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Which Team Has The Better Origin – The Avengers or Justice League?

My son let me take him to the movies yesterday, so I could enjoy The Avengers a second time…and kick in a little more so that they could not only beat Loki, but The Dictator and Battleship. According to estimates, The Avengers only dropped 47% in its third weekend. The Avengers made an estimated $55.1 Million, reaching $450 Million in 17 days. The Dark Knight reached that mark in 27 days. Right now, The Avengers is Disney’s most successful film, passing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest; and, right behind Avatar, Titanic and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in fourth place as the most successful film, worldwide, of all-time.

As I was sitting there enjoying The Avengers, and enjoying how much my ten-year-old was enjoying the movie – it hit me: What this movie needs is a Martian Manhunter!


No, what really hit me, especially during the final, climactic battle scenes where the team comes together and Iron Man is hot-dogging is this: Hands down, The Avengers have a clearly more iconic origin story than the Justice League. That’s why The Avengers are a better comic book team.

Loki brings The Avengers together.

The Avengers form to stop Loki.

Thor’s evil brother, Loki – the tickster – brings The Avengers together, knowing he has to eliminate them first if he is to rule the Earth.


Any way you say it – it doesn’t matter if it’s Ant-Man and The Wasp, or Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye – The Avengers have a better, more clearly defined, and iconic origin than the Justice League.

The reason I’m comparing The Avengers and the Justice League, is that now that The Avengers has proven that their formula works, I’m hoping that DC and Warner brothers will see that the best way to bring the team to the big screen from the comic book page is by making at least four individual films to introduce the individual members before a team film. In press releases, Warner Brothers has hinted that the plan is to release a live action Justice League film, then release films for the individual members.

 
When my son and I got home from the movie, I picked up my issues of The New 52 Justice League #1 – 6 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. What hit me while I was watching The Avengers movie is that Geoff Johns kinda gets it. In The Brave and the Bold #28, from March of 1960, the Justice League form to fight Starro. A giant starfish. In their secret origin, told in Justice League of America 9, from February of 1960, a little known race of forgettable aliens come to conquer Earth as a competition for the throne of their homeworld. The aliens are beaten and never seen or heard from ever again. Until Justice League 200, when they are beaten again. In the early ’80’s, J’Onn J’Onzz enlists Aquaman’s Justice League to fend off a Martian invasion. Batman reforms a new League following the Crisis on Infinite Earths and Legends mini-series. In the early ’90’s Mark Waid brought The Magnificent Seven back to fight Doctor Destiny’s nightmares. Grant Morrison brought them back together again to fight White Martians. When Dini and Timm animated the team, they fought against an alien race that eliminated all the martians but J’Onn J’Onzz. They are memorable origin stories, but they keep changing, evolving. The Avengers have one, singular origin. Loki brought the team together.

What Geoff Johns gets is that the Justice League needs it’s Loki. The Justice League members have iconic adversaries, yet none of them formed the team. Not Luthor, The Joker, Cheetah, Captain Cold, Sinestro or Black Manta. They came later as the Injustice League and Legion of Doom. The only rogue on a level with Loki for the Justice League to face is Darkseid from Jack Kirby’s New Gods.


After seeing The Avengers for a second time, I realized that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee were doing the same thing as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, only nearly a quarter century later. Johns and Lee cast Darkseid as Loki, with his Parademon army invading Earth and readying it for his arrival. It’s a bit of a clumsy and awkward origin, but still, it’s a first step toward creating a clear, singular, iconic origin for the team. Like The Avengers.

Darkseid brings the Justice League together.

The Justice League forms to fight Darkseid’s invasion.

It has a ring to it. I don’t think I’m the only one – or even the first one – to come to this conclusion. Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one that sees it as the perfect blueprint for a live action Justice League movie. As a DC fan, here’s what I am hoping for. I am hoping that The Man of Steel is a reboot not only of the Superman franchise, but of the Warner Brothers super hero stable of characters. If Warner Brothers is still hesitant to release seven live action films before a Justice League live action film, then all they need do is release The Man of Steel, a Green Lantern sequel, a Wonder Woman film, followed by a Flash film and a Batman reboot film; then, introduce Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter in the team film. With Darkseid as the villain. Following The Man of Steel, a Green Lantern sequel and a Wonder Woman film are a must. A Batman reboot is a given. Unless, Johns is looking at it differently. Maybe Aquaman in Green Lantern’s place, and saving him for the team film since his film was just okay.


What The Avengers movie shows me as a comic book reader and fan as that a simple, basic premise can stand the test of time, even over a quarter century. That refreshing an origin doesn’t mean adding to it or making it more layered and complex or complicated. Ultimately, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And, be sure to get Joss Whedon to write and direct it.      

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