Movie Review : Justice League (2017)
Christopher Nolan's Batman movies are, historically speaking, some of the best (if not the best) superhero movies ever made. They were released over a period of seven years, where Marvel laid the groundwork for its cinematic universe, which put DC Comics in a tough spot: they had an awesome trilogy, but could they come up with a cinematic universe that connected every franchise and (theoretically) never ended? Of course not. But they tried anyway and gave the reins to DC Cinematic Universe to "comic book guy" Zack Snyder, who's batshit crazy (and unchecked) ambition could never live up to fans expectations.
After years of box office disappointments, Justice League is where DC Comics and Warner Brothers finally step in... and, holy shit, this is even worse than whatever Snyder could come up with on his own.
The Justice League movie has been teased for several years. Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice and Wonder Woman introduced who its protagonists would be, but little was known about the plot. Turns out it's a little disappointing. Evil spaceman Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is invading Earth because the three Mother Boxes which allow him unlimited power have been hidden there centuries ago. Steppenwolf is governed by his need to conquer and that alone, so he comes to Earth to fuck shit up and superheroes need to band together (and raise Superman from the dead) in order to stop him. Whatever, you've seen that movie before.
Where do I start? This is barely a movie. The Steppenwolf plot I summarized earlier where the big, bad spaceman is trying to take over the Earth because it's the only thing he's good at takes the backseat to another fucking story of superheroes joining up and learning to work together. Justice League is so marred by Warner Brother's insecurities and is so eager to follow Marvel's formula that it eschews the ambition and the originality that have been DCU's only redeeming grace all these years. The stakes are so clearly defined (and overused in superhero movie folklore) that they are rendered inconsequential. Nobody cares about another evil space monster.
To be fair, I understand what the were going for and there is probably a decent blockbuster hiding under all these reshoots and reedits. There are two mythologies facing off in Justice League: Norse, embodied by Steppenwolf and all the imagery he carried with him: oversized axes, apocalyptic landscapes, unchecked desire for conquest and Greek, embodies by the Amazons (who make direct references all the time) and the Atlanteans. It also echoes World War II, where the evil teutons tried to take over the old world, failing but changing it forever. It would've been nice if they focused on that instead of Superman's digitally enhanced upper lip and d if Thor: Ragnarok hadn't come up with a a similar idea two weeks before.
Now, for the petty stuff: Aquaman (Jason Momoa) is supposed to be a water guy. Why the fuck is he in this movie and why is he so efficient? All the important scenes happen in an arid Russian wasteland. Why does Steppenwolf's face looks like fingertips when you stay in the bathtub too long? He doesn't look anything like that in the comics. Aren't the Mother Boxes the exact same thing as the Tesseract in the much better Avengers movie? Isn't it like, plagiarism? If Superman is so much stronger than Steppenwolf, why doesn't he incapacitate him right away instead of going back and forth to artificially ratchet tension? Why did Warner Brothers think it was a good idea to release this movie at all?
I could go on and on. Justice League is a complete mess. It's not exactly boring and registers as a it's-so-messy-it's-entertaining kind of movie but I would've been angry to have spent movie ticket money on it. There are obviously more ambitious plans hiding behind this poorly concealed Justice League origin story, but it doesn't excuse striking out on such a paint-by-numbers effort. If you can't get such a Marvel ripoff right, what can you do? Even if you're a "DC fanboy" (and I like DC Comics more than I like Marvel in general), I don't see how you're not insulted by this. These (except maybe for Wonder Woman) are not the heroes we all learned to know and love in the comic books.