Holy Jesus! Justice League came out today! Is it really in theaters now? Have I really seen it? Or was it all a dream?
1. One Paragraph Summation of the DCEU Thus Far:
In the Beginning, Superman's dad saves Superman (and Krypton's DNA thingy) from Michael Shannon by shooting his infant son to Earth in a shoddily constructed rocket. Superman grows up - rather sulkily - and after months in the gym and experiments with weight gain powders he finds out about his dad just as Michael Shannon arrives on Earth looking for that DNA thingy. THEN SH*T GETS REAL. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Punching, punching, punching. Cities are destroyed, Michael Shannon is killed - yay? All is right with the world, except for the fact that broody Superman has unwittingly killed all those people who weren't Zod. Then Batman shows up, tries to kill Superman, but forgets about the whole thing because of either the oft-reiterated "Martha" episode or because a giant supermonster created by Lex Luthor is about to destroy civilization as we know it. With Wonder Woman's help, Batman and Superman kill the supermonster, but only after Superman has sacrificed his life for the sake of furthering his image as a latter-day Jesus. Meanwhile, in a city whose name I'm either forgetting or repressing, a team of supercriminals band together to stop an ancient Central American demon - or something - all the while eluding Gangsta Joker's attempts to get his girlfriend back. But wait! Before all of THAT happens there's this island of stunningly beautiful women in the Mediterranean, and one of them goes to Europe to make World War One slightly less unpleasant. And hurray! She lives over a hundred years, long enough to help out Batman and Superman with that whole supermonster problem. Thus leading to... JUSTICE LEAGUE, MOTHERF**KERS!!!
2. Thoughts on Individual Characters Before Actually Seeing the Movie
You know he's not really dead, right? Like Jesus, he's coming back on the third day, or at least his third film. One imagines that he'll be less broody this time, because four out of five people polled have requested that the next Superman be "less broody." Messianic? Sure. But not broody!
I get why Affleck is cagey about how long he wants to play Batman. He put his heart and soul into Batman v. Superman, and the critical reactions to that movie were probably hard to take. Even so I think he's the best Batman ever, and hopefully his attitude will change if Justice League is better received.
2c. Wonder Woman
I have no problem with Gal Gadot being Wonder Woman, even if I was underwhelmed by her first solo outing. She's beautiful, she can act, and she was convincing in fight scenes. I just wish they'd complicate her backstory a bit. It would make the character more compelling.
Hate the costume, but Momoa can certainly carry a movie. With all the great Aquaman costumes we've seen over the years, I don't know why they went with that green/gold thing.
2e. The Flash
Hate the costume even more. What's with this "armored Flash" thing they're doing? The Flash has one of the most screen-ready costumes ever, and it would require little tweaking to make it look good in a movie. I think Ezra Miller will make a good Flash, I just wish he looked less like a character from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure.
2f. Cyborg (a.k.a. "the black guy")
I've been deliberately avoiding the latest trailers, but hopefully they improved the cgi used for Cyborg. In the earliest trailers he looked amazingly fake. And why do him in cgi anyway? They've been doing live-action cyborg characters since 1987's Robocop.
2g. Green Lantern?
Odds are he'll (she'll?) show up, even though I'd much prefer a look at Captain Marvel (a.k.a. Shazam). I've never liked Green Lantern. His/their powers are stupid, and even though Hal Jordan was kind of cool as Parallax, I wish they'd leave the Green Lantern Corps out of the DCEU.
2h. Steppenwolf (a.k.a. "the bad guy")
He looks somewhat retarded in the trailers, but he's not much worse than Ares from Wonder Woman or Enchantress's brother from Suicide Squad. Having Steppenwolf as the bad guy was a strange choice, but perhaps it'll make sense in the film.
3. Thoughts on the Director(s) of This Movie
I like Zack Snyder. I think he's a great director when he has a good script to work from. He obviously slaved over Batman v. Superman, and I don't think he deserved the knee-jerk reactions that movie engendered from Marvel drones. If he directs the Justice League sequel I'm fine with that.
Joss Whedon, the guy called in for reshoots, is keeping a low profile after allegations of sexual harassment. For the record I liked (didn't love) The Avengers, and (to a lesser extent) Age of Ultron. Hopefully he didn't make Justice League too jokey.
4. I Just Saw the Movie! What Did I Think?
4a. The Story
In the wake of Superman's death, Steppenwolf arrives on Earth, trying to bring the three mother boxes together so he can turn our world into a mirror of his own. In order to stop him, Batman assembles a team consisting of Wonder Woman, the Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and a resurrected Superman to do battle with this otherworldly threat. After Steppenwolf unites the three mother boxes somewhere in Russia, the Justice League battles and ultimately defeats him. The movie closes with Batman, Alfred, and Wonder Woman surveying a possible "Hall of Justice" where they'll meet in the future.
Mid-Credits Scene: The Flash and Superman begin a race to see who's faster.
Post-Credits Scene: After escaping prison, Lex Luthor meets Deathstroke to discuss forming "a league of our own."
4b. My Reaction
First off, relax. It's actually pretty good. Not an instant classic by any means, but a solidly put together action movie that only drags a little bit near the middle. Whedon's touches are fairly obvious, in particular a scene in their headquarters that brings the first Avengers to mind.
My major complaint about this movie is Steppenwolf. He's about as forgettable as Ares from Wonder Woman, and he looks VERY stupid. As villains go he's about as generic as they come.
The story's fairly solid and the characters' actions seem consistent with their personalities. The tone shifts slightly after Wonder Woman talks with Batman at the lake - almost as if Whedon jumped in at that point, saying, "Alright, now it's MY turn!" One wonders what Zack Snyder and writer Chris Terrio might have done in the absence of Joss Whedon, but such speculations will, I imagine, lead nowhere.
The Flash is my favorite character in this film. As for the rest, they're either playing upon developments in previous movies or they weren't given enough screen time to be as interesting. Jason Momoa is a good Aquaman - he just isn't in as much of this movie.
5. Looking Further Ahead...
It will be a LONG wait for the next DCEU movie, December 2018's Aquaman. In April 2019 we'll finally get a look at Shazam, and during November of that same year Wonder Woman 2 will hit theaters. Cyborg and The Green Lantern Corps are still on the schedule for 2020, but very few names are attached to either project. The fate of films like Flashpoint and Man of Steel 2 is even less certain, though I'm sure that if Justice League is a big success they'll move into production sometime soon.
I know fans find it frustrating, but I think Warner Bros. is smart not to announce too many movies in advance, and to have pulled back from their ambitious plans a bit. After the likes of Justice League and this summer's Infinity War, the public might well begin to turn away from the big superhero franchises. Being tentative is smart.
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