Wonder Woman Wednesday: ‘Justice League’ - Film Review 

Hi, readers! After much anticipation, we finally have the Justice League movie. Now that I’ve had a hot minute to digest it, I’d like to share some of my thoughts, opinions, and (dare I say) suggestions for the franchise moving forward.

I’m sure you know that the film is mired in controversy and is almost as divisive as Batman V Superman was. Even though it opened in first place making 93 million dollars, it was considered something less than a success as it “underperformed” Warner Bros. expectations.  Fans seem to be torn from absolutely loving it, to absolutely hating it, or being forlorn somewhere in between.

It’s strange to think that nearly 100 million dollars is considered a flop these days. But then again, the stakes are much higher for these epic, blockbuster-type movies.  There’s a lot going on with outrageous budgets that include the high cost of marketing, and DC definitely pulled out the stops in marketing Justice League. It makes me so happy to see the “super friends” plastered all over buildings, buses, and billboards locally.

So, did I like it?

There’s not really a simple answer to that question, but I’ll do my best to articulate my reaction to the film. Let’s start off on a positive note. Despite some of the problems I had with the film (as a fan AND a critic), it’s fair to say there’s a lot to like about it. It’s also fair to say there were things I didn’t like about it, but we’ll get to that in a second.  

SPOILERS BELOW

Wonder Woman’s Justice League!

Hot on the heels of her blockbuster solo film, Wonder Woman certainly did command the screen. Her opening action scene was definitely one for cinematic history, and it was a thrill to see such awesome use of her infamous “bullets and bracelets.” I’m not sure if it was intentional, but I’m have a sneaking suspicion that Wonder Woman was poised front and center, not only being the glue of the team, but potentially being groomed to lead them.
 
I have to say the characters themselves and the actors who portrayed them were brilliant! How could you not love the Flash? I was afraid he might suffer in the shadow of Grant Gustin’s near-perfect version in the TV series, but I had nothing to worry about. He definitely stands on his own two fleet feet.


I thought Jason Mamoa would be the breakout star of the film this time around, and I wasn't completely wrong. I absolutely loved how Aquaman was portrayed here. The scenes under water and the cameo by Aquaman’s love Mera we’re definitely the stuff of full-on fan excitement. I am very much looking forward to his solo film.

I like Ben Affleck as Batman, I really do. The only thing that gives me pause is all of the talk of him wanting out of the franchise. Imagined or not, it tends to come through in his performance. I think he should hold out for the solo film, personally. I hope he sticks around.

Cyborg was a welcome addition. I’m a long-time Titans fan, and it’s so cool to see one of my favorites on the big screen. I think they handled him rather well and look forward to the fleshing out of his character in his solo flick.

Guess who’s back?

Yes, he’s back! Yes, he’s back! Yes, he’s back! Aside from Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman, I definitely fell in love with Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and he was a big part of my childhood. I didn’t much care for the darker route they decided to take with the big, blue boy scout in Man of Steel and BVS, but I am certainly a fan of Henry Cavill as Superman. It’s hard to deny that he certainly looks the part. I am sorry they had to CGI out his mustache for the re-shoots. It looked wonky and was terribly distracting. It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature. I can’t think of an actor better suited to don the tights and cape. I feel that up until this film, he hasn’t had a proper chance to show what he can bring to this role and has definitely been unleashed. He certainly did make me believe a man could fly.

What we have here is 40% hell yeah! And about 30/30 promise and potential.  I wanted so much for this film to deliver, and it did on so many points. Sadly, the things it missed are a little glaring. I think the lessons learned from the success of Wonder Woman came just a teeny bit late to iron out the kinks properly, as the film began shooting 3 days after Wonder Woman wrapped.

Okay, here we go for the negatives . . .

The women in this film are portrayed rather poorly. They are easily relegated to female stereotypes that tend to be a little cringeworthy.

Lois Lane, one of the strongest women in the entire DC Universe, crumbles and does nothing but write fluff pieces and feel sorry for herself because of Superman’s death? Since when? Ever? A true testament to Amy Adams acting that she would go along with that.

Ma Kent, a strong, capable woman, played by a strong, capable Diane Lane, is booted from the farm and left to probable poverty and couldn’t pay the mortgage in the 3 months Clark had been gone? And her daughter-in-law Lois Lane let this all happen? Has this become Bizarro world? (Oh, please let’s see Bizarro sooner than later.)

And Wonder Woman. Ah, Wonder Woman. Your strength, courage, and desire to serve and protect. To bring your peace to a world that probably doesn’t deserve you. But you don’t think that way. Any more?

At the end of BVS, it was explained that Wonder Woman turned her back on humanity and “peaced out” for 100 years, because she lost faith in us. (Imagine that?) By the time her solo film rolled around, she was portrayed so perfectly strong and compassionate by Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’ treatment that it brought her self-appointed exile into question. It is universally believed that Diana would NEVER turn her back on mankind. (Although she ditches the Amazons at any given chance. Go figure?)

The solution? Retcon. Phew! Noooo! Batman shames Wonder Woman and reads her the riot act for withering away and “pining” (See what I did there?) after the first man she ever laid eyes on and lost?  I beg to differ. She’s stronger than that. Much stronger. She was so bold and so strong in her own film. That Diana would have the strength and conviction to fight on in Steve's honor. It’s sad to think none of these women can function without the aid of a man. Perhaps I’m making to much of it; it’s just annoying. Perhaps a fallacy of heterosexual male directors without a clue? Perhaps.

Another thing I felt problematic is that everything was so rushed. I think Marvel was smart in developing the characters in their own individual films before bringing them together. It gave the audience a chance to have a connection and vested interest in the characters. By the time you finally see the Avengers together, it’s thrilling.

DC has the most awesome characters on the planet. They look amazing. They look and act like superheroes, and that is why fans will go to see them on the big screen whether the film is good or not. I just wish you could leave the theater wanting to kick butt and thinking what you just saw was nothing short of amazing. It’s just too much fun to see your faves on the big screen. I was really hesitant about Suicide Squad and rather liked it despite the backlash. I think once again there was great chemistry and a fun story. The acting was phenomenal. Here’s optimistic hope that the wrinkles will be ironed out and the sequels can be of Empire Strikes Back caliber. DC is clearly making a valiant effort to make up for their missteps, and I believe they deserve a fair chance. The “Rebirth” event in the comics proved it’s always darkest before the dawn, putting to bed the much ballyhooed New 52 era. Is it too silly to think they could pull a quick Rebirth to patch up the problems?

DC Has certainly has had its growing pains trying to catch up with Marvel at the box office, but I think nothing is beyond repair. I think they just need to take all the good points and move forward. Work out a continuity trap door and just be DC. There is a great stable of stories and characters they have to play with and choose from. You don’t need to be Marvel. Marvel is Marvel. Be DC and you will skyrocket!

I think global sales, Blu-ray, and streaming options should make this questionable blockbuster enough of a hit to warrant a sequel. I think with a few tweaks and MacGuffins, they could worm their way through the rough spots. It’d be great if the cinematic universe was treated like the animated one. Who wouldn’t love to see a Killing Joke or Arkham Asylum? Or Heaven can hope, a Wonder Woman ‘77 full-length feature.

All this talk about the Justice League makes me want to see it again. I think I missed a few Easter Eggs!

See you next week, guys. Be sure to check out our sister Facebook page, “I Am Wonder Fan,” and follow me on Instagram (@MichaelFitzTroy).

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