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Justice League: Film Better Off Without Superman


January 9, 2017

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When it comes to DC comic book characters, there are usually three that usually come to mind immediately for anyone who has any experience with the superhero world. First, Bruce Wayne, who many will know as Batman. He is arguably the most famous of all superheroes. Then we have Wonder Woman, who is hands down the most popular female hero. Finally, we have Superman. Like Batman, he is arguably the most recognizable hero out there.

Between Superman and Batman, both men have had their fair share as the leader of the classic group known as the Justice League. Following the success of Marvel’s chain of films, with several Avengers hits, DC is finally bringing all of their heroes together in the same film. Justice League is set to hit theaters later this year, with a November 17th, 2017 release date. You can check out the film’s trailer below.

Now you may notice something a bit strange about the trailer. One of the key leaders of the Justice League (ok two if you count Green Lantern, but we do not even know if he will appear in the film). That is, of course, Superman, who is played by Henry Cavill in this DC Universe.

Now, if you have seen Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, his absence probably will not come as too much of a surprise. If you have not seen that film, I will throw in the SPOILER warning now, as I am about to reveal something pretty big from that film. Still with us? Alright, then let’s get down to it, shall we?


During the climactic battle with Doomsday, Superman ends up dying at the hands of Lex Luthor’s monster, which was, but wasn’t a surprise. The death of such a classic character was stunning, as it was only the second film in the DC Cinematic Universe. But on the flip side, Superman dying at the hands of Doomsday is a major comic arc. Also, since this is a comic book universe, bringing someone back from the dead can be easily explained. His return was even hinted at before the credits rolled on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, as we got an ever so brief glimpse of dirt lifting off of Clark Kent’s casket.

We do know Superman will be making his return, as a DC Universe without a Superman would seem extremely odd. We have even gotten some promotional art that depicts the Man of Steel with the rest of the team (you can check it out here).

But now we have gotten a photo from the film itself, and it prompted a thought. The photo, which you can see here, features five members of the Justice League. From left to right we have Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). The photo of the five heroes is pretty awesome, and led me to the thought, this film does not need Superman.

Now there are a few reasons for this thought process. First off, the rest of the characters offer plenty of good qualities. We start with the man who will be in charge of putting the team together, Batman. Most people were split on what they thought about the film that saw Batman battle Superman, but one sentiment that was fairly common among most people was that Ben Affleck’s Batman was a clear highlight. This take on Bruce Wayne was tough, gritty and did not care what others thought. Despite this serious persona, Affleck was still able to bring a charming and funny quality to the character, and he vaulted to the top of the list for this writer in terms of favorite version of Batman.

Next up we have Wonder Woman, who appeared alongside our other two classic heroes in the battle against Doomsday. Prior to that film, I had not seen Gal Gadot in any other films. When I left the theater, I was certainly a fan, as Wonder Woman, like Batman, was a clear standout in a film that I liked, but did not love. Her entrance into the Doomsday fight was probably the best moment of the film, as the audience erupted in applause. She was serious, took no prisoners, and someone you could easily get behind as she kicked some serious ass.

Now the others we have not gotten much outside of the trailer, but from the clips we have seen, I am sold on both Miller as Flash and Momoa as Aquaman. Flash is certainly going to be the funniest member of the team. Miller brings an awkwardness to Barry Allen that makes it work. He comes off as the nerdy kid who can deliver some great one-liners, and will certainly break the ice, even when things get serious.

As for Aquaman, he looks like a total badass. If you thought Wonder Woman came across as tough, it seems like Momoa is going to raise the bar about ten notches. He is not going to join the team right off the bat, as he and Bruce Wayne will not get off to a great start (as seen in the trailer). But this is exactly the type of ego clash that will help make Aquaman stand out. Him and Flash certainly seem like potential show-stealers based on early footage.

Now we did not get much from Cyborg, so there is not enough to go off of to make an accurate judgment. He will likely take a backseat, and play the Hawkeye type of role. He will have his moments here and there, but likely not a feature attraction.

So with so many potentially great characters, we come back to Superman. Based on the two films that we have seen Cavill’s take on Clark Kent, I have to say, there simply is nothing about the character that makes me want more. There simply are no standout qualities that make him memorable. For me, he comes off as boring, and when he appeared as the main character in scenes during Dawn of Justice, I found myself looking forward to the next Wonder Woman or Batman scene.

Now on top of that, he is currently dead, as we went through before. Personally, I thought they brought on the Death of Superman angle into the universe way too soon, but at this point, there is no turning back. With Superman out of the picture, Batman will be the main man in terms of recruiting the team, with Wonder Woman serving as his right hand. If Superman is simply rushed back, he brings another big power into the mix.

He will have had no part in putting this team together, making him on equal ground as Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg in a sense. But when he returns, we know that is not going to be the case. So there simply is no need to rush him back into the mix. Give audiences an entire film where they question if he will actually return. Fans know he is coming back, so if he is left out of the first Justice League film, fans may begin to question it. That would make his eventual return, in the second Justice League film, much more impactful.

His eventual return in a sequel could also make the whole leadership argument a bigger storyline. If the team goes through an entire film with Batman and Wonder Woman at the helm, it would be clear they are in charge going into a sequel. Upon Superman’s return, he would clearly want to be a part of the decision-making process, which could lead to some tension within the team. Maybe he could go on to recruit his own members (I’m looking at you Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter), claiming his stake in a leadership role.

But unfortunately, this all seems like it is extremely unlikely. The studio heads likely would not let this happen, as Superman is too much of a draw. Even if the film is already loaded with more entertaining characters, and it would make sense from a storyline point of view to keep him out, Superman is a money maker and his appearance in the film is virtually a given.

So what are your thoughts? Do you agree that the Justice League film would be better off without Superman? Would it be better to have him return in a post-credit scene to set up a sequel? Or does it make no sense to leave such a historic character out of the film? Tell us in the comments!

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