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Can Batman vs. Superman Help the Justice League Stand Up to The Avengers?

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There's no denying that Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) and its Marvel Studios have been more successful than Time Warner (NYSE: TWX  ) when it comes to adapting superhero properties to the big screen. Outside of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and solid international numbers from this year's Man of Steel, the Warner studios have made disappointing use of DC Comics' vast array of properties. Disney, meanwhile, has mined the Marvel Universe to great effect and looks to continue these efforts with a slew of new super-properties. 

After years of being criticized for its mishandling and underuse of available superhero licenses, Warner Bros. hopes to make a big play with the tentatively titled Batman vs. Superman in 2015. The film will pair the eponymous heroes together for the first time in big screen history. Warner is also hoping that the film will serve as a successful introduction to some of DC's other big name characters, such as Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and The Flash. Will this strategy help Warner create a suitable rival to Marvel's Avengers, or could it all prove to be too much, too soon?

Super rivals
There was a lot that could have gone wrong when Disney laid out its plans to have Marvel's Avengers united onscreen in a massively budgeted and highly advertised spectacle. 

Planning for the team-up film began in 2005. In the four years between Iron Man's 2008 release and the debut of The Avengers in 2012, five films set in the same universe were released, and gradually the members of the team were introduced through the various lead-in filmsThe amount of contractual work and conceptual unity involved in the successful lead up to Disney's box office achievement makes the new megaseries among the most impressive feats in the modern film industry. Warner Bros. is aiming for similar results, but is working with a smaller timeframe.

Casting for the future
In order to successfully launch its desired Justice League franchise, Warner Bros. needs Batman vs. Superman to be a massive hit and introduce other members of DC's super team. The film will also require the right cast. The Avengers success was rooted in the original Iron Man's status as a breakout hit, and that film's achievements were largely thanks to star Robert Downey Jr. His turns as Tony Stark propelled him from the initial stages of a comeback to becoming the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.

Actor Henry Cavill will reprise the role of Superman, while Ben Affleck is set to don Batman's famous cowl. Gal Gadot, most known for her work in the Fast & Furious franchise, will play Wonder Woman. The film will take place in the same universe that Zach Snyder established in 2013's Man of Steel. The Flash and Green Lantern are also reportedly set to appear in the upcoming sequel, but to what extent they will be featured remains unknown.

The film's Green Lantern will almost certainly have no continuity with the disappointing 2011 film starring Ryan Reynolds. If the recent rumor that Denzel Washington will land a Lantern role is true, it would be a huge get for Warner. A different take on Green Lantern will be necessary after the last attempt, and Washington has the draw and industry credibility needed to make the character cool again while hyping the formation of the Justice League.

As the film that could potentially enable Warner Bros. to actualize the value of its DC properties, Batman vs. Superman is by far the most important film on the company's slate.

Warner looks to The Flash for inspiration
One of the reasons that Disney took its time in introducing the Avengers team was that it was believed an attempt to debut them all at once would inevitably lead to a mess of a film that did none of the characters justice. A failed superhero team-up has the potential to damage overall brand value and also to kill off individual franchise potential until enough time passes to make reboots feasible.

Warner's rapid introduction of its Justice League characters is evidence of just how far behind it is in the superhero game. That's not to say that Warner won't find success in its ventures, but Man of Steel is not the same envious starting point that Iron Man was.

Better rise to the occasion 
Warner and Zach Snyder have their work cut out for them. The prospect of Batman and Superman in the same movie is certain to pack theater seats. Whether audiences wind up with a film that is closer in quality to 2005's Batman Begins or 1997's Batman and Robin is less clear, but it will be a deciding factor in how Warner's broader ambitions for its Justice Leaguers come together. 

