Spoilerdome: JUSTICE LEAGUE

SPOILER ALERT: The credits stinger teases Matter-Eater Lad!

Justice League, Zack Snyder’s new film about Federal judges playing fantasy football, hit theaters this weekend, extending DC’s already Extended Universe to include Cyborg, The Flash and Aquaman. Also a bad guy who looks like a hood ornament. The film is… shall we say divisive?

You can read my take here, but what are your thoughts? The comment thread below is a spoiler-friendly zone, so have it and earn those Marvel shill checks!

  • FlopHairedWuss

    Is it absolutely necessary to watch BvS before seeing this?

    • Lilgreenman

      Nope, not in the slightest. The movie knows you want to move past it and does.

    • As @lilgreenman:disqus said, the movie does its best to bury BvS. But beyond that, BvS does such a piss poor job of setting up the films that are supposed to follow that JL could play as the beginning of the franchise. As much as I think doing a reverse-Marvel and starting off with team-up films is a massive misstep, I do sort of like the idea of a DC franchise starting off with Superman dead under mysterious (to the audience) circumstances. The allusions to Batman’s guilt over said death play better if you don’t know how idiotic the actual circumstances were.

  • The best thing I can say about this movie is that I am now shipping Batman and Superman.

    One movie ago, they wanted to murder each other, and now Bats is so clearly thirsty for him that it’s adorable. Bats’ look of pure ecstasy when he showed up at the end made my day.

    • Thanks to this movie I had to look up “thirsty.” It was clearly a laugh line, but… *grumble*

      Damn kids these days and their slang.

    • Thomas

      Murder Husbands

  • Lilgreenman

    Where and when in the decision making process did they decide to let Cavill use his natural Brit accent for Evil Superman? I’d want to be a fly on the wall there.

  • Public Mistake

    Its clumsiness is ultimately what got me. The building lifting by Superman was symptomatic of the whole movie: It felt right and had me in awe for a second, then it felt purely inconsequential in terms of how the climax played out.

    But I will stand by the very Whedony beginning of the movie, captured by the kids. Yes the uncanny valley is all over this moment, but the dialogue is genuinely, and you see *him* smile and be who he’s supposed to be.

    It’s snowing I’m tired, I have a cold, and that thing felt like a spoonfull of transgenic honey. I’m not made of stone.

    • MK

      “Have you ever fought a hippo?” and Supes’ face of confusion and amusement to that question, and the innocence of it, was just TOOOOOOO good.

      Also, his explaining of what the “S” means, and what hope in general means to him, were both perfect. I always knew Cavill had it in him.

    • Yeah, the phone video was pretty magic. It created a lot of good will going in.

  • Andrew Clark

    I’m looking forward to dissecting this with Ryan and Shannon in a podcast soon, but in the meantime:

    It’s days later and despite how rough and shoddy a vast majority of this movie is, I can’t bring myself to hold disdain for it. Superman is just too good here. Ezra Miller is having a BLAST as Barry Allen (even though he’s basically playing and written as Wally West Kid Flash) and Gal Gadot continues to be a strong cornerstone for the universe. She gets a baller ass save early on the in the movie (using the speed of mercury I guess) blocking an entire clip of bullets at point blank range. It’s AWESOME.

    This movie is such a bizarre Frankenstein of styles from Snyder and Whedon. Most of the typical Snyder action beats are top notch, and the Flash sequences in particular are some of the coolest and most visually stimulating superheroic visuals since THOR. But the Whedon dialog scenes are the only ones that work, and even that is in spite of the perfunctory plot happening around the characters.

    This became a salvage project very early on in its production, I believe, even before the tragedy with Snyder’s daughter. I think that the company was scrambling after BvS got knocked out in the critical arena and underperformed BO-wise. Best case scenario for JUSTICE LEAGUE was going to be course correcting tone and establishing characters that audiences liked. Considering they pulled that off, even a little bit, is sort of a miracle. They finally put a real Superman on screen. They have a fun and charismatic lead in the Flash. They still have Gadot.

    I was trying a thought experiment with myself, imagining if this was the first movie rather than a follow up to three tepid movies (obviously WW exists in its own arena) but it’s actually kind of hard to do that. A lot of the good stuff in this movie operates on a higher level just by virtue of being a retutation of what came before. Putting a smile on my face because in the first minute of your movie you show me a Superman who takes the time to shake a firefighter’s hand and then talk to kids? That’s a victory right there. And it feels hard won after the arduous attempts preceding it.

