I laid out in the previous article what the main reason was that I didn’t take kindly to the Justice League movie.
Specifically, the very lazy, cavalier way in which the subject of life, death and resurrection was treated and how the resurrection of Superman was basically a lazy plot device with no depth or meaning.
I talked about how this film could’ve been made into something much weightier if that subject of death and resurrection had been better explored: and I cited some examples of other film or TV where it was handled much better.
So, now I thought I’d add a bit more on how this would’ve played out better.
Essentially, if you’re going to bring a dead character back to life, you have to be willing to really deal with it on the appropriate levels.
You have to deal with the moral dimensions of it, the psychological dimensions, the accompanying themes, and potentially all kinds of other considerations – none of which this movie ever tried to even touch on.
Once they knew this film was going to include a bodily resurrection from the grave, THAT should’ve become the main focus – the central point – of the whole film.
Fuck Steppenwolf – from the moment Bruce decided to resurrect Superman, this should’ve become a film about life, death, resurrection and the morality or dangers of the whole idea.
Now, admittedly, there are other weaknesses in this film that wouldn’t be improved or fixed. But, at least at its core, a change in how this aspect of the story was handled would yield something far more impactful, dramatic and meaningful.
So, here’s how I’m seeing it – let’s call it an alternative Justice League movie; albeit, utilising all of the same elements that this movie put into place (in other words, limiting us to the same villain, the same group of characters, etc, and no Green Lantern).
Firstly, there should’ve been a major falling out between Bruce and Diana.
In this version of the story, Bruce wants to bring Superman back from the dead, but Diana is massively opposed to it. She is opposed to it either morally or religiously. We see a major ethical clash between them and Diana leaves, not wanting to be a part of it. Essentially we see the Justice League fall apart just as it was about to get started.
Bruce goes ahead with it anyway.
Then Diana shows up to stop him – but maybe she arrives too late.
Superman comes back to life – and then we have that scene of Confused/Dark Superman attacking the others. Bruce realises he has done the wrong thing. Superman goes off on his own, perhaps going on a confused rampage (echoing Christopher Reeve’s Superman in Superman III). You could even have it that one of the characters (someone disposable like Aqua Man) could be seriously hurt by Superman, maybe put into a critical condition.
The Justice League teams up again – this time to stop Superman.
Now the story is about TWO threats: one being Steppenwolf, the other being Superman. Bruce’s decision to cheat death has now put them in a worse crisis than they were already in.
What happens after that – I don’t care.
Maybe they finally get through to Clark and save him. Maybe it’s Diana who gets through to him. Or maybe it’s by bringing Lois and Martha into the situation that Clark is saved. Maybe there’s even more conflict between Batman and Wonder Woman, with one of them (probably Bruce) wanting to go after Superman again and defeat him and the other (probably Diana) wanting to ‘save’ him and try to restore him to his old self.
Or, actually, now that I think about it more, it would work even better that Bruce is the one who wants to save Superman and Diana the one who wants to bring him down now – this would work really well, as we already saw Bruce try to take down Superman in BvS – and so there would be some poetry or resonance now in having him decide to take the opposite path (which would make the two films – Justice League and BvS resonate much better with each other).
And also, of course, Bruce feels wracked with guilt over his decision to ‘cheat death’ and resurrect Clark from the grave.
And Diana – who opposed Bruce’s plan to resurrect Superman from the grave – would now take it upon herself to try to kill the Dark Superman and put him back where he was supposed to be (i.e: in the grave). She would say something like “I warned you not to do this – now I’m going to fix what you’ve created”. Diana is the strong-willed one who is willing to do what is necessary to put things right again.
So you now have this race/conflict between Bruce and Diana over who is going to get to Superman first and who is going to get their way. The other characters’ loyalties are divided between Diana and Bruce.
And then eventually, perhaps at the last minute, as I said, Superman is brought back from the madness (possibly by Lois or Martha) and joins the Justice League to confront the threat posed by Steppenwolf.
The Justice League wins: but Superman is still unstable and afflicted, not the same person he used to be. Diana, Lois and Martha all try to help him re-adjust and to deal with his trauma.
Bruce meanwhile feels guilty over what he did – not sure it was his right to mess with death and bring Clark back to life, but insisting nevertheless that it was effective (because Superman was the key to defeating the apocalyptic threat).
But the implication is that, although the Justice League is now established, the three of them – Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman – are still all uneasy with each other and what has transpired; and that there is a lot of tension between them.
That, to me, is a much better story and would’ve made a much better film. There would still be other shortcomings with this movie, but it would nevertheless have a much stronger and more meaningful emotional and thematic core to it and much stronger inter-character dynamics and conflict.
Also, given the Messianic themes touched on in BvS (in regard to Superman), the fact that he has now also died and risen from the grave would provide interesting themes to explore in the next Justice League or Superman movies.
It probably won’t happen – but it would at least impart something of substance to the next films. And it’s also probably the only way you can make the cinematic Superman interesting.