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Read/Post Comments (31) | Recommend This Article (8)

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  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 3:30 PM, dashaymac wrote:

    all they have to do is have a flash movie next,have a guy run fast with gold and red speed effects and 3 of his villians(maybe arrow visit) would bring in the kids and money...

    next batman vs. superman

    wonder woman by her self,but have government or batman spying on the island at the end or something...

    green lantern movie remake


    becuse this sounds like a jla movie without the title.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 3:43 PM, Paul427 wrote:

    Unfortunately for Warner, they went and signed Ben Affleck to apparently a multi-movie contract without first doing the market research that was vital to be done among the fans to see if the casting would work. Now announced for several months, the fans practically unilaterally resist this choice, displeased with a Hollywood liberal taking on the role, particularly after having come off a movie like "Dare Devil". Even after a huge outpouring of email expressing disapproval, they still move forward against the fan base (how's that for stupidity?) and begin announcing a cool batsuit, then the addition of various characters... It's almost like they're saying, even though a principle character has been casted moronically, look at what else we have going for us! It makes me want to wait for the Netflix order rather than a theatrical viewing and I'm sure I'm not alone. I think the film will suck, since its creators apparently don't care about the fans, what has been established, and can't seem to understand what made the Chris Nolan trilogy a success. It's too bad that they own the property since their ridiculous mismanagement promises mediocrity at best, disaster and hiatus likely.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 3:49 PM, BHGamer wrote:

    ask yourself this. Can a MAN, a human, ok put him in any kind of fancy suit you want, be able to take as much punishment as Zod did in the first movie and live? There's your answer, Batman won't be in the Justice League because he'll be dead from one punch from Superman.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 4:01 PM, ComicInvestor wrote:

    This article forgot to mention the success of the ARROW TV show, and how they've used that platform to introduce Green Arrow, Black Canary and the Flash. Using the TV series as a testing ground for the Justice League characters and gauging audience response may work out well for them.

    On the other hand, TW's approach seems scattershot and almost accidental--signing a star here, casting an almost unknown as the Flash on the show--you have to wonder if they have a plan at all, or are just winging it.

    Finally, let's not forget that even the best actors and characters can't carry a bad story with bad direction. Are Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer a match for Joss Whedon? I'm honestly not sure about that.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 5:11 PM, canerom wrote:

    no not as long as the Affleck duck is batman

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 5:18 PM, Siphon92 wrote:

    Even though a lot of us comic fans are disappointed with the Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, we're still going to pour into the theaters at midnight to watch the movie. In my opinion, what will make this film flop is the how much WB is trying to cram into one movie... Not just Superman and Batman, we have a Wonderwoman (which time may be needed to rush through her back story), now have a possibility of GL and Flash (with their own respective back stories). Not to mention it the amount of screen time that will have to be divided for having to introduce the other JLA members, but they also need screen time to actually make a plot. Avengers worked so well because all the heroes were already introduced. No time was needed to set them up, just gave them a grand entrance into the movie and let the plot take over for the rest of the movie.

    I had high hopes for this Superman sequel, even higher when it was announced Batman was going to be in it. Butvery new announcement I've seen since gives me an increasingly bad feeling about this movie... But who knows, maybe the movie will come together and be big hit, but I'm not keeping my hopes up.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 5:54 PM, kitrick wrote:

    Warner Brothers cares more about Money, than they do Quality. Visit a 6 Flags , and it's apparent, Quality is not in WBs vocabulary. Just look how thay are Raping the Hobbit, The Hobbit was shorter than any of the Lord of the Rings Books, But they are making it a three parter, out of it. Not to tell the story but for more money.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 6:57 PM, LocalMan22 wrote:

    It all depends on the quality of the story. I suspect that the other Justice League members will have little more than a cameo in this next film to allow the movie to focus on (a) the establishment of Clark Kent as an alter-ego for Superman, (b) Luthorcorp and Wayne Enterprises working together to help rebuild Metropolis, (c) both Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne being suspicious of this overpowered alien (Superman) who could be a threat to Mankind; (d) while Lex works behind the scenes, Bruce, as an experienced Batman who is used to working in the shadows, tracks down Superman and confronts him to learn his weakness and his character. They fight, with Batman actually beating Superman with the help of Kryptonite, but Batman realizes that Superman is exactly what he claims to be, a good guy who wants to help Mankind. Eventually a new threat (probably created by Lex from Kryptonian tech) forces them to team up, and they realize that an organization of heroes is needed for threats too big for one hero alone. The other heroes may only appear in their secret identities briefly.

