Growing up, I was always more familiar with DC superheroes. Therefore, ever since Avengers arrived on the cinematic world in 2011, I had long wondered when their DC’s counterpart would follow suit.
After six years of waiting, I finally Justice League appeared on the big screen. I was disappointed, unfortunately. The waiting was for nothing.
Justice League follows the events of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), where Superman (Clark Kent/Henry Cavill) died after fighting Doomsday. Crimes spike and hope is lost in a Superman-less world. Batman (Bruce Wayne/Ben Affleck), however, smells a graver danger threatening humanity. With the help of Wonder Woman (Diana Prince/Gal Gadot), the Dark Knight enlists a group of meta-humans – Aquaman (Arthur/Jason Mamoa), Flash (Barry Allen/Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Victor Stone/Ray Fisher) – to help fight the extraterrestrial threats, led by Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds).
A group of superheroes defend the earth against alien invasion. This plot sound familiar for superhero movie fans, like me. Avengers already defended earth in 2011 against an army of extraterrestrials led by Thor’s little brother, Loki. Avengers was a good movie. For someone like me who was not really familiar this group of heroes, I enjoyed watching it. It was also well received by critics and moviegoers. The film sets the bar high for any movie featuring a group of heroes. The bar, however, seemed to high for Justice League to reach.
Justice League belongs to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). However, with the exception of Wonder Woman solo movie earlier this year, so far most DCEU movies have been poorly criticized. Man of Steel (2013) was an interesting take on Superman. Despite winning an, ehm, an Oscar, Suicide Squad (2016) was a catastrophe. Batman V Superman was … a disaster, yes it was. The “Martha” conversation between the dark knight and the Kryptonian will forever be remembered in the history of meme.
Critics have argued that DCEU movies are too dark, brooding and philosophical. They often compare DCUE movies to Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero movies, which are often light, fun and entertaining, although still touching on important issues. Some time ago, reports said Warner Bros. ordered DCEU movies to contain no jokes. I wonder if Warner Bros. regretted their instruction considering the backlash against DCEU movies.
To response to this criticism, Director Zack Snyder tried to lighten the tone in Justice League. Before stepping down from the film in May due to her daughter’s tragic death, Snyder brought in Avengers’ director, Joss Whedon, to rewrite and reshoot several sections of the film. However, the end result, in my opinion, is a mess. The movie is indecisive whether wanting to be a DCEU or MCU movie.
As the movie is set in a world void of hope, Snyder still relied on his trademark visual cues such as desaturated color throughout the film. However, things became weird when the heroes started throwing jokes.
I get the idea of the Flash as a jokester. Barry Allen is historically a funny guy. It will be weird if Barry becomes a brooding character. It will be a big no. In Justice League, wait for it, you will hear Batman throw self-pity jokes and awkward remarks. Yes, the Batman and Dark Knight. For me, this is extremely weird! It disconnected his character from Batman in BvS, no matter how I loathed that film.
What happened then is a tug of war between literally light and dark. The film loses its DCEU traits and tries mimicking MCU movies. Audience also did not buy it. I heard some laughing, some barely chuckling. I heard no unanimous laughter from the audience like when I watched MCU movies.
Then let’s talk about Steppenwolf, the villain boss. Who is he once again? Yes, he did mention Darkseid name once. DC fans must know Steppenwolf’s connection to Darkseid and the threat both characters posit. However, besides roaring and smashing, Steppenwolf’s existence meant nothing. His character was just an empty shell. There is just no introduction or even a chance for audience to know and hate him. If we could fall in love with Loki and all of his stupidity in Avengers, we would just forget Steppenwolf as soon as we get out of movie theater.
Can we also discuss about the final fighting scene? It was … chaotic. Again, I could not help but compare how it was so similar and yet so different from Avengers. Both teams fought against alien invasion. Avengers gave each of the hero his or her shining moment. I still remember how impressive it was when Thor and Hulk brought down the flying gigantic alien snake or when Iron Man tried to sacrifice himself by blowing up himself at the alien portal. I can also easily recall the scene where Hulk destroy and smash Loki. It was legendary!
Justice League, however, was no Avengers. There was nothing special or memorable of the fighting scenes. They just threw punch here and there, shot some beams and threw Batarang. Poor choreography and blocking, I guess. The film should give more chance to each of the hero to shine. As an action superhero movie, it is very interesting to note that Justice League leaves no impression at all.
Two hours I spent watching Justice League. When the credit rolled, I was shocked. Two hours and I said, “Is that all? Just like this huh?”
Is there a future then for DCEU? Maybe, if Warner Bros can get the right persons to work with the cast.
Gal Gadot reprising her role as Wonder Woman glowed brightly in Justice League. I see a glimpse of hope in Jason Mamoa as Aquaman. His portrayal as a naughty version of the King of Atlantis is interesting. I am also interested to know how Ezra Miller as Flash is going to be. Henry Cavill finally smiled here! That’s good! Ben Affleck… I am not sure if he even still wants to be in DCEU at all. He looked so damned bored in the film.
If Warner Bros still want to have Justice League sequels, then I guess they better find the right person to work with these heroes. They did it with Wonder Woman. Why can’t they do it with the others?
If they cannot do it right, then just don’t do it. The world is swamped with superhero movies anyway. I just cannot stand watching anymore injustices done to Justice League!