5W Friday Panel: The Justice League Movie Debut

Every Friday, we will host a virtual panel session on a topic of the week, capturing The Fifth World staff having a dialogue about a given subject.  This week's topic: the Justice League movie.

"This could get ugly -- and I'm not just talkin' about me. HEY-O!"

Marc Singer

I didn't see Justice League this weekend (and to judge by the box office numbers, I wasn't alone). I don't plan on seeing it until I can watch it on my own schedule, in the comfort of my own home, with whatever frosty beverage I deem necessary to increase the hilarity or dull the pain. This is entirely for my own peace of mind. Zack Snyder doesn't make movies I enjoy, least of all the ones featuring characters I have loved since I was a kid. When Batman "v" Superman came out I decided I was no longer going to shell out first-run prices just to make myself angry.

I know that Justice League was supposed to strike a different, more playful tone. I know this because the hype machine kept telling me how playful it was, how fun it would be, how DC and Warner Bros. have learned their lesson this time, honest. After a while the trailers started to grate on me almost as much as the movies that preceded them: they were just so desperate to be liked. Flop sweat is not a good scent on anyone. Justice League, as best I can tell right now, is a couple of engaging actors, a bunch of awful costumes, and an absolute non-entity of a villain, all set against a wall of ugly brown CGI. Adding a couple of forced laughs isn't really going to change that, is it?

"Hey! Who you calling 'brown'?"

One day somebody is going to make a Justice League movie I can enjoy. If not paying to see this one helps bring that day closer then I have done my job. You're welcome.

Jason Tondro

I found the film mediocre and a bit perplexing. The production history of the movie seems visible in every scene. First, we had a movie with Batman as the dark and brooding leader. Then, after Wonder Woman becomes the first DC movie since Nolan that everyone agrees doesn’t suck, and Snyder is hit with a truly awful family tragedy, Whedon is brought on with three mandates: First, finish the movie. Second: lighten it up. Third: make it more about Wonder Woman.

So one of the big subplots of the movie becomes Bruce trying to hand off leadership to Diana; She gets a scene which is completely unrelated to the plot but which shows how bad-ass she is, and he is turned into a punching bag. The moral dilemma around Superman’s resurrection is a re-examination of Buffy’s resurrection, only with less singing. The Joss Whedon parts of this movie are just so Joss Whedon, and the Snyder parts so Zack Snyder, I found it hard to see anything else.

And, oh god, can we just talk about how lame Steppenwolf is as a villain? He’s a CGI monster. In the year of Michael Keaton’s Vulture, have we learned nothing? And the upskirt shots on Wonder Woman, for forks sake!
We have way too much respect for Gal Gadot to show you what Snyder shot here.

But hey, I kind of liked Aquabro and Flash. When Batman gave Flash advice to “go in, save one person, get out” and you’ll know what to do next … and then Barry does know that the thing to do next is to just do the same thing again and again until everyone is safe is one of the movie’s moments of real heart and, because it’s not unpacked by anyone in expository dialog, is actually even kind of cinematically brave.
We also liked the Aquabro, his choice of vinyl costuming not withstanding.
Overall, I had to put Justice League in the same category as Suicide Squad and Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four: I’m actually pretty sure there is at least one good movie buried in there somewhere, but the competing visions and troubled production kept either one of those good movies from actually being made.

Chris Maka

I'm probably going to be a dissenting voice here, but I actually kind of liked it.

But we all agree this costume is garbage, right?

Don't get me wrong, it's no Avengers and it has plenty of problems. But with a running time of about two hours, it's short enough to feel like popcorn fare that it largely is, rather than the too-long, pondrous, dark junk Warner Bros has been trotting out until Wonder Woman

Speaking of Avengers, I feel that Justice League's biggest problem, after crap costumes for half the characters and the occasionally jarring juxtaposition of obvious-Snyder-scenes versus obvious-Whedon-scenes, is that it was released into a world where Avengers already exists. Justice League moves at a brisk pace, doesn't belabor the introduction of its characters, is largely fun and not dark, has a surprisingly decent CGI villain (although I say they still should have just gone with Darkseid now rather than holding him for a future in which Thanos will beat him to the big screen), and manages to juggle action with a bunch of superheroes quite well. 
"No one will care that I'm just one of like fifteen different Darkseid knockoffs Jim Starlin created. Suckers!"
If this came out after, say, Iron Man 2 and without the inexorable Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad preceding it, I think the reception would be positive overall and most geeks would be delighted with it. As it is, it enters the world with no good will whatsoever (which is fair) and with superior Marvel efforts by which is suffers greatly in comparison. 