    Too many people are critical of the casting of Ben Afleck. He has become a much better actor in the 10-11 years since Daredevil (and even that films problems were the director's fault, not Afleck's). Afleck is an Oscar winning director, and experienced actor (watch him in Argo, Hollywoodland or The Town) and a huge comic book fan. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he will play a good, older Batman until the movie shows me otherwise. I think a lot of people had a bad first reaction to the casting are now willing to accept it. Don't forget the fan reaction to casting Michael Keaton as Batman, since Keaton was only known as a comedic actor, but that turned out pretty well.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 7:30 PM, DeathSentry wrote:

    I am skeptical about Affleck in the batman role, especially unfortunately after Christian Bale's magnificent performance resurrected the franchise (Michael Keaton did a good take on it back in the 80s as well); but Christian's performance is a tough act to follow.

    However, I'm willing to give it a shot though the odds are stacked against them with no separate movies to show each character's backstory (well, supes and bats are done, but would need wonder woman's and possibly the martian manhunter while assuming GL can piggyback somewhat off of Ryan Reynolds' story).

    Also not sure what Ben Affleck's political views have to do with the movie (earlier commenter mentioned his "liberal" background). But in any event if they do indeed get Denzel, it could help with the gravitas added to the movie with a mix of known and not so well-known stars. But to bring the team together this quickly, they may need more than just a lex Luthor threat.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 7:43 PM, BlackSuave wrote:

    Good points, Paul427.

    This is going to be an epic fail. They're going about all of this in the worst way. Recycled star power is NOT going to sell this. Miscasting isn't going to sell it. Denzel's a great actor, but he's no Green Lantern, at least not John Stewart. Look in the comics, there's nothing 'older' about Stewart. At the worst, he's in his early 40's. I'd even go late 30's. Can Denzel do sequels and follow up movies? Answer that.

    Affleck as Batman? No. Just stop. We're telling you NO. Apparently, you're not listening. When it flops, don't be mad. Just fire the idiot(s) who didn't listen to the fans.

    A skinny twerp as Wonder Woman (no offense to her, but she's no WW)? Stop yourselves while there's still time.

    Come on, people. Don't blow this, please!! I beg you. I plead with you! Fix the casting while there's still time, or there will be a possible DC paradox worse than Flashpoint.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 8:15 PM, JustAGuyNamedJoe wrote:

    JLA? Pfft! As if! Put my money on the GotG! Guardians of the Galaxy is going to have all the problems of a JLA movie - 5 characters that NO ONE outside of geekdom knows a whit about - but no one is doubting Marvel's ability to make it work. The buzz is buzzing and GotG - with Rocket Raccoon and Groot - will have more story in its first 5 minutes than JLA can squeeze into 2 hours! Vin Diesel as Groot? Oh my.....yes, yes, yes...!

