The Summer of 2017 is the release date of The Justice League movie. DC, creator of the legendary group, is hoping to create a movie that will move Heaven and Earth and fill fanboy lives with joy and excited squealing (or at least compete with The Avengers).
Joss Whedon was the wise choice for The Avengers and Marvel will be holding on to that gem of a writer for as long as humanly possible. The simple let’s-get-together-and-fight-evil model blended well with Whedon’s humor and the creative use of the fan service. But enough about them. We have Justice League to talk about and I am certain DC is going to follow this similar story route.
1. Each hero gets a montage of their life
2. Heroes meet for the first time
3. They struggle with cooperating
4. A greater evil surfaces
5. They team up to defeat said evil
It’s basically an origin story, which seems to be the only kind of super hero plot line we have been getting for the past five years. But the question remains: do we really need to know the story of how they all came together? I think we only care about these two elements.
1. Who is the greater evil?
2. What comic tropes will be honored to satisfy the story?
Let’s be honest; everyone knows the story or at least can guess what is going to happen. The characters meet, they clash with each others personalities, but they find common ground to defeat the bad guy. Marvel at least padded the painfully obvious plot progression with humor and epic hero moments. DC might not have that luxury. So here is another option.
Throw away the origin story.
Do we really need to start on day one? War and Romance genres are not obligated by origin stories so why live by that rule? We don’t need to see how Hitler declared war to start a WWII movie, nor do we need to see someone fall in love to know they have a relationship. Origin stories are very cookie-cutter and make a very easy framework that builds up to a sequel, but they aren’t imperative to the audience. If you take into account that the audience wants to see each hero personality richly intertwining and interacting throughout the plot and a barrel load of epic fight scenes, you don’t need an origin story to pull that off. In fact, origin stories try so hard to make sure you know where everything starts that it gets in the way of actual character development. Origin stories waste time telling us what we already know. They also show characters as incomplete. Notice that Peter Parker does not become witty and funny until The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Frank Castle does not become nearly as merciless as the Punisher until his sequel. It’s not fun to watch your favorite hero personality slowly develop and not reach their character potential when you already expect them to be there.
So why not get there already?
Imagine a Justice League movie that starts five years into its story. The Justice League has already formed and they know each other quite well. We can catch the audience up to speed with some short montages about how they met and how Martian Manhunter formed the group, but nothing longer than ten minutes of back story. The world already is familiar with them; the JLA are kicking serious butt and having moon base meetings. I just saved the audience an hour of introductions that would have been predictable anyway.
Let me paint a picture of a story that starts in the middle: the Justice League has been together for five years. Its members are deeply invested in one another and know each other. They spend their days having conducting meetings, challenging each other’s egos and teaming up to stop Toy Master, Black Manta, Sinestro, and Solomon Grundy. The world uses the JLA as a crutch for all its problems and in return, the JLA think of themselves as gods. An evil Mastermind (Luther? Brainiac? Gorilla Grodd?) decides that the world can function without these heroes and that it deserves to be its own god. Orchestrating an evil plan of lies and deceit, the Mastermind uses psychic powers and suggestion to rip the JLA away from trusting each other as the world also begins to distrust them. The world decides that they don’t need heroes because the mastermind has developed a utopia where they are useless. The league of heroes slowly deteriorates from the inside, causing the mastermind to enact his true plan of world domination. It would take Batman’s detective skills and keen discernment to figure out the true evil plan and reunite the team.
This plays to DC’s strength because the company thrives on deep, intricate story webs and conflict to draw their readers into a story. DC has always been known for starting its audience in the middle of the story and expecting them to catch up.
As they say in my improv class: “don’t try to get there…get there.” Origin movies are always trying to get there, but it’s the sequel that gets there. Tony Stark wasn’t fully the Tony Stark we loved till Iron Man 2.
How cool would it be if the writer/director assumed you knew everything and treated you like you could figure it out?
Unfortunately, DC is probably not going to take this route. Why? Because an origin story writes itself. Most likely we have to sit through an hour of characters introducing themselves to other characters, characters reacting to characters for the first time and the super group introducing themselves to the world. Then in the last twenty minutes we will see the big fight between Brainiac/Darkseid and we can wait for the sequel where things finally are fleshed out. Instead, why not start with the story already fleshed out?
Tell me what you think.
You might also like
With Frozen II warming the hearts of children everywhere, it's the perfect time to reflect on the film that started it all. Is Frozen as good as we remember?
Knives Outs is going to be a lot of people's favorite film in 2019!
Our final predictions for the last films of 2019!