Justice League film is not the ideal assembling of the greatest superheroes team for scores of reasons. Because the continuity of the universe is faltered from here and makes you feel if the other powerful substance stole the power from the God of this DC cinematic universe and in the process, claims to be God. When the universe is in the process of perpetuation, make your mind how to maintain and execute the project. The planning of the infrastructure of the universe should be done even before the beginning of this all Project: DCU.
In short: “If the God is making silly mistakes, do not blame the universe.“
ONE LITRE OF WATER IN A GLASS?!?!
Superman is dead. Steppenwolf, Darkseid‘s uncle, has threatened the world to destroy the earth by stealing the three Mother Boxes he once stole and then lost in a prodigious battle to a unified army of the Amazons, Atlanteans, Olympian Gods, and Green Lantern Corps (I also have doubt that Thanagarians were involved too). With all the Mother Boxes with Steppenwolf, Batman creates a team of metahumans to honour Superman and fight against Steppenwolf and his military of Parademons.
This all sounds a pretty impressive plotline on paper but this all doesn’t fit in a universe whose existence is in a premature state. This is like some kind of sports shaping into the invention and is further announced for a global competition and in a few days, a team is created from nowhere to participate and win the jackpot. Yes, that last sentence didn’t make any sense. And that is my explanation about the fate of this DC Universe.
The audience knows nothing about these metahumans, Barry Allen aka The Flash, Arthur Curry aka Aquaman, and Victor Stone aka Cyborg, nor do they touch their origins. They are just contacted by the team leader and asked for help! Their becoming superheroes are just concerned in the dialogues which are not enough. And with the space of hardly two hours of the screen time, the film is a source of confusion and running a 100-metre sprint race without firing a starter pistol, just like Suicide Squad.
JL film creates a colossal issue of hows and whys of the universe. Many questions are to be raised by the audience especially the one who has never known this superhero team but wants to know. Why is Barry’s father in prison? How did Victor die before he became Cyborg? What’s this conversation of Mera and Arthur about? All the answers to these questions are in the dialogues which are not enough. You cannot explain and present the entire hows and whys in mere two hours. And with shortening or cutting the screen time of the film by almost 50 minutes, the filmmakers ask you to stop thinking that much and focus on the what-the-hell continuity.
MAN OF STEEL RETURNS
Now Superman’s return. From the release of Batman v Superman to Justice League, a lot of opinions and theories were established. Many questions were raised. Should Superman return? If so, then how? Why? Exactly when? Of course, the creation of a superhero team without him is impractical. The return was certain but to wait how long? 21 months? He died in one film and returns in the next. It all happened in haste but why so hurried? What train are the executives missing?
Superman’s return as many stated one of the best scenes, didn’t impress me, to be honest. First of all, the idea of his return itself is not so spectacular. Using the Mother Box to resurrect his body is not a wow! to me. This is not an ideal return. Imagine where does this resurrection nonsense stand in front of the comics storyline in the making of his return after his death while fighting Doomsday, nowhere!
Once he returns from the dead. He is confused and not at all alright. Fights his soon-to-be friends and before it is too late, enter Lois Lane to melt his anger and he flew with her to Smallville like what the actual f***! This scene is even worse and illogical than Martha one.
Yes, Superman not included in the marketing campaign was a wise idea as it produced a spectacular wait for the release of the film and watch the grand revelation of his magnificent return but his return was nonsensical. And what about Bruce’s Knightmare sequence in BvS? What was that all about if Clark had to return this way? Barry eventually was right that Lois is the key and she is the one who brought Clark back to his consciousness but I am not convinced that this was the motive behind the Knightmare sequence. Will this confusion be cleared in the Flashpoint film? Because I am not understanding when did Barry go and warn Bruce?
If Superman is returning, so is Clark. Superman’s return may be understood by the world but what about Clark? How is he back? Why are people in the surroundings not surprised? Hopefully, these questions may be responded in the sequel of Man Of Steel.
