Just not in the way the writers intended…
For the past few years we’ve only spoken of George Miller‘s mysterious (and long dead) Justice League project in hushed tones filled with speculation and rumor. We know that back in 2007 production on Justice League: Mortal was suddenly halted and the superhero team-up flick (that predates the Marvel Cinematic Universe FYI.,) faded off into the limbo of lost movies… a project that would eternally be shrouded mystery. That is until now. Superhero Movie News leaked an apparently authentic draft of the script online late last night. I have read it, and to quickly summarize: we’re very lucky this JLA movie was DOA. VERY damn we are lucky.
That maybe a bit harsh, after all the Mad Max director did have a solid (albeit virtually unknown at the time) cast for the film. Armie Hammer was to don the cowl of Batman, D.J. Cotrona was to be Superman, Adam Brody as The Flash and Megan Gale as Wonder Woman would fill out the main roles. At the time the script sounded interesting enough, a mishmash of multiple comic book arcs including JLA Tower of Babel and Batman’s increasing post Identity Crisis paranoia. Penned by Kieran and Michele Mulroney (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,) the story would also have featured the John Stewart Green Lantern (played by rapper Common,) the Wally West Flash ( Star Trek‘s Anton Yelchin) Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and more. It would also feature villains like Talia al Ghul, Maxwell Lord and even the Brother Eye satellite. Sounds like a lot of movie, doesn’t it? Well it apparently was a bank breaker too since the budget ballooned way out of control and when you pair that with writers strike that struck just as production was about to commence in Miller’s native Australia the movies fate was sealed.
So, what was the man who made Happy Feet going to do with this gargantuan undertaking? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. Anecdotally, we once had a guest (who would want to remain nameless on this subject) on The BastardCast that was involved with Justice League: Mortal that spoke off the record about the project. They gave no details but said that there would have been things fans absolutely loved and other things they completely would have hated.
After reading it, I can see a lot of what Mr. mystery guest meant. Again if you want to download the script for yourself you can head over to Superhero Movie News, but if you are one of those ‘reading is for jerks’ types I’ll give you a brief idea of what it was about.
Saying this would have been a ‘big’ movie is an understatement. It’s firmly entrenched around the satellite era(s) of the league and flows between human interaction with the heroes dueling social commentary and then jumps to galactic level high stakes action scenes (including an ending that revisits the end of the Silver Age of comics in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8.) I am aware that on the surface everything I have said sounds like a great movie. Hell, it would be THE Justice League movie! Pulling from multiple eras into some weird synergized monster so grand in scope that it would… well, it would have crushed itself under it’s own weight.
As I read it (ok, I’ll be honest… I started to skim pretty early on, you know ’cause… reading) it became abundantly clear. There was way too much movie on those pages. It’s as if the writers wanted to quickly jam in the 50 or so past years of DC Comic’s into one instant made movie universe. I’m no slouch at the DC Comics universe, I have many well worn issue of Who’s Who, and even I found it awkward and hard to follow in places. It was rushed and over-saturated, filled with too many characters all desperately trying to grab a minute or two of development.
It did seem more or less faithful to the source material on a surface level, but some odd choices were made like who (spoiler) snaps Maxwell Lord’s neck and why.
Maybe it was the 2007-08 writers strike that dealt the coup de grâce to the project. Maybe some much needed re-writes would have give the film a less muddled/fanbeing feel that would have appealed more to the movie going masses. We never will know. If this script is infact genuine it shows that George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal can live on as a fantastic testament on the bloat the previous superhero movie boom experienced (Batman & Robin anyone?) and how the modern capes and tights films can face the same.
Yes, comic books are ‘big’ but that doesn’t mean through everything you can at the screen and see if it sticks. I’ve gone on record a few times already that with each coming comic book movie I get a little more concerned that they will inch past that line and suffer the weird continuity entropy that comes with some 75 years of four color pages… I thought a lot about that while reading the script for Miller’s JLA movie.
Anyone know Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon’s email addresses?