Justice League reshoots

The Doom and Gloom Is Gone: Enter Wonder Woman and Whedon

So now we have arrived at 2017, the year the DCEU has finally started to redeem itself with more hopeful, humanistic depictions of heroes — heroes who are actual heroes, not anti-heroes. Wonder Woman was superb, yet it was also an anomaly: a standalone film set in World War I times. I was beginning to think we would never get a good movie based on a DC Comics superhero who was not Superman or Batman, but in a year beset by the downfall of numerous high-profile men in Hollywood and the film blogging community, director Patty Jenkins gave the world an empowering female icon. There is nothing to do other than to heap effusive praise on Gal Gadot, who continues to shine as Diana Prince.

A lot of people still regard Wonder Woman as a fluke. I was prepared to do that as I sat down to watch Justice League. In the theater, however, I found myself relaxing into the movie, easing into its self-aware humor. Joss Whedon, who rewrote and reshot large portions of Justice League after Snyder left the project due to a family tragedy, brings such an infusion of whimsy to the script that, as it continues to do damage control on the DCEU, you cannot fault Warner Bros. for finally throwing up its hands and saying, “Screw it. Let’s just get the guy that did Avengers.” Judged as a comic book come to life, the Whedon/Snyder stylistic mash-up of Justice League is actually great giddy fun and an above-average genre flick full of fist-pumping moments and Easter eggs that fans could have only dreamed of back in the 1990s.

Flash and Superman racing and competing to save lives in funny ways. Aquaman making candid confessions, only to realize that Wonder Woman has the lasso of truth wrapped around his leg. A post-credits scene with Deathstroke! The sheer brain-melting astonishment of seeing Superman dug up and brought back to life in a sequence that plays like the very best of Frankensteinian fan fiction. Danny Elfman making callbacks to his classic Batman theme and John Williams’ Superman theme, bringing the full weight of each character’s cinematic history to bear on this super-sequel. Green Lanterns showing up in the Lord-of-the-Rings-esque backstory, teasing the future resuscitation of the Corps in 2020.

10 or 15 years ago, we all might have been geeking out unabashedly over Justice League. Am I the only one who was able to extract a huge thrill from the confrontation between Superman and the League on the steps of the memorial?

justice league featurette

Do We Take Comic Book Movies For Granted?

Maybe our standards have just gotten so high that we all take comic book movies for granted now. With the exception of Spider-Man 2, I honestly think you could put Justice League side-by-side with virtually any comic book movie pre-2005 and it would come out looking perfectly fine. If that sounds like a rickety defense, all I can say is that I still have a vivid recollection of the day way, way back in the year 2000 when my friends and I came back out into the parking lot after seeing Bryan Singer’s X-Men at our local 8-screen. My friends, who were not loyal comic book readers, liked the movie. I left feeling deflated by the bad costume aesthetic and mindless supporting villains (and yes, I am aware people might level the same accusations against Justice League). Sabretooth, we hardly knew you…

/Film’s own Chris Evangelista is correct: Justice League finally gets Superman right, resurrecting him and restoring a sense of hope to the character as it strikes a new note of optimism for his film frenemy Batman, as well. One can only hope that Henry Cavill will stick with Superman, through thick and thin, the same way Hugh Jackman stuck with Wolverine for a number of his less than stellar outings. It took us 17 years to get there, but the very best Wolverine movie was the last one, Logan. Here’s looking forward to Superman in 2030.

Michael Keaton was great as Batman; Christian Bale was great as Bruce Wayne; Ben Affleck continues to cut a fine figure as both Batman and Bruce Wayne. In this movie, his newly reformed, less murderous version of the character arguably offers the most complete, comics-accurate package of a Batman on-screen to date — save perhaps for Kevin Conroy’s version in Batman: The Animated Series. It is nice to see a more well-adjusted Batman who is not so angst-ridden but instead comes close to the “Zen warrior” of Morrison’s JLA run.

Justice League is a movie that is not ignorant of its own shortcomings. In places, it winks at the inherent goofiness of certain plot elements, with Affleck’s deadpan delivery of some of his save-the-world lines alleviating tension and giving the film a lightness of manner that keeps it rushing along for two quick hours like its own de-aged Scarlet Speedster. Speaking of whom, while Flash’s costume is a clunky eyesore, Ezra Miller nonetheless manages to endear himself as a kid whose mouth can barely keep up with his hyper brain.

I was equally surprised by Cyborg, whose metallic look is also just a little too busy terms in design. Based on what I heard, I had expected his character to be a non-entity in Justice League. But with his heart glowing red in his hoodie, Ray Fisher acquits himself as an invaluable team member. I don’t know how confident I am that he or Jason Momoa’s Aquaman can carry their own solo features, but as supporting characters, they work just fine.

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