Comic Book Casting: The JUSTICE LEAGUE Movie

Fans have always loved the possibility of superhero movies, but doing team movies always seemed too big — too big a budget for special effects, too big a budget for the stars. But then they made X-Men. And then, they made The Avengers.

With those misconceptions broken, it’s time the most popular superhero team of all-time take it’s place in movie history and become the team everyone knows (and hopes) they can be, and here’s how they should do it.

The Concept:

First thimg, what it shouldn’t be. It shouldn’t be Avengers with a new coat of paint. It a sequel to 2013′s Man Of Steel but with friends. The Justice League is about the best in the world uniting to face earth-shattering, dimension-altering forces from beyond. Imagine a modern Justice League movie as Seven Samurai with superheroes. Taking the honor, resolve and tempo from things like the great pantheon of Justice League stories from the past twenty years of DC animation, this shouldn’t be about in-fighting and bickering (Marvel has that covered). This is the Justice League.

As for story, I’d seed it in the end of Man of Steel showing a reveal of Brainiac on his way to Earth — perhaps already with him being able to reach out and manipulate things to herald his arrival. In the movie itself, we’d show our individual heroes — Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern –  make their entrance and be drawn together to prepare. It’s all secretly orchestrated by a third party putting them into place we’ll later reveal is Batman, but the core fighting team for this is a lean trim four-some here. Some would argue for the full original seven, but I don’t want to sacrifice valuable screen time just to check off a perfect member roll here. This is important, and by holding off the debuts of Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and the others you can give them more time down the road.

So, Justice League vs. a creepy, TRON:Legacy-esque Brianiac that’s bearing down on Earth. It’s alien, it’s tech, and Brianiac is one of the few guys who can stand toe-to-toe with the entire team simultaneously. Especially, if he has some attack dogs chained up in storage waiting to get out.

The Director:

DC has a pretty great track record of directors — Donner on Superman, Burton on Batman, Nolan on Batman — but there’s also some misses. For this, I’d get an overseas heavyweight in director Danny Boyle. His last major work was the London Olympics open ceremonies, but his career breadth is startling — who else can say they’ve done the likes of Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. He can handle ensemble casts, he can handle special effects, he knows how to make a picture with global draw, and he knows how to handle pressure. Danny Boyle, Justice League needs you.

The Cast:

Superman – Henry Cavill: Although it was Batman Begins that relaunched DC’s flagging superhero movie franchises, it’s the upcoming Man Of Steel that’s being looked at to be the flag-bearer for the unified DC universe to come. Although no one’s seen the finished movie yet, I imagine Cavill was chosen not just for the Superman franchise but to be a part of a larger Justice League franchise and it’d be foolish not to bring him over for this.

 

Batman – Joseph Gordon Levitt: There’s a lot of argument about where the Batman franchise sits now that Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale are officially done with the character; do you pick up or do you start over? Why don’t you do both, with Levitt taking up the Batman mantle as seen in the end of The Dark Knight Rises and becoming more a behind-the-scenes schemer. To avoid overexposure, maybe Levitt is just a Nick Fury-esque character here putting the pieces into place — i.e. the formation of the Justice League — to stop the threat coming down on the Earth. Having him as a shadowy puppet master and only revealing it’s Batman, and Levitt is playing Batman, would be a great third arc or even post credits scene.


Wonder Woman – Gina Carano: MMA fighter. Actor. Degree in Psychology. Is Gina Carano a dream come true for those wishing the perfect Wonder Woman? Although she may not have the immense acting chops that would win over everyone, her work in Haywire made me a believer and doing WW for the first time as part of an ensemble piece could limit her exposure and really give her a chance to hit the high notes of a modern rendition of Diana. Plus, how great would it being known she’s being played by someone that could legitimately beat up all her macho co-stars?

 

The Flash – Bradley Cooper: DC has been on the treadmill trying to get up to speed for a Flash movie for sometime – back in 2011 I told you about my ideal version of a modern Flash movie, and that could easily fit within the plans of Justice League franchise as well. I’d love to see Cooper bounce off of the other characters, physically and verbally.

