Warner Bros. Reveals JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie Universe Details

BANNER_News2013

Massive amounts of data have hit the web today in a Warner Bros. infodump related to Justice League and the upcoming solo films for the DC Films universe. It’s a deep dive, so hang on tight.

THE TITLE & LOGO

When first announced, Justice League was going to be a story told over the course of a Part One and Part Two set of films, but now it seems the first team-up movie will be a self-contained story. Of course, that mainly means (at this point, anyway) that the end of the movie will be an end rather than a cliffhanger. Very much like Marvel’s Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron were a pair of stories, Justice League will likely serve not only to tell its own story, but also to pave the way for the bigger story to follow.

DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, recently paired up with Jon Berg to head up the new DC Films unit at Warner Bros., confirmed that there is no Part One in the title of this film.

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The logo is simple in its design, using only black and white for stark contrast. The star in the midst of “Justice” could be a callback to the stars that appeared on the Justice League of America shield logo for so many years, and others have noted that it matches a version that appeared on the cover of Justice League #261:

Brave-bold-28-e17d1JLA_v.1_261
In the wake of the shake-up at Warner Bros. and a possible reduced role for Zack Snyder as a producer and creative force in the DC film universe, could this logo be an early indicator that the DCU ship is officially changing course? Consider that DC Comics recently revealed a new retro-style logo as part of the Rebirth continuity reset. Could this be just one more way — albeit a subtle one — for Johns and Berg to be telling fans that things will be different?

Star and co-executive producer Ben Affleck says Geoff Johns’ involvement is “Big! Geoff is a big part of things. He’s not here right now, he’s having a baby, but Geoff’s  a great guy and there’s nobody that knows more about comic books. He’s got great taste and he’s really super smart and super nice, and Jon Berg as well has a big role.”

“But really this is Zack’s movie, and we’re here executing Zack’s vision.”

For Snyder, the project has also involved facing a room full of journalists Warner Bros. brought in for a set visit. Facing many who panned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and reacting to the film’s under-performing box office numbers, Snyder admits to being taken by surprise.

“It did catch me off guard,” he said. “I have had to, in my mind, make an adjustment. I do think that the tone of Justice League has changed because of what the fans have said.”

Snyder’s wife and co-producer, Deborah, also commented on the aftermath of BvS: “Listen, every film is a learning experience,” she explained. “We hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say.” Her remarks were given on the set of a Gotham City iron foundry, which Bruce Wayne has converted into a private hangar housing the “Flying Fox” and the new Batmobile. “What’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience was wanting, which is a good thing. We just had to take the characters from somewhere to bring them up to where they are now.”

And in a refreshing bit of candor, when asked by Vulture correspondent Kyle Buchanan what she learned in the production of BvS, she replied, “The main thing we learned, I think: People don’t like to see their heroes deconstructed.”

According to her, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were meant to be the first two of a three-film story that had to go dark before swinging upward into a more lighter tone for the final act, which will play out in Justice League.

Of course, given what we’ve learned about the story, “lighter” might not actually cover it.

 

THE STORY

The official synopsis for the film reads:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.  Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.  But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Directed by Zack Snyder, this marks the big screen debut of the Justice League, featuring an all-star lineup: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher.

With the inclusion of the “Knightmare” visions Bruce Wayne (Affleck) had in BvS, many have speculated that Darkseid would be the first villain out of the gate. Not so. Steppenwolf has been confirmed to be the antagonist for our heroes in this first outing. Which means it’s almost certain to leave the Boom Tube open for Darkseid to enter for the sequel.

Steppenwolf, for those still catching up, is one of the New Gods created by comics legend Jack Kirby. The character first appeared in New Gods #7 (Feb 1972) and is one of Darkseid’s Elite. He also happens to be Darkseid’s uncle and leader of the army of Apokolips.  In a scene deleted from BvS, Steppenwolf was in contact with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), who begins shooting his scenes for the new movie in August.

Steppenwolf is coming to Earth to find and retrieve three Mother Boxes, Apokoliptian technology left by Zeus with the humans, the Atlanteans, and the Amazons. The Mother Boxes hold enough power to bring about an apocalypse, and we’ve seen the human-controlled unit in the origin clips for Cyborg.

To stop Steppenwolf, Batman is compelled to exit the shadows and collect a group of allies — Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) along with Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), King Arthur of Atlantis (Jason Momoa), and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) — to combine powers and defend Earth. According to Affleck, Batman is in a very different place emotionally following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill).

“He has a little bit more sardonic humor, a little more irony,” Affleck told reporters. “He’s a little more of a man on a mission this time. As opposed to, he was so full of anger because of what happened at the Black Zero Event. That sort of rage that possessed him. And now he’s on a mission to get this group together; to constitute this League. But more of that sort of Bruce Wayne, wry, ironic gallows humor comes out. He’s not like a ‘haha’ jokey, but that sort of stuff comes out a little bit. A bit of his darker humor is present.”

