Magic Carpet Ride
Justice League (2017): 5 out of 10: With Superman dead and a new threat headed towards Earth, Batman and Wonder Woman recruit new heroes to join The Justice League.
We all know that the Justice League has five core members. Aquaman, Batman, Robin, Superman, and Wonder Woman. (Turns out Apache Chief, not a core member. I know, I know it ruins my youth.) Of course, Superman is pushing up the Kryptonite and Robin does not um exist, so we need two additional recruits and Justice League chooses Cyborg and the Flash. Not the worst choices on paper, mind you. Hawkman and Hawkgirl might be hard to put into live action, Green Lantern isn’t allowed to appear in another film till hell freezes over, and nobody remembers Black Vulcan.
Originally this was supposed to be a direct sequel to Batman vs. Superman but that film Green Lanterened all over the screen so rewrites galore happened in conjunction with the director leaving due to family tragedy and you have all the earmarks for yet another disaster in the DCU. Justice League isn’t that bad overall. Which is strange because I really think it destroyed the Justice League forever. I will attempt and fail to explain below.
I know he is dead, but therein lies the rub. Zack Snyder’s Superman was awful. He was awful in Man of Steel and he was awful in Batman vs. Superman. Others have put out extensive essays and YouTube video series explaining why Snyder’s Superman was so awful. It is practically its own cottage industry now. This isn’t nostalgia for Reeve’s Superman. Mind you, I remember Superman 3 and 4. My rose-colored glasses are not on here. Snyder’s read on the character is just wrong. He writes Superman as a creepy alien who views humans as insects, and that is a character. It is just not one called Superman.
Justice League finally realizes this and tries to change the history to make dead Superman a much nicer guy than the live one ever was. There is some truth in television here as often celebrities that were the worst people in the world are suddenly lionized in death. Michael Jackson was a creepy child molester the day before he dies and was nothing but a lost child saint the day after. That said, this is clearly a late in the game rewrite and it shows. Making Snyder’s Superman a little schizophrenic and well as his previous sociopathic tendencies.
There hasn’t been a good Superman movie since Superman II and this film doesn’t change that. One thing that has changed is people are no longer blaming actor Henry Cavill. After his delightful turn in Mission Impossible Fallout, he is fully redeemed. As long as he sports a mustache.
Ben Affleck plays Bruce Wayne/Batman as a fat alcoholic man in a bat suit going through the motions cause he really doesn’t know what else to do. It is a great characterization that deserves a much better movie. More importantly, it deserves a movie without distractions like other superheroes or even really supervillains. Certainly not CGI space villains. I say chuck it all a do a proper version of The Dark Knight Returns set in the eighties. Affleck’s Batman would be perfect for that. (Yes, I know that Batman vs Superman was basically a modern version of that, so I may be simply wrong here. He just seems like he would be great. Maybe he can get his back broken by Bane instead? I am spitballing here). Affleck’s Batman just seems the wrong kind of Batman to be putting together a Justice League. Nice bat suit though (His business suits also are spot on.)
If there was ever a woman that needed to upgrade the men she hung out with, Wonder Woman is her. Gal Gadot is very good. She belongs with a better class of hero. Perhaps The Tick or Booster Gold.
I mean, this guy is a joke. C’mon. His scenes in Aqualand or whatever in this movie are four guys and Amber Heard in a fish tank. Seriously, this is the next movie from DC. This ridiculous of such a movie was a plot point for an entire season of Entourage. I doubt they will ever make an Aquaman stand-alone film, let alone release it. Oh, it already came out? It is the highest grossing DC film of all time with over a billion dollars of box office? I like Jason Momoa and you can really see in this film he is a breakout star.
I learn so much from writing these reviews. Did you know Black Vulcan was a scab? It’s true. The actual African American electricity based superhero Black Lightning could not appear on Super Friends due to a contract dispute, so Black Vulcan was hired as his non-union replacement (I am really not making any of this up). In the realm of African American superheroes, the DC universe does not have that deep a bench. Plus, the kids love Cyborg due to his membership in the Teen Titans. Too bad he is so bloody dull in Justice League. Of course, there are worse things to be than dull, which brings us to…
Hey kids, let’s hire an annoying millennial stereotype (Ezra Miller) to play an annoying millennial stereotype. That could not possibly ever get old. Good news Gleek, you are no longer the most annoying member of the Super Friends.
Many people blamed latecomer Joss Whedon, but The Flash’s character was established long before he took the helm. I have a feeling this is a disaster by committee job. The idea of a standalone film with this character is downright exhausting.
While Flash may be the most irritating Justice League character, he isn’t even the worst character in this film. That would be our CGI baddie Steppenwolf. Why do you need CGI for a tall guy with horns? I do not know. Does he have an army of non-descript CGI mooks? You betcha, Is he seeking some glowing things hidden on earth so he can take over the universe? Darn tootin. Steppenwolf is after the three Mother Boxes. (Not Martha Boxes, which would actually be kind of funny). The Mother Boxes are hidden on Lesbian Island, Aqualand and at Cyborg’s dad’s house. Hidden may be the wrong term to use here, now I think about it.
Is Steppenwolf the worst Superhero villain ever to appear on the screen? No. He is the third worst villain to appear on screen tied with that CGI Masters of the Universe reject at the end of Suicide Squad. The second worst villain is Nuclear Man a Bizarro World vampire Superman Luthor creates in Superman IV who could be defeated by evening or perhaps a heavy cloud cover and the worst is the villain from Thor: The Dark World whose greatest ability is that no one can remember who he was even if they had just seen the film. (Magic Dark Elf I want to say.)
Steppenwolf is a non-event. Yes, I read his Wikipedia page and apparently he is a New God created by Jack Kirby and is Darkseid’s uncle, but none of that makes the screen. He isn’t scary; he isn’t funny, and he doesn’t have a decent theme song. I mean, at least have Born to be Wild or Magic Carpet Ride play when he attacks.
Bill Maher attacked geekdom in general when Stan Lee died. It was tasteless and inflammatory, but he had a point or two. I can’t help think that walking through his HBO offices every morning he saw Steppenwolf grabbing the glowing Mother Boxes on the monitors there and it painted his world view. He blamed Stan Lee, but once again, it was Jack Kirby that deserved the blame.