I desperately wanted to like Justice League. While the Marvel Universe films are undoubtedly fun and campy, if a tad formulaic, I much prefer the villains and superheroes in the DC Universe. Every protagonist has a dark side and the antagonists are normally stacked with layers, making them more interesting than your typical good vs evil plot trope.
Batman V Superman was a disaster, even if some of the criticisms were unwarranted, and Suicide Squad plunged the DC Universe into unfathomable depths after forcefully being edited due to the reviews that were coming out for Batman V Superman. All seemed lost for Batman and friends until Wonder Woman, helmed by the remarkable Gal Gadot, dragged the franchise out of the mud and onto solid ground. The stage was set for Justice League to finally soar.
And in a way, it did. But not with a lot of false starts, misplaced landings and a general sense that the film could have been a lot more than it was. It was frustrating to watch. There were so many scenes with promise – shots of Bruce Wayne displaying his physical vulnerabilities, of The Flash wondering whether he was capable of being a hero when all he’s ever done was use his powers for mischief, of Aquaman’s reticence to become the God he’s supposed to be due to a difficult past.
Then, it all got washed over by ham-fisted jokes, and choppy editing, like a roller-coaster ride built by a 10-year-old engineer. It careens from one corner to the next without any regard for character development, pacing and plot concerns. The film is also patchy, and it’s probably because Whedon took over directorial duties from Snyder halfway through the shoot. A keen-eyed viewer can spot the parts where Whedon was in charge and the bits where Snyder was behind the camera. Hint: it’s all in the slow-mo shots and colour treatment.
If you briefly look at the films under the DC Universe banner, it becomes quite apparent the reasons behind the many false starts that all of the films suffer. The only bright spot – Wonder Woman – was not directed by Snyder whereas the rest were. Sure, I understand that he’s a comic book geek but that doesn’t mean he can make a good superhero film. I love rap and hip hop but I can’t spit a verse for the life of me.
Perhaps it’s time to reconsider moving away from Snyder for future DC films, for the sake of the franchise. There is a good film in Justice League. Unfortunately, it’s buried beneath so many Snyder-isms that it struggles to emerge. And that’s a shame.
Justice League is showing in cinemas islandwide