 

Green Lantern – Common: There’s green-glowing elephant in the room when thinking of a Justice League movie, but I’d side-step it somewhat — and introduce a bad-ass DC stalwart — when I’d put John Stewart into duty as Green Lantern. Say Hal is off-world out for more training — say Johns is a tenured GL who mainly works off planet that’s been following Brianiac; there’s a dozen different ways this could work, and still leave the door open for Ryan Reynolds to keep those creepily-CGIed Green Lantern tights on. And Common might seem like a rapper-first, but he’s been killing it on Hell On Wheels these past two seasons and was in line to play Green Lantern back in the early 2000s before the project was killed. Now he’s even more suited for the role, and DC would be lucky to have him.

 

Brainiac – David Tennant: Want a quick dose of support from the ardent comic fanbase? Bring in Doctor Who. It only helps that he happens to be  a great character actor who can play more than one part. I’d love to see Tennant draped in creepy, green sci-fi regalia and being a cold and calculating threat to the Justice League. he could be the reason the team is brought together, and could employ all sorts of devices from miniaturization, someone like Amazo, and maybe even a giant starfish, to choke the planet.

Comments

  1. natethegreat natethegreat says:

    Good Choices but I think Ryan Reynolds should return as the Hal Jordan Green Lantern and Batman should be recast to a younger actor who could pull off the brooding detective planning ahead Batman but also could pull off a convincing Bruce Wayne because I’m guessing the movie would also follow the JLA in their private lives when they are being Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Barry Allen etc. David Tennant is a good choice for Brainiac but also cast some actors to set up an Injustice League for a sequel.

  2. Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I’d love to see Brainiac in a Superman film. Dream casting: James Frain (The Tudors, Tron Legacy).

  3. NRD NRD says:

    Bradley Cooper seems like a great choice for Flash and I agree with the keeping Hal Jordan out of this piece, for now. I’m not sure what I think on the Batman subject on this. Maybe Warner Bros will go the way The Avengers did, leaving out Spiderman, in our case, Batman. He has a big draw to his own films and I think the first JL movie shouldn’t include him until nearer the end, but write into the story that he got offered to join and he declined. Which leads into the second film where he does become a member.

    • kzap kzap says:

      Remember Marvel didn’t have much of a choice in keeping Spiderman out of The Avengers. They licensed the rights to Sony years ago and they can’t just “buy him back” as I’ve seen many people idiotically suggest online.
      But I agree JGL shouldn’t return as Batman, Nolan intended his story to to end there, the films are their own unique, beautiful standalone thing and it would be an insult to Nolan if thy tried to continue them (however tangentially) without him, hopefully JGL has the integrity to not do it (it’s not like he needs the money) and that will be the end of that.

  4. Gina Carano as Wonder Woman. ‘Nuff said!

    But these are all pretty good picks. I do see them going with John Stewart GL over Hal. The GL movie obviously was a bust, and animated Stewart is probably the most popular Lantern outside of the typical comics crowd. I like your thinking on the Batman aspect, but I doubt Warner Bros will see it that way. Batman is what pays the bills. He’ll probably be front and center if a film is ever made.

    • kzap kzap says:

      The film’s already in production. And withe the success of The Avengers it’s a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

  5. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    Love love love the Batman aspect and the GL casting

  6. Hellblazer Hellblazer says:

    And now I will never be able to picture anyone else as Wonder Woman. Thank you.

  7. pyynk pyynk says:

    Not 100% sure on Common for John Stewart, but I do agree that John Stewart is the right decision.

  8. You win me over with Tennant as Brainiac and the substitution of John for Hal.

  9. HughesP says:

    i sometimes wonder why your scripts are never picked up this sounds like an amazing film although i think Reynolds and Cooper could have a great relationship in the film as apposed to Common :)

  10. DaveWielgosz DaveWielgosz says:

    I really like these choices a lot. But let’s do some casting on Justice League 2 where Aquaman shows up and brings the ruckus. My first choice for that dude is Joel Edgerton from Warrior and Animal Kingdom. That dude rules and he totally looks the part especially if he’s scruffy like he was in Animal Kingdom.

    • Chris Arrant Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) says:

      My pick for Aquaman was Alex Pettyfer but I cut it for space. Edgerton is a bit too much of a bruiser to be Aquaman for me.