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 8:23 PM, JustAGuyNamedJoe wrote:

    One thing that does confuse me is why does DC/WB feel such a need to rush this into production? Its not a race. Fanboyism aside, both Marvel and DC have a treasure trove of great properties to draw from. DC just needs to slow down, realize that the fans have waited this long and that it really won't kill anyone to wait a bit longer. Follow the Marvel pattern, but also do as Marvel has done in being very precise in their casting - no miscues yet - and be ultra-respectful of the material. There's no timeline/deadline to meet here. It's really NOT necessary to feel as if they need to catch up with Marvel. A fanboy race to the finish this isn't! Take your time, do it right. The fans will wait and they will appreciate it more in the long run as it will likely result in a better product.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 9:28 PM, agbchief wrote:

    Article JUST came out that states Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is to be cast in this DC superheroes endeavor. I tell you all what, I could like TOTALLY see him pull off the role of the DC character LOBO, but, supposedly it was released that he will NOT be in that role, but WILL be in the DC Universe in some other capacity.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 9:29 PM, mrmike64 wrote:

    I would have to say the biggest hindrance to DC making any kind of successful go at a movie similar or on par with Marvels Avengers would have to be Warner Brothers.Take a look at the studios who have put movies out for Marvel-Paramount,Sony entertainment,20th century fox,etc -.

    DC movies have as far as my memory serves been the sole studio for DC super hero movies ,going back to the first Superman with Christoper Reeves.

    Heck Warner Brothers does not even want to put there super hero brand on their TV properties like Smallville,Anybody and everyone who ever has seen the show knew who the super hero in the show was. They would not even allow character to even put on anything resembling a Superman outfit ,symbol or the like until very last episode!

    now they have a successful Arrow television series but don't want to call it Green Arrow ?

    why would you not as a company not want to have your character(s) known ? especially if it is successful?

    Warner Brothers until it loosens death grip on it's super hero properties will remain a far distant threat to anything Marvel puts out.

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 9:43 PM, foundervoice wrote:

    This is going to be a Flop and I hope WB is realizing that and that is why they are putting their money against the film. Sort of like the producers. JustaguynamedJoe said it, do it right or not at all. Superman's last movie was ok and the one before that had the right cast and the wrong script. The casting of this film is wrong but I bet the script will be good...unless of course it ends up being a 200 million+ Daredevil since affleck is batman. Yea, people are folding into the "Give him a chance." but come on before you say that, watch Daredevil again. AWFUL

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 10:21 PM, DeathSentry wrote:

    Have to say that the selection of Wonder Woman also is a pretty bad move. Not that the actress isn't pretty, but she needs some meat on her..perhaps she'll beef up for the role..but a skinny amazon is a contradiction!

  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2014, at 11:02 PM, godaisan wrote:

    There is no way Time/Warner can match Disney, if they continue to choose poor actors/matches, for their heroes. Unless the storyline/plot is over the hill awesome, it is the eye candy that will matter. Disney/Marvel has hit homeruns with it's choices. Time/Warner is hitting singles, at best.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 12:09 AM, grievousgeorge wrote:

    Free Marvel right now!

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 12:12 AM, grievousgeorge wrote:

    DC is more original

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 12:41 AM, Marcuscrassus wrote:

    Personally I don't find most DC characters as interesting as Marvel's. Superman looks good on film because his story lends itself to heavy effect spectacles. However he is a pretty simple and boring character, Batman is more interesting but WW, Flash, Green Lantern, all are really boring. Don't get me started on the most asinine character of all, Aquaman.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 2:32 AM, delfra wrote:

    I still think Batman/Superman can certainly have box office success, they just need to take the right steps with it, because it has been some questionable moves and rumors as of late. I think WB should just focus on getting a good film off the ground and not trying to worry about try to keep up with "The Avengers" box office success which is too high of a bar to match in my opinion.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 6:09 AM, BlackSuave wrote:

    Why is it even called the Batman vs. Superman anyway? Is just so lame of a title. I'm glad Marvel didn't do Iron Man vs. Thor vs. Capt. America vs. Hulk. These guys are just so behind in every conceivable way.

