WB vs Justice League

justice league

Dawn of Justice was terrible. Snyder made Superman into a dull, whining emo and Batman into a dim-witted, drunken, murdering psychopath who happens to dress like a bat. It goes without saying, then, that even after a mostly very good solo outing for Wonder Woman, I had no hope at all for Justice League.

Imagine my surprise, then, when after weeks of trying and failing to get in to see it, I found myself entirely alone in the cinema, enjoying most of what I was seeing. That’s right, I went to see Thor. I jest. I didn’t see Thor. Perhaps ‘enjoying’ is too strong a term. Easily tolerating.

Given how long it has been out now, I won’t try to avoid spoilers here but, honestly, there’s pretty much nothing TO spoil.

First off, the postivity of my opinion will obviously be swayed by how awful BvS was and the fact that it’s difficult not to compare Justice League with that. Were this the first team up film they had made, I would on the one hand be less forgiving, but on the other be a little more hopeful for the future of the DCMU (which is what I’m calling it). It had plenty of problems, but they seemed smaller than those in BvS, and there were actually enjoyable parts. On a scale of 1 (BvS) to 10 (WW – not that I’d quite give WW a 10/10), I would call Justice League a 6. In a proper rating out of 10, standing on its own merit, I’m not too sure what I could give it. Definitely less than that. 4?

Let’s start with my three biggest problems:

The CGI – WB needs to get its &%$! together when it comes to many things, but perhaps the most obvious to even the most casual of moviegoers is the CGI. It is sensationally bad. JL contains the worst yet. From a terrible, 100% CGI villain to completely unnecessary 100% CGI Alfred, to green-screening that looks like an unfinished fan film, WB would be hard pressed to make the CGI any worse. Cyborg’s face doesn’t need to be CGI – just have him wear a half mask and do it up with little bits of CGI. Although, they couldn’t get Superman’s upper lip to look realistic, so perhaps all is lost in this department.

The length – Perhaps ‘learning’ from people complaining about the length of BvS, Justice League is only two hours long. That would be okay for a solo film, but this is a team-up of six major characters. Although it did, to be fair, seem to give the characters equal-ish screen time, it could have done with at least an extra 30 minutes. As it is, it feels as though Whedon or Snyder or someone forgot that a film should have a middle, and instead went straight from the beginning into a run up to the end. One moment, we’re seeing some of the characters doing their own thing, and the next it’s all go. It’s like Usain Bolt turning up for the Olympics opening ceremony only to hear the starting gun and everyone’s off running and he’s not even in his goddamn shorts!

The Foundation – The film itself can’t help that it has to work off BvS, but…it does. Snyder stupidly rushed into the death of Superman storyline when the world doesn’t trust him, Batman just tried to murder him, and Diana has barely even met him. Even we, the audience, don’t have a good grasp of him as a character (this particular iteration, that is). Yet we’re supposed to believe that the entire world is in mourning because of his death, and so is each of the soon-to-be League. There are shots of places around the world flying gigantic flags with the Superman logo on them. Simply moronic.

Since I’m not sure how else to continue this whatever-this-is, let’s talk about the heroes:

Batman

batman

Batman was a huge disappointment in BvS. He was stupid and oblivious (he lets himself get caught in Luthor’s servers twice, and clumsy, plodding Clark Kent manages to follow him there a third time without him even noticing. World’s greatest dewhat?). There was an allusion to him being an alcoholic womaniser, rather than this being simply a disguise and misdirection. He’s a murdering psychopath. He stands smirking as his traps hurt Superman instead of actually acting. He sees Doomsday about to laser-face him and cowers behind his hands instead of using his multitude of tools and skills to save himself (I maintain that the scene should have happened as is, except without him swearing and hiding, and when Diana turns around to see if he’s okay, he’s standing on the roof above, having escaped in time anyway – she’s still the hero who jumped in front of face laser to save him, and he’s still Batman).

batman arkham

But…I’m getting off track. In Justice League, we’re not too sure if he’s still a murderer because no one ever mentions it and he only fights parademons, which don’t count. He’s still not the Batman I want to see, but he’s a little closer to it. Despite being an older Batman, he shows no signs of the take-charge, always ten steps ahead, ready for anything, surprised by nothing Batman I want to see. For reference, Kevin Conroy is the definitive Batman for me – a live action version of the Batman of the Arkham games would be the Marvel-buster (basically a more brutal, adult version of the animated series Batman). But he doesn’t seem quite as stupid this time, at least. The worst part for me was when Superman first shows up to fight Steppenwolf and Batman literally gasps, with a huge grin on his face. I mean…no.

