Five months ago, the DCEU released the highly successful “Wonder Woman”. It is the best reviewed superhero movie made in history. It had class, style, and plenty of action. Earlier this month, the DCEU released the highly anticipated “Justice League”. However, “Justice League” proves to have nothing alike with “Wonder Woman.”
After a four-film buildup that began four years ago with “Man of Steel”, “Justice League” should have been a success, with Batman and Wonder Woman recruiting new heroes and reviving Superman in order to fend off an extraterrestrial invasion. Marvel did the same thing with “Avengers” five years ago.
Speaking of the “Avengers” film, this movie has one thing in common with that one: the director. Joss Whedon stepped in to direct after the old director Zack Snyder left in the middle of filming because of a family tragedy. However, this was a huge mistake on DC’s part.
Whedon and Snyder had two very different ideas of how the Justice League film should be made. Whedon’s light-hearted take on superheroes and Snyder’s grim and dour one were so different that at some times I could tell which director shot which scene. Especially at the final battle, when the Flash fell on top of Wonder Woman’s breasts. You can tell because Whedon did the same joke in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” with Black Widow and Bruce Banner.
Whedon’s and Snyder’s visions are so opposite and they never exactly merged together, so at times it feels like you are watching two separate movies about the same characters. And it definitely makes a huge effect on “Justice League.” Which is why “Justice League” feels like the worst film of the franchise to date.
Batman and his alter ego Bruce Wayne are once again played by Ben Affleck, but this version of the character here is unrecognisable from the machine-gun-loving hungover character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Then there’s Henry Cavill’s Superman, whose personality changes on a shot-by-shot basis, from blank-eyed demigod to a funster faster than a speeding bullet.
Wonder Woman is perfectly recognisable from her solo film earlier this year, although there’s naturally a lot less of her here.
Its fundamental lopsidedness might come down at least in part to its unusually chaotic production. The rave reviews for Wonder Woman and terrible ones for Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad led to a series of frantic course-corrections, which were followed by the sudden departure of Snyder.
But for whatever combination of reasons, the end result is a broken film, swimming in terrible CGI and forgettable mayhem, that you can’t imagine any number of rewrites and reshoots could have saved. It can’t even decide how to start, and offers up no less than five introductory scenes, including Bruce Wayne trekking in Iceland, Wonder Woman thwarting a terrorist attack in London, and yet another instance of that DC franchise staple, the slow-motion funeral.
One of the film’s three new superheroes, Aquaman is introduced twice, once zingers with Bruce Wayne, and then again a few minutes later, with much Snyder-style gurning and flexing on the prow of a sinking ship.
Ezra Miller’s early scenes as the lightning-fast Flash are a little better, as he visits his father in prison, there’s at least a glimmer of backstory. But then he’s immediately reduced to the team’s fantastically annoying comic relief. As for Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, the film doesn’t seem to know anything about him: he has his hood up a lot, and that’s more or less all we get.
At least the League’s inaugural mission seems simple enough. Three ‘Mother Boxes’, ancient gadgets with the power to end all life on Earth, must be kept out of the clutches of Steppenwolf, a computer-generated demon, and his gang of flying parademons.
Except even the basics of this turn out to be bewilderingly difficult. At one mind-boggling juncture, the team inexplicably leaves the final Mother Box unattended in a car park, only for Steppenwolf to beam down and make off with it while they’re doing something else.
A post-credits scene dutifully teases more to come, but the film’s heart just isn’t in it. After “Justice League”, there’s nowhere else any of this can go. Even though Justice League had the potential to be the most successful film of the decade, the film in my opinion, was a disaster.