    To save themselves, they have to at least get the casting right. Get "heroic looking" people in the right roles and you can get away with less than perfect writing, if the acting is good. But the way they are going, the casting is going to suck. Right now just not believing this is going to be a good movie. I hope I'm wrong.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 8:31 AM, 1joekx wrote:

    Can it ? Yes. Will it? Probabley not. Mainly because you have guys directing ,writing and casting that don'rt read comic books

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 10:16 AM, KingLinus3000 wrote:

    There is no DC Comics cinematic universe, so far. It's only a Superman Trilogy (Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman, and Justice League) that just so happen to have other superheroes in it. I think Waner Bros almost want this to fail so they won't have to make the other hero films that have a high chance to fail.

    So, no I don't think BvS will help JL stand up agianst Avengers, but it will help WB decide to make a Justice League film or not.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 12:15 PM, jhs39 wrote:

    This is going to be crap. Zack Snyder has no talent for casting whatsoever (or storytelling and pacing for that matter) and has badly miscast every principal role for Batman Vs Superman. Henry Cavill has already proven himself a complete stiff as Superman in Man of Steel. Like Emily Browning in Sucker Punch he seems to have been cast more for the fact that he would look cool on the poster than actual acting chops. Ben Affleck is a very poor choice for Batman. He's been a poor lead in Daredevil; Paycheck; Sum of All Fears and Reindeer Games--he's not suddenly going to turn into a different actor now. Then there's Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. She has costarred in the fast three Fast and Furious movies, the most successful in the franchise by far, yet virtually no one knows who she is. That's pretty much all that needs to be said about her. Batman Vs Superman is shaping up to be another Watchman. Whoever decided to put Zack Snyder at the helm of its biggest DC franchises will be regretting that decision very soon.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 5:47 PM, matisse wrote:

    I think not only will the movie in 2015 blow away the Avengers but so will a Justice League movie. DC has much better characters. You can't beat Superman or Batman...

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 8:14 PM, milonikki wrote:

    Warner should let DC do it's DC movies like Disney lets Marvel do Marvel movies. The suits at Warner shouldn't be allowed to interfere.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 8:44 PM, Termil wrote:

    Serious, this Marvel vs DC hoopla is stupid.

    DC is rushing this JL movie instead of taking its time to develop good stories. It is about the money with them, they are seem very jealous of Marvel's (Avengers) success.

    Second Zack Snyder is nothing without CGI. Sucker punch was a horrific movie....

    Honestly, I hope JL flops because i am sick and tired hearing about it. Just make the movie already and stop trying to go after Marvel!!!

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2014, at 9:09 PM, RmaMe wrote:

    JL will flop as far as the model for success that Marvel has with Avengers. That being the ablity to attract non-followers of the source material. Man of Steel was a complete flop as far as return viewers. Most people watch it and said its alright. Make Superman for average people and not the Fan Boys. Otherwise you are only attracting the people who would go see it anyway,.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 1:46 AM, unicornflyers wrote:

    I was originally excited for the sequel (right after I'd seen Man of Steel), but now I'm so disappointed I don't even want to see it. Why not have this movie be about just superman? I understand they want to do a justice league movie, but do that separate. Keep this one about superman, just like they did with the dark knight.

    Instead, they're trying to cram this all together, and what's going to happen is we're going to see a crappy movie that tries to introduce too many new people, too many new plots, and in the end will do nothing but miss the mark.

    They've made mistakes in recent years with superman (haven't had a good movie since Christopher Reeves) until Man of Steel, and now they are falling into a different trap.

    Keep Superman about superman and do the justice league/adding superheroes to a different movie!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 12:09 PM, wildwolfe12000 wrote:

    I Have to Laugh all you wanna be experts know how something is going to be before its made then why don't all you chuckle heads get together and make your own movie since you know more just because you trolls live in moms cellar and have not seen a women naked since birth don't come on here and think you know it all I think the BATMAN VS SUPERMAN MOVIE IS GOING OT BE GREAT AND YOUR ALL GOING TO FEEL LIKE THE IDIOTS WITH NO LIVES YOU ARE so chill the f&&^%^ out and lets wait and see none of you are directors screen play writers or movie or acting executives so grow up ffs

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