Justice League

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Oh my god! I cannot believe that DC and Warner Brothers have messed this up again! They have some of the twentieth century’s most iconic fictional characters to play with and still they have turned out another dud. They have the characters but they have no idea what to do with them. Marvel Studios regularly change things up and hit home runs but DC keep striking out, even with Batman on the team. He, Superman and Wonder Woman have been cultural touchstones for decades yet how many people (other than readers of comic books) had heard of Iron Man ten years ago, let alone Star Lord or Black Panther? Nonetheless there are two big extended superhero movie universes slugging it out in cinemas right now and against the Avengers Justice League is just not in the same league. 

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It looked like things were getting better with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman film earlier this year but this movie actually undoes some of the good work done there. Not only is the quality of Justice League more akin to the terrible Man of Steel, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but it actually undermines the one movie they got right. Wonder Woman presented a whole army of strong, proud and non-objectified females alongside the powerful and inspiring protagonist but now that director Zack Snyder is shooting scenes with the mighty Amazons, half of them are in warrior bikinis. It’s so disappointing. Worse than that, there is a moment later when one of the male heroes is saying what he thinks about each of his new team mates; Batman is old, Cyborg is untrustworthy, Flash is clumsy and Wonder Woman? Well she is ‘just gorgeous’. Oh no, the script did not just go there. You did not just choose that as the one characteristic you would highlight in this champion of feminism. I know there is context to the scene but it did not sit easy with me. Diana Prince was so so much more in her own movie than she is here. 

The treatment of the Amazons is the only part of Justice League that annoyed me though which is a step up from most of what this film series has given us before. The rest of it didn’t really elicit much response from me at all and that’s the problem. It is all just so unengaging and dull. It certainly isn’t as stupid as Suicide Squad but neither is it as entertaining. The plot and characterisation is all just so predictable and uninspired. They meet, they don’t get on, they team up, they do get on, they disagree, he’s momentarily bad, he’s suddenly good again, they save the day, snore! The end is a proper deus ex machina too. The friend I saw the film with asked me which scenes I enjoyed and I couldn’t really think of any. There are some images I liked, Snyder has always been good at the visuals, but other than a few seconds here and there I thought the whole thing was a drag. 

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I know we’ve been spoiled with superhero movies recently and maybe back near the start of the millennium this would have impressed me more but it has all been done so much better. Batman/Bruce Wayne is probably the best thing in the movie with his dry butler Alfred and a new Commissioner Gordon in the shape of J.K Simmons but this really has been done so much better. It is as though Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy never existed. Certainly no one is raising their game to match it. They are not giving half the thought to story or originality that he did. It’s like they’re not trying or they somehow don’t recognise that they needed to.

I was looking for silver linings and I was thinking it was nice that we hadn’t had any of Jesse Eisenberg’s smug Lex Luthor but even that didn’t last until the end. I suppose it’s good that there’s only two hours of this compared to the painfully extended running time of Batman v Superman but actually the fun trailer for this, that included every one of the good lines, showed that the ideal length would have been three minutes fifty seven seconds.

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I’m sorry DC but I think you should just give up. I’ll allow another Wonder Woman film because now you have to make recompense but do us all a favour and drop everything else right now. You don’t really seem to know what you are doing and other people have this whole thing covered a lot better than you. The tag line says you can’t save the world alone but neither can you save the franchise with this group of bland and underwritten heroes.

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Is this one for the kids?
The violence and destruction isn’t actually as bad in Justice League as it was in the previous two Superman films. Having been criticised for carelessly smashing up densely populated areas in those other movies what they have done here is randomly move the battle to the site of an old nuclear reactor meltdown in Russia and even though we are told people have started to resettle there they only actually show us one single family, over and over again. The mantra appears to have been not to worry too much and not to overthink it because evidently they really haven’t done either.

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The Ripley Factor:
Following a family tragedy Zack Snyder sadly had to stop working on this film before it was finished. I wish he’d never started working on it but I certainly don’t wish any misfortune on him. Joss Whedon took over (he has a writing credit but no directing credit) but even the creator of Buffy couldn’t fix it. Even beyond the exposed Amazonian midriffs and the reductive descriptions of the female lead, every one of the women; Diana, Lois Lane and Martha Kent, are reduced to being a shadow of their former selves because some man or other has died. This may be how people react in real life but it is totally the opposite of how male characters react to the same thing in the movies. 

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