Full disclosure; Man of Steel was bleak. Batman V Superman had 4 incredible minutes (you know which ones I’m talking about.) Suicide Squad had an amazing trailer – oh wait, there was supposedly a movie too. Wonder Woman deserves the 95% Rotten Tomatoes rating it still has (and I’ll tell you why later). The Nolan-verse Batman movies are the golden standard and DC/WB animated movies have succeeded more than once to entertain and capture the essence of their roster.
With that said, let’s delve into Justice League.
To sum up the plot in words I think everyone can understand; Bad guy falls from the sky, wants to destroy earth and the rag tag team of once-strangers-now-suddenly-friends save the day. Cut to credits, one throwaway mid-credit followed by an attempt at hyping the movie they should’ve made in the first place. Sound familiar? That’s the problem.
I wanted to love it. I really wanted to. I wanted to walk out of the theater with the same giddiness and excitement I get walking out of the last Star Wars flick or Civil War. But damn it Warner Bros, you make loving you so god damned difficult. Is it so difficult to write a decent story? You literally have thousands upon thousands of different source materials to choose from, tried and true stories that have stood the test of time. Your move? Ignore all of it and make a Frankenstein cluster-fuck of a movie. Ben Affleck looks more disinterested in this movie than a hot 22 year old sitting next to you at the bar waiting for her Apple-tini. Gal Gadot does her best to care. Cyborg’s an emo kid with metal plates in his face. Aquaman’s a douche…cause the plot needs him to be? We get it Ezra, you’re happy to be the Flash. Oh, and Superman, NO AMOUNT OF CGI MUSTACHE REMOVING can fix your stiff-lipped acting. Just stay dead or at least come back as something interesting ( no black suit? Really, you couldn’t do that Zack? REALLY?!)
I’ve seen an animated Justice League movie that was a full 45 minutes shorter on run time that was more compelling and satisfying than what I saw last night. My Batman Arkham games had better writing and plots than whatever 15 screenwriters meddled together and called a movie.
You must be asking yourself, than what made Wonder Woman so different? Why was her movie okay? Wasn’t it just a rehash origins story? Yes in theory we could of called it Wonder Woman: The First Avengers – so no points on originality. However, Wonder Woman did something none of the DC movies have done; show heroism with stakes we can understand. Seeing Batman wrestle a Parademon or see Cyborg hit Steppenwolf with a laser cannon might be pretty on screen, but I couldn’t care less about the outcome. There is no danger, no stakes. My example? The Wonder Woman WW1 battlefield scene where our hero was doing what they were meant to do; save us. Instead CGI aliens from space, the villain was someone we understand: Man. Wonder Woman wasn’t saving earth metaphorically, she was saving them literally. We understood who she was protecting, and why she was. The result was one of the best sequences in a DC movie ever. Those 4 minutes in BVS? Same deal. I periodically watch it on YouTube for no reason other than to pleasure myself (…get your mind out of the gutter!)
Note to the powers that be: jokes don’t fix holes or shallow plots. Thor: Ragnarok had the same problem – the writers took a thin plot, threw in some one liners and buddy cop clichés in hopes we’d forget while we down our butter popcorn. This isn’t a MARVEL VS DC thing; they are just as guilty of giving us forgettable movies. The main difference is that they actually have the true artisans working on it. Justice League tried too hard to be funny and ended up pissing me off more than anything. I’m always up for comedy but not at the expense of a good story (or at least a coherent one). Make me care. Give me stakes I understand. Give me a sense of urgency. Give me a sense of resolution. JUST MAKE A DECENT MOVIE FIRST. THEN LET’S TALK UNIVERSES. This is what happens when you let those who couldn’t care less about the characters drive the car, with the true comic-book artisans filling the gas tank while the car stays on idle. The answer to fixing these DC movies is there, but for some reason they don’t listen.
In the end, Justice League was nothing more than once-good ideas poorly executed. You can feel the contrast between Zack Snyder’s aborted masterplan for the two-part extravaganza and Joss Whedon’s attempt to button up the mess. I did enjoy a few moments, but that’s all they were – moments. Nothing stuck with me. I will give one bonus point for doing the right thing and using the Danny Elfman Batman theme from the Burton and BTAS in this movie.
My verdict? Go see this on cheapy-Tuesday or wait till the ULTIMATE- HERE-IS-EVERYTHING-YOU-WANT-BUT-NOW-COST 30$ DVD coming out in 6 months.