ISSUES AND TISSUES
Barry, in his own words, is afraid of guns and murder, and obnoxiously tall people. And he has never done battle. Victor, on the other hand, is new to the language on his head which he doesn’t understand and fresh of becoming some robot who is not aware of his powers which he is getting every morning. A shaky beginning of such metahumans who are put into a team to fight against the global threat. They haven’t proved their worth in their cities, Cyborg is hiding after his father’s experiment on his son’s dead body while Barry hasn’t even joined CCPD, but they are recruited to save the world from Steppenwolf.
CGI of Steppenwolf is very different and looks less-threatened to a Steppenwolf the filmmakers showed in a cameo in BvS. I have no idea how and why his face is so changed in a time period of two films but is easily the worst supervillain offered by the DCU so far. Even Doomsday or Zod looked more threatening than him. With the return of Superman, Steppenwolf is so easily defeated that gives a furthermore wrong impression about his threat. This was the same monster who with his army was fighting against a unified team in the beginning. How on earth is the normal mind to accept the fact that this killing beast Steppenwolf who was stopped with the collective efforts of the ancient Gods, Amazonians, Atlanteans, and Lanterns was manhandled by Superman alone? For Superman, he was such a piece of cake that he smashed him, then he went to save the civilians, raced with Barry, returned back and asked his teammates if he was still bothering them and resumed the beatings like if Steppenwolf was ever bullied by Superman back in the college before! This was so so wrong! Who was writing this part? Joss, was that you?
Aquaman’s first appearance in the film is so ordinary. His first appearance could easily have been where he saves a man in the boat. His character in the film is very underdeveloped. It is just a Jason Momoa show, not Aquaman. Although I liked the father-son conversation between the Stones but overall Cyborg was average. The excellence of Wonder Woman continues from where she left in the previous instalment and in fact, she further impresses with her leadership qualities. Her relation with Bruce was one of the positive points of the film. Barry Allen is funny and his character is lighter than the one in the Arrowverse. Superman doesn’t have enough lines but I think his character has been more lighted than the previous two appearances. I am convinced with this decision. A slight change in his personality after the resurrection helps the environment of the DC films proceed in the same mode.
I don’t know who was editing this film but it was a very unattractive start to the film with a camera recording Superman in one of the worst possible CGIs in an attempt of hiding his moustache. With such an enormous amount of money invested in this project, how possibly could CGI go that wrong? I wonder what made the makers think about keeping Superman clean shaved. In the comics, he did grow the beard. Speaking of the opening, in my opinion, the film could have its super blockbuster opening if they had shown that Steppenwolf’s ancient war against the unified army as the opener. Imagine the film opening with Steppenwolf stealing the Mother Boxes and with his army of Parademons about to invade the earth and suddenly steps a unified army to stop the threat. A perfect 10-minute starter making the audience understand the significance of the Mother Boxes and also explaining why exactly a League of Justice must be established. And by the way, this fight sequence is the only time in the whole film which made me convince to be directed by Zack Snyder. One of the best scenes of the film sadly was hardly a minute of screen time.
JL film is lighter in tone. Yes, a lot of humour is added but few were unnecessary like Aquaman sitting on Lasso of Truth, The Flash’s That’s Rude scene, and Cyborg and The Flash digging Superman’s grave, yes they were digging. I mean there could have been many ways to bring out Superman’s dead body. If this was some comic reference or homage then pardon me.
The fighting sequences are impressive. I liked the teamwork the way the heroes are helping each other like The Flash helping WW pick her Sword of Athena or Superman and The Flash dividing their work in saving the civilians or Aquaman reaching at the nick of time and saving his new friends by lowering the water pressure through his Trident of Neptune in the tunnel of the Gotham Harbor (The Ten Commandments tribute, anyone?).
COMICS EASTER EGGS & REFERENCES
Like all the DCU films, JL also has honoured some notable comic book references and dropped some easter eggs. The one obvious is the race between The Flash and Superman which happened twice in the film. This comic tradition of the race between the two speedsters has been presented many times in different mediums but this all began in the 199th issue of Superman back in 1967. The idea was devised by the writer of this issue, Jim Shooter, and penciler, Curt Swan. At that time, Jim Shooter was only 16 years old.
