It seems that there is always a debate going on about whether Marvel or DC is the best. While I cannot speak about the comics, film-wise Marvel takes the throne. This is not for lack of trying on DC’s part. They may take a more serious approach to their films, but the cinematic universe just does not resonate with audiences like the MCU does. Let’s face it, in the past two years, the only truly good film DC has released is Wonder Woman.
Justice League was supposed to become what The Avengers is for Marvel. Yet this whole idea misfired and Justice League was panned by critics. Audiences seemed to like it but DC probably intended for it to leave more of an impression. A while ago, I watched the film and while I was not really impressed, I didn’t think it was as bad as critics made it seem. Sure, compared to Thor Ragnarok, it falls short. But I want to explore why Justice League wasn’t that bad.
What didn’t work?
Justice League‘s main issue is that it wants to introduce too many characters. Suicide Squad had the same issue, where half of the film had passed and we were still getting introductions. Marvel ensured that almost every character had a solo film before releasing the Avengers. That way, not every character needed a seperate introduction. We only know Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman really. While the Flash has his own tv-show (with a different actor), you can’t expect everybody to have seen it. Aquaman is a completely new character and his introduction felt mostly like a trailer for his upcoming solo film. It just takes too long for shit to go down. Yes, we want to get emotionally invested in these characters, but we also want stuff to happen. Having endless dialogues about the bad things that are coming is not exactly exciting.
That brings me to the point of the villain. DC seems to opt for obvious villains with no other motives than to be bad. Even Wonder Woman did not have a truly good villain, but at least it kept you guessing. Steppenwolf is just bad for the sake of wanting to take over the world and become powerful. There is no other motive, which does not make for an interesting villain. The Nerdist states that in the Zack Snyder cut of the film, Steppenwolf had the goal to release his own mother from the mother boxes. That motivation alone would have been enough to make him a more interesting villain. Combined with all of its other flaws, Justice League just wasn’t as good as it could be.
What did work?
I am the first to admit that I am not a fan of Ben Affleck’s Batman. I’m still not, but one of the things his Batman does better than the others is that he does get a lot more physical with his enemies. His teammates might have superpowers, but he keeps up well enough.
The main characters are all a joy to watch, but that is mostly because of the actors and not the good writing. The characters lack depth but that is made up by the actors’ charisma. Gal Gadot makes every film better with her presence alone and as Wonder Woman, she once again kicks butt. Jason Momoa is excellent as Aquaman, mixing his rough appearance with a great sense of humour.
Ezra Miller is adorable as The Flash, although some audience members I heard after the film complained that he wasn’t as good as the one in the tv-show. I personally enjoyed his performance as the clumsy and insecure lightning bolt. He provided a breath of fresh air in the otherwise serious film. You could argue that it are the actors who are the saving grace here.
Visually, the film is stunning, although a bit heavy on the obvious CGI at some points. But the costumes and most visual effects were nice to look at.
But what if…
Zack Snyder had to withdraw from the project quite late in the process and Joss Whedon was brought in to give the film a lighter tone. Perhaps this is why Justice League kind of feels all over the place. It should either have taken the serious approach or the funny approach but not attempt to be funny and not committing to it. We can only wonder if the film had been better if only Zack Snyder could have finished it.
What do you think? Did you like Justice League? Let us know in the comments!