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Justice League’s Future May Depend on Man of Steel’s Success

While many Superman fans are pinning their hopes on Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, it appears so too is Warner Bros.’ long-brewing Justice League movie.

Following Monday’s announcement that Kevin Tsujihara will succeed Barry Meyer as CEO of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Variety speculates on the future of Warner Bros. Pictures President Jeff Robinov, who was passed over for the position. Under his watchful eye, the studio has developed such blockbusters as The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and franchises like The Hobbit, Sherlock Holmes and The Hangover. However, one of his biggest challenges may lie just ahead.

According to the website, the fate of Justice League is tied to the box-office performance of the Superman franchise reboot. “Other than Nolan’s Batpics, Warners has not been able to effectively exploit the DC library,” Variety writes. “Its 2011 Green Lantern underperformed, and a Justice League film wouldn’t likely be in theaters before 2015, as Warner’s top brass has indicated that they are awaiting the results of Man of Steel, which opens June 14, before moving further ahead.”

Green Lantern is undoubtedly a major reason for the studio’s hesitancy, as the film disappointed both commercially and critically, bringing to a quick end what was envisioned as a long-term multimedia franchise — is it any surprise there will be just one season of Green Lantern: The Animated Series? — and likely slowing the pace of other DC properties like The Flash. What’s more, the timing of Green Lantern was particularly unfortunate: Although the film had been in development since at least 2007, it became the first Warner Bros. superhero release following the 2009 restructuring that created DC Entertainment, “a new company founded to fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand and characters across all media and platforms.”

While the “new” DC Entertainment had little to do with Green Lantern — the script, director and lead actors were in place before the corporate shakeup — the film was hung around the company’s neck: This is how you fully realize the power and value of the DC Comics brand?

Lingering unspoken, like the word “Voldemort,” is Bryan Singer’s much-maligned Superman Returns, which casts a long shadow across Man of Steel, and indeed, any of the studio’s superhero plans that don’t involve Batman in a starring role. A commercial disappointment, although certainly not a flop, the 2006 film landed with a thud among franchise fans, many of whom were quick to draw comparisons between Superman Returns and early Man of Steel trailers. And if there’s anything Warner Bros. hopes to avoid, it’s a replay of Superman Returns.

Superman didn’t quite work as a film in the way that we wanted it to,” Robinov said in 2008. “It didn’t position the character the way he needed to be positioned. […] Had Superman worked in 2006, we would have had a movie for Christmas of this year or 2009.”

And now, if Man of Steel doesn’t work in 2013, we won’t be seeing Justice League in 2015.


  • Deadpool2098

    I hate saying it, but it sounds like they are expecting a flop and holding a JL movie over our heads like a carrot. Not feeling any confidence in MOS now.

  • Drumanespic

    I’m more interested in seeing if Guillermo del Toro can make something of the DC magic-based characters.

  • Braunrodman

    they don’t believe in these movies (or the concept of super heroes) so why should we?

  • Cire

    Warner Brothers just needs to understand that if they don’t care about the product they make, why should we.  MARVEL needed Iron Man to be a hit.  They were hungry for it to work and be right.  Warner Brothers just don’t care and it shows.

  • hysanadu

    Well, damn.  :(

  • Nathan McGrady

    First off, I think it’s ridiculous to even compare the Green Lantern movie and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The movie was uninspired and a mess, while the animated show has proven to be a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the comics, along with strong characters (even females!) and impressive pacing.

    Second, are they really waiting to see how Man of Steel does? Have faith in your director and writers. If you hire the right people and not just focus on profits, you wouldn’t have to worry about the quality of your film. The stories are there. No wonder they can’t pin down a director for JL: nobody is going to want to waste their time working on a film that may or may not happen.


    DC has been at several disadvantages from the get go.

    1) Marvel had no Warner Brothers hanging over their heads when they began planning their Cinematic Shared Universe, hence no executives expecting them to fill the Potter Franchise void.

    2) Marvel had no Warner Brothers hanging over their heads when they began planning their Cinematic Shared Universe, hence no external constituents telling them what had to be done with the brands being featured in the films (i.e. comic book creators had a major hand in what the overall Marvel Movie plot arc was going to be, and directors had to fit into that, rather than individual directors dominating each film with individual visions and goals).

    3) For whatever reason (and I have never really understood why), DC has never been as good at coordinating its properties as Marvel has.  Maybe it’s that DC’s inventory is too large and diverse, maybe it’s that their culture was rooted in editorial fiefdoms (although you would think that time might have eroded that obstacle).  DC has always seemed to struggle when it comes to creating a cohesive environment.

