It has finally come to pass. The shortcuts and the hinging and crowbarring of IP atop of IP has led Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. Execs to where they honestly wanted to be years ago – a mega superhero team blockbuster film – Justice League.
And with the overall success of Wonder Woman – ticking all the right boxes from representation to a narrative structure that had a semblance of good storytelling – we’re sure this would carry on come DC’s superteam assembly. Even though chunks of time would be needed to introduce characters like Cyborg, Aquaman and the Flash to the world.
So how did the League fair? Pushing the boundaries of the comic book film? Bringing a bend to greatest in the meandring S-stream of hope? #TAPReviews’ got your back, homies.
Justice now has a League
The world mourns the legacy and loss of earth’s greatest hero – Superman. And with the Man of Steel seemingly gone, the world feels a little bit shittier, violent and, hell, shall we say it, racist. Attacking a defenseless woman in a hijab in her store for no apparent reason will tend to evoke such ideas. Given the climate and the length of the particular scene.
However, there is another undercurrent issue brewing, one Batman is fully aware of. And he isn’t abve using human bate to draw it out. Batman is on the hunt. For Parademons. Using the fear of criminals as attracting pheromones. And it’s a great scene. Ben Affleck’s somewhat stucky mass makes us wish that there was a trilogy for DKR in the works. But with these hellish beings turning up around Gotham, Batman
fears suspects something bigger is coming and he needs a team. A team that was amassed concisely in project files compiled by Lex in Batman V Superman. We’re sure Batman did some more legwork to find out if there were any more heroes in Snyder’s DC Universe.
We also see Wonder Woman in action foiling a terror plot in London (see the trailer). Turns out it wasn’t a robbery after all. Which somewhat felt out of place. Cyborg is a recluse coming to terms with his recent cybernetic enhancements that saved and irrevocably change his life. The Flash is withdrawn dealing with his wrongly-convicted father in prison and Arthur Curry aka Aquaman of dual-heritage dealing abandonment issues. A truly fractured team to begin with. And if Batman has it more together, just goes to show money solves a lot of shit.
But with the Mother Box, a perpetual power that allows interdimensional travel. But when 3 of the Mother Boxes are connected they create the Unity that can change the world into hell on earth or what we like to call ‘Apokolips Later’ (another terraforming plot, gang!).
So Batman and mother-hen Wonder Woman are tasked with unifying these 3 endowed loners (okay that sounded mildly sexual) to face the alien invasion that’s coming in the form of the typical power-driven baddy – Steppenwolf a lieutenant of sorts for an even greater evil – Darkseid. And it is up to this newly formed team to fill the void and defend earth from coming invasion
MVP New Comers
Aquaman’s reimagining has been one of the saving graces in a huge while for the DCEU. It’s Jason Momoa for godsakes. Pick a comic universe and he fits in somewhere. Even with Batman trying to make poor ‘talks to fishes’ stabs, in the presence of this Aquaman, they seem stupid and infantile. And it is then you realise, Momoa was right. He effectively killed the Aquaman-fish jokes. Seeing him in battle, out here using air and land like it was water, surfing on the Batmobile and parademons, whipping the hair like a bronze god after bathing in his enemies’ defeat injected a lot of fun we thought near impossible for an Aquaman in film.
And Cyborg was pretty awesome 2. Shoulders for days, though his look seemed to have more moving parts we realise his classic solid-chassis look takes on more form at the end. Ray Fisher was a superbly perfect choice for Victor Stone.
Flash and the VFX cop-out
The Flash was one character I felt that worked and didn’t work on a few levels. Whilst Flash has often been depicted as a bit of a smart aleck, prankster even who’s up for a laugh, Ezra Miller’s is a bit of a social recluse. Which isn’t a big issue. Not even that he’s made to look like a bit of a puss in the teams first face-off with Steppenwolf. Our issue comes in the representation of Barry in the speed force.
Any track and field aficionado would likely point out how hilarious the Flash’s run looks with flailing arms. But what may have been applied science theory and the suspension of disbelief quickly converted to what looked like a VFX cop-out. I am, of course, referring to the lightning/electricity flares generated from Flash slipping in and out of the Speed Force. In most instances, there was enough flares and light that took away from the action of the Flash. Not to mention when our Red Scarlet (should be called white-blue lightning … Scarlet…) made a spiral run to return Wonder Woman her sword (does she even need it at all? [more ceremonial than anything]). That scene we pretty much do a whole track – not of the Flash’s movement, but of his speed trails. And when you place the Flash’s movement alongside X-Men’s Quicksilver, then it feels pretty underwhelming.
