4. Don't Be a Sausage Fest
The most cynical part of my brain thinks that someone in the planning stages for these kinds of things says to themselves "Well, we've got the black one and we've got a woman. If only we had a black woman, we'd have room for a second Batman. Somehow."
But in truth, I know that the bench isn't especially deep when it comes to well-known female characters in the DCU (Wonder Woman? Power Girl?) who also have power sets that are different enough from Wonder Woman's to be visually interesting on screen. Maybe Hawkgirl, yet another character from the DC Animated U who's pulled in her own fans over the years? (Movies need more rage-filled bird people.)
Likewise, Black Canary and Zatanna could make for an interesting fit (with the latter addressing how magic works in the cinematic universe), but I'd like to offer a very decent proposal.
It's an easy fix and addresses one of my earlier don'ts: give us a female Green Lantern. Again, unless you're Geoff Johns, you do not care about Hal Jordan, like, at all. So straight up replace him, or say that our sector has more than one protector. Do something better than one of out seven when it comes to female members of the League's membership (ditto minority representation with Cyborg).
And speaking of giving us the same old same old...
3. Don't Make it "Batman is Awesome (and the Justice League Does Stuff, Too)"
There's probably no one who loves "ultra-competent, shit-kicking Batman" more than me, but it's also a little played-out. Here's hoping Batman/Superman defuses some of that in its depiction of the Caped Crusader, but if anyone involved in Justice League has an itch to show Batman outwitting not only the villains but his teammates... let's not.
The thing that I love the best about those stories where it's Batman vs. the League is that they've been earned: the character has established trust with his fellow heroes and a very human relationship with them. Contrast this with an early issue of the New 52's Justice League where Batman punks Hal Jordan and steals his ring right off of Green Lantern's finger.
Now, allowing for how incredibly stupid and illogical this scene is (so anytime Green Lantern is distracted, his ring will fall off?), it also makes Hal Jordan look like a punk and Batman, in turn, like an unrepentant dick. From a practical standpoint, it does a disservice to your potential line of superhero movies when you've spent a couple of hours showing that your super team is pretty cool, but Batman is really the only one that matters.
2. Don't Give Us Another Last-Act Punch Party
Allow me to reenact the final act of Man of Steel:
Cue: inexplicable Lois and Superman kiss.
My senses felt assaulted by the time Man of Steel was over and done, nearly done in and worn out by a repetitive series of grimly-lit action beats which neither escalated the story nor showed us the cool powers that our super powered characters had.
Now magnify that with an entire super team and I'm already prepared to carry around a bottle of Ibuprofen for the inevitable headache.
Not only should a Justice League movie be a showcase for the varied and interesting powers of our heroes, but it should also give them threats that tax them both mentally as well as physically. Seriously, if Batman (ninja genius detective), Flash (brilliant scientist, forensics expert), and Wonder Woman (the world's greatest tactician) are on your team, give them more than just things to hit, give them challenges.
And don't make "working with each other" the main challenge.
1. Don't Make Them All Horrible Dicks to One Another
With Batman/Superman, Zack Snyder has promised a battle royale between the two heroes inspired, in part, by The Dark Knight Returns (if you'll recall, he used one of Frank Miller's particularly scathing attacks on Superman as a quote accompanying the announcement of the sequel). Good, go ahead, more power to him - let that film get the heroes vs. heroes thing out of everyone's collective system.
Then give us a badass team movie where the strongest and smartest people on Earth are actually teaming up to do something, rather than stopping their own in-fighting long enough to punch something else.
At the heart of most great stories is conflict, and at the core of the best team-ups is conflict and tension. That's great, exciting stuff from which we can see our characters grow, evolve, and learn to trust one another. But that doesn't mean they should be out for blood or necessarily out for one another's blood.
If, however, it's just collection of angry, bickering assholes, then what's the point? It's reductive and juvenile, making a collection of grown-ass adults instead a collection of moody teens (again, see the New 52 version of the JL early in its run for the clearest examples of this). It robs the story of any kind of warmth or sense that any of these characters would bothered to be around one another once the credits roll.
And that's what we want, ultimately: a story about a bunch of heroes who learn how to be heroes together.
Previously by Charles Webb