Batman’s first scene is by far the best and (along with a certain two-sworded villain’s appearance in the post-credits) actually gave me a little hope for his solo film (NOTE: Before editing this, I read that he may now not be playing Batman again after all, which is disappointing – the problem is the Batman he’s been given, not how Affleck plays him). There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it just felt…nice. It felt Batman-ish. A common burglar is climbing out of a window with his loot, and in the window’s reflection, you see Batman watching. Then comes a fairly typical cat and mouse sequence where the thief tries to shoot him but Batman’s never quite there. Again, nothing special, but the most Batman-ish we’ve seen this Batman (and credit to the city around them – it felt like Gotham).

Wonder Woman

WW

There’s not too much to say about Wonder Woman. Her role is fairly minimal outside of hitting and slicing things. Otherwise, she’s really only there to protest bringing Superman back and to explain, unconvincingly, why she went off people in between WW and BvS. But what she did do, she did well.

It looked from the trailers like the team was a bit of a mess right up until Diana takes charge and gets them working as a team. This is not the case. Neither do they work badly together to start with, nor do they work particularly well together in the final fight. Perhaps WB’s collective brain will start working and we’ll see a Patty Jenkins Justice League next. I don’t know how she’d handle Batman, but WW, Superman, and Flash would all do well under her.

I was disappointed to see that not once did she fly. I still don’t know for sure if this version of Wonder Woman CAN fly. She certainly seemed to in her solo film, but it wasn’t clear enough. I’ve said before that, to me, she is almost Superman’s equal. He has more raw strength and power, but she is a demigod (or maybe full god in this version?) and is magic-based, and a trained warrior. These things together – again, to me – make her pretty much his equal in terms of who can beat who (up until Superman totally unleashes, that is; which he didn’t). I was worried, then, when I saw in a leaked video of Superman’s fight with them, that they headbutt each other. She barely knocks his head back, but then he headbutts her back and she gets planted in the concrete. The full scene is slightly better, as he actually headbutts her first, and does as little damage as her return headbutt. This at least shows that the most powerful man in the universe has to make some real effort to hurt her (but look out further down for how that’s completely ruined later on).

Superman

superman

We all knew he was going to come back in this film, but it was as though all the characters knew he was going to come back in this film too. There was no light bulb moment when they realise they can bring him back; there was no clever or interesting way they went about it; there was no emotional realisation that it might actually be possible; there was no real drama to him suddenly being alive again. Aquaman and Diana put forward their ideas that it might be a bad idea – that they don’t know that he’d come back wholly himself – but otherwise, there’s not really any discussion about it.

Then there’s the fact that he’s only in three crucial scenes. His fight with the others, his talk with Lois, and then the end fight when he turns up to save the day, single-handed. Again, this is where a longer film would have come in handy. Perhaps the worst thing about this is that when he does turn up to fight Steppenwolf (cue Batman’s schoolgirl gasp), he bats him about like a cat playing with a dead mouse. This is badly handled. Not only because the other superpowered heroes do him almost no damage (remember how Superman had to really try in order to hurt WW?), but also because of the introductory flashback scene of the first time he comes to Earth, and is fought by Amazons, Atlantians, ‘the tribes of man’, and…wait for it…gods. Yes, the actual gods fight him, and he’s still only just sent packing. But Superman turns up and that’s that. He doesn’t even get a hair out of place while ‘fighting’ Steppenwolf. This, to me, is a little too much. Steppenwolf should at least have got in a couple of good hits. It should have been Superman’s power that allowed them TOGETHER to overwhelm Steppenwolf. Sure, he should be capable of defeating him single-handed, but it shouldn’t be that easy, or else what is the point of the Justice League? Not to mention, if Steppenwolf had hurt Superman a bit, we’d have been wondering just how much more damage Darkseid will be able to do (and I really just can’t get over how weak it makes Diana seem).

