By Dae Thomas
As a former DC Extended Universe enthusiast, there’s a lot to “unbox” from the DC juggernaut superhero team-up movie.
And, as many were expecting, (even the Warner Bros. execs themselves it seems) it’s a very mixed bag, or box I suppose since that was my first pretentious inanimate object analogy.
The film headlines a robust, if not slightly crowded cast of old pros mixed with charismatic up-and-comers: Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Ezra Miller as The Flash, Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, Amy Adams as Diane Lane, JK Simmons as Commissioner Gordon, and Ciaran Hinds as Steppenwolf. What a mouthful. Phew.
The film was (and you can tell) directed for three quarters of the production process by the bulky-goggles obsessed Zack Snyder, and then handed over to Joss Whedon after Snyder stepped away from the film due to the death of his daughter.
What unfortunately resulted was further bastardization. Remember that misogynistic Whedon “Wonder Woman” script that leaked and we all breathed a sigh of relief because it was never made?
It would seem he got his hands on her legacy after all, and what results ultimately feels like I’m watching a female co-worker get sexually harassed on a regular basis at work. Each male member of the league expresses implicit or explicit sexual attraction to Diana.
Whedon dressed her and portrayed her like a beefed-up Black Widow-type. It’s rather unflattering and in poor taste, especially after this years “Wonder Woman” made such headway in terms of portraying women admirably in film.
Think I’m being overly sensitive? Whedon literally inserted a bit where The Flash briefly lands face-down in Diana’s breasts. Don’t even get me started on the Amazons’ costume design.
I can only assume Whedon being brought on was the WB executives attempt to soften and inject some fun and color into their limping franchise after the intense critical whiplash brought on by 2016’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” It was a risk that did not pay off.
This brings me to my next point: This movie was a sort of last-ditch attempt at capturing the mainstream and critical crowd as “Wonder Woman” had done, but it falls so short.
It was nice to live in the “Wonder Woman” era of good Rotten Tomatoes scores for superhero DC films. The reason “Wonder Woman” succeeded was because it was meticulously and lovingly crafted, with respect for her origins.
“Justice League” doesn’t even come close. The movie runtime itself is less than two hours which is an egregious sin. A film that’s about some of the biggest names not only in DC, but in comic book lore as a whole needs more time for character development.
I can’t help but wonder if a soft reboot for the franchise is the way to go at this point. The future is somewhat uncertain as we wait for the undoubted announcements that Warner Bros. will make after “Justice League” has been at play in the box office long enough.
Future slated films include “Aquaman” and a currently untitled “Wonder Woman” sequel, both of which will be helmed by James Wan and Patty Jenkins. Both directors who’ve proven to be no slouches when it comes to meaningful storytelling and box office success.
They are they only creative forces at play that I feel like won’t sink this already hurting extended universe (evidenced by the lukewarm $96 million opening weekend). In Jenkins and Wan we trust.