Parademons are exactly the same from the comics. Crispus Allen appears for a scene with Commissioner Gordon discussing the drawing of the Parademon. Who knows if Crispus becomes the Spectre in the future just like in comics. As I mentioned before that Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle but this fact should not be confused if he is found later in the films that he isn’t his uncle because, in The New 52 version, he is just the general. This DCEU has been more based on The New 52 as you may notice the lineup of JL is exactly the same as New 52 comics. Cyborg replaced Martian Manhunter from the original work.
Bruce plans a headquarter for the JL which has to be the Hall Of Justice for sure. And further on, Diana adds the line “With room for more”, giving an obvious hint to have more superheroes in future to join the league. After winning the fight against Steppenwolf, Cyborg utters the word ‘Booyah’ which is not a comic reference but one of the most popular catchphrases Cyborg introduced in the Teen Titans cartoon. Barry’s Pet Sematary joke comes from Stephen King‘s novel and film with the same title.
A very important comics discovery was the Green Lantern fighting in that ancient war against Steppenwolf. That GL was none other than Yalan Gur. Check the comparisons in the pictures below. I screenshot the film sequence where, by few microseconds, the face is the clearest.
In comics, Yalan Gur abused his power and turned corrupt due to the fact his ring was then passed to Alan Scott who was the first character to bear the name, Green Lantern. Yalan Gur is killed by Steppenwolf in the sequence and so the ring leaves the finger and flies somewhere. Has the ring now passed to Alan Scott? Is Alan Scott the Green Lantern we are waiting for in the future films?
In the first meeting, when Bruce asks Barry about his powers, Barry in response is pretending and answers that he is skilled in learning sign language and gorilla language. That has to be quite obvious that Gorilla Grodd exists in the universe.
Batman standing on a skeletal gargoyle before meeting Commissioner Gordon is the tribute to the cover of the 682nd issue of Detective Comics. Cyborg’s body reconstruction with the help of Mother Box is from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee‘s Justice League: Origin. On this book, the animated film, Justice League: War was produced. Bruce riding a horse in quest of Arthur looks like one of the homages of Frank Miller‘s The Dark Knight Returns which Zack perhaps missed in BvS. Arthur sitting on Lasso of Truth may be another homage to the comics incident when Hal Jordan accidentally touched Lasso of Truth and spoke his soul out.
DCEU films have been blessed with the impressive musical scores from Man of Steel to Wonder Woman. Even before this universe, Hans Zimmer gifted our ears the unforgettable work on The Dark Knight Trilogy. But this time, even the music department looked compromised. Danny Elfman‘s score was flat and very ordinary. It was supposed to be Junkie XL but was later decided to replace him with Danny. Yes, Danny is the one who produced the iconic Batman theme which was also used in Batman: The Animated Series but that doesn’t guarantee his producing another top-notch. Instead, he reused the famous themes of Batman and Superman, the result? Average response. Listen to his score straight after the credits when the burglars are about to rob the bank and you will realize how ugly his score sounded. Also, many of his scores will remind you of his work on Hulk. Removing Junkie from the project was a bad bad bad decision. No situation in the film gives you the feeling from the background score. The genuine score builds the mood of the audience and sets a proper tone. Take an example of the No Man’s Land Scene when Wonder Woman raises and presents herself to the world as the answer for the victory and confronts all the shots and bullets. This is what I am talking about. The score in that scene melts you and that is what I wanted in JL like all the previous DCEU films, some quality.
JUSTICE LEAGUE NEEDS JUSTICE
JL film is as expected a very early breakthrough which should have happened after the audience gets the awareness of the superheroes, their worlds, their origins and hows/whys of becoming a superhero. After all this, then the God of this universe should have dropped the bomb over their heads by bringing a monster, a threat, a disease, against whom they collectively fight together for a better cause.
If the box office collections are low and the response of the audience is negative, Warner Bros. is to be blamed. They should not involve themselves in the director’s vision and creativity nor should they decide what to cut from the film. After director Zack Snyder’s departure due to the family tragedy (strong rumours are that he was fired), WB hired Joss Whedon which was a massive blunder. Many scenes were reshot and further added $50m to the extraordinary budget of $250m. Then the Warner Bros. CEO, Kevin Tsujihara, cut the screen time to 1hr59m which is extremely short for a superhero film like JL which needed a heavy detailing about the heroes and their worlds.
