to be helmed by "Man of Steel" and "Batman vs. Superman" director Zack Snyder.It's no secret that Warner Bros. is showing up late to the superhero super team party with its planned "Justice League" film,
DC's answer to Marvel's big screen hero mashup will include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, likely Cyborg, and possibles ranging from Green Lantern, Flash, and even Aquaman.
The expected 2018 release date of "League" will come a full six years after Marvel and Disney's 2012 "Avengers." Mix that with Snyder's spotty box office track record, fan hatred over Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and "League" appears to be fighting an uphill battle.
All those issues are no reasons to shy from the challenge says Mike Zapcic of AMC’s “Comic Book Men.” "Warner Bros. has to man up and put some stuff on the table," he tells Yahoo Movies, speaking over the phone while working the register at Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash comic book store in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Snyder's monstrous "Steel" was made for a whopping $225 million — not including the millions spent on marketing. It managed to make it into the black with $668 million worldwide, but that's still less than half of the "Avengers" $1.5 billion global take. In spite of all the pomp and circumstance, last year's "Steel" only ranks at No. 10 among comic book movies — behind "Avengers," all of the "Iron Man" movies, all of the Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man" films, and also Warner Bros.'s own "Dark Knight" films.
Synder had a hit with the stylized 2006 Grecco-Roman war film "300," but he has also has bombs like 2009's "Watchmen," 2010's "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole," and 2011's female driven action movie "Sucker Punch" to live down. "I felt dumber having watched it," notes Vincent Zurzolo, COO of metropolipiscomics.com and comicconnect.com, of "Punch."
So why keep betting on the Snyder horse?
Warners execs must be very confident in the approach Snyder took with "Steel," says box office analyst Phil Contrino. "Otherwise he wouldn't have landed this gig."
Contrino contends "League" is a gamble any way you look at it, because any flaws will draw negative comparisons to "The Avengers." "It needs to hit the right notes immediately."
But look at other gambles that have paid off, argues Zapcic. "[Marvel and Disney] took a huge chance with Robert Downey Jr. … Marvel took a chance on Joss Whedon himself. His box office record is spotty, too," he says, pointing to Whedon's poor performer "Serenity." "I love 'Serenity.' I love 'Firefly.' I think he’s a genius. But Disney wasn't keen on him at first."
All three experts agree, Snyder, whose style is decidedly darker in tone than Whedon's, isn't out to copy "The Avengers." Whedon's hero flicks are light, action-packed, and funny. Snyder goes for more of a brooding tone. That's not to say he couldn't stand to "soften it up," says Zapcic. "As far as borrowing from Whedon, though, I don’t think so. All the [Christopher Nolan] Batman films have been dark." Contrino agrees, "Snyder will make the effort his own."
There are ways Warner Bros. can address catching up — and even surpass Marvel, Zapcic believes.
Here are 8 things Snyder needs to do in order to take the franchise to Marvel-level heights, according to our experts:
8. Choose a worthy adversary.
"I would love to see them fight somebody who is a legit threat, like Darkseid," says Zapcic of the evil DC Comic god, one of the most powerful in that comic universe. "One guy who is more than a match for them and they have to learn how to be a team," he tells Yahoo.
7. Don't offend fans.
"The fan base for movies like Justice League and Avengers will snap in an instant if they feel they've been wronged," adds Contrino. "Casting decisions are very crucial in a project like this," he adds, noting backlash against both Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck's casting in the upcoming Snyder-directed "Batman vs. Superman" movie. "I still think people will buy tickets, but it is something to be concerned about."
6. Get great writers.
Directing is only good as the writing says Zurzolo. "Get a great team of writers for 'Batman vs. Superman.' You have to think continuity, the long team, the whole franchise."
5. Add more hidden easter eggs.
"One of the pods in the ship in the Arctic circle in 'Man of Steel' was empty. A lot of people said that was Super Girl," says Zurzolo, who contends the more hidden gems for comic book nerds the better. "Those are the people who do your grassroots campaigns. If you don't make them feel like they have a stake in it… they’re not going to go the same way. You need that."
4. Proliferate heroes in theaters. Fast.
"Do back-to-back-to-back movies and get their name brand characters out there," advises Zapcic, who acknowledges the savvy in the way the DC characters are being introduced — a steady build from Superman, adding Batman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg in the next film, then following up with more hero additions in "League."
3. Cast unknowns.
"You don't need stars to make these movies," Zapcic asserts. "Find a couple unknowns for Green Lantern and Flash," he suggests. Warners is already taking a note from that page with the casting of stage star Ray Fisher as Cyborg in "Batman vs. Superman."
2. Bring on Aquaman.
"He doesn’t get a lot of respect, but hey, man, he’s the king of Atlantis!" notes Zurzolo.
1. Make a good movie.
Or as Zurzolo puts it: "Don't make a sh---y movie."
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