Deborah Snyder elaborates: “Superman’s death had such a strong effect on Batman, and he really regains faith in humanity and everything that’s good. This alien just gave his life for us. And it really changes who Batman is, and he also feels responsibility to honor him, because he didn’t feel like he did it when he was living.”

The use of the Mother Boxes as McGuffins will certainly work to bring together the various civilizations on Earth, and since Wonder Woman comes out before Justice League, perhaps we’ll get a piece of the story (or two) there, as Zeus is likely to appear in both — even more likely if they give Diana her New 52 origin as opposed to the traditional one.

We saw one of them in the video clip showing Cyborg’s creation, with Joe Morton playing Victor’s father, Dr. Silas Stone. The use of the Mother Box to save Victor’s life was visited in the animated Justice League: War, which is loosely based on the early issues of the New 52 Justice League run detailing an invasion of Earth by Darkseid. The other Mother Box, the one in Atlantis, may play a role in Arthur’s ascension to the throne.

 

THE CAST

Arthur will have help not only from his lady love Mera (Amber Heard), but also from from Vulko, now confirmed as the role taken by Willem Dafoe, who was added to the DC movie lineup in April. Possibly we’ll see elements of the Throne of Atlantis story in play during the solo film for Aquaman, or we might get some of that here as a setup to his battle against Black Manta in the solo flight.

And what about that other casting news? J.K. Simmons playing Commissioner Gordon has certainly got fans speculating as to his part in Justice League. His look is described by Empire as the Commissioner Gordon we all know: fedora, trenchcoat, glasses. Deborah Snyder says this film will be the most faithful to the comics that we’ve had so far. Empire describes a rooftop between between him, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the Flash — a scene in which Ezra Miller kept improvising some high-energy bits that caused some amusement for Gadot and consternation for Simmons.

Gadot tells Birth.Movies.Death, “I think we found a very interesting dynamic. It’s fun, it’s funny. It’s different, each and every character brings their own flavor and color to the team.”

“There’s a quality to what Ezra does that is young and fun and full of life, that’s excited about what they’re doing, that’s so in contrast to who Batman is,” said Affleck. “What does Batman do around a guy who’s really excited and positive all the time? It’s not his natural state of being.”

And what of the rumors that Miller’s solo outing will actually be a team-up between the Flash and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg? “We cannot confirm or deny anything regarding any people named silly names like the ones you just said.”

Journalists invited to the set in London also report on getting to see an edited (sans FX) scene where Bruce Wayne recruits Barry Allen, and it’s reminiscent of the recruiting scene between Tony Stark and Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War. It sounds very much like a major shift in tone is going on, as there’s jokes, folks. Even from Batman.

 

 

Regarding Eisenberg’s involvement, he told The Shortlist: “I loved the character and it was the most fun I’ve ever had at playing a role, and most challenging, in a great way, and most rewarding. I would love to play it for years. The character I play is so unusual and complicated. As an actor he’s everything you’d want to do. It’s very exciting for me to play that role.” Despite the mixed reaction to his performance, Eisenberg seems to be in it for the long haul.

Newly announced as part of the press push: Kristofer Hivju, who plays the Wildling leader Thormund Giantsbane on Game of Thrones, has been cast as the Ancient Atlantean King, one of the people collaborating with Zues to hide(?) the Mother Boxes on Earth.

Expect to see more of the Dark Knight Detective going forward as well. Invoking The Maltese Falcon, Affleck says “the world’s greatest detective aspect of Batman is more present in this story than it was in the last one, and will probably be expanded upon further in a Batman movie that I would do. I think all the great Batman stories are, at their heart, detective stories.”

 

THE DESIGN

For the most part, many of the costumes from BvS are the same, just a tuck here or there, a bit of padding, some tinkering (Bruce Wayne is a tinkerer, as is Barry Allen). Wonder Woman’s outfit has more red, where Batman’s costume is reported to have a slight blue tinge.

Lighting for this film will be different from almost anything Snyder has done. Some of it will be brighter, a major step for anything directed by Zack Snyder. Brighter in mood, too, as Batman is on a redemption arc, feels more hopeful about the future, and now they have a mission.

 

Justice League and Suicide Squad will have a presence at San Diego Comic-Con, .

Here’s the roster of the DC Films release dates:

  • Suicide Squad – August 5, 2016
  • Wonder Woman – June 2, 2017
  • Justice League – November 17, 2017
  • The Flash – March 16, 2018
  • Aquaman – July 27, 2018
  • Untitled DC Film – October 5, 2018
  • Shazam – April 5, 2019
  • Justice League 2 – June 14, 2019
  • Untitled DC film -November 1, 2019
  • Cyborg – April 3, 2020
  • Green Lantern Corps – July 24, 2020.

Note that Justice League‘s release date – November 17, 2017 – is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of Superman #75, the best-selling finale to “Doomsday!: The Death of Superman.”

 

 

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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