Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

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Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

On the surface, this kind of question shouldn’t have to be asked.  Superman died (pretty definitively at that) in Batman v Superman.  The new film’s advertising has billed the team forming in response to his heroic sacrifice (much like The Avengers did after Loki killed Agent Coulson).  The film’s “lean” run-time isn’t going to afford it much time to deal with some kind of eleventh-hour resurrection and the whole thing’s supposedly getting rebooted anyway when Flashpoint hits theaters sometime in the next couple of years.

By rights, all we should see of the ill-received Man of Steel is in Lois Lane’s dream sequences, as appeared to be the case in the movie’s most recent trailer.  It would take too much time to bring him into the fold (especially since the film’s initially planned Part 2 was recently scrapped), especially when the movie is evidently cut down to as short a run time as can conceivably work for it (while still maximizing the number of screenings that Warner Bros can squeeze out of it).

Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

But I’m increasingly getting the feeling that this is not going to be the case.  Despite his theoretical absence from the film, an inordinate amount of its advertising has prominently featured the last son of Krypton: from early production stills to the more recently revealed Chinese movie posters.  His resurrection — an important part of the famous Death of Superman comic storyline — was heavily teased at the end of Batman v Superman, when the dirt on top of his casket began levitating after people left his funeral.  Then there’s the simple illogic of DC launching their big, Avengers-answering team-up film without their first and most iconic super character.

The question, then, as stupid as it sounds when I say it out loud, is how much Superman is going to be in ‘Justice League?’  DC and Warner Bros — and especially the character’s legions of loyal fans — aren’t going to be content with him just showing up for an isolated dream sequence or two especially not when they’ve promoted his involvement so heavily for close to two years now.  Whether it makes sense for him to be at this late stage or not, he’s going to play a major role in Justice League.

Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

Originally, when this was supposed to be just the first of two connected Justice League movies, I assumed that he would show up at the very end after being lightly teased throughout the movie.  Batman unites DC’s disparate band of heroes together into the titular team but, like The Avengers, further assembly was required.  Egos clashed and none of these solo heroes was used to the working dynamics of a team.  Although they defeat the on-the-ground baddie leading the Parademon invasion of Earth (Steppenwolf), Darkseid’s arrival proved that it simply wasn’t enough.  And now, outgunned, outmatched and out of sorts — in their most desperate moment — in flies Superman, rallying them to save the day… at least in Part 2.

Clearly, though, this is not going to happen: at least not now.  By cutting out the entire second half of the two-part story, there’s simply no good place to insert a major plot and tonal shift like that: at least none that would be as effective as rallying the group of heroes we’ve watched struggle to coalesce into a team over the course of an entire movie by means of the very hero in whose memory they assembled in the first place.

Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

My guess at this late date is that a somewhat condensed version of that series of events will play out over the course of the frill-less, 2-hour movie that, by all rights, has no room for this kind of a plot twist.  Batman and Wonder Woman gather the initial league (Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman), they have a major confrontation against Steppenwolf during which they are decisively defeated because their egos and inherent lack of teamwork keep them from working together and then, in the dark moment before their final battle with the world-ending supervillain, Superman appears (after sharing some one-on-one time with Lois Lane in a series of awkwardly inserted dream sequences) and rallies the team into a fighting unit just in time to save the day in the closing minutes of the film.

While I am not a fan of stretching out single stories across multiple franchise instalments, it’s not hard to see why they initially chose to break Justice League into a Part 1 and Part 2.  This specific story — that introduces a new villain, three new heroes and a vast supporting cast before resurrecting a deceased villain to take on the final boss in the sequel — demands that kind of sprawling length to tell effectively.  You need to gather the team, have them struggle to find their way, succeed by finally coming together, then getting curb-stomped by the real Big Bad so that the previously out-of-commission hero can step in and take his rightful place among them.

Exactly How Much Superman Can We Expect to See in ‘Justice League?’

Cutting out the entire second half of this story and presumably condensing its most essential parts into a single instalment was a terrible idea of Warner Bros’ part, no matter how troubled, over-budget, down-to-the-wire and initially terrible this film’s production has proven to be.  It cuts the narrative legs out from under the film and never gives it so much as a chance at being the movie that it by all rights ought to be, especially when all signs point to the studio downplaying, subverting or outright rebooting the franchise as their next order of business.

But, who knows, maybe they can pull this off.  We’ll just have to wait and see how these highly questionable decisions plays out for the DCEU.

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