Bad faceAnd he was just creepy and weird, like a Henry Cavill doppleganger was brought in to play him. He was so inhuman and unemotional all the way through – even when fighting Steppenwolf – as though he resented having to be there – character and actor.

 

Also, where did he get his new suit?

Flash

the-flash

Apparently, Flash was most people’s favourite character. I don’t really understand why. His scenes with his father were a bit weak – there was no chemistry there at all. A lot of his humour was way over the top, forced, unfunny, and just childish. He runs weirdly. There’s a scene near the end where he’s running along a road, and I literally thought he was falling or something because of the way his arms were flailing about. But no, that’s just how he runs.

He is perhaps the most pointless character, as at least the others have reason to be there. Flash is just there because he’s part of the Justice League, so he HAS to be. Sure, he saves some people, but there’s no part where he earns his place in the team or the film.

Aquaman

aquaman

I expected to dislike Aquaman. I don’t dislike Jason Mamoa, but his characters come across as too arrogant and smug for my liking. But, aside from a bit too much of the “Oh yeah”s and the “My man”s and the “Yeah-ya”s – which are nails on chalkboard to most non-Americans – he was actually okay. Not more than okay, but okay. I’ve read reviews that refer to him as the ‘bad boy’, which is just ridiculous. There’s nothing bad boy-ish about him other than his initial refusal to help. That’s it. He doesn’t hesitate for a second once he’s onboard. Doesn’t second guess anyone, doesn’t take issue with Diana taking charge and giving orders (one order), nothing. He has a teeny tiny spat with Cyborg which is over in an instant and feels no more serious than the rest of his banter.

What I don’t understand, though, is why he helps in the first place. Steppenwolf attacks Queen Mera, and Aquaman turns up to get beaten too. Then Mera – queen, remember – tells him that his then-queen mother gave him up to protect him (which he seems to immediately accept and change his previously-negative opinion of said mother), and that it would have been the mother’s duty (as queen) to go after Steppenwolf, but now it is Aquaman’s. W…why? Why is the queen’s duty not the queen’s duty now that the queen is a different queen? At least the Amazon queen actually makes some effort herself (and is actually acted properly too). It’s made to sound as though this is the first time Aquaman has even turned up in Atlantis, too, which makes it all even weirder.

Cyborg

Cyborg

I’ve heard it said that this is the weakest character, but I don’t agree. I don’t think he is given any less screen time than other characters, and best of all, his self-pity doesn’t last long and isn’t overwhelmingly irritating like certain other Batman/Superman films I could mention. He’s well acted, badly-CGI’d, and plays a crucial role in the story – but not so crucial that you feel he should have had a bigger part to play.

But seriously, why CGI the entire cyborg half of his face? It’s unnecessary and awful.

JL

When it came to humour, as I’ve already said, Flash failed to amuse most of the time, but even that wasn’t totally horrendous as Age of Ultron taught me to expect from Whedon. The worst of it was the bit we already saw, with him getting excited about the Bat signal. Otherwise it was his general awkward, immature nature that was supposed to amuse. There were, I think, two parts that actually made me laugh – one of which is an older woman on the news, which has nothing to do with anything.

Danny Elfman – I’m assuming at Whedon’s behest, or at least permission – brought back the Batman and Superman themes (the proper ones), which worked quite well for Batman, despite him not being a Batman worthy of that theme. For Superman, I can only assume the part where it was used properly was cut. The only time we hear it is a bizzaro version when he’s not himself and is fighting the team. There is a recognisable sound when he punches Steppenwolf, which might be at least a bit of the theme, but it was barely audible underneath the noise of Steppenwolf hitting the ground. Perhaps just as well, since he was even less deserving of it than Batman.

