Justice League is On DVD: Who Cares? A Movie of Wasted Potential.
Justice League was set to be one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, yet despite having an all star cast featuring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Erza Miller and Ray Fisher the movie falls flat. In comparison to other superhero films prior to it like the Avengers which made over a billion worldwide in 2012, Justice League struggles to break even when covering the expenses to make and market the movie. In its opening weekend Justice League only made $94 million and it doesn’t get better from there. Even after it’s second weekend, Justice League doesn’t even hit $300 million domestically. The movie is doing better overseas with an estimated $400 million, but that is still bad when putting into consideration that the film cost $300 million to make, $150 million to market, $60 million for home entertainment expenses, $50 million for talent participation and $20 million for residuals. The film is expected to cost up to $600 million and with only about that much in profit from domestic and worldwide showings Warner Bros may be at risk of losing money according to an article on Forbes.
Whether it was the lack of a story, the over use of CGI, the fact that the villain wasn’t a threat to the League what so ever, or the growing sex allegations against Ben Affleck. Justice League failed to live up to the hype Warner Brothers so desperately wanted to it to be.
Oh where to begin!!!,
The plot, pretty straightforward. Steppenwolf, one of the New Gods from Apokolips as well as the uncle to the super-villain Darkseid and a member of Darkseid’s Elite (played by Ciaran Hinds) wants the Mother Boxes; three world destroying boxes of pure energy and power to destroy the earth and remake it in his image. Batman, played by Ben Affleck, puts together a team of outsiders that don’t fit in with regular society to stop him. The overall plot is no different than in the Avengers when Loki is after the Cosmic Cube and wants to rule over Midgard aka Earth. Both villains even have an army of inter-dimensional creatures to serve them and fight against both teams. The difference between the two films is that the Avengers have many secondary plots that intertwined with the main plot; Infinity War. Whereas with Justice League’s plot, its simply stopping Steppenwolf from getting the boxes.
The only other plot in the movie is of Superman, but it's simply Superman adjusting back to the living. The overall arc of the storyline is no different than other superhero films. It’s simply a group of heroes banding together to stop one villain from destroying the world, but the problem with Justice League’s story is that DC is an established universe, filled with many characters and places that it fails to take advantage of its vast resources. Even the final battle with Steppenwolf takes place in some random part of the world. It almost makes a person think that DC didn’t want its viewers to know that it was a DC movie by not making references to Atlantis, Themyscira, Central City, Gotham or even Metropolis as well as other characters in the DC Universe.
In terms of the actors and acting, Justice League does bring in an all star cast and some laughs with most of the credit going to The Flash played by Ezra Miller whose charisma made him the Team’s funny man. The movie also does a good job introducing our main cast to the big screen by giving each member a moment in the film to give the audience a sense of who these characters are and what they could bring to the team. However the movie does fails to add any real depth to some of the members’ backstory.
Cyborg: Was in an accident and his father used one of the Mother Boxes to save his life, but the movie doesn’t bother to show the accident or how Cyborg’s father used the box to save his son’s life.
Flash: Next the movie shows The Flash trying to get his father out of prison for allegedly murdering his mother, but the movie doesn’t bother to add any flashbacks or recognition from Barry about his mother or the events that lead to his father’s imprisonment leaving the audience to question whether Barry’s father is innocent or not.
Aqua-Man: Finally we learn that Aqua-man’s mother abandoned him to save him from an unknown past event, but like with Cyborg and Flash we don’t get any flashbacks or mention of it after it is brought up. In fact the only time Atlantis is shown in the movie is when Steppenwolf attacks it to retrieve one of the Mother Boxes that the Atlantean’s are guarding.
Wonder Woman/Superman/Batman: Now the movie does make references to past DC movies like Wonder Woman and Batman vs Superman showing that DC is taking a page from their Marvel counterparts and building an actual universe with each movie building on one another.
The Others: The movie also makes references to the Green Lantern, yet one would believe that at least one of the lanterns whether it’s Hal Jordan, John Stewart or Guy Gardner would at least make an appearance not as a main cast member, but at least as a cameo. Instead the Green Lantern is mention once in a flashback regarding the previous battle with Steppenwolf and is never brought up again. Still the fact that the Green Lantern and Lantern Corps was mentioned could mean that we may get a Green Lantern movie soon.