I went in with insanely, painfully low expectations, and it far exceeded those with some genuine entertainment. All of that said, do you need to see it on the big screen? No, absolutely not. If you weren't inclined to see it in a theater by now, waiting for home video is certainly fine. 

JL Franke

Sometimes the key to enjoying a movie is going in with the right expectations.  In the case of Justice League, I entered with the lowest of expectations, fueled by the awful early reviews it received.  Instead of walking into reportedly the worst DCEU film yet (something I find impossible to fathom given the existence of Suicide Squad), I found myself watching a ball of mediocrity that, though it has a lower ceiling than either Man of Steel or Batman v Superman if the films had been executed perfectly (and they all were decidedly not), in reality is the second best DCEU movie made to date (which really isn't saying much).

The flaws of the movie are many.  Steppenwolf is a villain as uninteresting as most Marvel villains, but with the added handicap of being realized through some atrocious CGI (bad computer graphics plague the movie from start to finish, including the scenes featuring the infamous de-mustache-ing of Superman.  The movie feels incomplete, with additional backstory for Cyborg and scenes that provide more menace to Steppenwolf included among the scenes that would have benefited Justice League the most.  The mixing of Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon direction is jarring, and when Batman started uttering one-liners, I actually found myself wishing Snyder had been able to finish the film himself, which is something I never thought I'd find myself typing.  Similarly, Justice League tries to make us forget the things we complained about MoS and BvS regarding, such as the selfish perspectives of the Kents, by simply contradicting the characterizations we've perviously seen in this movie series, as if Justice League is the sequel to the DCEU films from a parallel universe.

Still, there were good elements that could be built upon.  For the very first time, this feels like the Superman we all know and love -- this is a Superman I'd enjoy seeing star in a solo film.  Flash and Aquaman are not the characters from the comics (or even the Flash tv series), but are interesting takes on the archetypes that could make for engaging films themselves.  Batman is a little less psychotic than he was in BvS.  Wonder Woman is, as usual, the best thing about the movie.  Only Cyborg is problematic, suffering primarily from a lack of personality as well as a backstory that turns the movie exposition-heavy whenever it comes up.


"And my costume design is terrible. Don't forget that part."

The cast gels well enough that I might even look forward to a sequel (if written and directed by someone other than Snyder/Whedon).  Unfortunately, it appears that sequel will not feature the showdown with Darkseid that would be the logical next step, but instead is hinted to feature a much more mundane plot featuring characters that no one is clamoring to see (again).

Justice League is not a good movie.  But it's also not a horrible movie.  Instead, it, just like Darkseid, is.

 Sean Fields

I thought I would hate this movie and be mad at myself for spending NYC movie prices on a ticket. I wasn't and that wasn't just due to my brother paying for it. I thought that Justice League was a good movie. It is not a great movie, not a movie that is profound or is going to make me want to watch again immediately. Justice League is just a fun diversion.

My faith in the quality of DC Films started pretty low so maybe the fact that I think Justice League was a decent film isn't saying much. It is easily better than Suicide Squad and Dawn of Justice but that's a pretty low bar. I think why I actually liked JL as opposed to those movies (besides not having horrible stories) is that JL was about Armageddon but was determined to have fun and not the forced goofiness that was Suicide Squad. It definitely was a Whedon polished Snyder film and you could tell, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a weekend diversion. Or a future cable viewing.

I think the best comparison I would make is that Justice League is like a good compilation of video game cutscenes. It got the story from point A to point B, did some fun stuff in between and had the characters doing cool stuff. There was minor possible connected film stuff thrown in but I have no beliefs it'll work like the MCU and maybe that will be fine. Maybe DC just needs to make fun films that mostly stand on their own. 

You know what we thought, dear Fifth World readers, but what did you think? Let us know in the comments below!

5W Friday Panel: The Justice League Movie Debut 5W Friday Panel: The Justice League Movie Debut Reviewed by Chris Maka on Friday, November 24, 2017 Rating: 5
Powered by Blogger.