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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Justice League Blockbuster (part 2) - characters

Objective: To present DC characters as both familiar yet fresh.

Assumption 1: This justice league film will follow "Man of Steel".
Assumption 2: It will share the same film universe as Ryan Reynold's Green Lantern.

- Previous film portrayals: Christ figure and idealistic symbol of goodness (Christopher Reeves), the idealist out of touch with grim reality (DCAU animated portrayals), a product of a bygone era forgotten by the people he once served (Brandon Routh), the outsider finding his place in the world (Smallville)
Superman's portrayal really depends on his portrayal in "Man of Steel". I am hoping that they play up his role as the "ultimate immigrant". For that is what he truly is; he is a "foreign talent" with extra-normal abilities using those abilities for the good of his new home, yet never demanding payment, never pushes his superiority and humbly blends in with the norms and ways of his adopted countrymen. The ideal foreign talent. On the other hand, we have Zod as "the unwanted foreign talent". He uses his superiority as leverage, he imposes his own ways on the ways of his adopted countrymen (or rather, subjugated earthlings), he doesnt bother to learn the local customs and demands that the locals adapt to his ways.

Like any foreign talent, the good and bad get lumped together.
Throughout Justice League, Superman will be faced with the question of whether Zod was right. Is humanity, in all its ungrateful and spiteful nature, worth saving? In what is the opposite of our current real world situation where the man on the street is vocal in his anti-foreigner sentiments and the powers that be are pro-foreigners, Superman's continued efforts to serve mankind after Man of Steel is slowly gaining support from the silent majority man on the street. It is the powers that be, the big businesses like LexCorp that fear superman and thus use their control over the media to sully his name.

The progression of Superman in Justice League will be similar to Spiderman in Spiderman 2. His selfless acts in the face of media criticisms gains the support of the "man on the street", the silent majority. It is this silent majority who eventually go against what the big media tells us and voice their own love and respect for the Man of Steel.

So we all know that Superman will save the day in the end, but what Justice League willl deal with is his reasons why. Why does superman never lose faith in humanity, why does he fight for what seems like an ungrateful world, why does he protect both saint and sinner alike?
Superman represents HOPE and how ideals can still be kept alive in our current dismal world.


- previous film portrayals: A joke
Now instead of doing away completely with the joke Green Lantern played by Ryan Reynolds, he will lend unintended comic relief to the team. He has a massive inferiority complex which he covers up with his wisecracks. Having a weapon of unlimited potential, powered by will and the human imagination, he is easily the most powerful of the team. Yes, even more powerful than superman.
Green Lantern is the boy who tries too hard and trips over his own feet. In wanting to impress, he screws up big time. This carries on the theme that was left hanging in the Green Lantern movie: Hal wants to live up to his father's memory. He wants to be a hero people can look up to, but he tries too hard. His ring contructs are more showy than functional, he speaks first before thinking.
Lack of fear leads to impulsiveness, leads to rash decisions with unintended consequences. Since we already have seen the positives of being without fear, it is only right that we see the flip side. In Justice League, Green Lantern will be the symbol of all that is negative about having no fear.
His character arc will also be one where he learns that true heroism does not seek glory. 


- Previous portrayals: The campy caped hero, the dark gothic detective, the grim avenger of the downtrodden,
Yes, Batman has had the most varied portrayals on screen. Yet one thing they all have in common is that Batman is revealed to be Bruce wayne very early on. I intend to buck the trend. First, Batman/Bruce Wayne will be the most mysterious of the lot. He is the manipulator from behind the scenes. His methods are unseen, his intentions are vague and contradictory. It is so contradictory that by the end of the movie, the audience will be questioning if indeed Bruce Wayne in this film is Batman. Unlike previous portrayals of Bruce as a kind philanthropist who uses his money to help the poor, this movie will portray him as a mirror Lex Luthor. He only helps people for good publicity, his ruthless business deals and buyouts are slowly encroaching on Lex Corp's subsidiaries, he beds foreign super models on a bi-daily basis. Though he is well learned, he is prone to twist words and manipulate dialogue to his advantage. Plus he is a complete asshole in person. Any interested journalist has been completely turned off by Wayne's manipulation of every single interview session. The press has closed the case on Wayne's personal life and focused on his ruthless business dealings. All of this is exactly according to Wayne's plans.

Instead of taking inspiration from Batman comics, i take inspiration from horror movies; primarily the Saw series. Like "Jigsaw", "Batman" is actually many people, and throughout the whole movie you will never get a full reveal of how Batman's costume looks like; much like in horror movies like Alien. 

Referencing Batman Inc and the Bat Family, "Batman"'s operation is an international one. In Gotham alone, there are 6 operatives. Bruce Wayne (33) is the brains and overall coordinator of this international anti-crime effort. He also doubles as "main Batman" (who does the talking). Dick Grayson (21), Jason Todd(19) , Tim Drake(16) and at least 5 more young adult men are his "sidekicks" or "other Batmen". All of these people were "Recruited" into Batman's underground organisation secretly. All of them share a similar profie: A great injustice was done upon them, Bruce Wayne takes them under his wing and hones their feelings into a determination toward preventing such injustice from ever befalling others.

