A few weekends ago, I went to watch Justice League in its opening weekend and my initial reaction in the cinema was fairly positive. After having a couple of weeks to digest the film, I can say I’m disappointed with what I saw – though it may be influenced by other reviews and comparisons with other films and franchises, notably Marvel. It’s almost impossible to not make a comparison with the already well established Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the first live action Iron Man film being released in 2008, giving it nine years to prep its future films and characters and still is. This disadvantages the DCU with only releasing Man of Steel in 2013, giving it now four years to compete with the MCU and establish there wide range of characters. I get that the competition doesn’t need to be there and we should just enjoy both (which is what I do), but unfortunately the competition is there and naturally comparisons will be made.
One criticism would be talks and confirmations from producers that there could be a Gotham City Sirens film directed by David Ayer, Suicide Squad 2, Wonder Woman 2 directed by Patty Jenkins, a Flash film (possibly around Flashpoint), a Cyborg solo film, a Nightwing film directed by Chris Mckay etc. .Listing these examples is one reason to why I didn’t enjoy Justice League as much as I had anticipated it because it felt strange to see some members of the Justice League (in this film the members being, Wonder Women, Cyborg, The Flash, Superman and Batman) teaming up to beat a mediocre villain, Steppenwolf, without already having established at least 1 more of the team. What I mean by this is that Justice League is a perfect pathway to set up a solo film for Cyborg or the Flash but what set the film up for failure was the way BVS (Batman v Superman) was created – making Superman and Batman fight against each other and almost repeating scenes in Justice League (spoilers) when Superman is resurrected, was a poor choice – this may come down to the directors either that being Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon.
Following that point, the films scenes felt disconnected with the humor, which could be blamed on the misogynistic director Joss Whedon. An instance of this is that through out the final fight sequence with Steppenwolf and the first with the Justice League together, it lacked tension and that was, for me, primarily because of the humor. I’m guessing Warner Bros thought the only was this film could be a success is if it followed the same humor to that of the Avengers, so they decided to bring in Joss Whedon. This was apparent in a scene with Barry falls on top of Diana with his face between her breasts, quickly jumping off her and looking uncomfortable, whilst Diana almost chuckles to herself. My facial reaction in the cinema was that of pure disgust – the scene was completely unnecessary and for those of you thinking “its just a joke” must not realize how easy it is to make genuine unforced jokes without subjecting women. Again another Joss Whedon shot that is an example of what made me uncomfortable with the film was his “ass shots” – watch any film directed by Joss Whedon and you will know what I’m talking about e.g. Black Widows “ass shots” in Age of Ultron.
As a fan of DC I would have waited a decade for Zack Snyder’s cut of the film being released or his finalised version with only his vision – another critique for Warner Bros is that they need to give creative freedom to their DC directors, though there seems to be a change for that with Aquamans director James Wann and Patty Jenkins for Wonder Women, which was fantastic. The clear disparity with how Wonder Woman was portrayed in the solo film and Justice League is apparent, even the Amazonians, it didn’t make sense as to why some of the Amazonians were showing way more skin then there needed to be – not that it can’t be empowering, but in the case of the solo film, it didn’t look accurate nor did it feel right. Is this what happens when Warner Bros hires a misogynistic director? the answer is yes. Again, the resurrection scene of Superman could have been more accurate with his black suit or the tug of war he had with Diana, which wasn’t accurate either. In many of the comics Wonder Woman and Superman were at a fair playing field in battle against each other and generally in most ‘superhero’ films, characters, who are or should be on the same side, are never shown to be entirely defeated by the other e.g. Thor against Iron Man in Avengers (with the slight exception of a Thor v Hulk in Thor Ragnorak).
Not to neglect the positives, I felt the scenes that Cyborg/Victor was in reflected a new version or adaption of the character with him being more mysterious than he’s been in Teen Titans, for instance, and his scenes for me were the highlight of the film representing disabled bodies and POC. Although I was disappointed when I looked back to the trailer and noticing how many scenes were cut for Cyborg’s backstory and what that could potentially highlight or allude to in a solo movie for the character. The short scene with Arthur and Mera, in my opinion, met the standards of what the two are like in the comics – with Mera being strong and unwavering and Arthur being childish (at times). It was new to see Arthur bringing in parts to the comedic factor but it worked and I had no problems with Ezra Miller as The Flash. In fact, I felt he was perfect for the role – to contradict my point I did get vibes of Ezra as suiting Impulse instead of the Flash, but I also felt that for Jason Momoa as suiting Lobo- mostly because that would be my fan cast. I won’t talk about Superman’s CGI’d moustache because it was incredibly dissatisfying, but I will state that I’m excited for future DC films especially Aquaman with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta and Wonder Woman 2.