Following the first ever female led superhero film, 2017’s Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, would be tough; the movie was action packed, heartwarming, slightly philosophical, while of course displaying equal heroism between the sexes, however, Zac Snyder’s Justice League did not necessarily have to compete with Wonder Women. After 2016’s Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, all Zack Snyder had to do was make his characters interesting – preferably through a decent story, and decent villain for the heros to go up against – while also reestablishing The DC Extended Universe as worthwhile, for its track record is anything but perfect. Well, it was a hard task, albeit, a doable one, however, Zack Snyder hopelessly failed.
For starters, the movie is incoherent throughout, especially in the first quarter of the film. The movie feels like an array of scenes (seemingly on opposite sides of the world) smushed together; the film does not account for time or space, as characters move from point A to point B in seconds. This simply reflects the story as a whole: there is no story. We have Batman, played by Ben Affleck, and Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, who want to make an alliance, because, as Affleck’s Batman says “enemies are coming”. Where Bruce Wayne acquired such knowledge, well, it’s alluded to, but never fully explained; this never explained feeling is unfortunately recurring. The villain of the film, Steppenwolf, gets a two minute backstory- esque description, and then, his motivations, superiors, henchman, and knowledge are left to speculation. Steppenwolf is tasked to find so called “Mother boxes”, which are likewise, unexplained. Unless you have read thirty years of comics to fill in the gaps, you will undoubtedly be lost. Superheros films can be boiled down to “The villain wants a weapon of mass destruction” scenario, and Marvel (DC’s rivals) would probably somehow make that movie enjoyable, however, when you have underdeveloped characters, like The Flash, played by Ezra Miller, and Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher, who get 20 minutes of screentime each before becoming full fledged members of the league, the excitement, relatability, and audience to character connection is nonexistent. This story is nothing more than the “mass destruction scenario” for the characters, who are poorly written, and nothing extraordinarily “tubular” occurs- it’s just so boring!
The acting, on the other hand, is alright. Affleck and Gadot definitely stand out more so than their co-stars, however, that isn’t a hard task. Affleck and Gadot happen to be fantastic actors; Affleck has won Oscars for best picture and screenplay, and Gadot’s most recent film besides Justice League, Wonder Women, was, as mentioned, awesome. That said, it’s a shame to see their talented wasted- no wonder Affleck is looking to hang up the cowl after only two outings as The Dark Knight.
Here, perhaps, is the worst issue with the movie (and considering the plot and characters, expect this to be really bad): the CGI. CGI, for those who don’t know, is computer generated imagery, all the non-practical effects essentially. Well, the CGI here is awful; whether it’s The Flash running in the speedforce, or Henry Cavill’s (Superman) upper lip seeming like it’s made of plastic – Cavill was signed to another film in which he had to keep his mustache when reshoots took place – it’s just so bad. This film had a $300 million budget; why are there CGI issues? Marvel’s most recent trailer, which advertised the anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, has better CGI, and it’s still in the middle of post production! This is truly just a mess; superhero movies of course feature action, and of course that action is not practical, so when CGI is needed, use it well! This truly just drives the audience straight out of the film; rather than lure them in to enjoy the action the characters face (if one is attached to said characters enough, which is unlikely), you cannot help but laugh at how plastic these scenes look. CGI has become so well developed in the last 5 years, so why does Justice League’s looks so awful? There is just no good answer.
One thing many fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who also enjoy the DC films have been promoting is the idea that the DC films should be lighter and not as dark. Due to Zack Snyder’s daughter untimely suicide, Joss Whedon took the director’s chair roughly three quarters of the way through production. Whedon’s stamp on the film, notably that lighter, more comical tone, is present, but because it was added so late, it just doesn’t feel right. It feels as if the movie was going for a dramatic, darker scene, and then all of the sudden there is a joke added by Whedon. This worked for Marvel films, for the lighter tone is built in the script from the get-go, but here, it feels like an added pun, most of which don’t land.
DC, please learn from your many mistakes, for these films are getting unbearable; The Wildcat is giving Justice League one Wildcat for unfortunately, obvious reasons.