A wise man once said, “Yeeeeehooooooo!” That wise man is Aquaman and his saying pretty much sums up Justice League. But first, let’s backtrack a little. I walked into Batman V Superman thinking it was going to be a boner inducing extravaganza. A masterpiece. THE GREATEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE EVER MADE.
We all know how that turned out. Then came Suicide Squad, which was an even bigger letdown. A complete and utter mess. But just as many of us were beginning to lose hope in the DCEU, Patty Jenkin’s Wonder Woman arrived to restore our faith, so much so that the opening credits of Wonder Woman read, calm your collective tits mofos. This is going to be great, and we’re just getting started.
But the critical and box office success of Wonder Woman wasn’t enough for me to get too excited about Justice League especially considering the behind-the-scenes issues that plagued the production of this film. The rumours and reports all seem to suggest that Zack Snyder’s version of the film was the combination of dog shit and my ex-girlfriend and that Joss Whedon is the Messiah sent from the heavens above to save the universe from the brink of death.
The version of Justice League that’s hitting the big screens soon is clearly a by-product of those issues. The plot is thinner than Durex Invisible and character explorations are touch and go. We’re introduced to Parademons at the very start and almost immediately after, we see Steppenwolf go after the Mother Boxes. What exactly are the Mother Boxes? We learn that they’re square and powerful. Very powerful. Can destroy the earth kinda powerful. And there are three of them. All of them are square.
What do we learn about Steppenwolf? He has a giant axe that glows. Cool. Our heroes must stop Steppenwolf from using these Mother Boxes. And our heroes do in fact stop Steppenwolf from using the Mother Boxes (if you think this is a spoiler, you have not watched a single movie in your life). You might have some guesses on what happens in between. Your guesses are probably right. This is a simple movie. One of the simplest comic book movies in recent memory, with hardly any surprises.
For some reason, everyone in Justice League misses Superman. “Superman was a beacon of hope.” Since when? He laid cities to waste in Man of Steel and everyone not named Lois Lane and Martha Kent seemed to hate him in Batman V Superman. Sure, he sacrificed his life to defeat Doomsday and deserves recognition for that. But everyone here is acting as if they lost someone they loved dearly, when they never did. Why? Because the DCEU needs it to be that way, that’s why. While Justice League is very much a direct continuation to Batman V Superman, it is in many ways also a soft reboot.
Superman should be a beacon of hope. And so, in this movie he is. He even makes an entry with John Williams’ classic Superman theme. The DCEU movies lacked levity. And so, in this movie, there are loads of laughs (Don’t worry. It’s more in the vein of Wonder Woman, not Age of Ultron or Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or Thor: Ragnarok).
The way they bring Superman back made me go, Oh. Alright then. Characters try to make it seem dangerous: “He may lose a part of his soul.” But the actual repercussions are just an action scene long. Sure, Clark Kent does lose his “soul.” But he also gets it back fairly easily. Before you know it, he’s his former self again. Nay, he’s a better version of himself. One that has a smile on his face. Like I said, a reboot. I guess it kind of makes sense. If I died and came back alive, I would bloody hell have a smile on my face, too.
The reasons why these characters team up, isn’t written very well. Aquaman is introduced to us as this Wolverine-esque figure. Except with longer hair and made me question my sexuality. He tells Batman to F-off when Batman asks for his help. He just wants to aid small villages and fishermen. He’s badass that way. But a few minutes later, he agrees to join forces with Batman and Wonder Woman, after a bland exchange of dialogue with Mera (Amber Heard). I buy why The Flash agrees to join. He’s kinda like Spider-Man. A teenager (but not as young as Marvel’s web-slinger) who wants to hang with the big boys (and girl).
They – I say ‘they’ because I don’t exactly know who wrote what in this movie – try to add an emotional arc to The Flash by showing him visit his father in prison. That arc works best if you project whatever knowledge you have about The Flash with you, whether it’s the CW TV Series, the animated movies or the comics, onto the movie. Otherwise, it works okay. Both The Flash and Aquaman would’ve benefited from a solo origin movie. And Cyborg? Well, he’s just sorta there.
