Justice League: DC’s latest failure

Tyler Manning

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017)
Tyler Manning

It is apparent that Warner Bros. does not have a solid plan for its DC film universe. Every bit of news regarding the latest endeavor, “Justice League,” has been about last-minute changes to the film, including the reshoots that took up an estimated 25-50 percent of the finished project. News about future movies in the franchise has also been directionless and scary for the few fans of the franchise. Upon the release of the “Justice League,” multiple media outlets are reporting how Ben Affleck is looking for a ‘cool’ way to leave his role as Batman. News of a Joker film without Jared Leto playing the Joker have also surfaced.

This lack of direction and vision shows in DC’s latest cinematic failure, “Justice League,” a boring, cheesy mess that is plagued by poor writing, jarring reshoots and awful editing.

Wonder Woman is a strong presence in the movie and greatly bolsters it. Since having her own outstanding movie, the audience has a good sense of who Wonder Woman is as a character. However, Zack Snyder, director  of “Justice League” even had to muddle with the mythos in her backstory.

There had been outrage surrounding the sexist costume changes of the Amazonians in the “Wonder Woman,” a film directed by a woman by the way, and “Justice League.” The backlashed is well-supported. In “Justice League,” costume designers changed the armor to be more revealing, adding mid-drifts and shorter skirts to a majority of the extras on screen. Wonder Woman herself even has a noticeably shorter skirt than she had in her own film. You would think that a race of warriors would not remove sections of their armor revealing their skin making them more vulnerable to attack, but that’s the beauty of the “male gaze.”

The Flash has a nice, although abrupt, arc about him gaining the courage to fight against evil. Ezra Miller is a charming choice as the character and I thought scenes with him were fun. I actually wish there were more scenes with him using his powers because I found them visually appealing.

Ben Affleck, J.K. Simmons, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Justice League (2017)

Aquaman is one of the worst characters in the film. He is given no definitive characteristics. In the first half of the film, he is set up as a toxically masculine guy with no sense of humor or unity telling Batman that he wants to be left alone. However, toward the end of the film he is cracking jokes and smiling with the team of people he did not want to be with in the first place.

Ray Fisher was a good choice in Cyborg, although his character was boring. Fisher did the best he could with the material, and I would like to see more of him in future films.

Superman is significantly better-represented in this film as opposed to the grim character he was in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” He is a good guy who seems like he wants to help people. My biggest problem is that the film overpowers him, making any scene with him fighting the antagonist — Steppenwolf —  completely void of any tension.

Ben Affleck did an okay job as Batman in this movie. I thought his portrayal in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was significantly better. The dark tone of his previous film served his character better and it’s weird to see Batman in a lighthearted movie cracking jokes.

The villain of the film was horribly uninspired and looked like every bland video game villain whose name you can’t seem to remember. He was completely computer generated and had no clear motivation other than to take over the world. In a sea of boring comic book movies, this one fits right in with the rest.

The film also suffers from massive reshoots, when film makers return to a film to shoot additional scenes after it has wrapped production. Primarily they are additional action scenes that they want added in or additional scenes to help a film flow better. Reshoots are a normal thing for massive blockbuster movies like superhero movies. Producers reshot up to 50 percent of the “Rogue One” and Marvel has a history of reshooting major parts of their films. Most of these reshoots are not apparent in the final cut of the film and the filmmakers for the most part do a fair job of transitioning from original shots to reshot scenes well.

“Justice League” is not one of those films.

The most obvious indication of the reshot scenes is the makeup. After finishing production on “Justice League,” Henry Cavill, Superman actor, grew a mustache for his role in the upcoming Mission Impossible film. It was reported that he was contractually obligated not to shave for the film and when reshoots came for Justice League, Cavill was forced to keep his facial hair. Producers had to remove the mustache digitally.

They did not do a good job.

Some three-fourths of scenes featuring Superman in them had his face obviously distorted to hide the fact that he had a mustache. Other makeup indicators of reshoots were Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller’s wigs which looked significantly worse in the reshot scenes. This made the cuts to the reshot scenes incredibly obvious and left the movie feeling disjointed.

Another editing failure was the structure of the film. The film was originally supposed to run around three hours long but was cut to two. Rather than cutting the film to help the flow, the editor cut the film to two hours with no regard of pacing. The film is not held together by any connecting narrative and some scenes were put in to the film without context. It lacks focus or any direction.

Overall, I found this film to be a chore. Warner Bros is trying to force financial and critical success with their DC license without doing the heavy lifting that Marvel did. If you want people to buy your product, you have to first make a good product. I had a slight bit of optimism after watching “Wonder Woman” because I found that film to be a great superhero movie.

As they did with three other superhero movies, Warner Bros. manages to ruin “Justice League,” a movie that seemed like a sure success. For now, Warner Bros. best alternative is to stick to making great Wonder Woman movies.

Rating: 3/10

Out in local theaters