But I have to say we enjoyed the Flash’s orgasm face when he realises his speed is not nearly fast enough to keep him out of the eyesight of Superman. That was awesome. Yeah. Superman is back, and with his return comes a common daytime soap opera carnal act that Hollywood cant help commit.
After Bane, DCEU has had a villain problem. Sad to admit, but villains are not made equal. Steppenwolf sadly did not change the tide. If there is nothing past ‘conquer the world’ then it becomes real old real quick. Okay so what else is there really to be said other that he felt like a prelude to what he precedes? His greatest moment is catch wonder Woman in battle and seemingly getting Wonder Woman unhinged ever so slighty saying his blade was still thick with the blood of her Amazon sisters. I expected to lose it a bit, get bated by Steppenwolf’s taunts into compromising herself in battle. Something that may have even jeopardised the team. A few trustfalls later then the League would have been a well-oiled machine.
That didn’t happen. Steppenwolf is your typical otherworldly baddie. Does the job. Directions on the tin.
Pet Cemetery: The resurrection of Space Jesus
“Pet Cemetery”, the Flash gasped, as an all-powerful, seemingly unhinged Kal-El was let loose on the Justice League.
Sentiments exactly Flash.
Superman has been resurrected. Suprised? Not really. Actually, no. Justice League did everything to mention his return short of mentioning it. Which honest begs the question why he was killed off in Batman V Superman in the first place. And talking about BVS, we legit saw graveyard dirt defy gravity and lift off Superman’s coffin. And we’re kinda sorry to say this, but trust us, no one – not the government or the likes would allow Kal-El to be buried in a cemetery. He’d be prodded and poked by every science team from here to Timbuktu to find some way to harvest his cells, strength, and abilities for profit and militaristic application. The Doomsday fuck-up wouldn’t be a deterrent. We created the atomic bomb for Pete’s sake and America put a 70-year old neurotic fat oompa-lumpa in charge with access to launch codes.
It was hinted before Justice League as well that we would possibly get to see an ‘evil’ Superman. Now maybe nothing in line with Superior. But here is where I challenge you. If we got an evil Superman in Snyder’s universe, would we see the difference from the one we have now? And part of me wants to blame some of the cheesy lines to having come back from the literal dead, but bad scripting is a little less forgivable.
I’m sorry but it feels to me the Amazon Warriors haven’t been getting a fair shake. These are to be the bad-ass warrior women deft in combat. Went up against gods and shit. But this is the second time we’ve seen them go all out in a scrimmage, but fall short nontheless of their famed warrior prowess. Great maneuvering and acrobatic skills in playing keep-away with Steppenwolf, but alas, all amounted to naught. Can we also take some time to say the Queen literally sacrificed a bunch of her people to get away with the Mother Box?
Sorry, I am playing a bit of Devil’s advocate, but when you look at it, the only time the Amazon’s be winning anything is when they are retelling a story of some old glory day. Like the town drunk. Or that football captain who can’t stop reliving his hail mary tie-breaker at his high-school championship game. A story which becomes more and more inflated over time.
All I am saying is Batman handles himself pretty well against parademons, considering he’s goddamn human. I would think the Amazon’s would do less running and more fighting. Must’ve been all that sexy armour.
DC Comics Infinity War
With the Justice League, it seems they’ve caught a bit of the Thor Ragnarok bug with one of the greater scenes being a brief flashback at a greater time. However, in this epic battle we see the Amazons are familiar with the Atlanteans when they were above sea-level, and the gods and even the Lanterns – and they take on Steppenwolf. And the main takeaway from that run-on sentence is yes, there is a Green Lantern in Justice League. An alien Lantern. Who dies shortly after making his debut. And seeing that ring float from his finger and zip into the distant skies was and awesome and beautiful thing to witness.
Amazonians tell good stories. But we have to wonder if WB Execs and Snyder does. Undoubtedly the next stop in the off-beaten narrative trailer is to have the convergence of megalithic proportions mirroring Marvel’s plans, except DC wants to get there quicker. Much quicker. And narrative will always be compromised if you attack DCEU in the same way you do Marvel films. The sad thing is we are starting to see frills and frays in the Marvel tapestry as is. Is this pervasive of the direction of only some of their IP like Thor or GoTG. Or is their something more systemic at work, like the inability to sustain an ecosystem of annexed narratives can lead to run-on stories with no regards to satisfying basic narrative structure of beginning-middle-end? The story has to end sometime, folks. Would you rather a narrative tied off in a nice little bow or something that runs on until people lose interest?
DC has a rare (well not-so-rare) opportunity to use intuition and foresight to craft a DCEU that works. Marvel at least wove a tapestry of film to reach Thanos. By the current count, we might see Darkseid in the next 3 – 4 films, with the solo character movies main aim being to hammer home that Justice League 2 is coming! All this for a guy who literally inspired Marvel’s Thanos. Please put some respect on his legacy.
