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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 

Ryan Reynolds uninterested in reprising GL role, but Justice League movie could be doomed anyway

The star of the catastrophous Green Lantern movie recently told Empire (via AV Club) that he's not keen on reprising the role of Hal Jordan again:
"If you're going to do comic book movies in that vein, you really have to get them right," says Reynolds. "I believe that Joss Whedon is the guy that just nails it and Christopher Nolan obviously nails it. So if they were gonna do it like that, it would be an interesting thing to do."

"It's just that... working on Green Lantern, I saw how difficult it is to make that concept palatable, and how confused it all can be when you don't really know exactly where you're going with it or you don't really know how to access that world properly - that world comic book fans have been accessing for decades and falling in love with," he adds. "So at this point I have very little interest in joining that kind of world. But, you know, a great script and a good director can always turn that around."
True, but outside of Nolan or Whedon, I see little chance even the most well-meaning director/writer would be able to pull it off. Why? Simple. Because as his own movie proves, there was a considerable amount of studio interference lurking about, just one of the reasons why it crash landed. That Nolan was able to make 3 Batman movies without that kind of sabotage is amazing. Unfortunately, almost everything else in their stables that could be picked for a film does not seem to share the luxury of creative freedom he had, and chances are it never will.

And maybe that's why, if this news has any meat to it, WB has quietly discarded the last screenplay drafted for the Justice League movie they were planning. It's probably just as well, since almost none of the choices they had for writers and directors seemed fit to pull it off. Not with the kind of interference the studio's bound to give them anyway. Speaking of which, this news pointed me in the direction of a conversation Mark Millar had with Sci-Fi Now, where he argued that a League movie is a good way to lose millions. But while there's every chance it would anyway, his dismissals of the cast of characters as "outdated" is insulting. He says:
It’s no secret that every studio with an in-house batch of caped crusaders is looking to the miracle Disney and Marvel Studios performed with Marvel Phase 1 and Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble.

But while 20th Century Fox and their superhero creative consultant Mark Millar have a fairly easy job catching up – all the X-Men and Wolverine movies are part of the same world anyway, while Deadpool and Fantastic Four are being rebooted – for DC the job is much, much harder.

“I actually think the big problem for them is the characters are just too out of date,” said Millar, talking exclusively to SciFiNow. “The characters were created 75 years ago, even the newest major character was created 68 years ago, so they’re in a really weird time.”
For heaven's sake, there's plenty of Marvel characters who were created that long ago too. The Sub-Mariner was one of the first who could be called a superhero for the MCU, followed by Captain America. Even the FF are about 60 years old, so that's an awfully trivial argument he's making. The problem is that much of the time, outside the first two Superman movies and even the Nolan Batman trilogy, almost nothing else adapted from a DC comic was ever given serious treatment without either leaning towards being overly campy, or being too dark while failing to provide anything meaty to think about (unlike the comics, I don't know of many live action TV/film adaptations that dealt with serious issues like communism, race relations, the Cold War and drug trafficking), or just being a victim of way too much studio meddling in one way or another. And one of the biggest problems with the movies is that they have "merchandise sales" written all over them. How can a live action movie be really great if studio heads dictate what you're allowed to do based on what specific characters you're allowed to use?
Warner Bros and DC plan to follow up Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man Of Steel, with a Justice League movie – their direct answer to Avengers Assemble – that will unite all the big name characters in the line. Due for release in 2015, directly opposite the Avengers sequel, Millar reckons that it can’t be done and it’s the iconic nature of their biggest name characters that’s the real problem.

“Now the stuff I grew up with… I adored the DC stuff growing up but really, how do you do a movie about Green Lantern,” asks Millar, “his power is that he manifests green plasma from his imagination and uses them as weapons against someone? Even that in itself if you just imagine then watching a fight scene with a guy who’s like a hundred feet away making plasma manifestations fight someone – it’s not exactly raucous, getting up close and personal.

