Depending on your feelings toward Zack Snyder and the DCEU, the fact that Justice League is guaranteed to be next year's most hyped movie could be cause for celebration or a never-ending nightmare (you know, like the ones Bruce Wayne kept having in Batman v Superman, zero of which were ever explained or even referenced again).
Yup, wherever you land on the spectrum of Justice League emotions, this movie is coming. It's going to be big, it's going to be expensive, and it's going to feature precisely six Justice Leaguer members. (That number should in fact be seven, but something happened to the seventh, and unless you plan on getting Zack Snyder very drunk, good luck getting to the bottom of that mystery.)
Not only is six heroes more than five, though, it's also plenty for a movie like Justice League to be dealing with. So, let's take a look at what we know about Wonder Woman, Batman et al. and attempt to uncover the secret to making these heroes — the world's greatest — as successful on the screen as they are on the page.
Wonder Woman: The Warrior
Diana Prince's arrival on the big screen has been well over seven decades in the making — as much a part of DC history as Batman or Superman, those guys have enjoyed fourteen movies between them in the time it's taken somebody to roll the dice on a Wonder Woman movie. When it did finally happen though, the Amazonian got the mother of all introductions with a little help from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL's superb soundtrack...
Those drums. Those drums.
Looking forward to Justice League, Diana seems to be the glue that holds the team together. Batman can be, to put it frankly, a bit of a prick. It's Diana who keeps a cool head when the men around her are losing theirs — but above all else, it's her skills as a warrior which will be key not only to making this debut cinematic incarnation of Wonder Woman a winner, but to give the Justice League the best shot in the face of extra-terrestrial threat of Darkseid's general, Steppenwolf.
I mean, if she'd plunged that spear into Doomsday, Batman v Superman would've had a much happier ending. Just sayin'.
Cyborg: The Machine
What do we really know about Cyborg? Outside of DC Comics circles, Victor Stone is essentially a nobody, his place in the Justice League is usually taken by Green Lantern. For one reason or another, though, it's Victor Stone rather than Hal Jordan who Snyder has chosen in this line-up. If you were to guess why that decision was made, you'd probably put good money on it having something to do with Cyborg's unique personal connection to the Mother Boxes.
Like Marvel's Infinity Stones, the Mother Boxes are essentially ridiculous deus ex-machinas that grant absolute dominance and destruction of everything in the known universe to he who possesses a trio of them — and one lives inside Cyborg. Kind of.
As we saw in the Star Labs tapes watched by Diana in Batman v Superman (click play above for a reminder), Victor's father Silas used a Mother Box to save his son's life and mutate into him a living machine. (If anyone has any intel on where Silas Stone would've got himself a Mother Box, considering the Justice League trailer shows at least one of them being buried centuries ago, please do share the wisdom. You don't find that shit at Walmart.)
Anyway, with Steppenwolf hunting the Mother Boxes, the league keeping one close by makes sense. The sciencey-wizardry that went into creating Cyborg could also hold the secret to defeating the enemy, and Cyborg should have a decent arc of his own considering Silas Stone becomes the latest in a string of nine scientists kidnapped during the film's first act.
- Geoff Johns Teases Sadistic Batman's Punishment In 'Justice League'
- Confirmed: Joe Manganiello Is The DCEU's Deathstroke!
- DCEU Theory: Which Villain Is Pulling Deathstroke's Strings?
The Flash: The Jokester
You may have heard it said that the DCEU is all darkness, no humor. Just once or twice. This incarnation of Barry Allen seems to be Snyder's direct response to that (entirely true) accusation. Set visits earlier this summer repeatedly singled out Ezra Miller for his impeccable comic timing, and a tendency to go wildly off-script and give his co-stars the giggles. If some of that energy translates on screen, DC might just win over the critics who hate on this universe for being relentlessly gloomy.
In the Comic-Con trailer, Barry tells Bruce he doesn't have many friends, which would explain why he's so eager to become a Justice League member, but that's just about the extent of what we know about this big-screen take on the Scarlet Speedster. Is he still cut up about the death of his mother or his feelings for Iris West? With any luck, that angst will be left at the door, at least for a while.
Aquaman: The Portal
In the prologue of Justice League, ancient Atlanteans bury a Mother Box somewhere it can't be found and manipulated to corrupt and drive a spear through civilization. Presumably, that's a part of the reason Bruce needs to recruit Aquaman to the team: His ancestors took a secret to their graves, and he might be the only able to lift the lid on it. But if Arthur Curry is essential to Bruce's detective work, he arguably serves an even more important function in the wider DCEU — the portal to another world.
Comic book movies usually take place in dull, grey urban landscapes. It's one of the reasons they rarely succeed in doing justice to the source material on a visual level. But the oceanic paradise of Atlantis promises to look so bold, so seductive, that the inevitable return to Gotham will feel like a punishment. More than just in terms of color, Atlantis offers an entirely new culture — one that even Aquaman struggles to gain acceptance in, being half-human. Taking us into another world, so alluring and yet so alien, promises to be a proper thrill ride, and could make Aquaman one of the big breakout characters of the DCEU.
Superman: The Phoenix
It almost seems weird to describe Superman as an unknown quantity after watching him scowl his way through Man of Steel and circle the Dark Knight like a territorial dog in Batman v Superman, but it wouldn't make sense to kill Krypton's finest if he wasn't going to come back a changed man. Geoff Johns has teased that Batman will come back lighter in Justice League — and be forced to confront his sins — so there's every chance the Superman we meet in this movie will have risen like a phoenix from the ashes with a somewhat transformed personality.
It's needed. The DCEU hasn't really tapped into what it is people love about Superman as a character so far — he's so unrelentingly self-serious, he seems to have forgotten he wears a red cape attached to a blue costume with a giant 'S' on the chest. Henry Cavill is a good actor, and with a little more light and dark to work with, this Superman could be great. Whether or not he comes back from the grave villainous or upbeat, the secret to making the Man of Steel work will be sketching him more like the humans he has to live among than the archetype of an untouchable God.
If we could also get the '90s mullet, that'd be great.
Batman: The Detective
Christian Bale made an awesome Bruce Wayne, but as Batman he was just OK. He didn't do much fighting and the likes of Bane and the Joker kind of stole the show. Ben Affleck doesn't quite have the cool of Bale in playboy billionaire form, but he has the opportunity here to become the best screen Batman ever. Each of his suits, from the regular Batsuit to that absurd armored version which made him looked an extra from Transformers who got lost and wandered onto the set of a much better movie, are supremely badass. His combat in Batman v Superman was some next-level shit.
So what does the Batman of Justice League need to be great? It's simple: More. More vehicles, more hand-to-hand combat, more tech. And perhaps above all, more focus on living up to his rep as the world's greatest detective. The truth is, the DCEU will live or die by Batman. A great Caped Crusader who commands the Justice League to victory against Steppenwolf will be enough to take the heat off and get people back on board the DC train, sans complaints. It's going to take some creativity to find a way to defeat Darkseid's general, but if anyone can, it's Batman.
No more gym montages, though.
Which of the Justice League members are you most stoked to see in action?