Can we assume, then, that the movie will be four hours long? If you’re interested in the trailer itself, you’ll find it embedded at the bottom of this article – what follows from this sentence onwards will mostly be salt.
Now – I’m having a fair bit of difficulty working up any enthusiasm for Justice League. Mind you, it’s a fantastic idea. A live action version of most of the superheroes I grew up with? Oh yeah. Going up against the forces of Apokolips and, eventually, Darkseid? Hell yes. And the first two movies in that epic story are Man of Steel and Batman v Superman? Well, shit.
Aside from the magnificence that was Wonder Woman, DC has done nothing, literally nothing, to suggest that Justice League is going to be worth watching. We know that they can do great trailers. But, except for Wonder Woman, they have yet to prove that they can make good movies.
I’ve grumbled about this several times in the past, but everything that DC has done feels like a response to Marvel’s success rather than some sort of genuine desire to tell an interesting story with characters that have been beloved for decades. And, as a result, their cinematic outings are suffering for it.
Wonder Woman works because it’s such a stark contrast to the other rubbish that DC has put out and because it gives the ‘bigger picture’ the finger. Diana is hopeful, sincere, heroic. The movie was set in a time that allowed it to ignore all of the cinematic universe’s forced ‘oh look here is the big bad who is scarier than Thanos, pls watch our movies too’ bullshit and focus on doing justice to the character and her story – and set Wonder Woman up as the only legitimate hero that we’ve seen in DC’s cinematic universe till date.
I say ‘only hero’ because both Batman and Superman are vigilante dickheads who seem to care very little about the cost and consequences of their actions – completely ignoring everything about the stories that made them heroes in the first place.
And if you look at the Justice League trailer, there’s very little that stands out as being different from Man of Steel or BvS. Lots of explosions. Lots of fighting. Lots of bullets. Lots of buildings falling down because, honestly, it isn’t a DC movie if you aren’t nuking half a city in some sort of brawl.
But let’s ignore that for now. Surely they’ve made the plot more coherent than previous outings? Surely Steppenwolf’s mother isn’t named Martha. Surely this time, it looks like they’ve gotten it right.
At 00:44 in the trailer – “The world remains in mourning after the dead of the Superman.” Eh, really? Why? He was accused of crimes against humanity not very long ago. He had as many people who hated him as loved him, with the balance probably tilting more towards the former. He blew up half of goddamn Metropolis; if anyone’s mourning him, it should be the companies that got the construction contracts after Man of Steel because if he’s dead, they’re missing out on an annual revenue stream. The world should be happy that this idiot incarnation of Superman is dead, because they may get someone who might do a better job – Connor Kent, for example. If this Superman has anything in common with the comics, it’s that he’s heading in the direction of the deranged Superboy from Earth Prime. Fingers crossed for the Green Lantern Corps to lock him up in the heart of a red sun at the end of Phase 1 of the DC movies.
At 02:46 in the trailer – “Superman was a beacon to the world. He didn’t just save people, he made them see the best parts of themselves.” Ahem. WHEN DID HE DO THAT? I’ve watched BvS in the theatre and later, a handful of times after the digital release hoping to find something redeeming about the movie and its character and not once was there a time when Superman made anyone see the best version of anything. The best thing that they can do for this character at this point is leave him dead and mythologize his life. Unless DC puts Patty Jenkins and Allan Heinberg in charge of fixing Superman, it seems highly unlikely that he’s going to be more of an inspiration in life than he seems to have become in death.
And this mysterious outpouring of affection for Superman isn’t really my only problem with this movie. For a team-up of this scale, Steppenwolf hasn’t really been established as … well, anything. Sure, we saw parademons in BvS and Steppenwolf made an appearance in that one deleted scene from BvS but, eh.
Do we have any sense of the threat that Apokolips presents? Or Darkseid? Were motherboxes hinted at in a clever, interesting manner to pave the way for their appearance in Justice League? Heck, did we get any information about these heroes – Cyborg, Flash, and Aquaman – before they’re all united, given common purpose, and told to save the world? Oh, wait, we got those half-arsed YouTube videos that Luthor had helpfully created logos for.
Contrast each of those problems I have with how Marvel has handled 1) Thanos 2) The Infinity Stones 3) Each of the individual character movies pre-Avengers. I’m fine with DC working out their own tone for movies and doing something different so that they don’t come across as Marvel copycats. The problem is that the difference isn’t just one of tone – it’s also of quality. And getting one movie right out of four sure as hell isn’t reassuring when you’re trying to build a cinematic universe.
In case it wasn’t already clear, I’m not looking forward to Justice League. Wonder Woman was extraordinary – not just as a movie, but as a story of a character who I had never been very interested in because she always seemed to be overshadowed by Superman and Batman. Now, in case it was not already clear, I am firmly aboard the Wonder Woman hype train.
I also think the only way to fix the DC Extended Universe is to put Wonder Woman in charge of the League, and put Patty Jenkins in charge of Wonder Woman. There’s only one hero in the DC movies worth building a franchise around right now – and the only redeeming thing about Justice League at the moment is that she’s headlining this trailer.