I’ve finally gotten around to watching Justice League on Sunday. I’m really glad that I haven’t decided to watch it in the theatre since the movie is pretty much a frustrating, garbled mess that doesn’t really do its potential… justice.
The warning signs were all there. A super-team made out of heroes we don’t really care about, since beside Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, we haven’t really gotten to know them. A storyline that rings so hard of Marvel movies (HELLO, POWERFUL CUBE AND ALIEN INVASION), that you’re one Samuel L. Jackson cameo from getting really confused, and the blandest possible villain in Steppenwolf, who despite Ciaran Hinds’ best efforts is a bland, pointless “bad because he’s bad” villain similar to what’s-his-name from Thor 2. It almost feels like Justice League’s plot is an amalgamation of the worst points of The Avengers and Thor 2, with a Zack Snyder trademark, slow-motion, great song, credit sequence to boot.
Given what happened during the filming of this movie, I feel really uncomfortable criticising his work. However, it’s really hard not to, when you see that his influence on the movie actively fights the (much more cohesive, and stronger) reshoots made by Whedon. Snyder’s work is, as always, beautiful, and in the end pointless. Like a superhero Terrance Malick, Snyder creates beautiful images that seem to lose the plot in favour of visual thrill. Whedon’s scenes are a welcome respite. The dialogue becomes snappy, the characters suddenly have a soul, a character, and a depth. Then, as soon as you feel like you’re liking the vibe of the movie, Snyder’s pathos reappears like an annoying zit that just keeps coming back.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want every movie to be a formulaic, Marvel-style movie. If Justice League wanted to go a darker route, I would’ve been all for it. I actually liked the overall tone of Batman v Superman, I just didn’t like the muddled plot, the wooden characters and all that. Justice League could’ve had a few jokes here and there, without being a happy go lucky cookie cutter Marvel movie. A better villain, and a plot actually forcing our heroes out of their respective zones of comfort would’ve gone a long way towards making an interesting competition for Marvel. Going a different way has worked for Fox with Deadpool and Logan, yet DC decided that if they can’t beat them with their ideas, they should join them. Yet, it’s hard to beat Marvel at their own game, especially with a movie as messy as this one.
Unfortunately, outside of Wonder Woman, DC’s constant shuffles in tone and ideas have hurt the franchise. I love superhero movies because they’re a formula that can be infinitely played with, deconstructed and made different. Justice League does none of that, leaving us with a movie that has come 6 years too late.
So, is the movie worth watching? It’s hard to say. Die-hard DC fans are sure to find some moments that they will love, and die-hard Joss Whedon fans will see his trademark character building all over this movie. The problem is that it’s too little, too late, and the whole doesn’t even make for an entertainingly bad movie. It’s just there. With a few cool scenes, a few fun moments and a horribly removed moustache (seriously, it’s jarring). Overall, if you have absolutely nothing better to do with 2 hours of your time, watch it. Otherwise, I’d probably skip this one and go watch Infinity War instead.