Here's How Time Warner Gets a Good "Justice League" Film Made by 2015

Most accounts say that Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) plans to have a Justice League film ready by 2015. A lot of you hope the rumors aren't true.

Why? Because the Justice League is DC Comics' original superhero team. Superman. Batman. Aquaman. Green Lantern. Wonder Woman. The Flash. Martian Manhunter. In the comics, they're all members of the Justice League of America. Three have big-screen backstories -- Batman, Green Lantern, and Superman -- and even those appear to be changing. Christian Bale has no plans to reprise the role of the Caped Crusader; Ryan Reynolds' Green Lantern bombed at the box office.

"I don't think Time Warner has developed the Justice League well enough. Disney had done Hulk, Captain America, and Thor movies almost as advertising for The Avengers," wrote Foolish investor lsr18 in response to a story I wrote about Warner's fast-tracking Man of Steel 2.

Fair point. No investor should want to see Time Warner wasting capital on a quixotic quest to match or even one-up the competition.

Following Marvel's formula for The Avengers at DC puts Justice League in 2017 or later, the culmination of a seven-film series in which each character gets ample solo time on screen. Right now, we have one if you only count Man of Steel, or two if you draw from The Dark Knight Rises and cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman.

That leaves at least five films to shoot and show between now and 2015. Only the insane (or suicidal) would try to squeeze all that in between now and then, right? Not necessarily. Arrow offers DC and Warner a way.

The bull's-eye isn't as far away as you think
For those unfamiliar, Arrow is a TV adaptation of the DC Comics character Green Arrow, in which star Stephen Amell plays Oliver Queen, a bow-wielding vigilante who seeks justice for the oppressed in his hometown of Starling City. Viewers like the concept. At one point, the show was doing better for Warner's CW Network than the hit show The Vampire Diaries. Final numbers show Arrow as the network's second-ranked show of the fall season.

Stephen Amell dons the cowl in the CW hit, Arrow. Source: Warner Bros.

A second season kicks off in the fall, and with it the opportunity to introduce new DC characters. Last season brought The Huntress, another vigilante, as well as the villains Deathstroke and China White. All signs point to appearances from Black Canary (i.e., GA's love interest) and Speedy (i.e., his on-again, off-again partner) soon enough.

Marvel is taking a similar approach with the forthcoming show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. How far showrunner Joss Whedon takes the concept remains to be seen, but it's easy to imagine any number of heroes or villains guest-starring. Each appearance would expand the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, in a best-case scenario, create a natural film tie-in. Marvel parent Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) will broadcast Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on its ABC network Tuesdays this fall.

How far will Arrow's producers push into the DC Universe in Season 2? Anything is possible, including exploring the long-standing though sometimes contentious friendship between Green Arrow and Green Lantern.

In the 1970's, Green Lantern and Green Arrow starred together in a popular comic. Source: DC Comics.

A wider world -- revealed!
"When you consider the importance that [Green Lantern] Hal Jordan plays in the Green Arrow comics, it's certainly one of those names that we've discussed a great deal. I have Ryan Reynolds' phone number around here somewhere," executive producer Marc Guggenheim told TV Guide in a recent interview.

Consider, too, how director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer introduce Superman in Man of Steel. The story paints him as the world's first superhero. A beacon who makes it safe for others with special abilities to reveal themselves. Introduce a little Man of Steel footage in Arrow -- in a scene where Ollie is watching the news, for example -- and you've opened the show to a wider world.

To be fair, Guggenheim and his fellow producers have promised that Arrow would be a bit more grounded than the typical superhero comic book. Most take that to mean we won't see Ollie palling around with Green Lantern, Superman, or any of the other members of the Justice League.

Maybe that's how it needs to be, but I won't blame investors if they're hoping for more from Arrow. After all, a lot is riding on Warner's ability to get the most out of its DC Comics characters.

Or in terms the Emerald Archer himself might appreciate: Your quiver is full, DC. Take the shot.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. What do you think of Arrow? Should Time Warner use the show to expand the DC Cinematic Universe? Leave your comments in the box below.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 7:09 AM, masterimmortal wrote:

    Arrow has viewership of less than 3 million an episode. Doesn't really matter who you introduce on the show, most of the potential audience for a Justice League movie won't have seen them.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 7:11 AM, Agent1706 wrote:

    Does anyone remember Smallville? That show, also on the CW, ran for 10 seasons and in one of their Seasons, they were able to incorporate a "mini Justice League" with Green Arrow, Impulse (before he becomes Flash), Cyborg, Aquaman, and "Superman". If anything, Smallville started it before Arrow! So take a look into that show and try pulling some ideas from Smallville.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 9:50 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @masterimmortal,

    Thanks for reading and for the comments. I'm enjoying your takes.

    >>Arrow has viewership of less than 3 million an episode. Doesn't really matter who you introduce on the show, most of the potential audience for a Justice League movie won't have seen them.

    Definitely a concern. But Marvel has the same problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The redemptive difference is that Marvel has already taken steps to introduce the Avengers to movie audiences.

    Having said that, Arrow could be effective if tightly integrated with other marketing efforts. Do tons of press with EW, MTV, me (!) and others. Have Snyder and Goyer make callbacks to Arrow episodes when discussing MoS 2 and Justice League in interviews.

