Justice League: Warner Bros, We Need To Talk. 


Sarah Nicholson, Staff Writer

Franchise films can resemble bad boyfriends on occasion. Maybe you’ve seen this: That boyfriend that you really like because you know he has so much potential, but he can never quite get his act together? Well, Warner Bros. DC Extended Universe (DCEU) franchise feels that way to me after watching The Justice League, and it broke my nerdy heart.

It’s no great secret that DC films have had a rough time establishing their ownership of the box office. Fan’s have always rallied behind the comic films, because we all want them to succeed. We want them to be the living, thriving slices of awesome that shaped our childhoods and gave us hope that the neighborhood bully would run a foul of one of our beloved heroes on a dark and stormy night.

With all that potential, it has made this a difficult relationship. There was a lot of hope for Man of Steel, which was all right. Batman v. Superman was a huge disappointment to much of the fan base, but I personally didn’t mind it. Then came Suicide Squad and the fan frenzy was kinetic before the release, but it was also the biggest let down for many. It had a lot of the same problems as its predecessors. It was this huge project, with tons of beloved characters who hadn’t been introduced on screen yet. Trying to cram introductions into the movie while forging contentious connections between volatile personalities, and then still making them pursue worse bad guys, was a nauseatingly tall order. The truth is, it was all too much.

A part from all of these examples of valiant attempts was Wonder Woman. It was the shot of hope that the franchise needed. It did everything that the others got wrong. It followed one strong story line that set up Diana Prince’s character. It introduced us to her and made us forge a bond with her.

Man of Steel is probably the only other film in DCEU that even comes close to this format. Wonder Woman also worked on a lighter note. There was a little more comedy and shots were brighter. Doom and gloom is great, but hope cannot just be an idea. Sometimes you need the visual relief. Wonder Woman was the hope that the DCEU was turning it around. Then came Justice League.

The opening third of this movie drove me nuts. It was like someone in the studio couldn’t decide on how the story should begin and instead of getting rid of the six ideas they had started with, they smashed them all together into one. It was messy, disjointed and didn’t help the story. In fact, it made it really boring.

Another disappointment was the music. Anyone who’s ever sat through a superhero flick knows that timing and tone are everything. Music choice is paramount and there are suggestions in this film that someone had good taste, but the placement was bizarre. The opening song is probably tonally the best placed, but it  then gets stretched out over the disjointed opening scenes, making it feels a bit too dark.

There is an awesome song choice later on, that is paired with Aquaman, that sounds epic, but again the visual to match was just, meh. No one wants “meh” placement in a superhero movie. Then in the large battle sequences, where music is the backbone of a stellar fight scene, there was nothing. Like seriously, no rallying slice of awesome, just quips and carnage. The lack of direction, hyper condensed story, and incoherent score placement really shot this one down for me.

However, there were some parts that did work. I love Ezra Miller as the Flash. He’s the joke guy in this movie and almost half of his punchlines come from his facial expressions. I really hope they make a stand-alone film of him, like they did for Wonder Woman, or pair him and Cyborg up in a buddy comedy like the Marvel Cinematic Universe did with Thor and Hulk. One of the biggest failings of the franchise is they tried to start with team movies, rather than stand-alones, and it places a huge amount of pressure on the films. But, if they could get a Batman film and a Flash/Cyborg piece out before the next Justice League movie, it would benefit them greatly.

Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa was another character I surprisingly enjoyed, but I felt he was an afterthought in a lot of cases. Momoa is a dynamic actor who seemed like a lot of fun in press tour leading up to this film, but he was so underutilized in this movie that he seems to not know what his character’s purpose is. I’m not even sure what his purpose was.

But my biggest issue with the film was Ben Affleck’s Batman. I should start by saying I like Affleck as an actor. I’ve seen him turn in some impressive work over the years, but wow do I wish someone would tell him that it’s okay to have fun with the character once in a while. We haven’t seen him helm a Batman film yet, and maybe if I had, I would be more sympathetic to his self-loathing. But really, I’m tired of his whining martyrdom.

I loved Batman growing up. He was probably my favorite super heroes to catch on Saturday morning cartoons, but his cool, driven, swagger has been replaced by Captain Broods-a-lot, and it stinks. Even Jeremy Iron as Alfred has more Bruce Wayne style than what Affleck is putting out there, for goodness sake. There are rumors that Affleck is looking to exit the franchise and I get it, if he doesn’t want to hang around, but Ben, please for the love of all that’s holy could you just try having a little more fun with the role, until you are released?!

As for the villain, frankly I didn’t care. He exists, he serves his purpose, but his story was unbelievable. If not for Miller, Momoa, Gal Gadot’s ever impressive Wonder Woman, and one other appearance, that I cannot speak of because of spoilers, I would probably be done with the DCEU. So maybe in the end, this is less like the boyfriend with potential and more like the boyfriend you keep around because you really like his friends. Either way Warner Bros. has some work to do if they’re going to keep this relationship alive.