Yesterday, Variety's Jeff Sneider broke the news that Warner Brothers had covertly hired Gangster Squad writer Will Beall to pen a new Justice League movie. The film has become the poster child for development hell since its last false start in 2008. Though the reins were handed to Beall while The Avengers was recently being filmed, there's no doubt that the anticipated box office success of that movie had something to do with lighting the fire under Warner Brothers' behind to get the Justice League movie out of purgatory.
With their characters inhabiting wholly insular worlds, it's hard to imagine Warner Brother's going down the same shared universe path that has helped make a movie like The Avengers possible. Part of Marvel's success can be attributed to laying the foundation for an Avengers movie by introducing members of the team in their own films (or as minor characters in other character's origin stories, like Hawkeye in Thor). With Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy coming to an end and the failure of last year's Green Lantern movie, it would be highly unlikely that those two characters would be able to co-exist in a single film.
Writer/director of The Avengers, Joss Whedon (and former writer of the canceled Wonder Woman movie a few years back) shared a bit of advice for DC at a press conference last month: "It's enormously difficult to take very disparate characters and make them work. DC has a harder time of it than Marvel because their characters are from an old, bygone era where characters were bigger than we were. Marvel really cracked the code in terms of ‘Oh, they're just like us.’ Marvel really started with ‘Iron Man.’ I think you need to use that as your base.”
Should Warner Brothers want to establish a shared continuity with its movies, the company would need to start anew and next year's Man of Steel might just be the perfect opportunity (for my wishful thinking, that is). After the release of The Dark Knight Rises next month, DC and Warner Brothers will have to start looking for their next big cash cow and with Marvel's long term strategy proving so fruitful, it might not hurt to follow it. Though the hiring of a new writer is a far cry from certain salvation from development hell, it could be a good sign that Warner Brothers is trying to build itself up as a contender in the face of Marvel's movie supremacy.