Having multiple Batmen with multiple body builds keeps the legend and the mystery (along with the fear) alive. One crook says Batman is 6 feet tall and imposing, the next crook says he is sleek and agile, the next crook says he is short but viscious. Yet all the different Batmen fight in the same style. They even carry recordings of Bruce's Batman voice. Other accomplices include Barbara Gordon the computer wiz know as Oracle, weapons designer Lucius Fox, detective Renee Montoya and Commisioner Jim Gordon. However, most of Wayne's accomplices dont even know of the existence of the other accomplices. All this is to be revealed only by the end of the movie when, after everyone suspects Batman to be Bruce Wayne, we throw in a "Nick Fury twist" and have Batman save Wayne in front of the media and the rest of the Justice League. 

- previous portrayals: Warrior woman unfamiliar with the ways of men's world, upright defender of the oppressed, hot headed team action girl
Yet there is one aspect from the Wonder Woman comics that the media never tried to portray: the foreign representative of the Amazon women. This time, we make her a diplomat and give Themyscria a more "real world" overhaul similar to the treatment given to "Asgard" in Marvel's cinematic Thor. In Justice League, Themyscria is merely a previously unknown island civillisation whos culture and level of technology seem stuck in the times of ancient Greece. They seem to be a matriarchal society run by women but urban myths and rumors indicate that they are an all female population. First encounter with Themyscria occured during World War II when pilot Steve Trevor,  enroute on a desperate rescue mission, crashed onto the island. A warrior woman representative was tasked of returning Trevor to USA but instead accompanied Trevor on his mission into the heart of Europe.(These events will be further fleshed out in the Wonder Woman stand alone movie which will serve as a prequel to Justice League). Though their involvement in the war was limited, USA offered Themyscria diplomatic ties. They accepted but remained passive in pursuing foreign relations.

In present day, The island nation possesses no threat to foreign power, nor does it have the size or natural resources to interest any country in dealing with it. The Amazon women inhabitants make ends meet through subsistence farming, they worship ancient greek gods like Hera and Aphrodite. Yet their island is continually shrouded by a natural cloud cover that makes satellite surveillance near impossible. Dangerous reefs prevent ships from passing nearby. Due to its near non-existence in international politics or media, the island nation faded from the world's eye until recently.

The massacre at Coast City and the events of "Man of Steel" have spurred Themyscria to send forth a new envoy: Diana, most worthy of warriors and royal princess of the island nation. "Wonder Woman" is the name the media dubs Diana, in reference to her commanding presence, determined personality and perfect physique that conveys equal measure of strength and femininity. Her diplomatic robes harken back to the Greek politicians while her battle garb will be similar to Xena. See left for example.
(ya ok this is a mock up, not done by me at all. But imagine away the battle damage and this is essentially Xena's outfit but with Wonder Woman's colors. Perfect fit for a live action film)

Anyway, WW's role in this will be the voice of reason. She will be the first to give voice to that silent majority that do not agree with the media's slander of Superman. This references back to her earliest comic appearance in which the silent ones who had no say were women at that time.

- previous portrayals: team jokster, most immature and impulsive,
In perhaps the most controversial move ever, The Flash will only be given his power at the END of the movie. Throughout the film, it will focus on Barry Allen and flesh out his role as a failed forensics scientist turned private investigator. Since the team jokster and comic relief role is taken by Green Lantern, Barry Allen here will be the "human element" in the group. As a private investigator, Allen is now obsessed with investigating white collar crime, particularly the big moguls like Bruce Wayne, LEx Luthor and Digger Harkness (fans will remember him as Flash villian Captain Boomerang). He is currently reaching a breakthrough in his investigation on Harkness but has reached a brick wall. 

With little choice left, Barry reluctantly turns to Bruce Wayne for help. Wayne claims to have incriminating evidence against Harkness but Barry knows that Wayne is just manipulating him to topple a competitor. For Barry it is a moral question of "Do the ends justify the means". What BRuce is getting Barry to do is definitely illegal but it coincides with Barry's intent to take down a corrupt billionaire and bring justice for the little people. This brings in the second more nihilistic theme: becoming a devil to fight the devil. By bringing justice to one corrupt millionaire, Barry will unwillingly be helping another. 

Now, the Flash's origin as a superfast speedster has always bordered on the unbelievable side. Getting doused in chemicals and struck by lightning? We will thus introduce the concept of the "Speed Force"  and be explicit about Barry becoming exposed to the Speed Force, thus setting up his origin as "The Flash". But before that, we shall work the whole "running fast" into a recurring theme for his character. 

 Barry Allen is a man on the run, figuratively. He sweeps his problems and his past under the rug and moves on. Running away from problems and confrontation rather than facing them down. In Barry's hero journey, it is a simple lesson that some things cannot be dealt with by running away. It is a lesson of courage in the face of danger and taking an active stance against a problem rather than trying to solve it from behind the scenes.(eg: private investigation).


The idea here is to play up his inhuman appearance. Preferably, ditch the costume and just go with a very "Alien" look: long head, double jointed jegs, elongated claws etc. Martian Manhunter has always been like the Charles Xavier of the Justice League. As such, we want to play up his mental powers and less on his physical powers. Physically he will look long, lanky and almost weak; a stark contrast to Superman and the rest.
Despite his inhuman appearance, his psychic powers enables him understand humanity in ways no person can ever hope to, thus making him the most "human" among the team. He wont be called by his comic book name but will be continually refered to as "the Martian". His backstory wil be a bit changed: instead of teleporting to earth, he came to earth as the leader of a refugee craft in the 1950s escaping the destruction of Martian society by an unknown threat. The craft crashed on earth (sparking off the UFO craze of the 50s).

He will be incredibly essential to the plot of the Justice League film. 

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