    • natethegreat natethegreat says:

      I agree with Alex Pettyfer for Aquaman or maybe even Josh Holloway from Lost could make a good Aquaman but who should be the seventh member in my opinion it should be J’onn J’onzz a.k.a. Martian Manhunter who should be computer animated and voiced by Phil Morris who played him in Smallville.

  11. DukeJohnson DukeJohnson says:

    I really like this, and could see it working perfectly, assuming man of steel turns out good (fingers crossed).

  12. sunhero sunhero says:

    Gina Carano would be so good.
    great list

  13. DrBr00klyn DrBr00klyn says:

    I’m getting kind of tired of seeing all these JGL castings as Batman, he would work as Dick or Tim, but to be Bruce Wayne he needs to be “harder” and put on a decent amount of muscle, which (with JGL’s body type) would look ridiculous. I think he’d be a good Nightwing, because he’s more built like Dick’s lean muscle body, but I can’t see him as a Batman that can stare down Superman.

    • flakbait flakbait says:

      I think it would actually be pretty cool to get a leaner, more acrobatic Batman, one who’s not weighed down with a bunch of armor and can barely move. Certainly be more fun to watch, and would be a nice contrast to the big muscled guys on the team. On this team it’s not his job to be the muscle anyway.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      In this scenario, he’s not Bruce Wayne. He’s Batman II. Just to clarify.

    • I would like a “Batman II”. I personally want to see Warner Bros make a gamble and do a film with someone other than Bruce Wayne Bats. Chances are very slim but maybe the dark knight trilogy has opened the door for pop culture America to see someone else be Batman.

      Just think if they did a Dick Grayson Bats in the Justice League movie and it worked, how many doors it could open for the franchise: Animated Originals adapting Snyder’s Detective run or Morrison’s ‘Batman & Robin’, Gothem Central TV show, even a Batman Beyond film. WB could finally start mining all the great non-Bruce Wayne Batman properties for bigger projects.

    • DrBr00klyn DrBr00klyn says:

      Hmmm… I don’t know about a Batman II being in Justice League. I feel like we don’t know enough about the mental abilities of the JGL character from TDKRises to have him step in as the Nick fury of the team, Bruce Wayne has had that role before, but he’s long been the world’s greatest detective.

    • BionicDave BionicDave says:

      I’m afraid I’d give a thumb’s down to all these picks (except for Henry Cavill of course, and *maybe* Common as GL). But THE worst of these picks would have to be Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Batman!

      JGL is a decent actor but he’s a boy-man, he is not a man. At least not the kind of man to anchor a (potentially ongoing) cinematic Batman role. It’s for the same reason I’d never cast him as James Bond. Do I think he’d make a good Nightwing? Sure. But not a Batman.

    • kennyg kennyg says:

      JGL is 31. Thirty-one! He’s a man grown now.

  14. odysseusjak says:

    I like this, especially Carano and Tennant .

    But, honestly, I thought that the first story arc of JL in the new 52 would make a great film. I liked the way it brought people together without a lot of backstory, setting it up in the past, before there were heros, setting up for great present day second story. It’s like, yes, we know you know about Batman and Superman, etc. but this is what it was once like… That’s where I think Braniac/Tennant would work.

    Just my two cents. And, yes, I make change.

  15. Ollywood Ollywood says:

    I honestly can’t see DC not using their current JLA line-up including Hal as GL, Aquaman and Cyborg. Plus I think it would be an ideal way to reboot the Batman movie franchise rather than trying to use the remnants of the Nolanverse and maybe even redeem Ryan Reynolds as GL. Personally, I’d love to see Wes Bentley as a younger, more superhero-y Bruce Wayne / Batman.

  16. Francisco Francisco says:

    I want Gina Carano to use her lasso on me.

  17. JohnDoe101 says:

    Chris. This is your masterpiece.

  18. Drumanespic Drumanespic says:

    I also agree with a lot of the logic behind your casting choices.

    Of course, I have the odd caveat :-

    Keeping the door open for Ryan Reynolds? Wouldn’t be part of my thinking. Using the John Stewart character’s the best route, but Common isn’t an actor of the right calibre. A hard man who can really act? Idris Elba. Heimdall is so different a role, I don’t see it as a problem; he really can act.
    Would Marvel have an embargo perhaps?

    I loved Gina in Haywire, but I think extraordinary acting ability & presence is required to make Diana plausible. Could she rise to the challenge? Admittedly, I can’t think of an alternative who has the “physicality” that Gina possesses.

