I had high hopes for Justice League. Trailers sporting Bowie and Beatles covers promised a fun comic book film with a strong sense of style. I fully believed this; in my opinion, Zack Snyder is one of the most stylish directors alive. Unfortunately, the trailers were wrong… because that’s never ever happened before.
What’s good about this film? It competently shows how a group of unlike-minded superpowered individuals band together for the common good, overlooking their differences and becoming the heroes the world needs them to be. Their costumes look pretty great. That’s about it. In a pre-Avengers world, this might have been enjoyable, but in 2017 it just feels tired and empty. Marvel Studios spent a full four movies building up to the event that was The Avengers. These movies found the characters in their own little corner of the then barely connected universe. Warner Brothers has tried to build the same sort of universe, but where Disney used uniformly constructed quality bricks, WB has used faulty, inconsistent materials; some sand here, a couple of recycled 2x4s there. Suicide Squad was a complete one-shot that has really nothing to do with Justice League, Man of Steel is essentially a standalone as well, and BvS was pretty much a precursor to Justice League. Wonder Woman‘s massive success is probably partially due to the fact that it is the only DCEU film that succeeds in creating a standalone story that also fits into a bigger universe. WB hasn’t been chasing a sturdy interconnected universe for the past five years; They’ve been chasing a dollar.
Justice League is the result of this. From plot, to premise, the entire thing is completely rushed. There is a fabricated rapport between Bruce and Diana, as well as some very phony humor from very unfunny characters. It also doesn’t help that of the six leaguers, only three of them have actually gotten more that a couple of minutes of screen time.
We’ve never seen the villian before either, unlike The Avengers’ Loki, who had already been in Thor. Even worse, Steppenwolf is an all CGI character that leads an army of all CGI monsters and posseses none of Tom Hiddleston’s human whimsy. His villiany is completely inaccessible because it is painfully clear to the audience that he is unreal.
I can’t really fault this movie for pacing or plot holes, which were many people’s main gripes with the past couple of film’s in this universe. WB has seemingly made absolutely sure that nothing of that sort can be found anywhere. Sadly, the film is not the better for it. In the over-correction so the side of cohesiveness, all life and energy has been sucked out of the movie.
Justice League’s 41% tomatometer is higher than Batman vs. Superman‘s 27%, and Suicide Squad‘s 26% but I would honestly prefer either of them over this film. BvS was like a plane that lost a wing mid-landing, and spun out of control to create a beautiful explosion. If Justice League is an aircraft, then it anticipates the danger and lands safely, without anything noteworthy. This may sound like praise, and I guess in a way it is, but it is almost aggressively commonplace and unremarkable. As “balanced” and “cohesive” as it may be, there is no Villian so bizarre as Lex Luthor, no combat sequence so slick as the famous “warehouse scene”, and no reveal so dynamic as Wonder Woman leaping into battle to the music of Han Zimmer’s epic theme. I’ll take the ugly but interesting movie over the pretty, boring one any day.
Man! That scene is fantastic.