Probably the best moments of the film were the scenes played by Henry Cavill (Superman) whose character served as the pinnacle to the movie’s plot. The League knows that the world stills needs Superman and that he served as a beacon of hope for the people. In fact the only reason Steppenwolf decides to go through with his plans is because Superman was no longer in the picture. Therefore the League decides to play God and revive the Man of Steel for the battle against Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons. When the league does manage to bring the son of Krypton back to life, it’s not the warm happy celebration you would expect. In fact it’s the complete opposite. Superman goes in on the League and ironically proves why Batman wasn’t wrong in stating why the league needs Superman. If it wasn’t for Lois Lane (Amy Adams) entering the picture to bring Superman back to his senses, the collateral damage would have been on a much more monumental scale. It just goes to show you that Superman is the greatest hero to ever live as he completely dominates the rest of the League.
T.M.CGI (Too Much CGI) & Lack of Depth
The movie also depends too much on CGI. Look I get it, the DC universe is built on advance technology and superhuman feats, but at some point it becomes overkill. We also get that Superman can break stuff, the Flash can run real fast and Cyborg is mostly metal, yes that’s all well and great, but what about the characters’ personalities. The Flash is more than just a fast guy that cuts jokes, he is also a Genius Level scientist, but the movie barely shows that. Aqua-man is more than the hunk of the sea, he is a friend of the sea and the creatures that inhabit it, but we barely see him interact with the sea or the creatures. All we get are just a few moments of him swimming and drinking whiskey. Cyborg is more than just an athlete with a genius IQ he’s a fun loving guy that still can do everything he did before his accident, but the movie doesn’t show him actually doing anything that would make him come off as human. In the end the movie fails to give these characters any real depth or connection to their comic book or TV counterparts that is really a letdown because the movie does bring in a cast that really could have made these personalities shine.
Finally and this is the biggest criticism I have is the villain Steppenwolf. Despite being Darkseid’s uncle as well as a member of his Elite Force, he is boring, uninteresting and just plain dull. He shows no real reason for wanting the Mother Boxes, but just to destroy the world and remake it. In fact his only reason for wanting to destroy the world is just to stroke his pride and ego. Now many people are going to say he is villain, so of course he wants to destroy the world, but today’s villains require so much more depth. Take Loki for example, he has a sibling rivalry with his brother Thor and because of that rivalry he is willing to go to great lengths to prove that he is the better sibling to his adoptive father Odin so he can prove to him that he is worthy of the throne of Asgard.. With Steppenwolf however, he is a solo villain with no drive. His only purpose, ‘I’m a bad guy so I have to destroy all of you’. Too add insult to injury Steppenwolf isn’t ever a threat to the league as all the members leave the battle without a scratch. Both Superman and Wonder Woman wreck the hell out of him too. His defeat is so humiliating that his own army ends up turning against him. The only time Steppenwolf shows any reason for his plan is when he makes a reference to Darkseid by stating ‘for the glory of Darkseid’ one time in the film. The bad part is Darkseid isn’t even shown or mentioned not once in the post credits.
Overall, with Warner Brothers trying to compete with Disney counterparts, they are clearly losing. Despite Warner Brothers doing everything you would see in a Disney-Marvel movie they fail to capture the same appeal Marvel movies have on viewers.
Instead of Superman and Flash having a pointless race around the world in the post credits why couldn’t we get a scene of Darkseid or Steppenwolf after his defeat at the hands of the League. Warner Brothers had the opportunity to make a movie that puts it on par with its Marvel counterparts, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. Maybe if a sequel drops, Warner Brothers could try again maybe this time the villain could be Darkseid himself or another big baddie. When asked what villains they wouldn’t mind fighting in the future, Fisher name drops Brainiac and Lex Luthor as the biggest threats of all time and Momoa mentions how he would want his character to fight Deathstroke or Black Manta. Until then Warner Brothers should start taking notes from Disney about how to write a good Superhero team movie.