Marvel dominates the box office these days. Even the smaller films starring spandex heroes from the house of M (for Marvel or for mouse, as Disney now owns Marvel: see it’s funny because it could mean both) are loved by audiences, tolerated by critics and make enough money to fund the economy of a small country. DC, Marvel comic’s rival, has had shall we say a different sort of success, ie their films have not been received as warmly as Marvel’s. DC has now got their big event film, the one that is supposed to truely kick off the DC Extended Universe and that is Justice League, starring their most famous characters, except Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. So is this the film that will challenge Marvel’s dominance of the world’s cinemas or is this another nail in the coffin of DC’s dreams for a cinematic universe.
Set after the death of Superman at the hands of Lex Luthor’s juggernaut doomsday, the earth is in mourning. However, Bruce Wayne (AKA Batman) after hearing what Luthor had to say about a threat from the sky, desperately tries to track down the superhumans Luthor kept tabs on in order to face the danger head-on.
The best way to describe this film is that it is not finished. Not at all. The effects don’t look finished and the story certainly isn’t finished. This is a patchwork film, coming apart at the seems with shoddy stitching.
The cloth that this film is cut from is the same discoloured dishrag that DC made Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice out of. Visually Justice League still looks like it is about to rain everywhere, with overcast, shadowy light, desaturated colours and an overall grey look. The special effects as said already are not finished, though they have the same rubbery uncanny consistency that was in the other films. Cyborg is of note here as his human face and robot body just do not knit together and it becomes very distracting when he is on screen. The internet has also picked up on Superman’s top lip, because not only does it speak to the shoddy visuals but the nightmare production and lacking story.
So to start with, Zach Snyder was set to direct however, due to an overwhelming family tragedy Snyder had to step down leading to screenwriter, Joss Whedon, taking over as director to complete the shot and pickups. However, Snyder and Whedon have two very different styles: Snyder is epic and grandiose while Whedon is more acerbic and snarky. Needless to say these things fail to connect with each other, leading to some serious tonal issues and one major character belonging in an entirely different movie that I may have preferred to see. This probably isn’t the major issue here, as even before the tonal issues we have a script that is lazy, providing little to no information about what is actually happening. Justice League takes the cake regarding how disastrous DC’s films are as it shows the unstable house of cards starting to crumble. Unlike Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, which had solid foundations of the standalone films, letting us know who these characters are and building up a threat in each film tying them all together, Justice League has three movies none of which laid any groundwork in story or character.
Storywise Justice League feels very “just because”. Why did this happen? “Just because” Why is Steppenwolf invading earth? “Just Because” How do the Motherboxes work? “Just because” Why do our heroes win? “Just because”. This style of storytelling is insulting to anyone wanting something more substantial in a superhero movie (that is a weird sentence to write but it is still true). Things happening just because means that the audience is being pulled along by the story on a string rather than being carried by a narrative. I was rolling my eyes at plot convenience, coincidence and the “just because” action scenes that had no weight, no stakes and were the dictionary definition of anticlimactic.
It is a similar story with the characters. We know nothing about this Batman, this Wonder Woman, this Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman or Superman; We know what they have done but we never find out who they are. I mean, can you tell me anything at all about Aquaman? This isn’t helped by some painfully dull performances from everyone involved: Cyborg played by Ray Fisher is robotic; Jason Momoa from Game of Thrones as Aquaman is forgettable and Henry Cavill just turned up for a pay check as Superman. We need to talk about Kevin’s Ezra Miller as Flash was good but it is clear he belongs in another movie altogether.
Justice League, like all of DC’s other movies, is a lazy attempt to make the same amount of money that Marvel did with their MCU. However, again DC just go through the motions, giving us “and then” stories, bland, one-note characters and grey, anticlimactic movies.
You can watch Justice League in cinemas now