Justice League is still some way away from becoming a concrete thing on the big screen, but DC is inching there slowly. As for the sequel to Man of Steel, that was bound to happen soon for its $663 million worldwide collection was no mean feat. The yet untitled sequel to the movie is set to hit the screens in July 2015, and by the looks of it, this may well turn out to be a DC equivalent of The Avengers. Summarising what we already know about this movie (which admittedly is not much), is thus as follows…
What’s the title: No idea; it’s being sketchily called Batman vs. Superman, and one isn’t even sure if it is the other way round. But the studio has gone about silently registering quite a number of domain names which may hint at the possible title of the sequel. Man of Steel: Battle the Knight, Man of Steel: Darkness Falls, Man of Steel: Shadow of the Night, Man of Steel: Beyond Darkness, Man of Steel: Black of Knight, Man of Steel: Knight Falls, Man of Steel: The Blackest Hour, Man of Steel: The Darkest Hour, Man of Steel: The Darkness Within. Your guess is as good as mine on this one.
Who’s in it: Superman (of course), Batman (of course), Lois Lane, Perry White, Martha Kent. And Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman?: Yes. You read right. Movie buffs may know very little about her character, but in the comics, she is one of the strongest female superheroes ever known (even beyond DC comics). It’s a pity she hasn’t yet gotten a full movie solely on her. Shame.
Ok, so who’s playing whom: The usual Man of Steel crowd to begin with, which means Henry Cavill returns as Superman. Then Ben Affleck is, of course, Batman and he is having a tough time justifying his casting even before filming has begun (cut him some slack, people). Interestingly, Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious franchise) has been cast as Wonder Woman. That indeed appears to be wonderful news. She is undoubtedly lovely and can pull off the smouldering look very well. And she isn’t new to immensely ridiculous stunts making up most of her screen time, and hasn’t failed to make her presence felt among a throng of big strong boys in the past.
And who are they fighting: Hard to tell really. The lack of a concrete title leaves practically everything to imagination. Batman and Superman have had a love-hate relationship, given their common goal and differing means to it. Also considering that these DC heroes have been regularly cast as dark, complex and brooding men (as opposed to the relatively more simplistic Marvel men and women), there is bound to be plenty of friction. A part of the movie is hence expected to be about coming to terms with each other, as in the DC movie universe at least, this is the first time Superman and Batman come face-to-face. But bromance, or the lack of it, would certainly not be the only takeaway from the movie. There are unconfirmed rumours doing the rounds about the involvement of two villains, both with a grudge or two against Superman. Calculated guesses lead to Lex Luthor being one of them, chiefly because of the abundant reference to the LexCorp in Man of Steel, and also because, well, Luthor is kind of inseparable from the Superman universe. The second baddie, if there would be one, could be anyone, though Doomsday features highly as a prospective contendor. He (it?) is a big, mean killing machine in every sense of the word, and is also fabled as the murderer of Superman, unlike Lex Luthor, who is only human and keeps up his antics which are mostly only annoying. Also the origin of Doomsday would suit the grittiness of the franchise, while Lex Luthor could resemble Iron Man gone horribly wrong.
While Doomsday’s appearance on screen is still suspect, there appears to be much more clarity on Lex Luthor. Three actors are being rumoured to have been shortlisted for the role (as the above pic shows): Denzel Washington, Idris Elba and Colin Salmon. All three are brilliant actors, though Washington appears to be the best choice when it comes to playing the crazed-out, mad, bald scientist. Nevertheless, one cannot skip Salmon or Elba, because they are British, and Hollywood has had a history of casting the Brits with their knife-edged consonants as the villains (Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, Ben Kingsley as Mandarin, even Terence Stamp who played the original General Zod in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) was a Brit…). If Idris Elba gets to play Luthor, it would only add to his spectacular range of portrayals, though the role might not do justice to a man of his calibre. Colin Salmon has, justifiably, a considerable fan following in UK, and is already a part of the DC universe indirectly, by his association with the television series Arrow, though in a much minor capacity. An unsettling mystique comes naturally to him and he seems to fit the mental picture of the scheming man with an evil, twisted smile and deep, furrowed eyebrows.
Marvel has followed a slightly different strategy than DC, having introduced all its primary characters well before launching on a full-fledged ensemble cast in Avengers. That way we knew bits of the history, eccentricities and pet peeves of all the Avengers. DC on the other hand, is apparently skipping the opening pleasantries and jumping straight to the part where all the great and the good – whether you know them all or not – team up. It is indeed unfortunate that only some feeble attempts have been made in the direction of establishing of the DC men and women besides Batman and Superman, both of whom have already had reboots and sequels. The only other character they tried to explore was Green Lantern, which somehow seemed not to have been taken seriously, despite the obvious potential. If the Justice League is indeed to be real in the coming future, it would be mandatory to build up some background pretty quick. Flash, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman are absolutely unexplored and they comprise of a major section of the Justice League. Without their proper introduction, a Justice League movie is likely to be riddled with the same kind of complaints as in Watchmen: too long and too dark, despite its very unique plotline and stylised treatment.
Keeping all this in mind, let us hope Wonder Woman gets sufficient screen time in a movie which is technically not hers to rule. And maybe then the studios can start some serious work on building a larger DC universe from which a Justice League film can emerge. Zack Snyder has never really disappointed us with his works and with Christopher Nolan as one of the executive producers, the sequel to Man of Steel promises to be a leap in the right direction. Let us see how high this one soars!