    The Flash should be the youthful member of the team. So, not good ‘ole Barry. Cast from a younger generation.

    Otherwise, you’re dead on! ;)

    • There’s a good chance that Gina is taking acting classes now that she and the public have had a taste of what she can do. I think there’s no other woman who could play this out there today. Today being the operative word because Lucy Lawless in her hey-day would be the square peg to this square-shaped dilemma.

    • nathematics nathematics says:

      What if the incredible physicality, athleticism, and shoulders of Gina Carano could be combined with the beauty and acting ability of Morena Baccarin?

    • Drumanespic Drumanespic says:

      I’m unable to detail my enthused & positive reponse to this suggestion without sounding like a pervy, non-PC, throwback.

      “Whooargh!” – extract from any of the U.K. “Carry-On. . .” comedy movies of the 60′s.

  19. What happen to NPH as Flash? If anything, he would be at least equally as good a Copper in his banter. Also, I feel like Copper is maybe too built, physically, for the role? Then again real sprinters look like weightlifters anyway.

    • RKB RKB says:

      I totally concur about NPH being a fantastic flash (anyone who has seen justice league frontier knows this)…however, would he be cheaper than Bradley Cooper? I feel like DC will want to tie these actors down for as long as possible for as little money as possible.

  20. RoiVampire RoiVampire says:

    Cooper would rock as Guy Gardner

  21. Heroville Heroville says:

    My choice for Barry Allen is always Ryan Gosling and if we’re going to substitute Hal for John I think the best choice is Chadwick Boseman who is going to be on a rise after 42 comes out this year and has experience playing military men.

  22. JesseCuster says:

    I’m gonna have to take the cynical/pessimistic/dickhead approach here:

    Gina Carano’s acting sucks. She’s in one movie, one of Soderberg’s WORST movies at that… and now suddenly that puts her on a voting list for WW? Good god no man. Just go fap to Carano pictures on the net and get over it.

    And ‘New Frontier’ is what the movie should be based on or aspire to be. This is the fundamental difference between JL/DC and Avengers/Marvel is how the reader/viewer identifies with the characters. A JL movie should be about larger-than-life ‘Gods’ and how they affect humanity.

    The other problem is… even using Brainiac as an example… where does it end up? What is the culmination? An alien invader with a horde of ________ attacking the Earth? Oh goody, I totally want to see that for the 100th time because it just wan’t typical enough the 99 previous times. Trying to put the JL on screen is MUCH HARDER to do than Xmen, Avengers or FF. Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes would end up being easier to adapt to film than JL. Seriously.

  23. CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

    Thank you, THANK YOU! This is an amazing list.

    They really ought to keep Reynolds out of it, if only to distance it from that stinker last year. I’ll also never quite understand why Warner Bros. didn’t take advantage of having a very high profile black super hero already in the public consciousness via the JL cartoon. Stewart is the perfect choice, and it would really mean something to have a black hero up on the screen, especially one without “Black” in his name.

    Brainiac and Darkseid really do seem the only choices, don’t they…?

  24. nathematics nathematics says:

    I like the thought of Common for GL more than I would have expected to. But Bradley Cooper could singled-handedly make me not want to see a Justice League movie.

  25. WheelHands WheelHands says:

    Chris, you and I have very different Justice League movies in mind. But who among us really shares a singular vision of what this thing should be? Or anything for that matter.

    We’re never going to see a Batman on the big screen who isn’t Bruce Wayne. Ever. I enjoy JGL as much as the next movie buff, and I absolutely love what Nolan did with DKR, but Robin John Blake is not Bruce Wayne. The character completely lacks the mystique, gravitas, discipline, and mental capacity to fill the role of Batman in the “classic” JLA. I can never decide if the majority of fans completely missed the point of Rises, or if everyone else’s interpretation of the ending to that movie/franchise simply doesn’t jive with my own. Regardless, the Nolan franchise and all it’s characters/actors are done. It’s over. Let it go.

