The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has rival studios everything slobbering in envy and planning their own massive crossover franchises. But it's Warner Bros and DC Comics that look to have the best chance to replicate that MCU success, and just as Marvel Studios built up to The Avengers, they have a clear and certain goal – a Justice League movie.
Justice League Comic-Con trailer: epic and funny
A new trailer for Justice League arrived at San Diego Comic-Con 2017 and it's more than four minutes long. It's also absolutely packed, giving us plenty of Wonder Woman action, more of Cyborg and The Flash as well as more of a look at baddie Steppenwolf.
The trailer also teases the return of Superman, obviously he's coming back, we just don't yet know how.
With Joss Whedon having taken the reins from Zack Snyder we're also happy to see there's a bit more lighteness and humour in this, much of it coming from The Flash (whose standalone title 'Flashpoint' was also announced).
Justice League title: A surprisingly obvious choice
Rumours were starting to bubble over what the film would be subtitled. 'Justice League: Revenge of the Superhumans'? 'Justice League: Wonder Woman, the Flash and Cyborg Attack'? 'Justice League: Better Than the Avengers. Who are the Avengers Anyway?'?
But writer (and now DC Film head) Geoff Johns stepped in to shoot down all speculation. Rather than following in the footsteps of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Warners is simply going with 'Justice League'. It's so crazy it might just work.
Justice League director: Last minute changes
Zack Snyder returned after Man of Steel and Batman v Superman to direct DC's big team-up.
However, Joss Whedon has stepped in in post-production after a family tragedy led to Snyder stepping down from the movie.
Ben Affleck has called the movie "an interesting product of two directors, both with kind of unique visions, both with really strong takes. I've never had that experience before making a movie."
The expected rumours abound about the extent of the changes Whedon is making to Snyder's work. Reshoots have taken place, but that's not necessarily anything unusual.
Chris Terrio (Batman v Superman, Argo) is on screenwriting duties.
Justice League cast: Who's joining Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman?
We already have our core heroes, with Ben Affleck's Batman and Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman having made their debuts in Batman v Superman after Henry Cavill got the ball rolling in Man of Steel as Superman.
Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) all cameoed in Batman v Superman too, ensuring that the 'Dawn of Justice' tag really did signify the 'dawn of the Justice League' – and now they're making their full debuts.
(Fisher has also gone and got frighteningly buff.)
But there is one other standard member of the group who may be missing, and that's Green Lantern. Whichever version of the hero they decide to feature (Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner being the main four), it was reported that he/they won't be showing up before or during Justice League at all. Although more recent rumours have contradicted that, so maybe Green Lantern will show up as the mystery seventh Justice League member after all. Armie Hammer (who was to be Batman in the cancelled Justice League: Mortal film) seems to be the favourite for the role.
It's not all superheroes – JK Simmons will be joining the cast as the newest Commissioner James Gordon. How we will manage to separate him from the memories of his role as Spider-Man's J Jonah Jameson, we're not sure – possibly by becoming completely buff for the role.
Amber Heard will play Aquaman's wife Mera, who in all fairness has solid superhuman credentials all of her own. Check out our first look at her in costume, emerging from beneath the ocean, where shoulder pads are still the height of fashion.
Saw this hydrokinetic vision come out of the sea and snapped a photo with my Leica. pic.twitter.com/rwU54XzScK- Zack Snyder (@ZackSnyder) October 12, 2016
Kiersey Clemons will also be making her DCEU debut as The Flash character Iris West.
(Although there's a chance like she might not be his wife quite yet. "It starts off initially with them not quite clicking with each other," Aquaman director James Wan told Bustle. It depends when his solo movie is set in relation to Justice League.)
Connie Nielsen will reprise her role as Wonder Woman's mum, the Amazon queen Hippolyta, and Robin Wright's General Antiope is reportedly back as well. Willem Dafoe is on board too, apparently as Aquaman's long-time Atlantean ally Nuidis Vulko. And Welsh Invictus actor Julian Lewis Jones is on board in a mysterious role.
One actor who won't be back for more DCEU is Laurence Fishburne – aka Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White. Partly that is due to a scheduling clash, but he also asked "what do you need the newspaperman in Justice League for?" Fair point, Larry.
What about the villains? This isn't Civil War, after all, so the Justice League will need someone to punch. Jesse Eisenberg has confirmed that he's be back as Lex Luther, left hairless and institutionalised at the end of Dawn of Justice.
There's also a rumour that Jared Leto might make an appearance as the Joker after his Suicide Squad debut.
The villain Darkseid (aka the 'god of evil') was very heavily hinted at in Batman v Superman –but it looks like the Thanos-esque character won't be the big bad of the movie. Instead we will get Steppenwolf – a character with strong links to Darkseid and a member of the superpowered race called the New Gods – who we caught a glimpse of in a Batman v Superman deleted scene. Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones, Rome) has taken on the role.