HARWOOD

‘Flat’ is probably the best word to describe it. Nothing ever felt remotely dangerous or dramatic, the only time the characters had a hint of emotional interaction with each other was when Bruce annoys Diana and she shoves him. Even that was over in an instant and they were apologising to each other minutes later. There’s no coming together, no clumsiness of people not used to working as a team and not used to trusting others, no…anything much. I’m not even totally sure why it would have been so terrible if Steppenwolf got all three motherboxes. I’m sure it was explained… It’s full of missed opportunities, rushes into things too fast, leaves no time for meaningful character development. It’s more like a pitch for a full film: ‘These are just some of the things you’ll see if you let us make a full Justice League movie’.

So, perhaps the main reason I actually ended up enjoying my two hours was because it was not as terrible as Dawn of Justice. I can’t explain why else I left the cinema not feeling as though I wasted two hours. I want the extended cut (BvS was less terrible in the extended cut), but whose do I want? Snyder’s? Not really. Whedon’s? Not really. I just want a longer, fuller version. But for now, I’m just surprised that I actually want to see it again.

Batman

See also:

The Big Blue Boy Scout
Birth of the Superhero

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Marvel Vs. DC

So, the other week we got the announcement of the DC movie slate up until 2020. Yesterday, Marvel announced their Phase 3 movie slate. We now know their film slate from 2015 up to 2019. Get ready for a damn long list:

Marvel v DC


Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 1, 2015


Fantastic Four

August 7, 2015


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

March 25, 2016


X-Men: Apocalypse

May 27, 2016


Doctor Strange

November 4, 2016


Untitled Wolverine Sequel

March 3, 2017


Wonder Woman

June 23, 2017


Thor: Ragnarok

July 28, 2017


Justice League Pt.1

November 11, 2017


The Flash

March 23, 2018


Captain Marvel

July 6, 2018


Aquaman

July 27, 2018


The Amazing Spider-Man 3

TBA 2018


Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 2

May 3, 2019


Cyborg

April 3, 2020



Ant-Man

July 17, 2015


Deadpool

February 12, 2016


Captain America: Civil War

May 6, 2016


Suicide Squad

August 5, 2016


The Sinister Six

November 11, 2016


Guardians of the Galaxy 2

May 5, 2017


Fantastic Four 2

July 14, 2017


Black Panther

November 3, 2017


Female-Led Spider-Man Spin-off

TBA 2017


Avengers: Infinity War Pt. 1

May 4, 2018


Untitled Fox-Marvel Film

July 13, 2018


The Inhumans

November 2, 2018


Shazam

April 5, 2019


Justice League Pt. 2

June 14, 2019


Green Lantern

June 19, 2020


 

So that’s our next five years. Thirty superhero and superhero-esque films (I don’t class Guardians of the Galaxy or the anti-hero/villain ones as superhero films). It will be a good five years for people like me who can barely get enough of such films, but might it be a little too much? I recently dismissed the idea that the superhero genre was becoming oversaturated by saying that no one ever said that about action films or romantic comedies. However, thirty films in five years is quite a lot. I suppose it does make sense, though. In five years, all of those actors are going to look quite different. Some aren’t particularly young now. So it makes sense to round off storylines and bring things to a close while those actors are still have the interest, and are able, to play those characters.

I’ve already written a post about the DC films, for Uproar, so now I’ll say a bit about some of the Marvel ones:

Age of Ultron

The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was released just the other day, and it looks extremely good. I was surprised by the casting of James Spader as Ultron, but given his monologue through the trailer, I can see it was a very good choice. Even if I hadn’t seen it, I’ve recently started watching Blacklist, and some of his scenes in that show that he can be quite intimidating using nothing but his voice.

The question that the trailer prompts is: what’s wrong with Bruce Banner and Hulk?

Deadpool

A lot of people have got very excited at the prospect of a Deadpool film. The ‘Merc with a Mouth’ was quite severely abused by the first Wolverine film, but now Marvel are giving him his own film, and by the leaked test footage below, we can be fairly sure they will be sticking closely to what the anti-hero is meant to be: random, unstable, and weird. Ryan Reynolds also is very likely to be reprising the role of the fourth-wall-breaking, near-indestructible assassin who once killed off the entire Marvel Universe and then turned on his writers and artists, and the readers.

