No, it could never be made today. Maybe not for the story itself, but for who was attached to the project. Armie Hammer as Batman. See what we mean? Okay, to be fair Hammer may not have been the tool to drive the nail in the coffin, he could have easily been recast. But all was for naught as the project known as Justice League: Mortal never made it past pre-production. The story is wild.
Let’s set the scene for you before we even get to Armie Hammer. We are looking at 2008 and legendary director George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal is a scant few days from the start of filming. Although the budget started at $250 million with the possibility of it reaching $300 million, DC and Warner Bros. are confident in the script, the director, and even the stars Miller chose to be in the highly anticipated project.
The stars. By many accounts, they were practically nobodies. Miller had Armie Hammer as Batman, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Santiago Cabrera as Aquaman, Common (yes, the rapper) as Green Lantern, and Hugh Keays-Byrne as Martian Manhunter.
We aren’t done, because along with Armie Hammer, Miller’s cast also included Zoe Kazan as Iris Allen, Teresa Palmer as Talia Al-Ghul, and Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord.
The script, with Armie Hammer as the Caped Crusader, was said to be based around a couple of DC’s favorite stories, Justice League of America: Tower of Babel and The OMAC Project. It was written by the duo of Michele and Kiernan Mulroney, two writers who’d go on to pen Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Their script hit all the high notes DC fans would have loved to see, giving each and every hero their moment to shine.
Who? How? Well, what we find out is that Armie Hammer is about to go quasi-villain and Batman has been hacked. Seems the Caped Crusader has been keeping files on his Justice League companions on how to take them out if they ever were to get out of line. The hacker? Well, it is Maxwell Lord.
The story, which can actually be read here, began and ended with a funeral, but whose it is not known until the very end. After this ominous opening, the story bumps back a couple of days and shows just how the world is getting along with all their heroes in it. Crime is down around the globe, especially in Gotham where Batman (Armie Hammer) calls home. Diana Prince finds herself speaking at the UN telling those in attendance that because of her and her super friends, they appear to have achieved world peace.
Many may have found this sort of opening easier on the palate. Instead of getting the monotonous “origin” story, we get to see an already established Justice League.
Things are about to turn sideways for our group of superheroes. Martian Manhunter has found himself under attack. Every time he is exposed to oxygen, he bursts into flames. Every time a hero comes to his rescue, they also find themselves at the mercy of something or someone who has figured out their weaknesses and has the ability to exploit them.
Just how did Batman find himself in the position to be hacked? It seems the Dark Knight has been having some fun with Talia Al-Ghul, who has been able to slip in some tracking tech inside Batman’s shorts while the two were playing no-no. Picture something like the love scene we got between the two in The Dark Knight Rises but with Armie Hammer and Teresa Palmer.
Maxwell Lord is out for revenge seeing as how he was in the OMAC Project as a child and it left him with years of pain and a weakened psychic ability. Unfortunately for Superman, Lord’s psychic ability is just strong enough to turn Supes versus the entire League. The team must now come together (and forgive Batman) in order to bring Superman back to his senses. Mission accomplished. Of course, though, Lord has one more trick up his sleeve: a Doomsday device. He plans on using it to wipe out everyone.
The Flash then gets his moment as beats feet so fast that he merges with the Speed Force, causing him and Lord, along with the device, to say farewell into the void. It is then that we realize the funeral we saw at the beginning was for The Flash.
So, why didn’t this movie, which was so close to beginning filming, ever get made? Sets were already set. Costumes were fit snug and tight. Everyone seemed happy and confident.
Well, what began as a tax issue ended up with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight as being the nail. Miller wanted his Justice League shot in Australia at the Fox Studios Australia. Warner was on board because they were going to nab a 40% tax rebate for shooting down under.
To help out receiving that rebate, Miller had hired three Australians as his main cast, Megan Gale, Teresa Palmer, and Hugh Keays-Byrne. But the Film Commission felt it wasn’t enough for them to give the 40%.
Unable to come to an agreement, the film had to be pushed a few months while they moved from Australia to Canada. During this time, Nolan hit the world with The Dark Knight, and what looked extremely promising for George Miller and company was no longer. Warner Bros. first put the movie on hold, then outright canceled production.
Armie Hammer was asked by Kevin Smith about the time he was going to play Batman. Hammer went on to describe having gotten into the fully-functional suit (which sounds awesome) and even getting into rehearsals in Australia. You can see it here.
George Miller was finally asked whatever happened to his Justice League and he was able to clear up a couple of things via Den of Geek. “There was a writers’ strike. There was some legislation with a tax rebate to make it in Australia. It was the first film that came up, and there was a debate about whether it was Australian content even though I was driving it. It didn’t have to be Australian content, but Australian control. But there was a board that no longer exists that the government cobbled together from people who knew nothing about the film industry. And they voted — they struck it down by one vote. We were all ready. Once that happened and then the writers’ strike happened…it fell apart.”
What a shame. Whatever you may think of Armie Hammer now, you didn’t back then so it might have been fun to see him wear the cowl and cape. It’s also a shame fans didn’t get to see this version of Justice League. We’ll never know what direction DC (and the movie’s stars) could have gone if this film had actually been made.
Who out there would have liked to see this movie made? Let us know.