The Justice League Film That Almost Was

by Chris Foti
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A few weeks ago, fans were introduced to the first live-action adaptation of DC’s greatest protectors in Justice League. While we now know that there was a lot of drama behind the production of the film, and that its poor performance at the box office will lead to changes in DC Films, the film had its share of fans. A lot of fans didn’t care for the “Marvelization” and light-hearted tone that Whedon added, but for the most part, it was more liked than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Things could’ve turned out completely differently, however. In 2011, a draft for a Justice League script was submitted and it had a much different story and tone. The script was by Gangster Squad screenwriter Will Beal. As you can tell from the year it was submitted, this script predates Man of Steel by a few years, the film that started DC’s shared movie universe. In fact, it was even submitted before Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises finished production and before Marvel’s Avengers assembled for the first time.

Not unlike the George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal that was days away from beginning production before it was abandoned, WB ended up not going forward with Beal’s vision of the film and scrapped it.

Highlights of the script, that was acquired by, include:

  • Darkseid was the main villain of the film
  • Batman and Superman were already allies and knew each other’s identities, skipping the whole macabre feud and battle Snyder envisioned in BvS 
  • Amanda Waller and King Faraday run the Department of Metahuman Affairs. We also meet Tattooed Man, Copperhead, Cheetah, Solomon Grundy, and Killer Croc
  • Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Hawkman battle Darkseid’s minions to try and stop them from weaponizing kryptonite to defeat Superman. Superman is eventually captured by Steppenwolf (villain in 2017’s Justice League) and taken to Apokolips
  • Batman has a romantic history with Wonder Woman, not unlike what is hinted at in both the film Justice League (2017) and the TV Show
  • Batman’s cave has trophies of his previous battles and victories, including Mr. Freeze’s Cryo-Gun, the Scarecrow’s Mask, Penguin’s umbrella, and variations of the Batsuit and Batmobiles.
  • Darkseid destroys Oa, home world of the Green Lantern Corps, so that they would not interfere with his invasion of Earth.
  • Darkseid invades Earth with a brainwashed Superman, courtesy of Darkseid’s minion Dessad. Batman wears his The Dark Knight Returns/Batman v Superman armor to battle Superman, while Wonder Woman frees him of mind control.
  • Once Superman is free, he travels to the future via a Boom Tube, where he discovers most of the Earth has been destroyed by Darkseid. Diana and an aged Bruce lead a resistance with their son, Clark Wayne, and their former enemy Lex Luthor.
  • Also among the resistance, under direct command of Batman and known as Batman’s Bezerkers, are Deathstroke, Captain Boomerang, Huntress, and Cheetah. Their headquarters are the Fortress of Solitude.
  • Barely Allen, under instructions from Luthor, travels back in time to warn their past selves of the invasion and then dies from the journey.
  • Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Green Lantern, along with the whole Green Lantern Corps and Amazons, travel to Apokolips to rescue Superman before he can be brainwashed. They succeed and defeat Darkseid.
  • The film ends with Mercy planning Lex Luthor’s presidential campaign. Meanwhile, Luthor received a message from his future self telling him Superman’s identity is Clark Kent.

As you can see, there is a LOT going on. It looks like there would be a lot of cool moments and fan service, but seems like it would overall be a tough plot to keep concise in a 2 – 2.5 hour film. There would be far too many characters to introduce and get to know, especially without solo movies leading up to it.

However, I think if each hero got a movie to introduce a lot of these heroes and villains, this could’ve worked. The scene in the future sounds really cool, and really similar to what DC Universe Online did, where an older Batman and Lex teamed up to lead a resistance after Braniac took over Earth. I also like the idea of the film setting up Lex as president for future films, as was done in the comics for a period of time. There is so much potential for Lex as a villain that hasn’t been fully realized on film to date.

With Nolan’s Batman and his future in DC Films still up in the air at that point, along with sources saying the script was “terrible”, WB decided to scrap the project and move forward with Snyder’s vision. In fact, Ben Affleck was considered to direct this abandoned Justice League film until he agreed to join Snyder’s DC Universe as Batman himself in Batman v Superman.

What do you think of this Justice League film that could’ve been? Would you like to have seen this come to life? Or are you happy with the Justice League film we got with Snyder and Whedon? Let us know!

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