A number of big news items dropped this week regarding the futures of our favorite flying, punching and kicking friends on the big screen. The two major comic book houses, DC and Marvel, announced they are making strides to assemble their flagship superhero teams into the biggest and most lucrative franchises in all of Metropolis.
Marvel already has a huge lead in the race with the success of this summer's Joss Whedon masterpiece, The Avengers, and the slew of projects announced at San Diego ComicCon last month, including sequels to Captain America, Iron Man and Thor and new offerings featuring Ant-Man and The Guardians of the Galaxy.
Of course, Christopher Nolan's epic conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy showed DC is not backing down from the challenge, and the preview for the grittier, Nolan-ized reinterpretation of Superman will undoubtedly put the Man of Steel back in contention as America's favorite superhero.
But, alas, true believers, there's so much more!
This week, Disney announced that they have signed Joss Whedon to write and direct the much-anticipated Avengers sequel as well as to develop a scripted, live-action television series featuring Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
I doubt anyone will ever question Whedon's capabilities as a filmmaker of superhero blockbusters, but you can bet the farm that everyone is shaking in their spandex over the idea of a weekly serialized superhero show. Will it get bogged down with the melodrama of Heroes or the CGI hokey-ness of some of the Sci-Fi Channel's offerings?
Thankfully, Whedon started in TV and made one of the most impossible show concepts into arguably the best cult TV series of all time. So we'll keep a cautiously optimistic eye out for this one.
Over in the DC Universe, the question was finally answered regarding how they plan to respond to Marvel's Avengers gauntlet. And the answer is: gather their own major players, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and the Flash, in their own Justice League film. (Sorry, Aquaman, everyone realized that talking to fish just isn't cool...)
We've already swallowed the Batman flavored Kool-Aid entirely and will likely do the same with the Superman variety. And while it wasn't the best example of its genre, Green Lantern wasn't half bad. Now Warner Bros. (the distribution arm for DC the same way Disney does it for Marvel) greenlighted studio films for both Wonder Woman and The Flash.
As the only prominent superheroine in the batch, Wonder Woman has been in negotiations as both a film and a television series for years now, with directors, writers and stars cycling through like revolving doors. Finally, Green Lantern scribe Michael Goldenberg has been attached to this latest project, and the populist boost from The Avengers' skyrocket is finally going to mean that Princess Diana's lasso of truth will finally make it to the big screen.
The first director Warner Bros. asked to helm the slated 2013 Justice League film is multi-faceted movie expert Ben Affleck. After showing his knack for gritty street drama in The Town, Affleck seems like a risky first choice for this potential blockbuster.
Sure, he understands conflicted characters and is a major comic book fan, but he's also incredibly Boston-centric and has it written into his contract that he only directs if he can act in the film. And we all saw what happened to Daredevil.
If he accepts, will this mean that Affleck be playing The Flash in the upcoming solo movie as well? Marc Guggenheim and Michael Green, also of the Green Lantern writing team, are attached to this project that is being directed by Greg Berlanti, so it should turn out at least middling to better.
It's tough to imagine The Flash going as dark as Batman, so the question then proposed is whether or not The Justice League as a whole will go the route of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, or if he will be brought once more out of the shadows. Is America ready to see the caped crusader jumping around with all these spandex tights types?
Any way you read it, Marvel is definitely capitalizing on their current momentum and catapulting into an impressive lead over their competition. Longtime rival DC has a lot of catching up to do if they're going to make their lasting mark on Hollywood.
It will be an amazing (astonishing? incredible? uncanny?) race to watch the two teams battle it out for supremacy at the box office. But what will possibly be left over in the aftermath?