‘Justice League’: Truth, justice, and an American waste

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‘Justice League’: Truth, justice, and an American waste

Pierce Turner, Features Editor

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Seeing a new DC movie is like getting acupuncture. You can’t move for two hours, you’re annoyed, in pain, and you feel like you wasted your money. At least you can complain to your friends about how it doesn’t work.

The latest of these films, Justice League (a movie directed, at least partially, by Joss Whedon about an alien coming down to Earth with an army looking for a magic cube, forcing a bunch of superheroes to form a team) is DC’s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers (a movie directed, at least partially, by Joss Whedon about an alien coming down to Earth with an army looking for a magic cube, forcing a bunch of superheroes to form a team). Wait a minute, is this just a bad version of The Avengers? Yes. Yes it is.

The story picks up a few months after the abysmal Batman v. Superman with Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) searching the world for super powered people to fight off an impending invasion, while giving out his secret identity like it’s candy on Halloween. He’s also sad because he was a horrible person in the last movie and because Superman is dead. However, we are mostly just told that he’s sad. Affleck, who after having only played the role twice (three times if you include his short cameo in the garbage fire that was Suicide Squad), is clearly already tired of the role and perhaps even embarrassed to be wearing the cape and cowl. He’s not bad, but he doesn’t put much emotion into what is perhaps the most complex superhero ever.

They’re wondering why Zack Snyder keeps getting hired to direct these movies. Warner Bros.

Gal Gadot also returns as Wonder Woman after her breakout solo movie earlier this year. She is by far the most badass character, and pretty much kicks more ass than everyone else combined. Still, nothing in the film compares to the march into a battlefield from her titular movie.

Newcomers Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) also join the team with mixed results. Aquaman is a bro, casually drinking in public and just being generally uninterested in everything. He’s one-dimensional, but shows promise and could easily be a cool character in a better movie. The Flash comes across as a discount Spider-Man. He is meant to be the funny rookie in the bunch, but most of the humor comes across as awkward and even cringey. Miller tries his best, but he lacks the charm of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, making jokes and interacting with other heroes in Captain America: Civil War. Cyborg is completely wasted here. He whispers all his lines and barely cracks a smile in the entire film. What happened to the energetic and fun version from the Teen Titans cartoon or the comics, throwing out one-liners and constantly saying boo-ya? He does say his catchphrase once in the film, but it’s so forced that I could actually feel the walls crack in the movie theater.

The final member is, of course, Superman (Henry Cavill). No, that’s not a spoiler that he comes back to life because he is literally in the trailer. Despite his agonizingly brooding and dark portrayal in the last two movies, Superman is actually the best part of Justice League, finally showing the hopeful heroic side he was always meant to be. However, the way he’s brought back to life is as forced and contrived as it gets, making you wonder why he died in the first place. None of the other heroes get to have any emotional connection with his resurrection because they either don’t know him or have recently tried to kill him. The death and return of Superman isn’t earned, which is truly the main problem with these DC movies.

On a funnier note, Cavill and the cast were needed for reshoots months after productions actually finished, and he grew a ridiculous mustache for a different film. He couldn’t shave it off because the film was still shooting, so they had to digitally remove it. To say it looks bad is like saying porcupines make an uncomfortable pillow. It reminds me of the scary looking CG humans from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

They’re about to fight, I’m about to nap. Warner Bros.

Finally, we have the villain, Steppenwolf, whose name sounds like a bad ‘80s metal band. Now, I don’t want to dance around this: this is the worst villain in a superhero movie in years. Decades. The all CG character looks like angry melted cheese and the voice actor actually sounds like he was falling asleep while performing the lines. Not only that, he isn’t at all threatening, barely warranting the gathering of these heroes. In fact, once Superman joins the fight, he pretty much beats the chump up single-handedly. It’s laughable. Loki, the villain in The Avengers, came down to Earth, killed dozens of people himself, then brought an army down to NYC and almost won. Steppenwolf, brought a manageable handful of mosquito people, killed maybe one person, and attacked… a farm. He’s after motherboxes. What are they? The movie doesn’t really say, so it must not be important. All we’re told is that they’re “powerful”. A good saxophone solo is powerful. Steppenwolf, of course, is just a goon of Darksied, DC’s biggest baddie, but why make him the villain at all? Why not use Darksied? Going back to Loki, he ended up being a lackey to ultra Marvel villain, Thanos, but Loki never came across as an appetizer to the main course like Steppenwolf.

Justice League has weak characters, but the plot is even weaker, holding up like a house made of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue. Characters meander around and talk about things happening more than making things happen, right up until the final battle. Most of the humor fails because the characters just sort of stand there, in costume, and make their jokes hoping they’ll land. In The Avengers (shut up, maybe I will marry Marvel), the humor comes from what the characters are doing, not saying. A bitter Hulk punches Thor across a room, Tony Stark pokes the volatile Bruce Banner with a stick to tease Captain America. Of course, it also helps that Marvel movies are generally well written, well acted, and the actors aren’t desperately looking for a way out.

It’s fitting that the day Justice League came out, news spread that Ben Affleck was looking to get out. It’s clear to him and anyone else with a brain that everything Zack Snyder touches is a dark mess. It’s better than BvS and Suicide Squad, but that’s like saying getting punched in the face is better than having your hair set on fire. Hopefully after walking out of the next DC film, I won’t have a bloody nose or smell of burning human hair.

2/5 Sails