Wonder Woman is an asshole. There, I said it. Bringing up Bruce Wayne’s dead parents but then feels a way when Batman throws it back in her face bringing up dead Steve Rogers. She went into hiding for a century. This convo felt slightly out of place. Wonder Woman’s always been a hothead. But in the heat of battle. Not to mention she punched Bruce pretty hard. Wouldn’t want to have him die and have to resurrect his ass with a Lazarus Pit.
But there are some nice inner team dynamics, even if we didn’t get the same amount of backstory to Cyborg, Aquaman and Flash as we got for Wonder Woman and Batman. Matter of fact, Wonder Woman feels like the most fully-developed character. And Batman came first and, even still Superman came first-first in Snyder’s DCEU. Hell, considering that there is more conflict in the Justice League than there was in Suicide Squad is saying something.
The famed Cyborg and Beast Boy relationship in Teen Titans may have a new home in the JL with Cyborg and the Flash, as seen in their short but lighthearted exchange. Albeit over graverobbing Superman’s ‘final’ resting place. Good times.
One truly noteworthy moment was when the toughest bad-ass member of the League – Aquaman (yeah, get used to it) starts unloading some deep truths of his fears. Which became more and more revealing. It was a truly awesome moment to find out sneaky Wonder Woman wrapped her Lasso of Truth around his leg.
And while there was a good team dynamic, there wasn’t a breakaway leader for me. No real use of Batman’s tactical skills to turn the tide, or Wonder Woman’s battle sensibilities to delegate orders. Batman brawled with the parademons, Wonder Woman and Aquaman took on Steppenwolf, Cyborg was intelligence gathering and the Flash… ran fast. Saved a couple hostages and bystanders. Good job, team!
And seeing the Parademons feed on fear, Steppenwolf feels this foreign emotion for the first time, and becomes engulfed and ravaged by his feral Parademon troops. Must’ve been the Superman factor.
The resurrection of Superman also felt wholly unceremonious despite the heroic co-ordinated efforts the team. Well, the Flash mostly. But Superman is back and that is all you have to concern yourself with. Bit Transformers-y, but hey. What do we know about alien physiology? And while no team gels as quickly as the Justice League did, we had great moments that showed connection amongst the diverse members.
Has there ever been a great Post-Credit Scene in the history of film?
There are two post-credit scenes which, the main takeaway, is Slade Wilson in Deathstroke gear. The first scene is a speed race about to kick-off between Superman and The Flash. Saw that in an episode of Superman: The Animated Series once. Much more entertaining then. The second has a bald
Zuckerburg Jesse Lex Luthor who has somehow escaped prison without anyone noticing. And you think with the wealth Luthor has amassed he’d at least find a way to stay clear of genpop. But he’s out and he meets with Deathstroke on a lovely boat and elodes at starting the League of Doom. Hurray, opposite League. How will this fair with the impending reckoning with Darkseid. Who knows, but we suspect Snyder’ll find a way.
None of these post-credit scenes delivered anything mesmerising or invoked any true yearning for what’s next. Sorry. I thought that was the point of post-credit scenes.
Justice League. What to say. The film brought us some lovely elements that we couldn’t help but love. A Flash whose audacity would have him believe he’d be too fast for Superman to see. A Lantern in action. Despite the Amazons taking L’s everywhere, their coordination and strategic prowess. A Batman, despite his mass of muscle moving like a lithe violent gizelle. All very awesome. Cyborg. Aquaman’s reinvigorated image. But guess what? Exactly. But. Big But coming. “I love big butts and I cannot lie”. Justice League was a premature ejac. The fanaticism that came with the first Avengers film was not felt here, despite the Justice League having a stronger, more universally known set of characters. But JL didn’t feel like a narrative that got halfway derailed like it did in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. But it would have been interesting to have seen a league deal with the parademon problem without Superman at least, with the crazy idea of resurrecting the big guy happening afterward.
And it would have been more palatable to find that the big S was in some deep coma or stasis rather than dead. Just a few things that could have made this film better.
But alas, fruit from the Snyder tree. I know, I’m tired of saying it too. But honestly, there were less iconic, classically framed scenes here too than BVS. It’s like a teeter-totter with DCEU. Classical, aesthetic mythos vs functioning narrative. Can’t we have both?
And even though narrative elements were stronger in this outing, JL feels like another prelude that needed to quickly reinstall Superman in the franchise for the next JL movie that is sure to have him face off with Darkseid.
RATING: 6 out of 10
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