We all need to first off admit that Warner Bros. is doing too much of a rush job to try and have DC “catch” up to Marvel. I mean, we’ve only had four films, and one of those films featured just two small cameos by two of the JUSTICE LEAGUE members so really we’ve only had 3. When The Avenger’s came out, every character was introduced and given some kind of arc exposition in a previous film. Here, three of the 5 just had very small cameos in previous adventures, and that is it. Literally no time to fully develop them. So if you go into Justice League thinking it is going to be the end all be all of superhero team ups, you are sorely mistaken. But if you go in there and realize that Warner Bros. is playing catch up, accept that fact, turn off your brain for two hours, and just try to have a fun time, like I did, then you’ll come out of Justice League thinking that it was pretty good, not great, but pretty good, and that the critics are being once again too harsh on a DC film. (I am an avid fan of the Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition cut so take that for what you will with my review here.)
If you are expecting a film better than the first Avengers, you are out of your God forsaken mind, but I did enjoy this more than the really average Age of Ultron. And Justice League has plenty of problems. For one, if you are used to the dark ass tone of Man of Steel, BVS, and Suicide Squad, you are going to have a strong wake up call here. I think what is throwing critics off mostly is the tone of this film. Almost all the darkness of the previous films are gone, and this one is even lighter and more campy than Wonder Woman. (I think Wonder Woman is the be all end all of DCEU films thus far, and think it created the perfect tone all other DC films should use as a blueprint). It’s a very jarring change that if you don’t know that it’s coming, it could throw you for a loop. And it’s all because Zack Snyder is trying to cater to not just the fans that are complaining about too dark of a tone for our DC characters, but also to the studio trying its best to force a artists hands to cater to the masses.
I honestly think that Snyder wanted to make a very different film here than the one presented. And Joss Whedon was brought in to polish things off a bit (also the sad tragedy of Snyder’s daughter killing herself and Snyder’s heart not being really into the movie anymore), but I think with the release date looming and Henry Cavill’s mustache curflaffle (you could definitely tell the parts where Cavill’s mustache for Mission Impossible 6 was CGI’d out, to the point where I almost said out loud, “hey, this is a Joss Whedon directed scene!”), that he couldn’t really do all that much to fix it. If Warner Bros. has told the two men, okay, you each get the cast for 6 months, and you get 6 months to write a script before that, and we won’t interfere with you at all, you would have two completely different, and maybe even better films than this.
Shit, I’m dragging this down aren’t I? And I actually liked the film. I’m just trying to explain the tone problem. It’s not two different tone’s like some of the critics are saying. It’s just a conflicting tone to previous films and studio interference. Would I have liked to see a darker Justice League film a la BVS? I know I’ll get a lot of flack for this but, yes, I really would.
And the tone isn’t even that much of a problem, because I knew it was going to be lighter going in. I’m just giving my thesis on why the Rotten Tomato score is so low. There are MUCH bigger problems in this film. The CGI is fucking terrible at times, especially when it comes to Superman, his resurrection, and the final last battle. It looked and felt like Star Wars Episode II and III, with the actors just in front of a giant big screen inside a studio with few props. The villain sucks hard as well, and now DC officially has a villain problem a la Marvel. Steppenwolf is a CGI creation that has literally no other purpose than to look and sound menacing while trying to control the world. Completely one dimensional, not even scary, and I didn’t even think he was that much of a threat. He was basically a bigger version of the main bad guy in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. The motherbox plot was kind of a let down as well. Why do these villains always need artifacts to destroy shit?
Also, let me get to critics complaints that Ben Affleck doesn’t want to be there anymore and looks bored the entire movie. I don’t think that is necessarily true. I think Affleck signed on to play Batman as a dark, brooding character that has seen his fare shit over 20 years and lost his faith in humanity. He gave his performance his all in BVS, and he was honestly the best part about the film. He even looked like he liked being in his very small role in Suicide Squad. Then the reviews for BVS came in. The whole sad Affleck video happened. He looked crushed. And then comes Justice League, where Affleck is told he needs to loosen up his performance and be lighter. In Justice League Affleck shows not a disinterest of a performance, but a confused one. He knew what to do in BVS but now the director and studio are telling him different, and he doesn’t know really what to do, and it isn’t what he signed up for. You can tell this when he makes one liners in Justice League. Affleck doesn’t pull off these one liners because he doesn’t believe that the character should be saying shit like that, and he’s right. Batman shouldn’t. So in my humble opinion, this is the last time we probably see Affleck as the Dark Knight. Not because of disinterest, but because of confusion.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK, let me get to the good stuff and why I enjoyed the movie. Wonder Woman and The Flash are awesome and steal every scene they are in. Gal Gadot was born to play Wonder Woman and she is really the best part of this movie, and I can’t wait for Wonder Woman 2. Ezra Miller was nice and refreshing as The Flash, with awesome zany one liners, a great Stephen King reference, and a whole lot of positive energy brought into the project. I can’t wait to see the Flashpoint film. Jason Mamoa is also a fresh take on Aquaman that I enjoyed and am interested in the solo film he has coming up. People are casting Ray Fisher as the odd man out in this, but I am one to disagree. Even though I didn’t like Cyborg’s CGI, I liked Ray Fisher’s portrayal, and I believe we would be more invested with his character if he would just get his own solo film. The whole team had great chemistry together, and that is main reason why the movie doesn’t falter and is actually enjoyable. Hell, they even course correct Superman in this. Instead of the brewing depressing being he was in BVS, he is more the Superman in the comics in this, looking for justice, not vengeance, and actually thinking about civilians. I also did like that his resurrection didn’t involve the black suit or long hair, that would’ve been too damn obvious and too many throwbacks to the comics for no apparent reason.
The Batman and Wonder Woman scenes at the beginning of the film were fantastic. I did like the midway through the film battle that was without Superman in that factory like place. The action is very entertaining, even though we don’t really get a masterpiece of a scene like we did with Batman and the warehouse in BVS. We get some nods to some other heroes I thought were pretty cool as well (look for them in the flashback first apocalyptic battle with Steppenwolf). And also, be sure to stay for two post credit scenes. One is funny and fun, and the other was really really freaking cool. It introduces a brand new character. Also, it almost course corrects an annoying as fuck character in one of the previous DCEU movies. Maybe, we’ll have to see more of the tweaked performance.
So I liked Justice League for what it was. If this is just a stepping stone to a greater Justice League 2, then I am glad this movie exists. I can see myself watching it several more times, it is really enjoyable, even with its flaws and narrative plot. But I think it is time to let Zack Snyder go. Bring in some fresh faces and try and let Warner Bros not be so fucking involved. I would love Joss Whedon to do is own, awesome, artistic, uninterrupted Justice League 2. I have a feeling that would be epic. (Age of Ultron sucked I believe because of studio hands as well). I know he has a Batgirl movie, which I’m looking forward to, coming up but, give him the keys to the League. So unlike the critics, which seem to point to this being a Frankenstein monster collaboration of a movie, I would more describe it as Captain America with amnesia, obeying the Socovia Act in Civil War instead of disobeying it. He might not be all quite there in his head, but he still gets the job done.
Rank of DCEU Movies:
- Wonder Woman
- Man of Steel
- Justice League
- Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Cut
- Suicide Squad