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If you want to measure the influence of Marvel’s blockbuster hit The Avengers, just look at how quickly Warner Bros. and DC Comics have assembled their own interlocking cinematic universe. After the success of 2013’s Man of Steel, the Distinguished Competition immediately began adding more and more Justice League elements to their still untitled Man of Steel sequel. First came Ben Affleck as Batman, then came Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and then they added Ray Fisher as Cyborg. Earlier this week came the news fans have been expecting for some time now; a Justice League film by Zack Snyder will arrive comparatively hot on the heels of 2016’s MoS follow-up.
The announcement puts to bed all the rumors that 2016’s Man of Steel sequel would sneakily turn into a full on Justice League film. No, the most powerful team in comics will make their big screen debut in a movie that bears their name. But with over five decades of continuity to pull from, what stories should Snyder and company pull from to make the best JLA film? We have a few suggestions.
Crisis On Apokolips
This stretch of issues – Justice League of America #183-185 – was already heavily rumored to be the basis of a past JLA script, and we can see why. There’s almost no other choice for a Justice League villain besides the ultra-powerful Darkseid; who else could withstand punches from both Superman and Wonder Woman? The story, which pits the JLA and their Earth-2 counterparts against the evil forces of Apokolips, would need a lot of paring down in order to makes sense in the more grounded Snyder-verse. Still, if Justice League brings beloved DC concepts like the New Gods and New Genesis into the fold, it will simultaneously distance itself from the Marvel movies while injecting some old-fashioned DC fun into the fledgling franchise.
New World Order
When a team of alien do-gooders call the Hyperclan arrive on Earth, the JLA can’t help but be a little suspicious of their altruism. They were correct in their assumption, as the League soon discovered that the “heroes” were in fact alien invaders using mind control tech to sway public opinion against Superman and his super friends. The threat of an alien invasion was big enough to unite the Avengers, and the same can be done for the Justice League as well. Plus, this type of stealth, public-relations-driven invasion is pretty different from the mindless swarm of Chitauri that plagued Manhattan back in 2012; the comparisons between the two uniting events really end at “the bad guys are aliens.” Justice League needs a threat that’s big enough to justify uniting the team, and this extraterrestrial threat would also be the perfect way to bring Martian Manhunter into the fold.
Rock Of Ages
Another storyline from the Grant Morrison and Howard Porter JLA era, “Rock of Ages” would at least ensure that Jesse Eisenberg gets another go at Lex Luthor after his debut in the Man of Steel sequel. Instead of a team of aliens squaring off against the heroes, this storyline features a number of the Leaguers archenemies all banding together to form the Injustice Gang. This super-powered team of bad guys would also provide the perfect place to reintroduce the Joker on the big screen; the clown prince of crime would have to be drastically different from the Dark Knight version just based on this story’s setting, plot and circumstances. Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker would never team up with other bad guys the way this Joker does.
JLA: Year One
Why not start at the beginning? This 12-issue series reimagined the Justice League’s origin in much more down-to-Earth terms. The team fought against clashing personalities and media backlash just as much as they fought bad guys like Vandal Savage and the Brotherhood of Evil. No, it’s not as flashy as some of the other stories out there, but it does expertly mix grounded realism with the flashy heroics DC Comics are known for; Snyder would win over a lot of fans by taking pointers from this series’ tone. Plus, with Superman and Batman in diminished roles, fans would get to know – and love – Black Canary, Aquaman and the Flash.
Justice League: Origin
Ray Fisher’s casting as Cyborg might just be a hint that the Justice League film will adhere closely to the team’s New 52 reboot. Cyborg became a founding member of the current Justice League incarnation back in 2011 in this story by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. This opening arc features a number of elements that might just make it to the big screen. The tone is much more in line with Man of Steel, all of the principal characters meet for the first time, and the threat is – once again – Darkseid and his invading Parademons. Considering the actors already signed on for the MoS sequel, it already seems like this comic book saga has been fast-tracked to the big screen.