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“Justice League” just what the DC Extended Universe needed to succeed

Written By Jordan Slobodinsky, Co-Opinions Editor

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Zack Snyder received a lot of criticism for his failure to capture the hearts (and the attention) of moviegoers. In 2013, “Man of Steel” received mixed reviews, and in 2016 both “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” were deemed as failures when it came to box office success. However, both films are beginning to be viewed as cult classics in the eyes of some watchers. Thankfully, the world regained faith in DC when “Wonder Woman” came out this past summer, a film in which Snyder did not direct.

The simple fact of the matter is this; DC is trying to catch up to Marvel. That’s fine because Snyder’s newest film, “Justice League,” may have just restored fans faith in the DC universe.

“Justice League” introduced three new heroes to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). In the film each hero was given a brief backstory before joining with Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot).  

Both Snyder and Joss Whedon, who replaced Snyder halfway through production, gave the characters a likeable substance to them. The Flash is quirky and brings a much needed sense of humor to DC. Aquaman proves himself to a formidable force in the movie, and Momoa’s role makes me excited for the upcoming release of the Aquaman solo film in 2018. Cyborg is an interesting part of the story because his role in the film seems to be more about the plot and how he counters the villain, but nonetheless, he makes for a tactical mind besides Batman, which is refreshing.

Affleck, Gadot and Henry Cavill all return to the big screen in this film.

It was clear from the beginning that both Snyder and Whedon were trying to make Batman a more human character. In “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Batman is too serious and too concerned about beating Superman. In “Justice League,” he becomes the favorable mentor. With a much more relaxed feel to the character, Affleck put on an acceptable performance as a 20-year veteran dark knight. We see him rely on technology to handle the foes in the film. In the past, we saw him take down Superman and some started to wonder if maybe Snyder’s version of the caped crusader was too gruesome. Luckily, he was brought down to earth in this film.

Gadot continues to astound the world with her portrayal of Wonder Woman. The amazon warrior continues to look confident and powerful in these films. The only critique I have of Wonder Woman is not even that of Gadot, but of Snyder and Whedon.

The reason for “Wonder Woman”’s success was how powerful it was to not only women, but to people everywhere. Now, while Diana is still strong and powerful in this film, why do Snyder and Whedon feel the need to take so many shots of her figure and try to sexualize her? Leave Wonder Woman alone and let her stand as a powerful figure, not as sex appeal.

Cavill’s portrayal of the last son of Krypton was bland to me, but that is not a bad thing. It is good not to put too much emphasis on Superman because he’s the strongest character in the DC universe. However, seeing Superman return after being killed in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a blessing. Cavill delivers some good jokes and his character is not as dark and brooding as in previous films; he even seems like the Boy Scout that Superman is meant to be.

While the actual Justice League is well-portrayed, the villain of the film is questionable. For the third movie in a row, Snyder has turned to heavy CGI in order to create a monster. Steppenwolf was not the wrong choice for a villain, but he is far from the best choice. The story that was constructed to tell the backstory of Steppenwolf and his battle with humans, Atlanteans and Amazons was certainly interesting. The biggest problem is this – Steppenwolf himself was uninteresting and looked horrible.

Now, this villain did leave a major Easter egg for us when he mentioned Darkseid, meaning that DC is building towards a huge battle with him, much like how Marvel is leading up to the Infinity War. This is a page out of Marvel’s book, but you cannot really blame DC. Darkseid and Thanos play almost the exact same role in both universes and the fact that it seems like DC is heading towards a huge battle means they have plans, and that’s a great sign for DC fans.

The plot of the film seems a little rushed from the beginning of the movie, but it is not executed that badly. Batman and Wonder Woman realize there is a larger evil coming and that they need to team up with others to defend the earth. Sadly this evil is the lowly Steppenwolf, but it does provide a means for the league to come together. It feels like when Warner Bros. told Whedon to keep the movie under two hours that they asked a lot. However, even after the cuts that Whedon made, I think the movie turned out on-par.

My biggest gripe with this movie is its reliance on CGI. I honestly do not think a single enemy was not computer-generated. This is really a shame because the DC universe has so many versatile villains to choose from, and the fact that they chose Steppenwolf and had to use CGI to make him somewhat menacing is upsetting.

Personally, if I were choosing a villain for this movie, it would have been Vandal Savage because he is a universal villain, whereas Steppenwolf feels like a villain more suited for a Superman movie. But with any luck, DC will improve their CGI skills for the next batch of films.

All in all, “Justice League” delivers exactly what the DCEU needed in order to succeed. My recommendation is to see it and I give it an 8.5/10.

 

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