    The one thing that DC DEFINITELY has going for them is a stronger brand recognition for the characters involved (i.e. Flash vs. Hawkeye).  At least, that was the case before the Avengers.  They’ve just leveraged it poorly.

  • Kevin Melrose

     It’s not a comparison of the two; it’s that The Animated Series was launched as part of Warner Bros.’ big Green Lantern franchise plans.

  • Jim T.

    If MOS tanks then the best we will have to hope for will likely be a Batman and the Outsiders movie?

  • Axehorn99

    here’s the thing, JL is more the already A-list superheroes, while the Avengers are all B-list or lower (except Hulk). This gave marvel the freedom to mix and match origins (I.E. Thor is not bound to a mortal, Nick Fury is Ultimate version, Iron man never keeps secrets ID and was in the gulf coast not vietnam, etc.), while most DC characters can not be messed with like this that are the main six justice league members. If they make a new green lantern movie and kill off the green lantern corps and make superman, his new 52 lower powered set version then you have  a reason to have the six get together other wise it gets redundant. Since superman can handle anything really and Green lantern is part of a whole army that was put together to stop alien invasions, etc. So really they are screwed due to sheer individual popularity and skill set that would only work if you have a shattered universe like marvel’s (Avengers, Fantastic four, and X-men are all seperate movie universes). The JL Dark movie actually has a better chance of success due to low level of popularity characters so thier origins can be tweeked to make it all fit together

  • Axehorn99

    see the brand recognition is the JL’s down fall in the movie universe since lets be honest the Avengers only succeded because three out of the four main avengers  had their origins tweeked and got away with it because they were lower tier characters until the movie propelled them forward. its why Fantastic four and the X-men movies all burned out because they were the ones dealing with the main high powered threats (phoenix, galactus, etc). the justice league shared universe can only exist if the threat is both high enough to warrent superman needing help, but not big enough to call upon the green lantern corps. If they could partition their universe like marvel did (X-men, fantastic four, spider-man, avengers all exist in different cinimatic universes) then there might be an excuse

  • Jugga Lord

    I’m still angry that Green Lantern animated just got cancelled. It was really getting good. Same with Young Justice,

  • EVH

    Dont see what all the fuzz is about, it’s standard practice:
    if MoS isnt a hit then what expectations do you have for the subsequent franchises that depend upon building the JL?
    If Iron Man 1 sucked, there wouldnt have been a Thor or Captain America thus no Avengers movie.
    The Hulk movies for the most part flopped on their own. 
    So thank your lucky stars those movies did well enough and got enough momentum to actually go through with making an Avengers movie.

  • hysanadu

    I get your point, but I’d hardly call Captain America or the Hulk “lower tier.”  :)

  • MNJ30

     X-Men (3), Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Spider-Man (3), etc were a mess because Marvel did not make them. If Marvel had the license back for X-Men do you really think that Deadpool would have been made to resemble Baraka from Mortal Kombat? If Marvel had creative control over Spider-Man would we have had a whiny, emo douche like Toby MacGuire portraying Peter Parker? Wouldn’t Mary Jane Watson have been, you know, hot? Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Avengers all work because Marvel understands its’ own product better than anybody.

  • Patrick Keely

    Yeah, sorry, Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man are not B-listers.  Hawkeye and Black Widow absolutely are B-List characters, but the big 3 of Marvel always have had really good brand recognition and before their movies would still be fairly recognized. 

  • Kirbylee70

    Warner’s treatment of the DC characters has been to do the opposite of what Marvel did. Rather than embrace the fact that these are comic book characters they treat them as if people won’t go see the movie because it’s a comic book character. Along with that belief they attempt to go gritty or make the characters seem more realistic than enjoy the fact that they are comic book based. Until Warner decides to get off the reality kick and make a fun comic book based movie (or at least get away from multiple villains or cosmic size villains) then my guess is DC films will never equal the Marvel films that have come out already.

  • Razorstar90

    WB really needs to put the DC Cinematic Universe in the hands of the creators of the DC Animated Universe. It’s that simple. The DCAU is home to not only the best Super hero cartoons ever (Justice League Unlimited is light years better than Avengers EMH) and their straight to dvd movies are better than half of the live actions movies out there.

     If say Bruce Timm or Paul Dini or even the writers of Young Justice  could mold the live action DC movies WB would be rolling in cash. But since that wont happen DC is going to have to maintain the level of grit and realism that was in TKD Trilogy in order to avoid being Marvel rip offs. That was the problem with Green Lantern is it was a straight up Marvel movie rip off and it was a bad rip off at that. Marvel has the light hearted funny thing. Let DC be a bit more serious a bit more realistic (not dark necessarily) 

  • alex

    Of the four most popular comic book superhero characters, Batman is the only one that has had a good film in the past five years or so. I’m talking Spider-man, Wolverine, Batman, and Superman. I hope it pans out for them. In the comics Batman is the only one doing great. Spider-man is a cartoon and Wolverine is now some guy named James who runs a school for freaks. It’s sad. II’m not a big fan of adaptions, but I’d love to see this take off.

