Boy, DC just trumped Marvel on the big news front for today. It’s reported in Variety that Warner Bros., in the year-plus since it was announced, have already made a big creative step with their own ensemble superhero movie, Justice League, going on to hire Will Beall (Gangster Squad) for screenwriting duties. (In terms of the studio’s tentpoles, he’s also been commissioned to do another draft on Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Logan’s Run — and a Lethal Weapon reboot? That’s still happening?)

We’d all see this development as their reaction to The Avengers‘ massive, sweeping success across the worldwide box office, but Variety claims this hire was made last year “in anticipation of” such an event. The script still isn’t finished, but one would expect Jeff Robinov‘s ambitions to get Justice League out in 2013 — I’d think that’s not really happening — should mean it’s coming sooner than most had been expecting. (Especially since this project has been quiet for more than 14 months.)

Naturally, I do wonder how they might build up to this — if they build up at all. Although they’ve got a pretty convenient launchpad with the post-Dark Knight Rises rebooting of Batman, Zack Snyder‘s stance not to have Man of Steel cross over should change if it comes out a big hit. (Not that he’s directly involved in this decision, though.) And, on top of those big, pending opportunities, it’s said that Michael Goldenberg (Green Lantern) is penning a Wonder Woman movie; not even considering that as a stepping stone to Justice League would simply be terrible planning on the part of the studio and DC. (Variety indicates that The Flash is still in some state of development, too.)

But the studio did try to take a standalone approach just a few years back. George Miller was going to direct Justice League, with Armie Hammer playing Batman, D.J. Cotrona donning the red cape for Superman, Adam Brody appearing as The Flash, Common cuckolding Ryan Reynolds as The Green Lantern, and Megan Gale being the first onscreen Wonder Woman. (Winklevoss made it sound like a pretty cool project.) Sadly, all that work and potential was swept away by the WGA Strike of 2007 and some problems with the tax system in Australia (its place of production). To make a long story short: they might still try to get it in one clean shot.

If things do pan out in a Marvel-style fashion, Justice League would — admittedly, contrary to what I just said — probably not hit until, say, 2015? At the earliest? So long as this gap lets them fashion a good script and interesting characters with which to populate it, someone like myself is willing to wait as long as it takes. Even if, of course, seeing a live-action Batman and Superman onscreen together would be a thrill to trump whatever The Avengers brought.

Could Justice League really happen? Do you want it to?

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