Here’s the funny thing: despite its thin plot and mediocrely written characters, this movie works, really well. There are two things Justice League gets right. For starters, the performances are great all across, particularly Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Ezra Miller and Jason Momoa (everyone except Ray Fisher, but he’s fine too).
Do you remember a time when Gal Gadot was just a hot bikini girl in the Fast and Furious movies? But holy shit, did she carry Wonder Woman on top of her shoulders, or what? Here she does it again. Forget Batman, Wonder Woman is the leader of the Justice League. Gal Gadot has such a powerful presence that even a huge Batman fan like myself thought, shut up Bruce! Listen to her. Yeap, she tells Bruce Wayne off and it’s awesome. When the rest of the characters look up to her, I buy it. Because I look up to her, too. She’s great. But she isn’t perfect. Despite being a hot God that kicks so much ass, there’s a vulnerability to Wonder Woman that makes her… human.
I know I said forget Batman, but let’s talk about Batman. Look, at this point, you either love Ben Affleck’s as this character or you don’t. I do. Ben Affleck may not have starred in the best Batman movies, but he is the best BATMAN/BRUCE WAYNE. Here he’s the yin to Wonder Woman’s yang. He has excellent leadership skills too. He’s a smart guy that’s willing to take big risks. But sometimes, he can be quite the hot-tempered dick.
Affleck plays this version of the Batman to perfection. He has such a presence and charisma, that even a scene of him and Gal Gadot walking by the beach is interesting to watch. It’s sad that Affleck has announced that he’ll be hanging up the cowl sooner rather than later.
Next up is Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Aquaman used to be the butt of every nerd’s jokes. The hero that nobody wants to be. Whoever draws the short straw must dress up as Aquaman for Halloween. The cool kids get to be Batman and Superman and The Flash. It’s even referenced in The Big Bang Theory (the show not the actual scientific study). Not after this movie.
Aquaman is officially the coolest effing superhero in the world. He has long hair, a great beard, drinks whiskey and walks into a tsunami. Occasionally, he surfs on Parademons and yells “yeeeehooo” before flipping his hair. He’s kinda ridiculous. It’s pretty much Jason Momoa being Jason Momoa. It’s AWESOME.
Also awesome is Ezra Miller playing The Flash. I would like to think I am Aquaman. Or maybe even Batman. But in reality, I’m The Flash (only without the speed). This guy is an all-out nerd. He spends way too much time in his room doing shit on his computer and he geeks out when Batman comes to see him. He doesn’t know anything about fighting, talks too much and is simply happy to be on the team. Ezra Miller plays this character with genuine joy, that whenever he’s on screen I had a big smile on my face.
Then comes Superman. I actually like the version of Superman in Man of Steel, but this version works just as well, despite the fact that it feels odd that he’s behaving this way. And although he doesn’t have much to work with, Ray Fisher who plays Cyborg, gives it his all.
Another great thing about this movie is that because of its thin, straightforward plot, there aren’t any plot holes. One of the biggest problems people have with Batman V Superman is that it’s a convoluted mess. It attempts big ideas and takes risks. The plot is dense, but when it doesn’t work (and boy, does a lot of things not work), it’s painfully obvious.
This movie does not take any risks, and as a result, the story isn’t something you would sit in a bar/mamak and discuss and debate about for months and years to come, BUT, not once throughout the movie did I go, huh? Wait, whuuut? But that doesn’t make sense! Not once throughout the movie did I contemplate taking my own life and the lives of those around me.
I guess the question on everybody’s mind is: Which is better? The Avengers or Justice League. The Avengers is an unforgettable cinematic experience with a strong emotional core, fully realised characters, and a (relatively) layered plot. Justice League is a popcorn blockbuster. It’s a very fun one, but it is just that. It works well as a transition movie; one that teases a bright future for the DCEU.
PS: Be sure to stay all the way to the end. The second post-credits scene will make you fist pump the air like a lunatic high on ecstasy.
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Justice League works well as a transition movie; one that teases a bright future for the DCEU.