BY NATE ORBE –
If the D.C. Extended Universe was a player facing a full count and needed a home run to tie the game against Marvel Studios, “Justice League” was a foul ball. That is to say, it didn’t strike out, but neither did it get a hit.
Earlier in the year the DCEU received much praise due to the major success of its summer blockbuster “Wonder Woman.” It earned $821.8 million in 23 weeks and $103 million in its first three days.
In regards to its most recent effort, things are looking grim with an estimated opening weekend of only $96 million. While the film improved on many mistakes made in “Batman V. Superman” (2016), it needed much more to come close to being an equivalent to “The Avengers” (2012) which made $207 million in its opening weekend.
“Justice League” is the result of rushed writing and production in an effort to catchup with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The DCEU released its two prior movies only a year apart from each other, which gave the audience little time to become attached to the newly revised heroes, not to mention the fact that three new major characters were introduced within the film’s two hours. Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all had their own films and origin stories before they came together in “The Avengers” which made for a more cohesive movie.
Due to a family tragedy, director Zack Snyder was unable to complete the movie’s production. Joss Whedon, known for directing the first two “Avengers” movies, was hired to complete the remaining scenes. The split in direction created clear inconsistencies throughout the movie’s tone. The transitions between scenes often felt awkward and were obviously stylistically different.
A flaw found in “Justice League” is one common within the superhero genre. The villain is painfully mediocre. The choice of making Steppenwolf the main villain of the first Justice League movie is a mistake the DCEU will have to come to terms with. Other, better-known villains would have made for a much more riveting film, such as Brainiac or Darkseid. It’s possible these all-star villains are being saved for future films, but making a strong impression would have done more for the franchise.
Some of the best moments of the movie were the introductions of the three new heroes, the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). In a dark and mostly colorless film, these characters provide a splash of much needed comic relief, an improvement from “Batman V. Superman.” The Flash and Aquaman both have movies in production so this was a nice first-look at their characters.
Overall, the first gathering of the league was not bad. Engaging action sequences, fun dialogue and genuine chemistry between characters kept the movie afloat. Perhaps departing from Snyder’s dark, serious direction would be beneficial in the coming efforts from the DCEU. The departure from the no-fun-allowed tone of “Batman V. Superman” is certainly a step in the right direction.
Several D.C. titles are scheduled for the next three years such as the sequels to “Wonder Woman” and “Suicide Squad” as well as “The Flashpoint” so there is still much hope for redemption in the hearts of superhero lovers. While “Justice League” was a foul ball into the crowd, the game is still on.