A couple of months back, a three-level shopping mall just opened in our city, and with it came 6 cinemas. And for that I am thrilled because at least it will divide the crowds. Although I have come to realize that the crowds still converge on that other mall because this new one charges a tiny bit more. But the misanthropist in me is more than willing to pay a little extra for some peace and quite. (Besides their bathrooms are not only huge, they are also spotless! For now, at least. And they have a cheaper, popcorn only, option in the snack counter versus the other mall.) Anywaaaay, I saw Justice League in the one of the new, spiffy cinemas of said new mall, and, well, let’s just say I have more nice things to say about the cinema than the movie.
I mean sure, Justice League is way better than the last couple fo DCEU movies, namely Batman V. Superman, and Man of Steel, definitely. But I was kind of hoping this movie would take a cue from Wonder Woman. But nope, a huge chunk of film feels like your formulaic superhero movie that centers more around an assembly of action sequences and huge, blow em up set pieces. Whereas in Wonder Woman you can feel Diana’s humanity, her compassion and her values which provided so much emotional resonance. And I think that what made the film so great. But in Justice League I think they didn’t fully develop the characters. Newcomers Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman felt hollow to me. I did love the eager beaver Flash and if there is one thing they did right, it’s lightening the tone, starting with a quipy, gee whiz Barry Allen. Cyborg though, I felt could have been made to do more. I kind of wanted a more playful Cyborg ala Teen Titans. But I guess this could because this is early Cyborg, maybe later on, as he gets a hang of his powers and his team, they will put him in that direction. And then there’s Aquaman, well, Jason Momoa definitely has the charisma, but I am just not on board with all of the “I dig it” slang talk, like he was Arthur Curry from the block. I don’t know, maybe I am nitpicking? Although I appreciate that, at least, they made Batman a little more accessible this time. He had this one line saying that Superman was more human than him, and I thought, that right there, should be explored more! And I am kind of loving this world-weary Batman, mind you. Speaking of ol’ Sups, he too has undergone some “lightening”, we actually get to hear him laugh with Cyborg and be all cheeky with Flash. And Wonder Woman, well, she is as magnificent and radiant as ever. They scored big with Gal Gadot.
Also, please make use of the non-heroes characters more! I mean my heart belongs to Gary Oldman but J.K. Simmons is a great actor and I can tell that he can do a kick-ass Jim Gordon. But he is barely in this film, save for one of two profile shots of him flipping the bat signal. And Jeremy Irons as Alfred could have also used some more screen time, perhaps showing his dynamic with Bruce Wayne.
The plot, like I said, is very formulaic. Nothing we have never seen before. We also get a stereotypical, pure evil, cackling baddie in Steppenwolf. So ol’ Wolfie here comes swooping in with the intention of taking over the entire world, human and non-human universes alike. To have the power to do so he has to bring together three cubes. One is in Themyscira guarded by the Amazons, the other is with the Atlantians in Atlantis, and the last one is on earth with the Men. Despite valiant efforts on the part of the Amazons (this has a great fight and chase sequence btw) and the Atlantians, their respective cubes got nicked by ol’ Wolfie. And since, for some reason, they cannot leave their “realms”, they have no way of helping the men keep the last cube where it is. So it is up to ol’ Bats to round-up an A Team of heroes to keep the world safe from destruction! The gang gets together they saved the day (more like Superman saved the day though)..blah blah blah. Like I said, nothing you have not seen before.
Another thing, in the animated series of Justice League, Superman and Batman seem to be the obvious leaders. I am not aware how it was in the comics. But in this film, they made a reference to Wonder Woman taking the reign as team captain. I don’t know if I got it right, and that this is the direction they will actually take in the next installment. Especially now that Superman is actually not dead. So yeah. But I hope they change things up and put Wonder Woman in charge. Because if anyone can keep the team together, it’s her.
I hope the DCEU doesn’t regress back to their old ways. I hope they seriously look at Wonder Woman and what made that film so great. Nowadays, it isn’t enough for superhero movies to be about cool superpowers and cinematic fighting sequences. Superhero movies should have stories that carry some emotional weight, and have the heroes show us their individual personalities, their humanity. Because style can only get you so far in the ever growing world of superhero movies.