How to Make a Justice League Movie

The idea of a Justice League movie excites me. It really does. But I think that DC has to approach their “big team” superheros to the big screen in a different way to Marvel’s approach with The Avengers. Although Hollywood has been happy to continually produce reboot after reboot and show us the origin of a character over and over again (cough Spider-Man cough) DC and Warner Bros need to be aware that the audience will get sick and tired of seeing the big name characters in the same stories. In this article, I present how I would approach a live action Justice League movie.


First of all, we’ll use Darwin Cooke’s masterpiece The New Frontier as a template for the film’s plotting and which characters to include.newfrontier_cover_9101

This is a brilliant book. Personally, I prefer it to Watchmen as an example of great comic story-telling and it does something very similar to Moore’s oft-lauded work. In a nutshell The New Frontier paints an origin story of the Justice League that is set in the late nineteen-fifties. Cooke’s style and writing has proven that it can be adapted well to the screen as the story was amongst the first DC animated film. So why not also adapt it for the big screen?

The beauty of this story is that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are all established characters before the story begins. It is explained that they came from the Golden Age and how they managed to survive through the ages. The thing that works so well with this is the fact that there is some realism in the story. Further I don’t think we need to see a Batman origin story after the (again, in my opinion) masterpiece that was Nolan’s trilogy and this would solve this problem. We see Batman in The New Frontier and we see him in action but his presence is more than just felt all the way through it. He is an important part of the story but he is not the crucial element. Further if Snyder’s Man of Steel is as good as it looks from the teaser trailer we will not need Superman’s origin either. We would have had possibly two awesome origins (Donner’s Superman and hopefully Man of Steel ) by then so again why add a third? In Cooke’s work, we get to see a side of Superman that I don’t think the audience has ever really seen on film before. Superman has become a part of the US government and is more a “yes-man” than the iconic hero we know him to be and become again.

I said that this film does not offer an origin for any of DC’s trinity of superheroes. Instead it offers one for the League itself, and more crucial, two of the main components of the League. So who does it offer origins for?

I first thought of this idea when Green Lantern came out last year. With the knowledge that the film was a failure and it could face a reboot of its own, DC has potentially at least two different routes to take. They could just reboot Hal in his own film universe and make the second film more of an Incredible Hulk re-boot, where it is the start of something new but still in the same universe. Or they could start again with the Justice League film.

The beauty of the second idea is that Hal Jordan is the main character of The New Frontier and the lynchpin for the entire story. Further his origin is interesting and different to the one that we got in the film and what is usually seen in the DC universe. In The New Frontier, Hal is a pilot for the US air force and fights in Korea. This whole idea adds an extra layer to the character. Further by following this template, the audience gets the chance to connect to Hal Jordan. Hal only becomes Green Lantern near the end of the book and therefore we would really know the man behind the ring.

The other main character that gets an origin from this book is The Martian Manhunter. Manhunter is another brilliant character who could be shown in a really interesting way on the big screen. His detective skills could add a whole new layer into Gotham and show the world that Batman can connect to the DC Universe very easily. There is a brilliant line in Cooke’s work that shows Batman’s paranoia, and his detective skills in one go. Batman is so desperate to protect the world that he must have weapons to fight off even his allies, shown through him discovering that Manhunter’s weakness is fire. He explains that he carries kryptonite with him to keep Superman in check and that he only needs a match to do the same to Manhunter.


This adds a very interesting layer to the League as a whole: most, if not all apart from Hal, fear Batman. It illustrates his power and most importantly for the Bat-fans, keeps The Dark Knight’s presence centre stage. Furthermore, DC’s main speed hero, The Flash, gets a decent amount of focus in the book, but as with the three main heroes, he doesn’t get an origin story. This could work to his favour. Just think of Hawkeye from The Avengers. Many people who didn’t know who he was could follow his story and also be intrigued by him. The same could happen to The Flash. Do we need his origin explained? Surely his name kind of does the work for us and even if it does not, surely all we need to know for this film is that he is a guy that can run really fast. We know we like The Flash and we want to see more, so this would lead onto the next set of films to explain his back story if necessary.


Most importantly is whether or not Justice League is part of a shared universe like The Avengers or not. I think this all relies on Man of Steel. Nolan’s Batman is clearly in its own universe. Green Lantern seemed to be a part of a possible shared universe but the film failed and therefore it will probably always just be the Emerald Gladiator that populates that version of the DC Universe. If Man of Steel gives the impression that Supes is the first of many then this could open up the potential for a Justice League. But I am not sure if this method works with DC characters. I think they are so iconic that they actually work better when they are in their own universe getting the whole spotlight. Further, if Justice League were to be connected to the Henry Cavill depiction of Supes it is likely to ruin my final argument for The New Frontier: keep it in the nineteen-fifties.

Although you could easily modernize the story and make it all link to the world in the twenty-first century I honestly think that taking the X-Men First Class route would work much better for Justice League. First Class showed that this works and that people can relate just as much to characters that are set in the late fifties than they can with characters that are in the new millennium. Further if this version of the league is in its own little universe there would be no problem with setting it in the fifties.

So this is what I would do if I had my hands on the Justice League. To me we have a written script with Cooke’s book and all that needs to be done is pick a director and a cast who are suitable to take on these iconic roles.

– Luke Halsall

This article was originally published in our digital Geek Syndicate Magazine. The magazine is our free quarterly publication jam packed with features, interviews, previews and more.Check out the back issues here.

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