    I guess what I’m coming around to is that WB was expecting this to be a disaster (though maybe not on this level) and I can only hope they key into what DID work about this outing and lean into it more, while making sure to bring onboard creative artists who can also be cohesive storytellers.

    Because, I’m sorry, but I am no longer interested in the “visual genius” angle for praising Zack Snyder. I don’t disagree with his positive attributes as a director at all, but at the end of the day, he is more interested in those elements than he is telling stories that make sense or that I care about. Take the Marvel films to task for their stories all you like, at least I enjoy watching them.

    • Jan

      ‘Putting a smile on my face because in the first minute of your movie you show me a Superman who takes the time to shake a firefighter’s hand and then talk to kids? That’s a victory right there.’

      But it’s completely disingenious – they could’ve reconstructed their resurrected Superman after he had been so thoroughly deconstructed. But instead they pretend he was never deconstructed to begin with. It’s the same lazy retcon as with the destruction of Metropolis: It doesn’t matter in MoS but it’s fundamental to BvS. Now Supes being a beacon of hope didn’t factor into MoS and BvS at all but now it’s supposed to be fundamental to JL. And in a thematically incoherent way: Do they need Supes because no one could punch Steppenwolf as hard as he probably would? That’s how the movie rolls. At the same time, it lets Bruce speechify about how Supes was more human than himself, and that beacon of hope everyone is suddenly remembering him to be.

      What does Supes being so human have to do with JL’s story? Nothing. It’s window dressing, it’s pure pretense, and I don’t buy it. JL is meant to be a direct sequel to BvS. It doesn’t work at all without BvS, what with Supes being gone and Bats being remorseful. JL doesn’t clarify any of this. It’s not a palette cleanser. It depends on BvS to make any sense. Just like with assembling the League to begin with. It’s a literal result of Diana getting her hands on Luthor’s metahuman trailer show. That’s still how Bruce & Diana know about the others. JL had the best Supes and Bats of the DCEU so far – but in a phony way. I don’t think the course correction is worth a damn. It’s lip service and WB / Snyder still don’t get these characters; they’re just pretending to in reaction.

  • MK

    OK, saw it last night and I have A LOT of thoughts I’m still trying to work through. Most of them have already been brought up by others, so I’ll just ask this:

    How did Superman actually help the Justice League besides being able to punch harder?

    Ostensibly, the reason behind Superman’s resurrection was so that he could lead the team in a way that neither Bruce nor Diana could. To the movie’s credit that’s actually a really neat angle to explore with Bruce conceding that Clark was more human than he could ever be, and Diana sharing her fear of being a leader and all the guilt/responsibility that comes with it. The thing is though when did the team ever show a need of Superman’s leadership? And to that point, what change was there in the team when he arrived?

    The team certainly failed before Superman showed up, but it wasn’t due to any leadership problem. In the Gotham tunnels the team worked together perfectly, they weren’t abrasive, rude, and were all on the same page. They only lost because they were outmatched by Steppenwolf in terms of firepower, raw strength, and physicality, not through any fault of their own. Steppenwolf only managed to get his hands on the last Mother Box because the League had their hands full with resurrected Superman, again not because they lacked leadership or the ability to work together as a team. Even after Superman returned from his trip down memory lane to help out the League during the final battle, what did he do differently that led the team to success? What did he do as a leader that Bruce and Diana didn’t or couldn’t? Everybody on the team acted/worked together the same as they did when Superman wasn’t there save for the “civilians” scene which doesn’t really count anyway since there weren’t any civilians in the previous fight scenes.

    As far as I can tell the only reason they won this time around is not because Superman provided them the leadership the League needed, it was because he punched harder than they could.

    I’ll have more to say later on, but what an utterly strange, total mess of a movie.

    • Andrew Clark

      I think it was important that Superman join them on a few levels. The sort of easiest to take note of is that Diana and Arthur were only barely holding their own with Steppenwolf and need him to balance the scales. The second is that he makes everyone on the team light up when they see him. This is more just a tonal and character thing than a concrete requirement, but it was a lot of fun seeing Cyborg and Flash grinning when they get to meet Superman.

