Get it? Because it’s the day after Thanksgiving.
Okay, I’ll get on with it.
Before I get rolling, let me explain myself a bit. I normally try to avoid blog-like pieces on here. I think when you write in length without any research you aren’t doing yourself or the art you’re discussing much good. That said, with the great response to both my piece on Batman v. Superman and Pete’s review of Justice League, I see this as an opportunity to comment on the film as I’ve already explained the lion’s share of my views on the DCEU. I’ll also warn you now, Spoilers Ahead.
It is weird to think that the number one film in the world on its opening weekend, grossing over three hundred million, could be considered a disappointment. This is the environment that Justice League was released into. Days after seeing the movie, I can definitively say that I liked it. I don’t love it, but it has redeeming qualities that help soften the glaring problems. The film finds itself haunted by public opinion of Dawn of Justice and the reported clashes between the two directors and their studio heads. That struggle seems to make its way on to the screen as devotees, myself included, cite harsh tone shifts from certain scenes to others. It’s no secret that I loved both Man of Steel and BvS, and in my opinion, this film’s biggest failures are in its attempts to replicate the style found in Joss Whedon’s work for Marvel Studios. These attempts are no more obvious than in the scenes concerning Superman’s resurrection. Very little is explained and suddenly our heroes are transformed into bickering co-workers. I usually find myself squashing arguments that scenes are ripped off from other films, but this sequence played so like Avengers that I can’t ignore it. At this point of the film, all of the seeds planted for explanation in the previous films are seemingly blown off. No visions, no floating dirt, no codex and if this is why The Flash had to contact Batman in the past from an alternate future, it sure isn’t clear. That’s what that was, right? Anyway, Superman’s reunion with Lois Lane and his subsequent readjustment to life should be the film’s emotional focal point. Instead, it is buried in humor and Superman’s return quickly becomes one of the least engaging concepts in the film. Clark Kent has been moving toward the more messianic Superman since Man of Steel and it felt as if his death would lead to a great pay off for that concept. It quite simply didn’t. It’s impossible to truly quantify emotion in storytelling, but without Superman’s resurrection playing as a huge moment in the genre, the film feels half -hearted. I have great respect for Whedon’s work, but in these sequences I was craving Zack Snyder’s touch. Even now I can’t help but wonder what his vision would have brought us. It was a moment two films were building to, and it basically didn’t happen.
What I did like was firmly anchored by the cast. Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher and Jason Momoa all brought emotion and fun to their characters. I’m especially fond of Cyborg being played as a sort of god of the machines. Henry Cavill’s reborn Superman was pitch perfect, regardless of how underwhelming that return was in itself. Also no surprise, Gadot’s Wonder Woman has become the heart of the DCEU, if not all of superhero film. Affleck’s Batman is intriguing, dropping the aggression of the previous film but still not quite stable. If Affleck continues in the role, it will be interesting to see what this Batman develops into. Outside of the performances, the film excels in its amusing action sequences. Luckily they are found throughout. Yeah, its all flying and shooting at that point, but it sure isn’t boring. Additionally, some of the most effective humor can be found when the punches are flying. That initial Wonder Woman sequence is one my favorites within the whole genre. As the film comes to a close, the audience is treated to a montage of epilogues for our heroes. This is where the film proves the other half of the heart it still has. The journey ended up being a little less emotional than some of us had hoped, but it reached its destination nonetheless. If the journey had been better executed, I think the film could have been a true triumph within the genre. Going forward, we are left with versions of the characters who could be placed into endless situations. The League are gods amongst men and if you need them, all you have to do is look up in the sky. Or on the ground if it’s The Flash. Batman has a plane so he might be in the sky too. Yeah.
I do have some thoughts on where this is all going, ones that acknowledge the studio, etc. but I’ll get into that somewhere on the site soon. Be sure to check those video posts.