- Not even the clever suits can help this film
Ibelieve I've watched every single superhero/comic book movie ever made. I even looked it up. Even the unreleased "Fantastic Four" movie produced by Roger Corman and the terrible late-'70s "Captain America" took a spin through my VCR. After dozens (if not hundreds) of these movies, "Justice League" was the first one to give me genuine superhero fatigue.
"Justice League" is the culmination of the DC Comics Extended Universe that has included "Man of Steel," "Batman v. Superman," "Suicide Squad" and "Wonder Woman." There are also 19 more movies in the Universe slated to be released over the next decade, including another shot at "Green Lantern," and "Shazam," a Harley Quinn and Joker movie, and the first live action "Lobo."
I love all those characters. DC comics are filled with iconic heroes and villains, but the cinematic universe hasn't captured what makes any of these characters captivating. Director Zack Snyder has shepherded the DCEU since "Man of Steel," showing a fundamental disdain for the character of Superman.
Snyder has also failed to learn any lessons from Marvel's Cinematic Universe by designing the films around a series of action set pieces instead of focusing on what makes the characters special. Compare the care taken with Heath Ledger's pre-DCEU Joker with Jared Leto's "Suicide Squad" Juggalo version and its not only easy to see the Snyder's seams showing, but then there's also the fact that there isn't really any cohesion to the series at all.
Superman died at the end of "Batman v Superman," leaving the world afraid of aliens and stuff. Batman is so torn up about it (even though he spent the entire last movie trying to kill Supes) that he forms a team of superheroes to fight a nasty horned villain named Steppenwolf, from Jack Kirby's classic Fourth World Universe. Don't wait for him to sing "Magic Carpet Ride." That only leads to disappointment.
It's obviously a lot of fun watching Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg and Superman (c'mon, you know he comes back) team up to fight inter-dimensional baddies, but the universe they occupy is miserable. Ma Kent lost the farm to the bank. Lois Lane is suffering from depression. Barry Allen is a broke and friendless transient on the spectrum. Ben Affleck's Batman is so swole that he looks like he has Bell's palsy. Aquaman acts like he's one denim jacket away from "The Deadliest Catch."
Yet there's more humor in "Justice League" than in the entire DCEU combined (mostly from The Flash) because Zack Snyder had a family tragedy and "The Avengers'" Joss Whedon came onboard to finish filming and writing the movie. His fingerprints are all over the final product, which sadly replaces Snyder's painterly eye with something more flatly generic.
By the end of the film I realized that not only was the villain an entirely CGI creation, but so were his flying henchman. This means the entire movie involves all these characters we like fighting cartoons, which gives the film no stakes. It all feels like a video game. Of course these movies are going to have a lot of effects, but if everyone is standing in front of a green screen swinging their Styrofoam weapons at shit that isn't there, then we have no texture or palate to hang the movie from.
But...it is the Justice League. If all you want is characters you love teaming up to fight evil, then I suppose you could do worse. From my perspective, this movie almost broke me. I had fun watching it while also feeling numb from the spectacle and destruction. I'm not sure if this is growing up or if I'm just dead inside, but I think I'm ready for something with a soul.
Dir. Zack Snyder
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema