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.
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