All original written content is (c) 2017 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed art is ©2012 and a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: Though they debuted first in the comics, DC’s JUSTICE LEAGUE finally shows up five years after Marvel’s AVENGERS! Batman (Ben “Daredevil” Affleck) rounds up Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason “Conan The Barbarian” Mamoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to prevent Stepenwolf (the villain, not the band) from ending the world that’s without Superman (Henry Cavill). And bring some more momentum to DC’s film franchise recently ignited by WONDER WOMAN.
Screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon. Directed by Zack (BATMAN v SUPERMAN; DAWN OF JUSTICE) Snyder.
(Characters: Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Batman created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, Aquaman created by Paul Norris, Flash (Barry Allen) created by Julie Schwartz, John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Justice Leage of America created by Gardner Fox.)
- Casting standouts: Wonder Woman and Aquaman steal the show; Gadot is the same “badass babe” from her flick and Jason Mamoa is an underwater mix of Conan and Wolverine. For the first time I was glad the filmmakers ditched the comics outfit; full-body tatts and armor with long hair and a beard are way better than the original orange scaled top and green tights. J.K. Simmons, J. Jonah Jameson in the Raimi SPIDER-MAN films, crosses companies and makes a good Commissioner Gordon here (with fake hair of course).
- Cyborg was decent (troubled, emotional depth) and The Flash was the comic relief who got most of the funny lines.
- Some of the effects were really well done, especially Aquaman’s powers and environment; Batman’s tech was cool as usual. The “bat-creatures” employed by Steppenwolf were the best overall.
- Some good battle scenes. The choreography of not just the stunts but the way the heroes worked together to each one’s strength. Definitely some true “team” effort, rather than just each one taking separate shots like in other group films.
- Pleasant surprise with scenes on Paradise Island, complete with a big battle. They could easily hold a film or TV maxi series alone.
- (FROM MIKE: Nice to see Kirby’s Fourth World worked into the plot! Mention of “old gods,” New Gods, even one of the big baddies mentioned, though no appearance.)
- Shots of Gal Gadot’s buns in leather pants, and a “squish-em” bra showing some cleavage!
- An old “frenemy” of Batman’s shows up and helps out. Motivation/background for Cyborg and Flash fleshed out to give more depth.
- A definite ending with plenty of room for a sequel.
- Marvel-type credits bonus scenes! A button after the main crawl and then at the very end.
- (FROM MIKE: Though the order is goofy (see “cons”), it’s nice to finally not only see credits for most of the characters’ creators but also some “special thanks” for other creators’ contributions.)
- Casting falldowns: Affleck is a better Batman than Bruce Wayne; no more the tortured soul from BvS, he’s more unemotional and underplayed; his eyes are mostly expressionless as Bruce. Ezra Miller is a decent actor but turning The Flash into a combo of Sheldon Cooper (BIG BANG THEORY) and Felicity Smoak (ARROW) with no battle experience or gumption was a bad idea. He’s very jokey/gosh-wow, which is funny in its own right, but just seems out of place with everyone else. (Especially after Grant Gustin has him nailed on the TV version.)
- Cavill’s Superman (shown to remind you he died at the end of BvS) still comes off as way more alien than superhero. He fluctuates between a god, friend of the people and psycho at the flip of a switch, which is nothing like any Superman I remember.
- Suspension Of Disbelief Dept.: mostly minor stuff, but the main gripe is that we never know the extent of anyone’s powers. Sometimes WW gets knocked around like non-super Batman, other times she’s almost as strong as Supes; similar issues with Aquaman and Steppenwolf. The way Aquaman talks to Atlanteans is really clever and cool, but incredibly impractical; telepathy or sign language would’ve made more sense. And if you’re going to have a race, both participants should be running!
- Like Snyder’s 300, MAN OF STEEL and BvS, this one is dark, both visually and thematically.
- (FROM MIKE: Superman’s creators credited in the opening credits (due to DC’s losing part of a lawsuit) while others were credited at the end. All it said at the beginning was, “Based on characters from DC.” No credit at all for Wonder Woman’s co-creator Harry G. Peter. Creators for Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash just listed in the “thanks” section.)
- The ugly uniforms: Wonder Woman stands out like a naked thumb because hers is the only one showing any skin other than her face; everyone else has armor or armor-like outfits (Cyborg is all metal anyway, which is the only one that makes sense). Even The Flash has armor, and some goofy football-shaped helmet that looks dumb in profile (especially since the eye holes protrude over his eyebrows like a Neanderthal). When Aquaman swims, he’s shirtless and looks badass with the tattoos, but on land he’s armored up for no reason. Batman’s “ears” are so tiny they’re cute. And WW’s model-thin arms and legs stick out like, well, sticks!
- Plot gets kind of convoluted and confusing at times. The film keeps coming back to some Russian family holed up in their house and I didn’t know why until about two-thirds of the way through.
- The main villain is completely CG and looks it. The filmmakers felt they had to do a technique for Flash’s super-speed that was different than the TV show and Quicksilver’s from the X-MEN movies, but in this case, “different” didn’t mean “good.”
- And why is your major villain/nemesis named after a freakin’ rock ‘n’ roll band? Yeah, I know “Steppenwolf” is part of legend and all that, but every time he showed up, I expected to hear “Born To Be Wild.” (I just heard it on the radio yesterday, so it’s not like a forgotten connection for old folks either.) Totally “untoothed” the character for me. I know it’s Kirby’s name but this ain’t 1971. Pick something more menacing!
- The ending narration, meant to be inspiring and touching, just came off as corny and over-handed.
On the good side, JUSTICE LEAGUE doesn’t suck. Better than expected but not as good as hoped. Maybe I’m biased from just seeing THOR: RAGNAROK for the second time, but Marvel Studios movies are just a much better time. Kind of like the difference between say, Superhero City at Universal Studios and Frontierland at Disneyworld. Marvel is just more memorable, fun and funny. But JUSTICE LEAGUE is still good enough to be worth seeing, if only to judge for yourself. Meanwhile, I’m only looking forward to the next Wonder Woman flick; and Aquaman’s first (in December 2018).
P.S.: After turkey, how about some art? DC or Marvel characters cooked your way. Get your commission request in soon for a nice pencil piece, a sketch card or inked art for your favorite person (or yourself). Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are not those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, old gods, New Gods, rock bands, rock creatures, Amazons, Amazon.com, or the Wonder Twins. Bru would join the Avengers before the JLA, but would be happy being Wonder Woman’s chambermaid!