Recent reports pointing to serious troubles hitting Warner's plans for a Justice League mega-movie seem to have primed the rumor mill pumps. In this case, fan site, Batman On Film is claiming that a possible delay for the beleaguered superhero team-up could lead to a reboot of the Batman movie franchise hitting beforehand.
Of course, this theory should be treated as rumor-iffic as speculative rumors such as this one gets. According to BOF, an unnamed source of theirs close to the behind-the-scenes dealings strongly believes that the alleged troubles with the Justice League script by Will Beall and its apparent scrapping have sent shockwaves of doubt throughout Warner's superhero movie circle. According to the report, the current state of Justice League, which was supposed to introduce a new incarnation of the Caped Crusader to join the team, has worried the brass so much that they fear it may damage the Batman film brand. However, BOF's source attempts to quell what may be fear amongst the fans:
“Don’t worry about the Batman [film] franchise,” he said, “it’s [Warner Bros.’] most valuable [DC Comics-based] asset.” He continued, “I believe that they are now looking at introducing [the rebooted] Batman in a solo film, though that will likely take place later than they initially had planned. They are extremely worried how a [the Batman film franchise] would be affect[ed] if JUSTCE LEAGUE [sic] bombs...and rightfully so."
What could this mean for superhero plans by Warner that fans believed to be sprawling and ambitious?
Regardless of the veracity of the rumors surrounding Justice League, it does appear that the next DC Comics film project in this summer's reintroduction to Superman, Man of Steel could carry a lot more significance. Not only will it be an important project for the Blue Bomber, but it could also become a critical litmus test for whether or not the potential Justice League mega-film can feasibly recreate the same kind of magic as Marvel's successful crossover strategy with their films which built-up to last year's The Avengers.
Since Justice League was initially set for 2015, the possibility that it starts from scratch leads the BOF report to speculate that the scenario where Batman is rebooted beforehand could possibly see Gotham's gravelly-voiced vigilante return to the big screen somewhere around 2017. However, should Man of Steel be an uplifting success, garnering sequels, then the schedule might see it as late as 2019! (7 whole years after the swan song of Christopher Nolan's Bat-Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.) Where would that leave Justice League? Who knows?
Of course, as I've gone out of my way to clarify, these are just rumors. (On a seriously slow news day, mind you.) Yet, for all practical purposes, it does seem that ANY possible attempt to tackle a film project in the scope of Justice League without lead-in films will have some issues. If it relegates the introduction of such a vast array of important characters to scattered scenes in an ensemble piece, it will either be hailed as a genius breakthrough in pacing and editing...or it will be destined to bomb in the most epic, ignominious way possible that would even make Taylor Kitsch cringe.
Warner would probably be wise to build up to their dream project carefully, but consistently. Fans will need time to get to know the characters, leaving the eventual main event free from the constraints of awkwardly-abbreviated exposition and tacked-on origin scenes. -- Essentially they just need to do what Marvel did.