Justice League

“Justice League” delivers most of the goods


“Justice League” hit theaters a few weekends ago and it’s taken me this long to process what I saw. Overall, I think it is a step in the right direction, but a dip from the epic heights of “Wonder Woman.” Why? Read below the fold.

Liking the new “Justice League” blood… to an extent

Aquaman is a dude-bro, but it’s better than what I saw in “Super Friends” cartoons. Never liked the Flash, but he worked here as the wide-eyed audience surrogate/ comic relief.

Both are one note in “Justice League,” but the beginnings of an interesting character are there.

Now it’s been said that the DCEU should have pulled a Marvel and made the solo movies first. That’s just a cop-out. We didn’t need seven movies before we saw “The Magnificent Seven.” They still had proper character development.

Just saying.

Cyborg had the best chance, but they fumbled

I’m surprised director Zack Snyder didn’t give Cyborg more play. The character fits perfectly into the moody-ass DCEU Snyder has developed. But even here they drop the ball.

Cyborg warns that interfacing with the Mother Box may cost his humanity. Wonder Woman assures him the League will pull him out.

When the big moment comes, there’s no threat of danger for Cyborg; without the payoff, the earlier scene is meaningless.

Wonder Woman and the Male Gaze

Director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)

Director Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)

“Wonder Woman” as directed by Patty Jenkins was light years above and beyond what the DC Extended Universe had generated under directors Zack Snyder and David Ayer. The movie had a completely different feel to it, chiefly the lack of the “Snyder Gloom.”

What it also had was the method by which Jenkins and cinematographer Matt Jensen lensed Wonder Woman/ Diana to make her look beautiful, powerful, but not in a lecherous way.

Between Snyder and Joss Whedon, who takes uncredited fill-in-direction on “Justice League,” they made Wonder Woman look beautiful, powerful but threw in some obvious butt shots.

Take when Batman landed his plane to meet Wonder Woman. We initially have a shot of Diana from the waist up. As the landing plank drops, we follow it down to a full-on upskirt shot. Really? Couldn’t get a boss shot of Batman emerging? Or a wide shot?

Really?

And all the fuss over the Amazon’s outfits being skimpy; the defense was the Amazons do acrobatic stuff. Yet none of the Amazons who are in the skimpy stuff do any of the acrobatic stuff. So what was the point of the change?

Oh yeah. Sex sells/ male gaze.

…and for the ladies, Super-chest!

At least Snyder and Whedon are equal opportunity sex sells.

Superman was buried and laid in the “amniotic” fluid in a suit. When he comes back, he’s shirtless, showing off some chest and abs that would make Daniel Craig’s “Casino Royale” James Bond jealous!

So there’s that.

And that CGI removal of his mustache.

About that return of Superman and Hope

He dies being a sourpuss. He comes back a jokester.

I’m down for getting a Superman closer to what I feel is the iconic image of Hope, best expressed to this point, not by Henry Cavill but Christopher Reeve.

What is established in the first few minutes of “Justice League” wasn’t anything bleaker than what we have in the real world. That makes it difficult to believe Superman made such an impact on this world.

Within the context of the DCEU, Superman never did anything to inspire such a strong sense of Hope. Breaking necks, leveling cities, flying away after Congress blows up, killing terrorists… that’s about as inspirational as Batman branding criminals.

And Batman felt Superman was the inspirational one.

Speaking of Batdick…

Ben Affleck as Batman, (C) Warner Bros

Ben Affleck as Bat-dick –
er, Batman, (C) Warner Bros

I see what Batfleck was trying to do with the part. It’s written on the page that he’s old, battered and sees that his methods put him outside the inspirational realm.

So why does this potentially intriguing arc play so flat?

It has less to do with Batfleck’s performance and more with the movie’s slipshod setup/ pay-off game as explained above with Cyborg. Batfleck may be a good Batman; he just hasn’t gotten a movie I care about so I care about him like I did Christian Bale.

The best thing “Justice League’s” Batman has going for him is his strategic planning, but even that is thrown out when the rest of the League comes to his defense in the third act — a direct rejection of his strategy.

The “JL” Batman is a dick anyway. Pulling that shit on Wonder Woman about Steve Trevor?

Dick.

How good is Batman at his job anyway? In the opening, he’s pursuing a thief. After encountering the Parademon, he lets the thief go.

What?

Final Thoughts

“Justice League” isn’t the worst movie in the world. It has its moments, mostly when Gal Gadot is onscreen kicking ass as Wonder Woman. I even believe that Rotten Tomatoes score of 41% is low by about twenty points.

But is “JL” the epic first appearance of these six DC heroes it should be? Hell no it isn’t.

To get there, I’m thinking there needs to be a regime change in the creative department that includes a lack of studio interference.

Or just let Patty Jenkins direct EVERYTHING