The Flash has door handles on the side of his mask and if he doesn’t wear that mask, I’ll be pissed off, you know what I mean? They’re in a weird, weird situation – if you’ve got a guy who moves at the speed of light up against the Weather Wizard and Captain Cold or whatever, then your movie’s over in two seconds.
Not so fast. Why does Millar assume they'll automatically put Captain Cold and Weather Wizard in the movie script? The last I know of, the League movie's screenplay was supposed to feature Darkseid, who's much more formidable than they are, with the only drawback being just how talented the screenwriter and director are. I can understand if Millar feels villains like Capt. Cold and Weather Wizard are too goofy for modern storytelling (and Geoff Johns unfortunately tried to "fix" all that by making them more repellant in personal nature), but that's why in the 1990s, there did come a few more modern villains like Savitar who could've made for good movie material. What matters is just how good the screenplay will be in the end, and judging from their past efforts outside of Nolan's Batman, there's always a chance it won't be, thanks to their disturbing meddles.

And door handles?!? I guess he doesn't have a very high opinion on Captain America either. But then, Millar was the one who made the Ultimates more grimy than Avengers by regurgitating the Hank Pym as abuser tale, so this may not be too surprising he'd say such a silly thing. But the query of how to make a GL movie is a pretty good one - we've already seen how that turned out!
“You can get away with stuff in comics that in live action’s just a bit sucky – the best one is definitely Aquaman. Aquaman can’t even talk under water. If you think about it in comics it’s fine, you just have a speech balloon, but how do you have Atlantis and people talking under water? Are they gonna [be] talking telepathically? Is it going to be body forms? The actual logistics of each member of the Justice League is disastrous, and you put them all together and I think you get an excellent way of losing $200 million.”
In live action, it's impossible for an actor to speak underwater without flooding his lungs in, but what if FX could give an advantage? And yet, he may have a point, based on the untrustworthiness of the studio executives to provide the screenwriters with the freedom to build a movie in a way they think could work in live action, as Nolan did, and without massive interference either, based on their likely desire to sell merchandise at all costs. As a result, if studio interference triumphs over great storytelling, then no matter the quality of the special effects, the movie could tank, taking all those millions of dollars in FX along with it down to Davy Jones' Locker.

In fact, that was what happened when Fantastic Four was made into 2 movies several years back: they didn't offer much in ways of a story, and Doctor Doom's background was changed considerably in the first one. Since then, we don't hear of those films being spoken of anymore, and no sign if a remake will be considered.

Another problem is how the recent movies based on DC heroes have had their screenplays based on very recent stories told, including Johns' writing for GL, and that may have been the film's undoing. Just give the assigned screenwriters access to the older material as much as the new, and maybe they can get some ideas how to update without being overly dark and grimy, and in the end, there's always a chance they'll succeed in producing something worth the price of admission.

And back to Millar, while he might be predicting correctly that a League movie will end up a disaster, that still doesn't excuse his rather insulting, superficial vision of how the movie could turn out. If he really adores the DC books he grew up reading, he could speak in more fond terms while arguing why yet it might not make for great movie material based on the kind of points I've provided. And if my estimations are correct, a Justice League movie could fail not because Darkseid is the adversary, but rather, because the screenplay is dull and doesn't offer any memorable action scenes. And maybe that's why the last drafted script was canned by the studio.

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Millar in a way summed up the real problem, though, he didn't realize it: characters that have been around a while, or too old, got to pitch em. It's this weird present culture we're on, that "if a character or a person has aged, ignore them or get rid of them."

There is a reason why these characters have endured the test of time, yet, these days, "get rid of them! They're too old or too white or too this or that! Bad!"

And frankly, yes, it is amazing Nolan was able to pull that off. Whedon, too, though, his anti-capitalist screeds vs. the cash cow potential -- and his taking the money, as well he should, because he earned it -- made for an awkward situation.

While I would like the JL movie project to move forward, yet better it stay in development hell, before the executives really botch things and ruin why we liked the characters in the first place.

Oh yeah, you just can't do modern movies based off of old characters. Mark Millar is absolutely right. Imagine if you tried to make a movie based off of old characters like pirates of the high seas, or the gods of Norse legends, or novels from the 30's and 40's set in some random middle-ages timeline. It's just not possible...

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