    My vote for a more typical, seasoned, capable, and comic book accurate Batman/Bruce Wayne that would fit especially well in a Justice League film is Jon Hamm. But either way, the slate is wiped, and the smart thing to do would go in an entirely new direction with the character. Also, let’s try grey and black as a color scheme :)

    I do wholeheartedly agree with Gina Carano as Wonder Woman, and am indeed jealous that it never occured to me. Though I’m usually immensely annoyed/underwhelmed by folks who are not actors being the lead in a film, she impressed me in Haywire. What she lacks in range of emotion may just work perfectly for the role of Diana. They’ll just have to digitally alter her voice to be a little deeper as they did in Haywire.

    Ryan Gosling would be my choice for Barry Allen. The all American, bow tie sporting of it all would be a really interesting contrast to the brooding roles he’s famous for, and really I try to see anything the guy does. I think he’s one of the finest young film actors out there right now, and the chicks love him too.

    Common is not a rapper first, he’s just a rapper. Being in movies only makes you an actor on a very technical level. The guy has the magnetism of a cardboard box. To be fair, I don’t watch Hell on Wheels, but surely there’s someone more capable out there for the great John Stewart. The fanboy in me would rather have Hal Jordan (Reynolds or otherwise), but Idris Elba would be my choice, regardless of the Thor “conflict”. Truthfully, I’d be fine with anyone who’s had actual training as an actor, and fits the role physically.

    You do have some great stuff happening here, Chris. Usually I’m filled with jealous rage when you pitch someone for a role that I have never thought of, and I really admire that. The idea of Brainiac has promise (really I just wanna see Brainiac brought to the silver screen), and I really dig the idea of Batman bringing the team together from the shadows. This extremely longwinded post wasn’t intended to be confrontational. I just really enjoy this stuff, and find the conflict of character interpretations fascinating.

  26. shadybrady21 shadybrady21 says:

    Superman – Henry Cavill
    Batman – Michael Fassbender
    Martian Manhunter – Peter Mensah
    The Flash – Chris Pine
    Aquaman – Paul Walker
    Wonder Woman – Olivia Wilde
    Green Lantern – Jon Hamm

    Amazo or Darkseid as the villain

  27. kalpain kalpain says:

    I wish I knew where the whole Common as John Stewart thing started. It seems to have been floating around the internet for a while but I just don’t get it. There are any number of better actors that would be much better for that role. Just off hand Brian White from Cabin in the Woods and Laz Alonzo most recently of Breakout Kings come to mind. Nothing against Common but both of those guys are I feel would be better suited for John Stewart. Everyone else on the list is pretty close to brilliant. Dave Tennant as Brainiac. Just awesome…

  28. This is perfect casting! I can image an after credits scene featuring Starro.

  29. I did enjoy Haywire, but I don’t think Gina Carano is great casting for WW personally. Like JesseCuster mentioned, might as well go for somebody with the acting chops. None of the other actors are being casted for their real life fighting skills.

    Also the JGL as Batman thing, that was a perfect ending for Nolan’s saga, personally I don’t think that’ll be what they go with for this movie. I assume Bruce’ll be in it, played by a new guy, which sounds good to me.

    Anyway, hope this movie gets made.

  30. cpro cpro says:

    Great list and its always fun to speculate. My only big disagreement would be Bradley Cooper as the Flash/Barry Allen. I just don’t see the charisma or the ‘white-knight’ out of him. I was thinking about it, and came up with an odd-casting choice, but I think would be perfect: Mark-Paul Gosselaar (you might know him as Zach from Saved by the Bell, or more recently from Franklin & Bash or NYPD Blue). I can definitely see him playing the serious cop and investigating a crime scene, but also throwing in the one-liners. He would most likely be on the cheaper side as well if they were looking to lock actors down for multiple movies. If not, I’d prefer Ryan Gosling, as others have said above :) .

  31. kennyg kennyg says:

    There’s a rumor trending today that Armie Hammer is on the radar to play Batman in the JL movie. Probably not very credible, but it’s popping up on a number of sites. He would not be my first pick, but he wouldn’t be the worst pick either.

  32. javier84 javier84 says:

    I love that Gina Wonder Woman cast, I had never known about the MMA fighter. I also think Hal Jordon should be dumped for John Stewart . I am one of the fans who grew up watching the JLA animated series, and I can say for people our age John Stewart is the only Green Lantern.

    side note Nolan’s Bataman isn’t Moore’s Watchmen lets not just not go there.