In the wake of the release of Justice League, talk of how to fix the DCEU has become a thing on the geekier corners of the internet. Because I am a shameless rider of coattails I’d like to present my own suggestion for how I’d have done it. It’s too late to fix it now, but with only one completely new movie, a few plot changes, and a few substitutions, I have something that would have adequately set up Justice League over the course of the last several years in a way that would have been much more satisfying than what we got.
The first and biggest problem was a refusal to commit– yes, Green Lantern was a commercial and artistic failure, but in abandoning it when they did, they only created more problems for themselves, losing three years’ worth of productions and forcing a radical shift in tone that they still haven’t stopped overcorrecting for one way or another to diminishing returns. However, Green Lantern didn’t have to be a bad movie. So here we are at the root: How can we make Green Lantern good enough that DC doesn’t spend the next decade overcorrecting?
The answer is simple. Hawkgirl. Join me on a trip through the last seven years in a reality less committed to being absolutely terrible. Our first stop…
This would be sort of inspired by her character arc in the animated Justice League series: Shayera Hol and her partner/betrothed Fel Andar are sent by the Thanagarian Empire to Earth to soften us up for colonization, but she befriends several humans and decides to help prevent the colonization. You’ve seen this movie before, but for once the gorgeous woman of color is the hero rather than the love interest.
Oh, and I should mention that much like the Thor movies we’re for some extent making this a female-gaze fic. If possible I’d kinda like Catherine Hardwicke to direct.
So Thanagar is expansionist and at least quasi-fascistic and repressive– arranged marriages, a long ongoing war with Rann, probably some social satire going on here, and they’ve decided a necessary direction of expansion for that conflict is our solar system, and they decide the best way to do that would be to persuade Earth to become a client world. Shayera and Fel are sent as envoys and take some time to familiarize themselves with the Earth. Shayera befriends include Kendra Saunders, an ordinary twenty-something barista; Carter Hall, a nerdy-cute archaeologist who has developed a (correct) theory that Thanagar had contact with the ancient Egyptians, and John Stewart, a hunky marine who’s been assigned as a military attache to Shayera and Fel by the government. Shayera comes to the conclusion that Earth and its culture are valid and decides to recommend against colonizing Earth, but Fel’s seen its resources and decided we’re too valuable to not sieze by force.
Shayera and her friends lead the fight against Fel and a group of Thanagarian soldiers using ancient Thanagarian artifacts Carter discovered, including the iconic big-honkin’-mace and a mysterious green ring that flies onto John’s hand when he attempts to sacrifice himself to save the others, and, when the battle is done, whisks him away into space, setting up our next movie…
2011: Green Lantern
So this ends up being substantially different from the movie we actually got. John Stewart is taken to Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, currently embroiled in a war with the Red Lanterns. After some instruction, during which he displays his willpower and ingenuity, he is assigned a partner, Thaal Sinestro, one of the highest-ranking lanterns, granted a lot of autonomy because he’s leading the war effort against the Reds. (During this part it’s indicated that there was a past human Green Lantern *coughHalJordan* and that something terrible happened that many of the corps are still unwilling to speak about.
Sinestro takes John to his homeworld of Korugar, on the front lines of the fighting, and John discovers that Sinestro’s been colluding with the Red Lanterns, using his people’s fear of them to manipulate them into allowing him to become a dictator. John threatens to report him to the Guardians, the leaders of the Green Lanterns, but Sinestro defeats him and steals his power battery so he can’t recharge his ring and escape off-world.
John escapes into the streets of Korugar’s capital and joins up with a group of rebels who devise a plan to steal back his power battery and bring Sinestro before the guardians. Thanks to timing the battle with an attack by the Red Lanterns, they succeed and the Guardians strip Sinestro of his ring, offering it to one of the rebels, Katma Tui. John, having proved his stripes as a Green Lantern, is assigned back to Earth’s sector and told to seek out a new partner there, something that happened during the battle indicates a prophecy the Guardians have long feared may be at hand. In a post-credits scene, Sinestro and Parallax, in the form of former Green Lantern Hal Jordan, create a pair of yellow rings to take revenge against the Guardians.
2012: A breather year. The Dark Knight Rises still probably comes out, probably still sucks. It’s not part of this.
2013: Man of Steel
I actually think that the Man of Steel we got could have been a good movie with only a few changes, but I have my own Superman trilogy that I’ve had the basic idea for since 2009, so naturally I’m going to use it here.
