The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) may already be a bonafide box office sensation, but the franchise still has an uphill battle ahead of it in order to win over fans who still aren’t behind films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. Let’s not even delve into the horrendous critical reception both films received last year. By the looks of the DCEU’s 2017 slate, the series could be poised to turn a corner in the near future, with many holding out hope that Wonder Woman could be the best installment yet.
However, the real test for the DCEU may very well come with Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The film will finally unite Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) with the likes of the Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) in the first live-action incarnation of DC Comics’ premier superhero team.
Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) truly came into its own with the game-changing extravaganza that was The Avengers, Justice League needs to find ways to surpass writer and director Joss Whedon’s 2012 film with their own superhero team-up. Here are a few ways in which Justice League could best Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
1. A more diverse cast of characters
While The Avengers comfortably sits among the highest-grossing films of all time, the film’s cast doesn’t exactly represent the most diverse depiction of big-screen heroes. Rather than a team made up of almost exclusively white males, the Justice League improves upon this cliche with six lead actors from a wide variety of backgrounds. From Israeli-born Gal Gadot to Hawaiian Jason Momoa, the cast better reflects the melting pot that makes up present-day society, marking a notable improvement for such a high-profile film franchise. That’s a step that Marvel has certainly taken its time building up to.
2. More balance among the marquee heroes
While the Avengers’ big-screen adventures feature such marquee heroes as Thor, the Hulk, and Captain America, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man often winds up taking up the bulk of the screen time. From a business standpoint, this makes a ton of sense — as Downey’s mainstream appeal served as the very foundation of the MCU — but Justice League would do well to strike a more even balance among its core heroes, maintaining an ensemble feel that The Avengers sometimes loses track of.
3. A stronger opening sequence
As much fun as The Avengers is, that opening sequence — in which Loki steals the spear from a “secure” SHIELD facility — has always felt a bit generic and flat compared to the adventure that follows. Of course, it’s only the prologue to the real action, but this sequence fails to truly give audiences a hint of what’s to come. Perhaps Justice League can avoid this misstep with a standout opening in the tradition of Batman v Superman‘s Battle of Metropolis, maybe even giving us our first true glimpse at Aquaman himself.
4. Establish a fully formed shared universe
Over the past eight years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been careful to gradually expand its mythos to include space adventures (Guardians of the Galaxy), sentient robots (Avengers: Age of Ultron), and mysticism (Doctor Strange).
Meanwhile, the DCEU has taken the opposite approach, leaping headfirst into an expansive shared universe involving Kryptonians, Amazon warriors, Atlantis, speedsters, and cyborgs. While previous films in the franchise have barely scratched the surface of these elements, Justice League is the DCEU’s chance to truly go for broke. Rather than play it safe, we’re hoping that the film finds a way to balance all these disparate elements into a sprawling, interconnected world that we can’t wait to revisit.
5. A grand, epic scope that goes all-out
The Battle of New York was such an awe-inspiring sequence in The Avengers because of the way in which the titular heroes were able to work together, seemingly bringing the pages of Marvel’s comics to life like no release had previously been able to.
However, the far more powerful heroes of Justice League mean that the bar has been raised that much higher. The visually dynamic powers of godlike figures like Superman and Wonder Woman alone demand a grander scale than the climactic showdown in The Avengers. Add in the Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and the ever-resourceful Batman, and audiences may be in for something truly mind-blowing next year.
Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable
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