Today: June 12, 2024
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Justice League

It’s too easy to take swipes at DC’s filmic superhero output compared to all things Marvel. They are different beasts and therefore should not really be compared. In fact DC’s biggest failings are born out of its biggest success, namely Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. What Nolan did with his Batman films was take an iconic comic book character, ground him in our reality and then throw the whole comic concept out the window. Even The Joker became something more terrifying than he ever was on the page.

The problem is, like Man Of Steel and Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice before it, Justice League is still desperately walking in the footprints of Nolan’s work, but ignoring so many of the rules he put in place. So while Marvel have plumped for something a little more mainstream, a little more fun, a little more accessible, DC insist on keeping things moody, dark and clawing at poignant. It’s not really want we want from a superhero film (unless an artist like Nolan is front and centre).

Having decided to forgo the individual movies DC have passed go, tried to collect two hundred and thrown us right into the mix of all things Justice League. So now we have Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) tracking down the likes of Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) all because Bats thinks evil is coming and Superman (Henry Cavill) is dead. Evil is indeed coming in the form of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) who wants a trio of boxes (like Infinity Stones but more cubey) to bring about ultimate destruction on earth.

It’s never really explained why Steppenwolf wants to destroy everything in his wake but he’s such a bland CGI villain it doesn’t make much of a difference. On paper at least, and to some extent visually, Justice League is very much a comic book film. The vibrant colours, the grand action sequences, you can imagine seeing this in pages of a graphic novel. But this isn’t a graphic novel, so the clunky dialogue jars, the action set-pieces are boringly predictable and byt the time Superman Returns there’s more than a whiff of,”oh, who cares?”

Where Justice League is unforgivable however is in its use of Wonder Woman. In her standalone film of last year Gal Gadot as Diana Prince was majestic. A leader of men, able to stand up to anyone. Here, she plays second fiddle to Ben Affleck? It’s painful. It’s not aided by the fact Cyborg is a bland character and The Flash, while having some fun action moments feels like little more than an attempt at comic relief. Meanwhile Aquaman is so conflicted his whole character can only be a byproduct of endless rewrites. At first he’s grumpy, then he’s the tough-talking rough and ready hero, then the whiny doubter wondering how they’re all going to die.

Between Affleck sleepwalking through much of the film and Henry Cavill’s CGI moustache there is nothing here to invest in. Even the destruction, murder and essential genocide of one of the character’s people is given about as much gravity as a side note “by the way”. And let’s not even get started on the presence of The Green Lantern Corp.

What DC have done with their cinematic universe thus far is criminal to the source material. Taking iconic characters and turning them into bland, two-dimensional cut-outs is a waste of them, the filmmakers and our time. Justice League does injustice to what should be a cinematic calling card to the genre.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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