"Maybe he exists out there in the universe," Snyder told Empire when asked about Darkseid. "Maybe he's looking for something. Something that is against life?" (That's a thing called the Anti-Life Equation which robs people of free will, FYI.) So the film may at least continue working towards his eventual appearance.
Justice League release date: The biggest year in superheroics yet
Justice League will be released on November 17, 2017, rounding off what is probably the busiest year in Hollywood superhero movies so far. There will be seven DC and Marvel adaptations coming out, and that doesn't even count the Lego Batman film and all the TV and Netflix properties.
A second movie, Justice League: Part Two, was originally reported to follow on June 14, 2019 – a whole 19 months later. But strangely enough, the latest word from producer Deborah Snyder is that it was never planned to begin with – although it looks like a second, standalone film might be in the works.
Justice League plot: Building the team
Here's the official synopsis:
"Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy.
"Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat.
"But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes – Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash – it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions."
Superman will be returning from the dead too, one way or another. Try to look surprised.
Henry Cavill has even teased the black costume and mullet look – a classic from the original time that Superman died (but not really) back in the '90s. Naturally, we are so up for this.
Justice League is taking a different approach to the gradual build-up to 2012's Avengers. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all received their own solo films before Marvel brought them together.
But Justice League will be jumping the gun, with only Superman and Wonder Woman getting completely solo outings first. Which means that the group film will probably have to take more time introducing its stars properly and forging them into a working unit.
Aquaman and The Flash will come afterwards, and have been billed as continuations of their stories from Justice League. It seems that the film will take us into Aquaman's underwater kingdom of Atlantis, with a sneak peak at Patrick Wilson's Ocean Master, too.
It's now looking likely that Cyborg will be join The Flash in his standalone, afterdirector Rick Famuyiwa (who has since dropped out of directing The Flash, but never mind) teased us with this tantalising picture on twitter which appears to feature the feet of both the Flash and Cyborg in Funko Mystery Mini toy form.
The first trailer also revealed evidence that the Reverse-Flash is active in the DCEU, although we wouldn't expect him to show up until Miller's solo film.
Writer Terrio also says that it won't be as gritty and dark as Snyder's other DC films, which comes as a bit of a relief. Get your fingers crossed now for some actual colour on screen – that would be a good start.
Justice League trailer and filming: Where are we up to?
Justice League began shooting on April 11 in the UK and also shot in Italy.
A teaser trailer was revealed at San Diego Comic-Con on 23rd of July during a Hall H panel and it was pretty impressive.
In it we get to have a proper look at Jason Momoa's beefy Aquaman, Ezra Miller's speedy The Flash and Ray Fisher's metallic-y Cyborg. We also get a bit more time with Wonder Woman, who also got her own first trailer during the same panel.
The posters for Justice League was also reveal showing a bit more colour than the rather muted Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which got an Ultimate Edition home ents release showcasing 30 more mins of footage this summer too.
When shooting wrapped up in London in early October, we were also treated to some more footage, including plenty of behind the scenes, making-of stuff, as well as a first peak at Henry Cavill on set and back in costume.
Snyder has also revealed a picture of Batfleck in his 'tactical suit'.
The complaints that it look like Nite Owl's costume from Snyder's other divisive superhero film, Watchmen, came thick and fast.
This is the Batman/Nite Owl costume. How many movies until we are just actually watching Watchmen again? pic.twitter.com/CAh5j5E7XC- SuperMawL (@SupermawL) September 14, 2016
...although we're more concerned about the shades. Do we really want the kind of person who wears sunglasses at night patrolling the streets?
Will Justice League have a sense of humour?
The DC/Warner Bros films have become defined by a grim 'n' gritty, extremely serious style, but things may start to change in Justice League.
Affleck has said that his Batman will reveal that he does have a sense of humour during the movie. The first trailer seems to confirm that, with the mildly funny "I hear you can talk to fish" line with which he teases Aquaman, plus a bit of bantz with Wonder Woman. Ok, so it's a largely 'ironic gallows humour', but we'll take what we can get.
We've also been promised that it will be less Snyder-y (a new adjective that's all the rage). Geoff Johns has said that the film will feature fewer of the "controversial flourishes" that dogged Man of Steel and Batman v Superman.
"Mistakenly in the past I think the studio has said, 'Oh, DC films are gritty and dark and that's what makes them different'," he told the Wall Street Journal.
"That couldn't be more wrong. It's a hopeful and optimistic view of life. Even Batman has a glimmer of that in him. If he didn't think he'd make tomorrow better, he'd stop."
Assistant director Damon Caro has compared Justice League's more positive tone to Return of the Jedi – partially in an attempt to explain away the dour Batman v Superman with an Empire Strikes Back analogy.
Miller also seems to be promising some comic relief as the Flash "annoys everybody".
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