The Justice League, as imagined in this Alex Ross painting.

Warner Bros. is making some plans towards the long-awaited Justice League feature film as Variety reports that screenwriter Will Beall (Gangsta Squad) has been assigned the task of writing the first draft of the screenplay.

There is almost no information available at all at this point, but you can’t get around the fact that Marvel Studio’s success with The Avengers had something to do with the decision to move forward on this project.

Part of the puzzle is what to build such a film on top of.  Marvel had a string of blockbusters to tie together into a unified whole at the end, and what does Warner have?  Green Lantern?  Superman Returns?  Both performed adequately but failed to really ignite in terms of ticket sales, and both were frankly less than they could have been and took liberties with the heroes with which many fans weren’t comfortable. Christian Bale’s “Batman” might make a good platform to build a foundation on, but next summer’s Man of Steel is a more likely one to really set things in motion.  They might also start from scratch – but doing that sets the film’s release eight years into the future, about the same amount of time it took to build the Avengers cycle of films.

The picture had been very close to production in late 2007 and early 2008, but was killed by the Writers Guild of America strike, tax credit issues in Australia, and concerns by some at Warner about presenting a competing (and conflicting) version of Batman while director Christopher Nolan’sfilms were breaking box office records.

But Jeff Robinov, the head of the Warner Bros. motion picture group has said that a new Justice League script is in the works. Also being written for Warner are scripts featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman, who could be spun off into their own movies after Justice League. Wonder Woman was also in the works as a television pilot for NBC produced by Warner, but was quickly killed once fans got a whiff of how badly it was going to stink.   Much of what Robinov was hoping to build the Justice League film on has floundered and stumbled while the Marvel properties soared overhead.

Just having a screenwriter attached to a film is no guarantee that the film will ever be made, so this isn’t as big a news item as one might think.  In other words, don’t get too excited.  A lot can happen between “go” and “finished”.

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