  • Basham50

    I think this all goes without saying. Its pretty obvious that if Man of Steel is a “flop” then of course future plans for other more risky DC projects would suffer the blow back. Im a big school fan but WB has plenty of examples to draw from when it comes to how to make successful superhero movies, all they have to do is look at Marvel.

  • Lewis4510

    MoS will have to make Dark Knight numbers to justify a JLA movie. I’ve thought that all along. DC should have built on the success of the Batman series to create a shared movie verse but that ship has sailed. Now they’ll have to reboot the character to make a JLA movie work since Nolan killed him off.

  • Cover55555

    The League deserves better than this.

  • Zagreus

    Well, they made a number of VERY poor choices, because WB is all corporate suits.  A) Bryan Singer has NEVER read any Superman comics.  He said he doesn’t like them.  All he ever saw was the Donner movies which had an impact on him when he was a kid, so he had nowhere to go but to Donner, and no other inspiration.  B) Green Lantern was a colossal flop, and a lot of that was just the source material.  Yeah, that’s right.  You have a guy named “Sinestro”, you are powered by “Green Willpower”, you have a bunch of unexplained aliens who speak English for some reason (sure the ring translates their languages-but the movie never displayed that), and you’re fighting a big cloud.   So they made two bad movies.  Boo hoo.  It happens.  You need better guys making decisions there.  WB/DC is run by idiots, is the issue.  Look at the mismanagment of DC.  They are afraid of letting anyone do anything and have no culture of trust and communication, it’s clear.  So they turn to Nolan, the only one who has shown some success and confidence, but he probably wants out of the superhero game by this point. 

    We’ll see.   

  • JusticeBringer

    It’s not an issue of expecting a flop, but the fact Batman is the only successful franchise relating to DC’s main line of comics since 1980! Warner wanted Superman/Batman before, but the Superman Returns didn’t go over well, prompting Nolan to order them out his sandbox after The Dark Knight sold so well. The writer’s strike messed up Justice League. They eyed it again, but Green Lantern didn’t go over well. Warner needs to pick up momentum outside of Batman to pull this off and they haven’t been able to get it.

  • LightningBug

    The JL Movie continues to be a bad joke. I’ve said it a thousand times, you’ll never ever see it.

  • Magnetic Eye

    Absolutely agree. I have never been a fan of the Sony and Fox film adaptations of Marvel characters.

    MARVEL STUDIOS at least presents a more genuine adaptation of their characters that maintains a faithful representation of the comic boook counterparts. 

    In terms of realistic, mature, gritty, dark or serious treatments of a movie script, people need to accept that the comic books have used those themes for decades and a good balance of drama, action and humor should be incorporated for a fun and entertaining movie experince.

    For my money I think MARVEL STUDIOS are on the right track, but IMO they’re leaning a little too far towards too much of the light hearted humor and a much younger demographic.

  • Ricky

    Man of Steel will be a huge success. It’s a story of why being your best to others is worth any obstacle, of what power can mean if used for good or otherwise.
    It’ll resonate with people because people want to be at peace with themselves, and it’ll be a competent fantasy action piece too. 

  • Perry Constantine

    I couldn’t agree more. I get the feeling that the top brass at Warner Bros. find superheroes to be ridiculous and are hoping that Hollywood’s fascination with superheroes turns into a fad and fades away soon. 

    With the movies, you’ve got Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which while I loved, definitely tried to distance itself from the character’s comic book origins as much as possible. And Green Lantern tried to rush through the space sequences in order to focus on stuff happening on Earth.

    Even on TV, you’ve got Smallville, a show that absolutely did not want to turn into a show about Superman, but didn’t have any other stories to tell about a pre-Superman Clark Kent, so it turned into this weird, muddling mess where you had Clark meet the Justice League, the Justice Society, fight Doomsday, Metallo, General Zod, Darkseid and others, all before becoming Superman.

    And Arrow (which, like Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, I’m really liking) also seems to have some embarrassment of its superhero roots. Star City becomes Starling, Ollie wears face paint instead of a mask, and he’s not called Green Arrow, but rather “the Hooded Vigilante.” 

    Warner Bros. needs to realize that in order to take full advantage of their superhero properties and to make them blockbuster successes, they need to fully embrace the superhero concepts. They need to stop being ashamed of them. Having a comic book fan like Zack Snyder in the driving seat of Man of Steel definitely gives me hope that they’re on the right path.