The Justice League Project(ion)

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2017-10-09 23:00:00 No comments

I have mixed but not necessarily negative feelings about mainstream entertainments. Some of them, I enjoy tremendously without guilt or explanation (Fast & Furious); some of them, I dig things out of them that are pretty personal and that don't map to what everyone else gets from them (TRON); some of them, I just shrug off (most of the Marvel pictures). But some of them, I treat like ... how to put it? ... research projects into the way my approaches to creative things can work.

The Matrix worked a little like this for me. I've mentioned before how I formed my own theories about the film back when all we know about it was what little (spoiler-free) tease came by way of the trailers. Turned out my theories were completely wrong, but that was OK for two reasons: A) the movie provided something fascinating on its own terms, and B) the theory I'd devised was eventually recycled into an entirely new story.

Now we have another candidate for same looming: Justice League. All right, stop laughing.

The way this works follows much the same pattern as before. I've spun some theories about how the story could unfold, and it would be great if the movie lived up to them. And if it doesn't (which seems the likely scenario), then I have myself the bones for yet another project, because I think they're neat ideas!

This impulse of mine seems to spring most directly from the notion, one I've explored before, that you can use one work of creativity as a vehicle of critique for another. It's been said that The Forever War was Joe Haldeman's response to Heinlein's Starship Troopers; likewise, Michael Moorcock wrote the Elric books partly as a self-analysis and partly as a response to "heroic" fantasy that he thought was at bottom not all that heroic after all. Flight Of The Vajra was my response to bad space opera — not in the sense that I thought all of it was uniformly worthless, but in the sense that there were aspects of it I wanted to reply to in the form of a work, that there were things I wanted to see done with it that I hadn't seen done elsewhere.

My thing with JL is partly that most of what we call "heroic" behavior in superheroes requires a lot of squinting and selective vision to be considered that. Superhero stories too easily slip into fascism with a happy ending. Sometimes you have creators that make no bones about that (ahem, Frank Miller), but just showing up such things for what they are isn't by itself enough. It helps to suggest an alternative. This isn't me saying the whole superhero idea should be canned, only that there are parts of it that seem to invite a personal response — once I figure out what that is.

I have no idea if anything will actually arise from all this, but it's a fun thought-experiment all the same.

Tags: Justice League comics creativity creators inspiration movies superheroes