    And, of course, use the comics to keep new fans engaged. DC has been particularly good at creating and leveraging comic tie-ins.

    The ideal is still to make seven films. Barring that, using Arrow as a farm system for testing characters before they reach the big-screen leagues isn't a bad idea, I think.

    Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 10:01 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @Agent1706,

    >> If anything, Smallville started it before Arrow!

    Yes. The episodes that introduce the JSA are particularly interesting, but you never get the full experience of the Justice League in that show.

    I've also heard others say that Henry Cavill's look is much more like Tom Welling's than Christopher Reeve's, so there's at least a tacit reference to the show in the new film.

    We can't know if Smallville would have done well feeding big-screen adaptations because DC and Time Warner never tried. "Superman Returns" premiered following season 5's finale and the season 6 premiere. None of Smallville's continuity informed that film (that I can remember, at least).

    Thanks for writing and Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    TMFMileHigh in CAPS and on the boards

    @milehighfool on Twitter

    http://about.me/timbeyers

    http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 10:20 AM, DonSteed wrote:

    The odds of the Green Lantern showing up on CW's Arrow is 0%. I'm sorry but it's true. The show's producers decided to used the Dark Knight's realistic world approach as it's template. There are no super powered hero in this world. It makes sense and from reading the interviews from the show's creator, that's the direction they are moving to. The Green Arrow has got plenty of cool villains, that they can introduce into the show, without all the super power drama being thrown in.

    The realism of the world is what made the show as cool as it is. This is Green Arrow at his best. Fighting for the people while a team like the JLA takes care of business taking on the bigger threats.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 10:27 AM, MeKnowSmart wrote:

    Although I love Arrow, let's be honest, it's a hit on the CW (which is kind of like saying you're the tallest man in a room full of midgets). If DC has any chance of pulling together a Justice League movie, they need to make the executive decision that the Nolan/Snyder/Goyer model of darker, more "realistic" superhero tales is what they want and start developing the other charectors into the bigger movie universe (I dig that they worked in LexCorp and WayneTech into MoS, but it was way too subtle).

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:09 AM, RozinanteWill wrote:

    to make money you have to take chances. To be grounded in reality you have to take chances and having GL with the emerald archer has to be. They want the viewers, there's the chance.Smallville did it fairly well, tho they never introdeced Bruce Wayn it woudl certainly have been a differnt kind of reality. Probably too much for them to think about.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:35 AM, jorcasce wrote:

    I don't think they should start introducing powered heroes just yet. they should stick with the nonpowered ones, we've already seen quite a few villians, we've seen huntress.

    I would like to see an episode where Wildcat appears as Dina's (Laure's) uncle, he hates Ollie, fights for some reason the Vigilante and finds out who he really is. I would like to see the Question, or Ted Kord as BB, or what if the Vigilante is searching for another, more violent vigilante that happens to be Red Hood. I mean Ollie isn't even Green Arrow yet, and though I would love to see GL and GA in the same picture, they are still way to far to be friends. Besides the effects to pull a believable GL would make the series cost to go to roof and that might just killed the series (see Heroes).

    PS: please don't make same mistakes Smallvile did, their just JL was just really awfull looking.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 11:48 AM, firstlensman wrote:

    2015 may not be pushing it. Wonder Woman is already an established character from TV. Is there a necessity to do a WW movie? The Batman series has already established a rotating slate of Batman actors. No need to do a Batman Beyond with Joseph Gordon Levitt. Just hire an actor to continue the Christian Bale Batman. Flash has had a series already. One that people enjoyed. Again, another actor can play him. Arrow is already set-up now. Aquaman could be setup in Arrow. It may be blasphemous, but I say change the character so that he can control water like the aliens in the movie The Abyss. This would be an addition to his controlling sea creatures. It would make him more movie friendly, IMHO.

    Now the only character that needs to be set-up in Martian Manhunter. This can be done within the first Justice League movie. He crash lands on Earth to warn of an upcoming invasion which the JL deals with for the rest of the movie! It's a well known comic book storyline so the fans will be happy!

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 12:52 PM, sfzmirage wrote:

    I don't think arrow would work as not enough people watch it. Not even some of the hardcore superhero fans have a real desire to see it.

    If they do it right, there is another option. Start with the Justice League movie.... then do prequels. Not as easy to pull off, but could be done.

    Start with the end... maybe even a really dire situation and them barely pulling through it. Then make the prequels where they introduce the characters and explain how they got into the situation they were in. You would have to write the script to make it so people WANT to see what happened before that got them into this bad situation.

    Plus, its more fun to know how things began... especially since we all know the superheroes will win in the end... they would never kill Superman for example.

  • Report this Comment On June 24, 2013, at 1:09 PM, ElliotThresher wrote:

    I think 2015 is possible considering the toughest origin stories have already been told on-screen. WW can be summed up fairly quickly (clay mold by Gods or Amazonian birth), Aquaman from Atlantis, MM from Mars. The REAL issue is Marvel set-up nicely the idea of SHIELD as the unifying force/team to bring everyone together. How does DC plan on bringing JLA to the HOJ or Watchtower? I say DC makes the smart business play, cast JGL as Nightwing and go with Young Justice and Teen Titan projects. Younger, hipper characters (and casting) that can be relative unknowns; much cooler universes to explore!

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