Justice League: Mortal

For the time being it would seem though that the planned $200 million plus big-budget live-action movie featuring DC Comics’ best-known superhero team featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman amongst others is quite dead.

Lately Warner Bros. just can’t get their act together when it comes to their potentially lucrative superhero franchises. The Batman Begins reboot of that franchise is the sole exception, a lucky accident almost – after all, this is a franchise which had to suffer Joel Schumacher putting nipples on the bat suit!

Attempts at reviving the Superman franchise also floundered around for ten years before Superman Returns finally made it to the screen in 2006. The movie did okay-ish business and probably would have been profitable if it hasn’t been for the millions the studio spent on the project while it was stuck in what seemed to be indefinite production hell. (At one stage Nicolas Cage was to star as a capeless Man of Steel, with Tim Burton directing.) And don’t even mention the recent efforts by Joss Whedon to bring a Wonder Woman movie to the big screen as well as a Flash movie that just can’t seem to, well, move . . .

The latest victim of this vacillation is a big screen Justice League movie. The Justice League is of course a superhero team consisting of some of DC Comics’ best-known characters, namely Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter. This was of course the original line-up when the team first made an appearance in issue # 28 of The Brave and the Bold back in 1960. Since then, in typical comics fashion, the team roster were in constant flux. Other notable superheroes include Green Arrow, Atom, Hawkman, Black Canary, and Plastic Man amongst dozens of others. Typically the League would fight off alien invasions or super-villain teams.

Justice League: Mortal, as the film was titled, seems to be just that: pretty much mortal. As in, it can die – and did.

In fact the project was doomed from the start. First off, it ran into a literal shit storm when fans online objected to the fact that actors from the existing Batman and Superman movies won’t be reprising their roles in Justice League: Mortal. Nope, no Brandon Routh or Christian Bale. Instead newcomers D.J. Cotrona would be Superman and Armie Hammer would be Batman (see photos).

The rest of the cast would be newcomers too. Australian supermodel and actress Megan Gale would be Wonder Woman (see photo), American actor Adam Brody (Seth Cohen in teen drama The O.C.) would be the Flash, US rapper Common will be Green Lantern and London-based Chilean actor Santiago Cabrera (who was prophetic painter Isaac Mendez in Heroes) as Aquaman. Sixty-year-old Australian actor Hugh Keays-Byrne was also cast as Martian Manhunter.

Copies of an early screenplay by Kieran and Michele Mulroney were also leaked and attracted negative reviews. Reports are still vague on what exactly the plot would be though. A source on the Internet Movie Database had it that the story involved Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and others of the JLA who “must deal with the expulsion of Batman and the death of Superman at the hands of the monstrous Doomsday.” Still another source says that the movie’s plot revolved around “villainous businessman Maxwell Lord and cyborgs called OMACs (One-Man Army Corps), who can take over humans and turn them into killing machines.” In-between all of this, the 1997 live action Justice League TV pilot (see photo) that was so god-awful that they never even bothered to telecast it must have been in the back of everybody’s minds all along as well . . .

Then the film ran into delays because of the recent Writers Guild strike. Australian director George Miller, who did the Mad Max movies and, um, Happy Feet, wanted to film the movie in Fox studios in Australia, hoping to get a 40% tax rebate from the Australian government in the process. It was not to be. Even though Justice League: Mortal boasted an Aussie director and three Aussies in major roles, it wasn’t Australian enough as far as the taxman was concerned. Rumor then had it that despite Miller’s objections that the production would be moved to Canada.

Next up were definite signs of mortality: the actors were “let go” (the production was allowed to stall so that their contracts would lapse) and producer Joel Silver announced that the project has been “shelved” – Hollywoodese for cancelled. So Justice League: Mortal won't happen, right?

Well, maybe. Considering the huge amounts of bucks that Marvel is making from Iron Man and their plans to bring The Avengers to life, the chances are that - like Superman himself! – this is one idea that probably won’t stay dead for long.