After The Avengers scored over $1.5 billion at the global box office, it was no surprise to see Marvel quickly green light Avengers 2 with Joss Whedon at the helm. However, despite extremely high expectations for the studio’s 2015 follow-up, many movie and comic fans are busy trying to wrap their heads around the other in-development superhero mashup, Warner Bros. and DC’s Justice League.
Now a fresh rumor has surfaced indicating that the studio is considering the inclusion of fan-favorite anti-hero Lobo for the Justice League mix. While the character might, at first, seem like an off-putting or distracting addition this round, there are a few strong arguments for why Warner Bros. might be interested in seeing The Main Man featured in the film.
Until now, most of the speculation has centered around who will direct Justice League - after Ben Affleck dismissed rumors that he was attached – as well as whether DC should even attempt to implement so many characters all at once. The argument states that one reason The Avengers found success was because Marvel had patiently introduced the heroes in their own films, leading up to the assemblage.
Surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of speculation about what other DC characters besides the usual Justice Leaguers might make it into the film. The discussion shifts today, courtesy of CBM, who reports that the DC/WB is “tossing around the idea of including Lobo in the film, [the script] that Will Beall is currently writing.” The report doesn’t contain an official (or off-the-record) quote, and as CBM openly admits, “tossing around the idea” could mean that the studio was just brainstorming – and Lobo is already off the table. As a result, this is all strictly inRUMOR category right now.
That said, while some might simply dismiss Lobo as a niche biker mercenary character that doesn’t belong in Warner Bros.’ first attempt at a superhero mashup, the addition of the character could actually be a smart move for the studio – if implemented correctly. In addition to traditional superhero qualities like super strength, durability, and regenerative abilities, Lobo’s abrasive personality could serve a Justice League movie well by forcing some of the main characters to show new and interesting elements of their personalities (not just standard good guy tropes) – regardless of which side he was on.
Unlike The Avengers which, as mentioned, introduced each of their films in standalone movies – Warner Bros. is putting their cart before the horse and assuming that audiences who are now familiar with that other superhero team adventure, will line up to see DC’s iconic characters (especially Batman and Superman) together – even if every member hasn’t already been privy to a shared universe standalone film. However, that approach leads to a problem: without previously establishing why the characters are worth our time, the studios are going to have to shove a lot of kick-butt action and slick character moments into the project – without depriving any of the key heroes of their potential spin-off appeal.
As a result, Lobo could be included in the mix (either as a hero or antagonist) to add some levity to the proceedings and force the characters into conversations or actions that help open them up a bit – given that Lobo has enjoyed a tense relationship with the Justice League in the comics. Without a snarky and repugnant person (whether hero or villain) to goad the characters into showing character, it’s hard to imagine that a Justice League film with a serious tone will be able to successfully introduce multiple new characters; give them all memorable set piece moments; provide intriguing interpersonal dynamics; and allow for the respective DC superheroes to each show different shades of their larger personalities. Without a dynamic character (like Lobo) to push things along, the filmmakers risk forcing one or two main characters to carry a lot of the film’s humor and/or expository banter – characters that A) the studios hope to spin-off into individual movies and B) audiences are just getting to know. Remember, a rebooted Batman may even be introduced in the film, so pretty much everything will be new to the audience.
We’ve previously suggested that, in order to be successful with their own properties (and not just copy Marvel), DC is going to have to change-up the superhero formula. The studios already weathered a misstep with Green Lantern (not to mention the failed Wonder Woman TV series), so they’re going to have to be pretty intentional from here on out about how they position each of their core heroes. The absolute last thing that DC will want to do in the Justice League is ruin any potential interest in individual standalone films – so Lobo might be the right person to help keep things from getting too serious, without standing out as an overly-campy addition – given that he’s also a ruthless antihero. Plus, the character isn’t a typical good guy (hence his longstanding tension with the heroes) – meaning his storyline could cause problems for Justice League members and/or aid the team in their do-gooder efforts.
Similarly, since DC could go with some up and coming actors for Justice League (i.e. Henry Caville in Man of Steel), the film would no doubt benefit from some well-known star power – a household name that, as part of an ensemble, could draw in reluctant non-comic book moviegoers. Despite a few missteps, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, has delivered a number of memorable and crowd-pleasing performances in recent years (Fast Five, Faster) – and, even though he plays some ruthless asskickers, he also has clout with the family crowd (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). Johnson is already in talks to play Lobo in Brad Peyton’s standalone Lobo film – so it’s easy to imagine that Warner Bros. would be anxious to help ground a cast of unknowns (playing iconic heroes) with a fan-favorite actor like “The Rock” (in a less iconic role).
While a blockbuster feature film is certainly a different type of project, Lobo was a favorite addition to the DC Universe cartoons – dropping in once in awhile to offer a much-appreciated change of pace in certain story lines. For anyone unfamiliar with Superman: The Animated Series, the episode “The Main Man” is an especially good example of how Lobo could fit into the Justice League movie. Admittedly, recreating the character for big-budget live-action will be a challenge but, if done correctly, Lobo could be a standout element of the film – one that allows the Justice League to differentiate itself as a dark and gritty superhero mashup – without taking itself too seriously.
Of course, all of this is just rumor at this point but we’ll keep you up to date as we hear more about the Justice League as well as Lobo‘s standalone film.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more Justice League and Lobo coverage as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.