Since Warner Bros rebooted Superman in last year's Man of Steel, their plan has been clear: a big screen adaptation of the Justice League.
The reason for this is Marvel Studio's monumentally successful string of films – from 2008's Iron Man to last month's Captain America: The Winter Soldier – which built towards Avengers Assemble in 2012, and which is continuing towards a sequel next year.
Now other studios are looking to do the same with their respective superhero brands. Sony Pictures own the rights to make Spider-Man movies, and are looking to add Venom and Sinister Six to their "universe". Meanwhile Fox are looking to churn out more X-Men films with May's Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016 and further spin-offs for Wolverine and possibly Mystique.
Warner Bros own the entire catalogue of superheroes not owned by Marvel however (Marvel split up their film rights in the 90s during a period of poor finances) so they – in theory – have the best chance of replicating Marvel's Avenger's success.
Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was a good start commercially, raking in a sizeable box office taking of $670 million (£398m). This will be followed up with sequel Batman Vs Superman in 2016 and Justice League in 2017 or 2018 – each directed by Snyder as well.
Marvel Studios' Avengers initiative succeeded for a number of reasons, but it being a "shared universe" of films didn't rank as highly among those reasons as you might think. Sure, The Avengers was successful because it brought together four franchises who previously would have been separate, but it wouldn't have worked nearly as well without a solid foundation.
What Marvel did first and foremost was make individual films for each of the four most iconic Avengers. Iron Man started it, followed by The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger – and each felt individual, and could have happily stood on its own.
With a different director for each of their films so far (save for Jon Favreau who directed two Iron Man films) each has felt unique as well. A selection of different writers have also played a significant part in this.
Let's turn to Warner Bros then and their current plans. Man of Steel arrived in 2013 with Zack Snyder directing and David S. Goyer writing. Batman Vs Superman arrives in 2016 with Zack Snyder directing and David S. Goyer developing the story. Justice League arrives in 2017 or 2018 with Zack Snyder directing and David S. Goyer writing.
There's nothing wrong with two creatives taking charge of an entire trilogy, but it's not a good sign when you're starting a series which one expects Warner Bros hopes to continue for many years to come.
Having the same guys in charge of everything early on makes it seem insular, samey and effectively turns the trio of films in a trilogy in of themselves – when Justice League should have been the end-game.
What we're getting instead is a Man of Steel starring Superman and Batman, which is fine and a decent way to bring the Dark Knight into the fold, but the film now also includes Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) two other Justice League members.
With four Justice League members, Batman Vs Superman already seems like a thinly-veiled Justice League movie. Instantly the actual Justice League film loses some appeal – sure we'll see Green Lantern, The Flash and Aquaman join the team in that film, but the idea of all these heroes teaming up doesn't have the impact if the three most popular have already teamed up before.
Despite Warner Bros seemingly being unaware of most of the reasons why Marvel Studios' experiment worked, they will still probably be successful with their endeavours for a single reason – Batman.
Batman sells. No superhero has made more money in one film than Batman. Only one superhero movie has made more than a Batman film, and that starred FOUR superheroes. That's why no matter what Warner Bros do, no matter the review scores their future films get, they will put bums in seats because the people want Batman – even if that Batman is Ben Affleck.
So these films will succeed despite Warner Bros best efforts, but Marvel's belief in their characters will mean they last longer. Essentially, the philosophy behind this image is why Marvel will ultimately win...
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