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The UnPopular Opinion: Justice League

03.08.2018

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

As much as I love superhero movies and comic book adaptations, I am not an apologist. I truly enjoy the offerings of Marvel Studios even if I am critical of films like THE AVENGERS as being vastly overrated. I liked BLACK PANTHER quite a bit but I disagree with the level of acclaim it is receiving. But, even stating that these movies have issues and do not deserve the laurels bestowed upon them, I still go see each new movie released and do not regret anything the MCU has done thus far. On the other side of the equation, I have been a faithful watched of each of the DCEU movies released by Warner Bros and have found myself liking each one of them. I wrote columns supporting MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN while criticizing the overrated WONDER WOMAN much in the same ways I mentioned BLACK PANTHER is overrated. But, despite my personal opinions of a film's worth, I have not yet felt that these movies failed to entertain me. That includes last year's JUSTICE LEAGUE which, despite clear studio interference, is still a really fun romp that brings together iconic characters on one screen for the first time in live action.

From early on in production, fans were skeptical of JUSTICE LEAGUE. Forcing a team film before introducing the team flew in the face of Marvel's tried and true formula and no one was having it. The public had spoken and denounced the dark and brooding BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE and the massive support for WONDER WOMAN left everyone perplexed as to which way JUSTICE LEAGUE would go. Zack Snyder dropped out, Joss Whedon stepped up, and everyone was scratching their heads. Now, not even six months later, people are preparing to pick up their Blu-rays and DVDs of the film, begrudgingly adding it to their collections. But, there is no reason not to enjoy the film. I saw it twice in theaters and both times found myself smiling and enjoying the fast-paced roller coaster ride. How could I look past the horrendous CGI on Henry Cavill's face, you ask? Or deal with the plot holes large enough to drive a batmobile through? Or get over the paper thin villain? Or accept the complete disregard for the future Flash plot device from BATMAN V SUPERMAN? I have one answer to all those questions: it is a fucking comic book movie!

The UnPopular Opinion, Justice League, DC Comics, Warner Bros, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder

It seems that we live in an age where a movie about a robot, a fast teenager, a vigilante dressed as a flying rodent, an immortal goddess, and an invulnerable alien has to adhere to certain standards of realism. For decades, Marvel and DC Comics have made the batshit and crazy decisions surrounding their characters on the written page, so why is it unacceptable for the big screen to do the same thing? One of the aspects I respected in Zack Snyder's entries in the DCEU was the unabashed darkness of the stories. Complain all you want about the lack of humor or levity in MAN OF STEEL or BATMAN V SUPERMAN, but Snyder imbued both movies with a clear tone and direction. At the same time, I respect both David Ayer and Patty Jenkins for sticking with that palette in SUICIDE SQUAD and WONDER WOMAN while still managing to tell their own tales. With JUSTICE LEAGUE, Warner Bros did everything they could to copy Marvel's formula while still keeping Snyder's creation alive, resulting in a hybrid that succeeds in proving that there is a middle ground that can work for the DCEU.

If Zack Snyder had maintained full control of JUSTICE LEAGUE, I believe the first Comic Con teaser would have been how the finished film felt: funny but still deeply rooted in the darker and grittier sensibility that pissed off so many fanboys. If JUSTICE LEAGUE proves anything, it proves that Joss Whedon's success with THE AVENGERS had less to do with his creative talents but instead the masterful build-up orchestrated by Kevin Feige. JUSTICE LEAGUE has so many great moments in it that they far outweigh the bad ones, even Mustache-gate. JUSTICE LEAGUE proves that even with a change mid-stream, Henry Cavill can handle two totally different takes on Superman and they both work. As much as I love the legacy that Christopher Reeve left behind, Cavill may be the greatest screen Superman of all time. JUSTICE LEAGUE also proved that Ben Affleck's brilliant version of Batman in BATMAN V SUPERMAN was no fluke but it also proved that you cannot turn Bruce Wayne into Tony Stark in ninety minutes. It is a damn shame that Affleck may be leaving the role sooner rather than later as he also ranks as one of the best actors to don the cowl in movie history.

But JUSTICE LEAGUE's best elements are the new characters. While there has been a lot of shit talked about Ray Fisher monotone performance and Jason Momoa's one note acting abilities, I enjoyed seeing both Cyborg and Aquaman on the big screen. Fisher was surprisingly relatable as the biggest question mark in the cast while Momoa proved that he is perfectly suited to be Arthur Curry. I was indifferent to James Wan's AQUAMAN before seeing JUSTICE LEAGUE but now it is easily one of my most anticipated movies. Still, the award for best newcomer to the DCEU is Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. I truly enjoy The CW's Flash series and that version of Barry, but Miller is spot-on as a Millennial take on the Speedster. Making him neurotic and possibly on the spectrum gives him a humanity and dimension unlike any other superhero, including Peter Parker. Hell, Miller could have been cast as the new Spider-man and done just as good a job. What DC has on their hands here, aside from the slam dunk of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, is three burgeoning franchises that can now take off with ease.

Say what you will about Steppenwolf and the disjointed parts of JUSTICE LEAGUE, but the movie does cram a heck of a lot into it's scant running time. Few movies of this scale or budget would dare come in close to ninety minutes which speaks a lot about the editing done behind the scenes, but I never felt bored or disinterested in the movie. JUSTICE LEAGUE also works well on repeated viewings, especially when hunting for easter eggs. I have come to enjoy many facets of the film, including Danny Elfman's nostalgiac score which also starts the shift away from Snyder's epic vision. I am disappointed that Warner Bros has struggled to figure out one theme for their films and stick with it, but I am intrigued with what comes next. It feels strong to call JUSTICE LEAGUE a disaster, but with the cost that went into making this film and the failure to recoup those funds at the box office, we have to call it like it is. Rumors have started sprouting recently that something may be on the horizon that spells doom for the DCEU as we know it, which is very disappointing for fans of these performances.

The UnPopular Opinion, Justice League, DC Comics, Warner Bros, Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ben Affleck, Joss Whedon, Zack Snyder

As a franchise, JUSTICE LEAGUE presents DC's first balance between light and dark since Tim Burton's BATMAN RETURNS. Like that film, things changed from the films that came before it which disappointed fans. Still, years later, BATMAN RETURNS is heralded as far better than it was originally received. I feel that JUSTICE LEAGUE may have a similar legacy as we get distance from it's initial release. Whatever happens in the DC cinematic universe from here on out will clearly be different from what Snyder intended and that could very well  be okay. JUSTICE LEAGUE will most assuredly be the catalyst that allows varied filmmakers to put their own stamp on these superheroes. Maybe Warner Bros should consider taking the only cue from Marvel that they should imitate and hire fresh and unique voices to helm their films from here on out. Snyder and Whedon are the past and hopefully DC and WB will embrace what comes next. Don't let JUSTICE LEAGUE be a footnote in superhero history and instead embrace it as the spark that began something truly special for movie and comic book fans. It already is fun, now it can be the kickstart to a new DCEU.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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