The saddest moment I’ve ever experienced in a theater was 2017’s Logan, for obvious reasons. The second saddest moment was seeing Order 66 executed on screen in Episode III Revenge of the Sith. The third, was this week watching some of my favorite characters on screen wasted in the pitiful cash grab that is Justice League.
Snyder’s vision of a superhero team up fails to capture anything of what makes superheroes special or enjoyable. He is unable to capture the proper tone for the properties he’s adapting and he fails to provide the film with a credible script or focused narrative. The Justice League is reduced to shallow characters that team up in lackluster fashion as they a villain straight out of a Playstation 3 discounted video game. The film is rushed and short sighted. It’s the biggest waste of an intellectual property this side of the Transformers. In fact, not since M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender have we seen a film so spectacularly misinterpret beloved source material. Joss Whedon’s post production additions have no real bearing on the film. His signature wit is wasted on a visually contradictory experience. There are some scenes that have clearly been rewritten or re-shot where the acting is stiff and unrehearsed. I’m not certain how much he actually improved on the film.
The blame cannot be placed entirely on Zack Snyder. Warner Brothers rushed their timeline and it shows in the film. Building a movie universe takes time and patience. They hired questionable directors and when films were released to critical panning they doubled down instead of fixing mistakes.
As a film, Justice League is a mess. The script is full of a revisionist history of hope and light. Superman is propped up as an infallible hero but when we last saw him he was reviled and threatening to kill Batman. The script is also filled with some bad exposition and lame dialogue. Affleck, who I’ve defended in the past, puts in a pitiful performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. None of the actors are given any favors so it’s tough to hold their performances against them. Everything about Justice League is reminiscent of a young boy’s attempt at constructing a superhero story. The plot is unfocused rambling; with constant shifts of attention between characters, the action is reduced to Rocky-style boxing; simple exchanges of haymakers and finally, the reintroduction of Wonder Woman butt shots. The blatantly obvious derriere focused camera angles make me sick to my stomach. Wonder Woman did a great job of introducing a strong, heroic, leader and in this film she’s objectified and reduced. It’s gross and we need to do better.
Despite its short run time, Justice League is full of empty moments that could have been cut entirely from the film. This is a 2 hour movie with an hour of a half of content. Content might be too strong a word for this film. There’s barely any plot and zero character development. I have to seriously question how this film was able to get past the cutting room floor! Are comic book fans so easily dismissed? Are we so easily entertained by the mere presence of heroes on screen? The popularity and blind dedication to properties like Justice League, BvS, and Iron Fist lend to the notion that comic book based movies can be dismissed as child’s play.
The film wasn’t ALL bad. The concept of Cyborg as a tragic figure adjusting to life as a machine isn’t wholly original but it’s daring to put in a “fun” superhero film. Ezra Miller’s the Flash has moments of humor and a decent rapport with other cast members but falls flat due to poor writing. The mid-credits scene is the best 2 minutes in all of DC cinema since 2013. That’s it.
Frankly, if you enjoyed Batman v. Superman or Suicide Squad then this movie is for you. If you’re a fan of coherent storytelling and character building then just avoid this altogether. Fans and audiences deserve better. Don’t reward poor workmanship with your money or your attention. Seeing DC Comics heroes on screen battling the hordes of Apokolips should have been a momentous and joyous occasion. Instead I sit here in sadness and frustration wondering when we’ll finally get a Superman and Justice League we can admire and enjoy.