We’re not going to see Krypton at all during this movie. Clark knows he’s an alien, but he doesn’t know where from or anything about it– the only thing in his rocket was a strange crystal, a blue spacesuit with a crest on it, and the red blanket he was wrapped in. We’re also not spending more than 20 minutes in Smallville, jut enough to establish that much about him.
Anyway, having graduated from journalism school (Because that’s how things work in 2013), he moves to Metropolis to make a name for himself, using his abilities and a costume fashioned from the spacesuit and blanket to do small acts of good around the city, culminating in preventing a plane crash. At the same time he befriends his coworkers, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Perry White, and Cat Grant, and starts dating Lois.
Clark, Lois, and Jimmy are assigned to cover the unveiling of Lexcorp’s newest secret project: A suit of power armor, known as Metallo, based on reverse-engineered thanagarian technology from the recent invasion. Unfortunately something goes horribly wrong with Metallo and Clark has to step in as Superman to prevent a disaster. He prevents any loss of life, although something about its power core causes him to weaken, and Metallo’s pilot, John Corben, an army officer who works for Lois’s father and who has some bad history with her, is badly injured and paralyzed. Lex, humiliated by his failure and having been shown up by Superman, swears to get his own back.
Lex fakes the theft of the Metallo unit and kidnaps Corben, offering him Metallo to serve as a new body in exchange for help. Meanwhile, Lois suspects that the thing that went wrong during the Metallo demonstration was staged for some nefarious purpose and investigate. She learns that Lex had been planning to stage the theft all along, allow the decommissioned Metallo and its schematics to fall into the hands of terrorists, and develop a new weapons system to counteract it which he would then sell to the government. Corben abducts Lois and learns this from her and decides to take revenge on Luthor as well as Superman. Anyway, big action climax, Metallo is defeated, Lois discovers that all her evidence of Lex’s wrongdoing has been stolen while she was being held prisoner by Corben, cut to Lex and Mercy destroying it, Lex now keeping a piece of Kryptonite from Metallo’s reactor on his person.
2013, part 2: The Flash
This one’s gonna sound ripped off from the show, but there’s a reason for that. See, I learned a while back that the first season of the Flash TV show was originally going to be a movie if the Green Lantern movie hadn’t tanked. So we’ll run with that, basically, but a little different to fit the needs of the movie rather than a TV show.
Barry Allen is a forensic scientist struck by lightning on the night of a particle accelerator experiment beneath Star Labs which goes catastrophically wrong, causing him to spend several months in a coma and awaken with super-speed. He discovers that during the coma, his girlfriend Iris West moved on and is now engaged to a nurse named Eddie Thawne, who ends up being such a nice guy that Barry can’t find it in his heart to resent either of them even if he does feel betrayed, and becomes fast friends with Eddie.
He also befriends the remaining Star Labs personnel, who kept tabs on him during his coma, including biologist Caitlin Snow, engineer Cisco Ramon, and physicist Harrison Wells. Another person with mysterious abilities surfaces around the same time Barry wakes up and he uses his speed to beat this metahuman. the Star Labs crew discover that their experiment, which caused a catastrophic failure that nearly bankrupted their company and was only prevented from destroying the whole city by the intervention of Green Lantern, released an unknown form of energy that has been causing people around the globe to develop superpowers.
Shortly after this first battle, Barry encounters another person with super-speed in a yellow suit identical to his own who tells him he’s been looking forward to meeting Barry for a long time before disappearing even faster than he can follow. This strange yellow blur reminds Barry of the night his mother was murdered by a similar being, a crime for which his father was falsely arrested, and resolves to bring the yellow blur to justice and free his father from prison. Meanwhile, Eddie disappears and Barry swears to find him.
After several encounters he discovers that the Reverse Flash is Wells, who is actually Eobard Thawne, a descendant of Eddie from five hundred years in the future who was obsessed with the Flash, attempted to recreate his powers, and traveled back in time to become his partner, only to go insane when he discovered the Flash considered him his greatest enemy, resulting in them having a series of cross-time battles that resulted in the Reverse Flash traveling back to Barry’s childhood to kill him before he could gain his powers, but having to settle for his mother after the Flash pursued him. Realizing that he had created a paradox, Wells arranged for the Flash to gain his powers to create a stable time loop that would allow for him to exist, and took Eddie prisoner out of fear that Barry might try the same tactic against him. Barry pushes his speed harder than he ever has, time-traveling back with Eddie to attempt to prevent his mother’s murder together, but the Reverse Flash overpowers him and goes in for the kill– until Eddie sacrifices himself, creating a time paradox that erases the Reverse Flash from existence. Later Barry, Iris, Caitlin, and Cisco mourn Eddie as the real hero of the battle.
2014: Legends of the Dark Knight
So how am I getting Batman into this universe, you ask? Why didn’t I take advantage of The Dark Knight Rises to incorporate Nolanverse Batman into the DCEU? Because I have my own Batman project, and with that Flash movie there’s now an open slot for a TV series to take the place of The Flash. And that’s going to be one of the heroes that I think works well on a TV budget. I talked about my planned season arcs for it before, if someone really wants to be useful they might go back to I think it was the November 1st or 2nd Night Thread and find my writeup of the planned season arcs.
2015: Another year off! But during this time I’d probably also have my Superman guest star on LOTDK in some capacity, just to establish Batman and Superman as having met.
2016: The Last Son of Krypton
Our sequel to Man of Steel, taking the place of Batman v. Superman (and Suicide Squad.) A few years after MoS, a mysterious spaceship similar to the one Superman arrived on Earth as a baby in crash-lands in California. Inside is a young woman with powers of her own, wearing a suit similar to Superman’s. She recognizes it and attempts to communicate with him, but he doesn’t understand Kryptonian– remember, he doesn’t yet know anything at all about Krypton.
Meanwhile, a second Superman has appeared in the skies above Metropolis, but behaves erratically, often inadvertently causing more trouble than he fixes. The audience learns that this second Superman is the creation of Lex Luthor, whose new plan for revenge is to create a being with all the power of Superman but who is dependent upon him and obeys him. However something is wrong with the cloning process he has developed, and the copy (calling itself “Bizarro”, after a comment made by Lex’s aide Mercy Graves) is already beginning to degrade and die. At the same time, Lex has recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer brought on by radiation from his kryptonite ring, causing him to feel an odd sort of camaraderie with the beast.
Lexcorp’s space-reserach division picks up a signal from something on the edge of Earth’s solar system. This entity, which calls itself Brainiac, contacts Lex and offers him, as the foremost intelligence in this solar system, a deal– to come with him as a specimen in exchange for curing his cancer and assuring his survival.
Superman and the girl manage to establish some form of communication, aided by the crystal and the still-functioning computer in her ship. The crystal imbues Clark with knowledge of Krypton and its fate, and allows him to psychically imbue the girl with his knowledge of Earth. The girl introduces herself as Kara, his cousin, and explains that she believed herself to be the last survivor of Krypton, kept by Brainiac, formerly an AI tasked with serving as a planetary supercomputer for Krypton, as a specimen, along with a digitized version of its greatest city, Kandor, after he arranged the planet’s destruction– a pattern he has repeated with countless worlds since. She escaped and traveled to the nearest inhabited planet in hopes of finding help, or at least safe refuge, but fears Brainiac may have followed her, and encourages Superman to take who he can and flee with her.
But it’s too late, Brainiac arrives and begins the digitization process in Metropolis. This is delayed by Lex, who has been able to analyze Brainiac and found several vulnerabilities in his infrastructure and who planned all along to betray him and steal technology from him. Working together, Superman, Kara, Lex, and a rapidly-dying Bizarro manage to defeat Brainiac. Superman and Supergirl move his ship to the arctic as their fortress of solitude, vowing to find a way to restore the digitized cities aboard, and Kara adopts the earth as her home, making her official debut as Supergirl.
2017: Wonder Woman
Just… don’t change a thing, that movie’s already fine as it is.
2017: Justice League
I’m… not honestly gonna put a lot of detail into this one right now. Basically, suffice it to say I’m gonna adapt the first episode of the animated Justice League series. You want a more detailed refresher, read the summary here.
Batman and Superman are investigating a weird conspiracy, the White Martians are involved, all our heroes so far are contacted by J’onn J’onnz, whom the White Martians have been keeping prisoner. They come together, big action climax, they realize they make a good team when the fate of the world is at stake. I do change one thing from the TV show though (besides extending it out to twice the length or so): there’s an all-is-lost moment when Superman is injured, crashes down into the sea, and is presumed dead by the others, and then right at the climax, a whale appears out of the ocean with Aquaman carrying an unconscious Superman on it being all like “Sup, guys, did y’all surface-dwellers lose something?” and joining in the fray.
2018 and beyond: Aquaman, Teen Titans, Superman, sequels to any other popular entries.