introduced.
This is a relevant discussion when it comes to this attempt to launch DC’s version of cinematic universe. As we’ve noted, Marvel and DC have taken a disparate approach to their comic book films, and they’ve both proven to be very successful. Marvel’s approach – as satisfyingly balanced as the first Iron Man movie was - has never shied away from the more fantastic elements of their comic book universe. The tone of Green Lantern was so wildly different from Nolan’s Dark Knight universe – and evidently the more ‘realistic’ approach of Man of Steel - that just reconciling the change in tone could arguably take a whole movie just in itself.
As critically, commercially and artistically successful as the grounded, ‘dark and gritty’ Batman reboot has been, this is still a comic book movie we’re talking about. A clash of tones can cause problems in a movie like, say, Judd Apatow’s Funny People, which melded comedy and personal drama in a hit-or-miss way. Though The Dark Knight is a reality-based film, it’s still set in a fantasy universe, and a stark clashing of tones – such as a mash-up of left-field characters like Lobo and The Flash with the current, more literal-minded incarnation of Batman – could be very interesting. It may prove too experimental for what could be an incredibly expensive project, however, so smoothing out the differing tones of these characters’ worlds would likely be the first course of action.
We’ll likely find out what DC/Warner Bros. has in mind once the box office receipts for Man of Steel have been tallied.
Man of Steel will be in theaters on June 14, 2013. Beyond that…