What Could Have Been, Part 3: the Justice League Movie
10.01.10 by Ryan
Part One of "What Could Have been" explored the ideas in X-Men 3, before Bryan Singer left to direct Superman Returns, while Part Two examined the unproduced script for a potential Christopher Reeve-starring Superman 5.
In part three, we look at George Miller's canceled adaptation of Justice League. The movie was set to start in 2007 with a cast filled with mostly unknowns: D.J. Cotrona as Superman and Armie Hammer as Batman were offset by The O.C.'s Adam Brody as The Flash and rapper/actor Common as the Green Lantern. Brody revealed in July of 2009 that the cast was assembled in Australia for rehearsals, but "sets hadn't been built yet". In an interview with Collider, Hammer (The Social Network) talked about the production.
I was up for the role of Batman in George Miller's Justice League, and it was going to be, in my opinion, one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. The universe that George Miller created, and the work that he did on that, was unlike anything I had ever seen. He approached that like a psychologist. He wanted to show the truth of these comic book characters in a way that I don't think they'd been shown on film before. It's unfortunate that he never got a chance to show the world what he had, but we all saw it. We saw all the pre-vis[ualization] stuff. He had a room that had floor to ceiling storyboard depictions of the entire movie. So you could walk around the entire room — take you about an hour — but you would get the entire movie. He had it all figured out.
Hammer admitted he spent in total "a month and a half" in Australia, mostly "training with the Special Forces" before the production was shut down. So what happened? Hammer told MTV that the Writer's Strike of 2007 was just the beginning.
We were about to start shooting when the writer's strike happened at the end of 2007, and then the Australian government denied a 40% tax rebate that they thought they were going to have, so a lot of things just when wrong. It's unfortunate, because the amount of work that was already done — I mean, they had finished pre-production and they were a couple of days away from starting to shoot, so it's a shame that nobody got to see all of the work that got put into it.
Jay Baruchel, who was cast as one of the movie's villains, told Digital Spy in August that, with the tax rebate gone, the movie's budget would have been one of the biggest ever.
The problem was that, had it gone to production, it would have been the single most expensive movie in the history of movies. Sometimes people are reticent to spend upwards of $300 million.
Like Hammer, Baruchel's comments echoed that Miller had come up with something special.
I'll just say this, if we had been able to make the movie that we had gone down [to Australia] to rehearse, if you had seen the production art I'd seen ... it would've been the coolest thing ever. It would have been the neatest vision of Batman and the coolest vision of Superman you've ever seen. It would have been dark and fairly brutal and quite gory and just f**king epic.
So will comic book fans ever see a Justice League movie? Perhaps. Producer Dan Lin said that a Justice League movie was "on hold" in December of last year, but recent comments by DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson revealed that the company wasn't "going to mirror Marvel's strategy," noting Marvel's upcoming superhero team-up movie The Avengers as an example. Considering director Christopher Nolan is confirmed to direct Batman 3, set to produce a reboot of Superman, and has revealed that he wouldn't bring both characters together, it seems like DC is letting Nolan's influence dictate the future of Justice League for now.
However, even if DC Entertainment eventually changes its mind, as logic would indicate if DC's Green Lantern and The Avengers find success at the box office, it likely won't be Miller's version, which only lived long enough to be displayed in storyboard form around a room in Australia.