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If teaming up worked for Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk, it has to work for Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, right?
Warner Bros. Pictures seems to think so, as Variety reported yesterday that the studio has hired a new writer to bring DC Comics' "Justice League" to the big screen. Just as "The Avengers" assembled the biggest heroes from Marvel Comics, "Justice League" would see DC's iconic characters joining forces to save the world. (DC Comics is a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment.) The fact that "The Avengers" is now the third highest-grossing film of all time with $1.3 billion worldwide seems to have reignited the fire to get the other legendary superhero team up on movie screens.
Variety's report states that Will Beall, who wrote the upcoming "Gangster Squad" (starring Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin) for Warner Bros., has been hired to take on the screenplay. Beall previously wrote for TV's "Castle," but he has also been announced as the writer for new movie versions of "Logan's Run" and "Lethal Weapon 5."
While interest in a "Justice League" movie has certainly been rekindled by the record-breaking success of "The Avengers," the project has been in the works for several years. Director George Miller ("Mad Max," "Happy Feet") was hired for the film in the fall of 2007, with production scheduled to begin the next year for a planned 2009 release.
The original plan was to have a completely fresh cast of actors take on the comic book roles, separate from any existing franchise. Unlike "The Avengers," where the original stars returned, this would have a different cast (so no Christian Bale as Batman). At the time, Armie Hammer ("The Social Network") was attached to play Batman, with D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as the Flash, and Megan Gale as Wonder Woman.
The Writer's Guild strike in late 2007 put a halt to the project, however. The production went into an indefinite hiatus, with George Miller moving on to a new "Mad Max" reboot, which is scheduled to start filming soon. In the intervening years, Warner Bros. released the disappointing "Green Lantern," with "The Dark Knight Rises" coming this summer and the new Superman film "The Man of Steel" slated for next June.
That wasn't the first time Warner Bros. tried and failed to get DC's heaviest hitters together in one movie. In the early 2000s, the studio developed "Batman Vs. Superman," which would have pitted the two heroes against each other (though in the end they would team up to take on Lex Luthor). Josh Hartnett was rumored for Superman, with Colin Farrell considered for Batman. But that was eventually shelved in favor of Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins."
Currently, there isn't a director, cast or release date for "Justice League," but summer of 2014 seems like it would be the earliest we could expect to see it. There are also a host of individual DC superhero movies in development, including the Flash, Wonder Woman, and Lobo.
It's also unclear if Warner Bros. still plans to keep the "Justice League" as a separate continuity from the standalone movies, or integrate them the way Marvel built up to "The Avengers." When Joss Whedon, the director of "The Avengers" was asked if he had any advice for the people making "Justice League," he jokingly answered, "Call me." He followed it by saying that it's harder to bring DC characters to the screen than Marvel since they are "from an old, bygone era" where heroes were less flawed and grounded. And Whedon would know, since he tried to bring "Wonder Woman" to the screen in another project that stalled out several years ago.
UPDATE: Mark Millar, the writer who created the comic books the inspired the movies "Wanted" and "Kick-Ass," posted on his official website MillarWorld.tv that someone he knows is friends with screenwriter Will Beall and got a peek at the unfinished "Justice League" script. Millar reported that the new take on the movie is "Very real-world and not at all what you might expect." He said Beall began working on the script before "The Avengers" hit theaters, and that the "tidbits I heard sound quite dark and mature, which isn't what I expected."
Which DC Comics characters would you most like to see in a "Justice League" movie, and who would you want to play them? Tell us in the comments.
Watch the latest trailer for 'The Dark Knight Rises':