      The third reason is metatextual that it’s important for him to be there because he’s Superman! And he’s supposed to be the thing that they always said he was in these movies, but wasn’t until now (a beacon, a savior, etc.).

      • ryanrochnroll

        He also makes it possible to prioritize the saving of lives. The heavy hitters can occupy Steppenwolf without having to fight furiously because it’s never a question that Superman can defeat him. Barry and Supes can get people to safety before returning to finish it.

        Also, he galvanizes the team from the moment he appears. With Superman in charge everyone is free of the things holding them back. It’s clumsy but it’s there.

        Also,

        Batman. Is. In. Love. With. Him.

        • “Well, I knew you didn’t bring me back ‘cuz you liked me.”

          “I don’t… not…”

    • Jan

      All of the above.

      ‘They only lost because they were outmatched by Steppenwolf in terms of firepower, raw strength, and physicality, not through any fault of their own’

      It’s so weird. So Steppenwolf is introduced as some random alien menace who was beaten a few thousand years ago by an alliance of Amazonians and Atlanteans. He failed. And now he’s back, and only Superman can beat him for some reason the movie treats as obvious but never elaborates on. Supes died fighting Doomsday, but everyone just assumes Steppenwolf to be no problem for him. So is Steppenwolf less of a menace than Doomsday? I mean… the Atlanteans get their Mother Box stolen right from them, and no Atlantean other than Aquaman ever shows up to get it back? Do they think sending Aquaman to investigate would be enough? Since they defeated Steppenwolf once and didn’t think of him as that much of a problem? Damn, JL is just such an enormous clusterfuck.

  • Andrew Clark

    A little less cerebral, would love to hear what moments people liked or disliked the most.

    My likes:
    – the opening phone video with Supes

    – Diana taking point in all the fights, being the clear field leader

    – Ezra Miller’s Flash and him learning to be a hero (there was clearly cut material showing him getting used to the idea of fighting, though…)

    – So many Superman moments. “I’ll take the ones on the right.” “Is this guy still bothering you?” “I like truth…but I also like JUSTICE.” And of course that first post credits scene.

    – The Superman vs JL fight was bonkers and fun. I loved Flash discovering Supes is also as fast as him and trying to dodge.

    Dislikes:
    – I was really let down by AquaBro, whom I had expected to steal the show. He just doesn’t have much to do. And then on top of that his scene with Mera in Atlantis is unintelligible. Still, YEAHUH!

    – Everything Batman. Man was Affleck out to lunch on this thing, losing any of the charm or even gruff verve he presented in BvS. Remember how cool Bruce Wayne was running into the debris of the Metropolis battle in BvS? Yeah that’s gone.

    – Really most of the first half of the movie. All the exposition stuff with the new characters that is super perfunctory to the plot and their characters.

      • Andrew Clark

        lmao

    • The biggest challenge Batman faces in this film is when he runs out of ammunition. What a colossal goof.

    • Jan

      Likes: Few bits of fun humor I barely remember. Aquaman sitting on the lasso of truth was kinda funny. Cyborg was more intriguing than I thought he’d be. Fisher sold what little he had to work with. And the cameos of other Bat characters were nice enough. I mean the 2-3 minutes of J.K. Simmons and Jeremy Irons we got out of this. They’re game, but the movie doesn’t know what to do with them.

      Dislikes: Everything else. 🙁

  • Ben

    Anyone else get goosebumps when the Elfman Batman theme and original Superman theme dropped? It made me think wow, these characters really are icons, and I hate BVS even more now.
    Also, why did they go back to Bats not being able to turn his head? Those damn cape/cowel combinations.

    • Lunaman

      Hell yes, I got goosebumps.

      The head turning problem in a solid cowl was solved by (prettty brilliant) sfx artisans at Ironronhead Studios with a multi-layer internal neck structure for BatmanvSuperman, but Warner Bros butted heads with them when that movie came out because they didn’t give Ironhead much credit for creating the costumes in all of the press tours. When it came to making Justice League, WB wanted to use a different FX shop who couldn’t replicate the cowl flexibility. So we have the stiff-necked Batman again.

      This is also why Superman’s suit looks less proportional and the muscle shading looks more garish.