I will admit that I probably knew a two-hour exhibition of the nuances of the DC Extended Universe wasn’t going to be my cup of tea. However, musing on the recent glowing successes of Thor: Ragnarok, Captain America: Civil War and my personal favourite, Wonder Woman, I decided to brave another foray into the DC world. I will now also tell you that – even if you happen to be a natural sci-fi or superhero fan with a penchant for really loud noises and poor CGI – you should categorically avoid Zack Snyder’s Justice League at all costs.
“you should categorically avoid Zack Snyder’s Justice League at all costs”
Director of the 2004 Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen and 300, Snyder’s latest project to hit our screens is the newest instalment in the DC Extended Universe. Featuring a superhero-studded, action-packed plotline, the story follows Bruce Wayne (Batfleck, obviously), Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and their A-Team-style…team… of heroes, as they plunge themselves into increasingly loud battle scenes to defeat the great villain Steppenwolf, hell-bent on destroying the planet. Steppenwolf, voiced by Ciarán Hinds, is an alien god who invades Earth armed with his troop of parademons (think mosquito-robot-man hybrid) to reunite three immensely powerful and ancient artefacts – the ‘Mother Boxes’. (Yes, it’s bizarre and Freudian and no, I’m not going to delve into that in this review. There isn’t time). Accompanied by The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (GOT’s Jason Momoa) and the unwilling cyborg Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), the team decide they aren’t up to the task and, after an immense effort involving the blood of General Zod, Superman’s Kryptonian Ship and one of the Mother Boxes, reawaken Superman (Henry Cavill) from his demise at the end of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice – much to the apparent indifference of his beloved Lois Lane (Amy Adams).
Now, I’m not trying to imply that the $300,000,000 budget has been in any way squandered, resulting in yet another painfully average, run-of-the-mill action movie in which the characters are two dimensional, the leap from previous DC installations glaringly apparent, and a feeble, flimsy plotline which leaves the audience ultimately apathetic about the fate of any individual- or world- featured in this film. I’m not trying to imply that. It just happens to be the truth. The plotline – to save Earth from Steppenwolf, and his buzzy pals – comes out of the blue whilst a clunky exposition of the backstory of the Mother Boxes is voiced by Gal Godot (glaringly reminiscent of Galadriel explaining the history of the Ring in LOTR) who explains the urgency of the situation to Batfleck. As they take a calm stroll. By a lake. Anyway.
“yet another superhero film that can’t be bothered to imbue its protagonists with any believable dialogue or interaction, real backstory or sense of being”
I want to pause here and admit that the distinction made between the protectors of the Mother Boxes, and the brief return to Themyscira, home of the Amazonian warrior women, were the much-needed positives of this movie. Indeed, Gal Gadot still manages to bring the punch that caused audiences worldwide to fall in love with Wonder Woman for its vital representation of female strength and vitality. Jason Momoa, too, almost manages to distract the audience with his glistening abs from the hastily-unravelling storyline, and offers a glimpse of a backstory that could actually be interesting. (Indeed, unsurprisingly, Aquaman threatens our screens in December 2018). Unfortunately, for now, these moments are few, far-between, and utterly drowned out by the hackneyed superhero trash talk, amazingly loud and empty fight scenes and the horrendous attempts at humour (the insertion of ‘Booyah!’ is a personal worst. Take my word for it). This is only added to DC’s usual failures at equal representation (apart from Wonder Woman, we have only prosthetic additions of women who are girlfriends and mothers), as well as the absolute lack of consequence to the plots (don’t kill your villain? Who cares! Let’s leave that open for another cash-cow in approximately six months!).
I know, I know – I’m being harsh. But I’m dealing with the disappointment of yet another superhero film that can’t be bothered to imbue its protagonists with any believable dialogue or interaction, real backstory or sense of being – and so soon after the success of Wonder Woman, which led us all to imagine real change on the horizon.
Could it be that DC’s over-ambition to cram as many superheroes into one film as possible sacrifices the possibility of real depth? Could it be that the mercenary world of the DC Universe realises that regardless of storyline, they will continue to draw an audience to fill the bank? Either way, I’ll be sitting the next one out.
Image: Warner Bros