Justice League: better than expected, less than we deserved

Justice LeagueEverybody knows… Justice League is here! The most expected superhero team-up movie is real now and it’s not doing as good as fans would like. But, let’s not dwell on finances and losses, let’s talk about the movie. Is it good? Is it the Justice League movie we’ve been expecting? Well, it depends. If you’re expectations are high (considering Wonder Woman‘s success and your own hope), you may find the movie a failure, if, after Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, you lowered your expectations, than you are in for a ride. Justice League is a fun and entertaining movie, in which the good outweighs the bad. And yes, there are lots of faults in this movie. If you love the characters or if you just want an enjoyable superhero action movie, Justice League is the movie you should see now.

“The best Marvel movie DC ever made!” – John Campea

Regardless whose quote the one above is, I mostly agree to it. I’ll keep personal opinions about Snyder at the end, but I can say Whedon made a good job with what he was given in the short time he had (6 months to basically rewrite the script, remake half the movie, cut it and add CGI). So, regardless of anyone’s opinion of both, the end result is a combination of their work, even though the movie gives directing credits only to Snyder. Now, to talk about the movie. Good things first.

Justice League brings color to a bleak DCEU

The type of characters DCEU brought were, until Wonder Woman, dark, serious, full of dilemmas and unsure. Superman didn’t know how to be a beacon of light and that made him a sad grumpy pessimist. Batman is old, tired and he had seen it all, which made him angry and hateful. Wonder Woman changed that, as the heroine was from the start full of hope and optimism. Justice League follows in those footsteps and gives color to all its characters. Batman (played perfectly by Ben Affleck) is now a changed man, he wants to do things better. Affleck does a wonderful job in this role and continues to impress me when it comes to playing the iconic superhero. He brings gravitas and power into his scenes, even when he is funny (yeah, DC superheroes are now funny… sometimes). Gal Gadot shows us again she is a good choice for Wonder Woman. Not only does she look the part, but she makes the part. The other members of the League each has his unique thing that makes them stand apart. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is a badass , biker-like superhero, who doesn’t shy away from drinking a whole bottle of whisky or yelling like a madman in the middle of a fight. We’ll see more of him in next year’s movie. The Flash (Ezra Miller) is the comic relief of the movie and the team. Sometimes he is too much, but his jokes generally hit the mark. The Flash learns in this movie how to really be a hero. He still has to show he can do more than throw jokes around, but he looks promising. And the “last” of the team is Cyborg (Ray Fisher), a kid who turned into a half human, half alien machine being with unknown powers. Of course, he has doubts and trust issues, but he learns to be a team player by the end. What I liked about him was his sarcasm, which contrasted perfectly with Flash’s humorous naivety.

Whedon managed to bring in the sort of team dynamics you would have hoped from the Justice League. Jokes, snarky remarks, emotional dialogue. Everything about how the team works together and interact is magnificent. For a movie with a silly plot, a weak villain, problems with how it’s been cut and others (we’ll talk about that in a moment), the way the biggest heroes of DC Comics are brought to life in Justice League, really saves the movie.

Minor spoilers for some (skip this part if you don’t want to read about the red and blue hero).

When it comes to Superman in the DCEU, there have been complaints and problems since Man of Steel. Why isn’t he the Superman we know and love? Why isn’t he a fan of “truth, justice and the American way”? And why is he always grumpy, sad and confused? Well, all the problems and complaints have been solved in Justice League. Of course he was going to come back in this movie! And he came back the most changed. He is now RED and BLUE, he smiles, he is confident and, most of all, he’s a fan of truth and justice. That’s all I’m going to say. But be prepared to see Henry Cavill being the Superman you wanted to see.

Marvel blessings bring the Marvel curse

With all the problems in production this movie had, Snyder apparently left a mess when leaving, according to rumors. We’ll never know how his version would have been though. When Whedon came on board, he was given the task of “fixing” the movie and did it the only way he knows, the Marvel way. That meant reshoots and rewrites and a 2 hour cut of the movie as WB requested. He inserted heart and humor into the dialogues and the scenes between the Justice League members, but he also had to cut through what Snyder did before, leaving less time for the bigger story. And so, we get a very weak villain in Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), with almost no backstory and an obsession for MOTHER (you’ll see). He serves his purpose of uniting the league against him, but that’s all. Only fans know what he is and what he represents in the bigger DC universe. Aside from the villain, we got lots of episodic characters like Hippolyta, coming back from Wonder Woman, the new com. Gordon (J.K. Simmons), who looks the part, but doesn’t do much and dr. Silas Stone (Joe Morton), Cyborg’s father and the head of STAR Labs. We also get to see Lois and Martha again and see how they deal with the pain of losing Clark, but it’s too little. With a weak villain also comes a weak story. And there are many plot holes and silly ways to advance the story in this movie. I’m not gonna get into details, but you’ll see what I’m talking about when Batman wants to do something specific with a Motherbox. Some may blame Whedon for cutting through Snyder‘s story, but let’s not forget, it is Snyder‘s story in the end, just shorter.

Do you bleed?

Yes, Justice League bleeds even more in other departments. Some of the CGI in the movie was horrible and sub par. For a 2017 movie, some scenes looked like the cinematic of a video game released 10 years ago. And let’s not start talking about the mustache. Also, the soundtrack was disappointing. If you thought Zimmer and Junkie XL were too electronic and modern, you’re in for a big surprise with Danny Elfman. Not only does he reuse his Batman theme and William‘s Superman, but he takes parts of other soundtracks he worked on and creates one of the most generic superhero movie soundtrack ever. And Marvel is champion at that. There is no Justice League theme you’ll be humming for weeks to come.  Those iconic theme work as an easter egg, as an homage, but he just erased everything the others worked on. Even Wonder Woman’s theme is heard once in the movie and very modified.

Yes, Justice League is vulnerable. It’s an OK movie and that’s all. But that is ok. We wanted an amazing movie, a movie to shake the superhero genre foundations, but we got a decent fun and entertaining superhero movie. It’s not bad. It’s just not what we deserved. In the end, it’s better than BvS or Suicide Squad, but it’s a step back after the success of Wonder Woman.

Is Justice League worth your time? Hell yeah! You’re gonna have fun, you’re gonna laugh and see some great action scenes, plus you get to see the best known superhero team on screen. Let’s hope the future will bring better news.

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