Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Oh DC cinematic universe, where art thou? With this past summer's "Wonder Women," it looked like DC might've turned a corner. Alas, it appears as though "Wonder Women" was an exception in DC comics slate of upcoming films. An anomaly that benefitted from a director with a clear vision and understanding of her characters.
"Justice League" is, unfortunately, not that movie.
Being helmed by the "DC ringleader" - or the "Kevin Feige honcho" - Zack Snyder (with some touch ups and post production completed by Joss Whedon) - the quickly assembled and overly saturated DC team up, is flashy and has flare (as most of Snyder's visual eye candy is gorgeous) - but again, it's a CGI destruction fest, with hardly any character development, a jam-packed plot structure, and suffers from a villain that looks like a cross between a rip-off Power Rangers tycoon and the Boo Berry persona of Apocalypse (from "X-Men: Apocalypse").
Thankfully, the tone is indeed lighter, and not as charismatically dark as "Batman Vs. Superman" (which, in itself, hasn't aged well - thankfully "League" is, at least, better than that mashup).
Following the events of that film, where Superman is still very much dead, Gotham city is left to chaos. When we catch up with Ben Affleck's dark and raspy Batman, he's trying to assemble a team and the movie than becomes a "previously on DC comics sideshow" where it's increasingly hard to keep up with the puzzle of exposition. Oh look there's Ezra Miller's The Flash trying to inject the geeky boy nerd spasms we all crave; Gal Gadot's Wonder Women trying to save the day from a group of bank thugs; Jason Momoa's Aquaman trying to be clever with his aquatic puns and banter arguments with Bruce Wayne that always come up short; and Ray Fisher's Cyborg who, more or less, get's the short end of the narrative background leash. And, in a move that will surprise literally nobody, Superman (Henry Cavill) shows up to help the team fight the evil Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds) and when he does, you wonder why the League even exists, because Superman can do this with his hands tied behind his back. There's no balance, and because of that, it never feels like the Justice League vibe together as a team or have any chemistry (and any that does, feels forced).
On a side note: If you notice Henry Cavill a.k.a Superman's face to look a tad weird, that's because it does. During reshoots this past summer, it made headlines that Cavill's face would have to undergo a costly post production procedure, as he needed to keep a mustache for a film he currently was working on. Not only does it make his expressions look awkward and uncomfortable, it becomes a game trying to guess which scenes are the real Cavill face, or the fake CGI one. In the first shot of the film it's blatantly obvious.
Behind the scenes is kind of a shuffle as well, with Snyder relinquishing directing duties over to former Marvel alum, Wheadon, to add his own DNA to the picture (Snyder stepped down due to the death of his daughter). The result is murky and represents a clash of visions that doesn't come together as well as the studio would hope. If you were to look close enough, it's easy to pinpoint which scenes were superimposed by Wheadon. I understand the man was brought in to add touch-ups, but he chooses to focus more on the side characters with hardly any screen time, rather than beefing up the main ones. For example, scenes that feature Lois Lane (Amy Adams) feel tacked on, as does a scene with J.K Simmons as Commissioner Gordon (the only scene he has) and we get blink and you'll miss it cameos of characters that, likely, will be featured in upcoming films.
I hesitate to use the term chaotic, but that's the overall feeling of "Justice League" a chaotic mess. Even the sarcastic remarks by a game Alfred (Jeremy Irons - doing his best) lag in certain departments. It's also hard not to look at Miller's Flash and compare him to what Tom Holland did (better) in "Spider Man: Homecoming." I have no beef with any of the casting in this movie, you'd just think DC could come up with a better script.
Well, there you have it and I don't think anyone is surprised. I'm starting to think these movies need to come equipped with an asterisk or a disclaimer. Because the inconsistencies are starting to pile up. What's a superhero movie, if the film feels rushed, and doesn't give adequate time to let you breathe a little? As shown with "Wonder Women," when DC isn’t working towards a common goal of an interconnected universe, their films work. It's tragic, because I want these guys to succeed. As for the future, hopefully they'll start to cook up the right recipes and put out quality products, but for now, the trend of DC's cinematic woes struggle on. C-