Justice League Flamedrop


With Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Amy Adams, Arthur Curry, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Connie Nielsen

Written by Chris Terrio, Zack Snyder, Josh Whedon
Directed by Zack Snyder

For a while the Marvel and DC superhero on-screen rivalry leaned in favour of the former with Stan Lee comic creations from Spider-Man and Iron Man, to Thor and Hulk (plus of course combined as The Avengers) taking poll position with box office records (and every conceivable tie-in). If one superhero can rake in half a billion, how about half a dozen of them?
But, we all know that no matter how much money is churned out of it, this doesn't automatically result into a good movie…

On the DC front, Christopher Nolan's reboot of Batman was huge and a far more realistic, dramatic take, with Zack Snyder's resurrection of what many would consider the ultimate superhero, Superman also losing the far more caricatured '80s and '90s version of Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher). Then of course there's the combination of these two going head-to-head, and Wonder Woman roaring in to great success (with other Justice League participants like Aquaman's standalone movies almost upon us).

This is an absolute renaissance for comic and superhero geeks, fans and nerds, and good for them, as at one stage all you got were cheap kids cartoons. With added reality and top notch productions, what used to be considered B-movie throwaways or a rare occasion with years between them, it has come to dominate cinema as we know it (a bit too several movies and loads of TV shows flooding the market). This is a prospect many find alarming and sad, the art of cinema distilled down to a whole lot of CGI flashing across the screen with thunderous soundtracks to punch home the point.

DC's Justice League preceded Marvel's Avengers by three years in 1960, bringing together their top superheroes to fight for, well, justice! They include Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. Like any crack team with individuals possessing special skills to combine and result in fulfilling their mission (from The A-Team to Oceans 11, 12 & 13), each of the Justice League characters are (sometimes very contrived) essential cogs in the machine to defeat the villain.
The villain in question is Steppenwolf (no, not the band whose song "Born To Be Wild" went hand-in-hand with Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider in the late-60s, but rather) a horned super-badass with an axe bent on destroying earth by bringing together three powerful elements separated, scattered and guarded by various parts of earth (including the island of the Amazons, underneath the ocean in Atlantis and on land with mankind - a very familiar scenario).

As the only one without real superpowers, Bruce Wayne (Batman) is pretty much the wealthy manager essential in bringing together these special folks and bankroll their operation to save the planet. Naturally this is not accomplished in the first reel, as while he's already linked with Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) as a collaborator, he has to go out and find people with special skills (no, Liam Neeson didn't make it) - they include Barry Allen, a super fast kid (The Flash), Arthur Curry, a man commanding water (Aquaman), and Victor Stone, a young man fused with robotics (Cyborg). And, he hatches a plan to resurrect the ultimate man of power, Superman (who got buried in Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice).
They manage to keep your interest as this recruiting unfolds (each one's diverse personality coming with its own set of issues, inner conflicts and humour), paralleled with Steppenwolf and his moth-like alien freaks' destructive action scenes getting closer and closer to his goal of total annihilation. It will take their all to destroy him.

Now, as you should know, the suspension of disbelief is at the core from the get-go with these movies, as debating the physics, reality and likelihood of certain events while talking about flying people, speaks for itself(!) So, that said, I feel the recent spate of movies have incorporated too many CGI villains, characters and environments which makes it feel (and very often look) like a video game link scene. Sadly this is also the case with Steppenwolf, as I found it difficult to see this as a real tangible being as opposed to a digital construct (just like Avengers: Infinity War's Thanos).

Fanatics will be able to point out any flaws and contradictions, but also how craftily the various old-school comics and more adult graphic novels of these characters, their arcs, chronology and secondary elements were considered in the screenplay (staying true to the characters and legacy very dear to them) - while the rest of us merely don't want to be bored or scammed by a lot of visual and audio noise…

These franchises have garnered such huge fan bases that nothing I say will convince them otherwise (in fact, some can get very emotional in their defense of this integral part of their lives). That is also not my intention. I'd like to inform those in two minds or totally disinterested about what to expect, which boils down to mindless entertainment geared as escapism for 2 hours or so. Don't read too much into it (like many right-wingers with too much time on their hands digging to 'expose' liberal agendas and silly crap like that). Watch it and move on with your life, it's not going to lead to world war, or world peace.

Not only is this one of the longest end credit sequences you're likely to see (of about 10 minutes, most for post-production and special effects of all conceivable kinds), but the full writing credits are also a lengthy affair, with the basic story and screenplay credits of Terrio, Snyder and Whedon expanded to include the creatirs of each DC comic character featured in the film, as well as the Justice League itself and origin story elements.

We're living in a Disney universe which homogenizes the blockbuster phenomenon in that besides their already lucrative properties of over half a century, now also owning two of the world's biggest franchises, Star Wars and Marvel.
What if they also buy up DC?
While many Marvel / DC cross-pollinations have seen the light (from Affleck playing Marvel's Dare Devil as well as DC's Batman), Joss Whedon wrote and directed Marvel's The Avengers, here co-writing Justice League... The viewers and superfans will have to wrestle whether this is a conflict of interest or a line-blurring dilution between these two powerhouses.
The ultimate outcome (which should be the final nail in the superhero coffin) would be Justice League vs Avengers (and maybe throw in Suicide Squad and Thunderbolts to mix it up).

DVD Extra: Take a trip through 50 years of the Justice League, from comics to animation and movies.

4 / B
- Paul Blom

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Click below for more Batman and Superman movie reviews

Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
Dark Knight Rises

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