Many important scenes are rumoured and reported to be cut from the theatrical release. Barry’s love interest Iris West and Arthur’s advisor Nuidis Vulko are not featuring in the film. Two of the Lanterns, Kilowog and Tomar-Re, were to meet Batman in his Batcave in one scene but that was scrapped. Film’s principal photographer has confirmed Superman wearing his iconic black suit which never happened. Some sources are claiming that Darkseid was to appear in the film which never happened. Plus, few scenes which were observed in the trailer never featured in the film which is quite strange. Most significantly the one in which someone showed up to Alfred in the trailer became a mystery to the viewers and began finding the answer who that superhero can be by zooming Alfred’s glasses and observing the colour. To that level of madness among the die-hard fans, the producers chose to scrap this scene, wow! Now that scene has been added as the deleted scene in the digital release. All the above-mentioned scenes would have helped the audience leaving the room with comfort.
WARNER BROS! DO YOUR HOMEWORK!
I have never understood this philosophy or ideology of cutting the screen length in the theatrical release. Warner Bros. decided to cut almost half an hour of BvS in the theatrical release and paid the price of making the film confused and misunderstood full of plotholes to the viewers. From here, I actually thought Warner Bros. will learn from their mistakes because later on, they hit their peak through Wonder Woman. But for JL they cut no less than 50 minutes which is an extraordinary length. The audience can watch a film with a running time more than three hours IF the film makes you understand things what the director wanted to. Just in case if you had not watched the ultimate edition of BvS, you would never know that how come Superman couldn’t detect the bomb in the court or Steppenwolf and Luthor did meet each other. Warner Bros. has to get rid of making the horrible decisions before the viewers begin taking less interest in their films.
Warner Bros. has to slow them down and stop competing against the Walt Disney Studio to match the standards where their Marvel Cinematic Universe today is. This is not how you assemble the team and expect praise from the audience. Stop being in haste and focus on making people understand your universe.
The reason why Wonder Woman worked both on the box office and praised by the critics and the audience was that Wonder Woman was produced to make the audience understand the superhero, realize why she exists, and why the world needs this woman. Same goes for the other metahumans. Instead of implementing a JL project, the God of this universe should have focused on introducing the metahumans in their own solo or origin films so that the audience would be convinced and understood their involvement to their world.
MCU’s approach was the perfect one, they had the right plan in both cinema and TV on assembling their heroes in a convincing way. But I guess Warner Bros. decided to innovate a different structure of explanation and presentation so that they can separate the ideology from the Walt Disney Studio. But how long can they keep them away from the MCU philosophy? Two of the DCU films did follow the trend of surprising the audience with the post or end credits, JL and Suicide Squad.
Status of Zack Snyder in this universe is now confusing. Is he really fired? Because according to IMDb, he is the announced producer of future DCEU projects. But in any case, losing him as a director is a major setback. In addition, Warner Bros. is adding way too many films on so many characters in the universe and most specifically from Gotham city which I find unnecessary. Instead of rushing with so many projects like films on Nightwing, Batgirl, Black Adam, Gotham City Sirens, Lobo, Harley Quinn, JL Dark and God knows what else, better they stabilize the DCEU structure and reconsider what and how exactly they want from this universe and how to continue it with improvements.
For the sake of DCU’s prosperity, increasing a universal fan-following, overwhelming responses from the critics, and boosting the commercial sales through the marketing campaign and merchandising, WB have to take immediate and effective steps before the universe collapses and becomes a laughing stock. Things have still not gone that down financially. Their each DCEU film has worldwide grossed at least $650m despite the negative reviews which is absolutely not bad at all. From DCEU, Warner Bros. has earned $3.7b from only 5 films which shows the worldwide fan-following of DC Comics are excited and not giving up at all! I am hoping for a decent turnaround and may they learn from their mistakes and make the fruitful but not dreadful decisions.