Captain America: Civil War

The Civil War storyline revolved around the US government introducing the Superhero Registration Act, which would see all superheroes answering to the government. This causes a schism between the superheroes, with some agreeing with the act, and others opposed. Captain America is at the head of the group opposed to it, while Iron Man leads those who support it.

Marvel's Civil War

I’m not convinced that storyline could work all that well on film. Apart from anything else, we like to be able to root for one side, but in a story where heroes are fighting heroes, who do you root for?! But also, I can’t see the Tony Stark/Iron Man that we know from the films being pro-registration. It doesn’t make sense. Presumably, something drastic will happen in Age of Ultron, changing him quite fundamentally. Perhaps simply the fact that he has created Ultron will be enough to make him think that he should be answerable to someone.

The other thing I’m unsure about is sticking the storyline into a Captain America film. doing so surely makes it much more than a Captain America film, doesn’t it? Maybe they should have done a DC and called it Captain America v Iron Man: Civil War. Or not.

Black Panther

Black Panther

This contradicts what I said in the DC article about DC beating Marvel when it comes to diversity. Well, a bit. DC still have Mamoa and Gadot. But Marvel will be the first to have a black superhero lead (although to be fair, Hancock got there long before either of them!).

Black Panther – named before the Black Panther Party, it may be worth noting – was the first black superhero to be published in mainstream comics, also predating any black DC heroes. He is an African king, and if you mixed Captain America and Batman into a mystical, panther-costumed human stew, you’d get Black Panther.

Marvel also released concept art for Black Panther, which is very close to his depiction in the comics, minus the cape. It’s also pretty good looking.

Infinity War

Just like DC’s Justice League, the Avengers’ next outing after Ultron will be a two-parter. It’s not too surprising, given the storylines of other Marvel films, that it is the Infinity War. There are six Infinity Stones, which predate the creation of the universe, and can only be wielded by by beings of incredible power. We’ve seen four of the Infinity Stones so far in the films, and seen what happens when a ‘lesser’ being tries to wield them (unintnetionally in some cases):

  • In Captain America: The First Avenger, Red Skull comes into possession of the Tesseract, which reappears in The Avengers. It is the ‘Space Stone’
  • Loki’s Chitauri sceptre appears in The Avengers and in the after credits scene of Captain America: Winter Soldier. It is the ‘Mind Stone’
  • The Aether is what afflicts Jane Foster in Thor: The Dark World, and is later delivered to The Collector by Lady Sif. It is the ‘Reality Stone’
  • The Orb is the centre of the Guardians of the Galaxy film, retrieved first by Peter Quill, and then stolen by Ronan the Accuser. It is the ‘Power Stone’

We can see (until it’s pulled) in the teaser video Marvel showed during their announcement of Phase 3 that Thanos will be in possession of the completed Infinity Gauntlet, which incorporates all six Infinity Stones.

I’m looking forward to the two-parter, but I’m afriad to watch it at the same time. It will almost certainly bring together not just the Avengers themselves, but the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel, and quite possibly some of the others mentioned above, against Thanos the Mad Titan. Don’t expect everyone to make it out alive.

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

DC will beat Marvel to the punch with Wonder Woman, but who cares? It’ll be good to have the female led Captain Marvel – aka Carol Danvers – rather than the male one. This makes me wonder about my Agents of SHIELD predictions though. One of my Skye predictions doesn’t work now, but the Coulson one still might (even though it was a long shot to begin with).

In the comics, Carol Danvers gets her powers from an explosion that causes her DNA to merge with that of the original, male Captain Marvel. This is possible if my above Agents of SHIELD theory is right – which it probably isn’t – but most likely, it will occur some other way (probably still an explosion).

 
 

So, unless films such as Spider-Man 3 get killed off, those are our thirty superhero and superhero-esque films for the next five years. Which are you looking forward to most: Marvel or DC?