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“Justice League”: A “Safe” DC Film, But Keeps You Invested

By Mason Masotta; For The Clock
On December 4, 2017

“Justice League”: A “Safe” DC Film, But Keeps You Invested 

Mason Masotta

For the Clock

mtmasotta@plymouth.edu 

**Warning: Mild Spoilers!** 

The cinematic universe of the Justice League was first introduced to audiences back in 2013, with the Superman-centered film “Man of Steel,” directed by Zack Snyder. A big question on fans’ minds, since then, has been when we see all of the members of the Justice League in a film together.

Naturally, when the upcoming release of “Justice League” (also directed by Snyder) was commercialized, fans eagerly awaited a film where the super power-infused crew would make their film debut together.

Now, since “Justice League” made its big screen debut on November 17, fans have had another question on their minds: “Have the oldest superhero team in history had a successful film outing?”

The answer is, “Sort of.” That is not a completely satisfactory answer to any extent, but to be fair, this is not a completely satisfactory movie.

A lot of the similar and, quite frankly, formulaic tropes of most Hollywood blockbusters are there: introduction to new characters, evil villain monologues, a CGI-driven third act that seems to be setting up a franchise, and credits that roll to a catchy rock song (in this case, a Gary Clark Jr. cover of “Come Together,” originally by The Beatles).

The real interest of the movie lies on the shoulders of the characters  and the dynamics presented with the creation of a new superhero team. Franchise veterans Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot take the lead as Batman and Wonder Woman. Gadot gives another solid performance as the Amazonian warrior princess, while Affleck delivers one of his stiffest and most uninteresting deliveries yet.

Seemingly content with merely showing up in the suit and reciting some lines about saving the world from alien invasion, Affleck showcased some of the blandest acting he has been filmed “performing” in years. With Affleck being swept up in a series of sexual harassment allegations recently from past co-stars, one has to wonder if Warner Brothers will be looking to slowly move the aging Affleck out of the role.

This would make sense for the character, since he is portrayed and addressed as being an aging and broken Batman during the film. Turning to a younger and hungrier actor for the role might do the future of the series well.

The highlights of the film fall upon the new additions of Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash.

Still, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg seems particularly odd in his placing in the story. As half man and half machine, he struggles to not only find his place in the world, but in the story as well. The performance is strong, but it feels as if some stronger writing could have helped the young hero find his place on the team with more ease.

Then, there is the refreshing performance of Ezra Miller as the Flash. The speedster is brought to the  screen by a very talented actor, and given the weight of being the comic relief for the film. He talks fast, and serves as a parallel for superhero fans that many viewers truly are. Upon seeing the Batcave for the first time, he is as excited as any hero-in-training should be, and brings a very real and human edge to the demigods shown.

“Game of Thrones” alum Jason Momoa brings his own take on the Atlantean royal, Aquaman, with a more everyman portrayal and a “surfer dude”-esque aesthetic. The 6’4’’ actor strikes an imposing figure along with his costars and brings legitimacy back to the character far more than portrayals in the past have. He is depicted as being a hero on par with Superman, and not simply the “guy who talks to fish.”

Superman’s involvement in the team and the movie are meant to be a secret for the film, but within the first act’s closing, any reasonable viewer can guess about his return. The marketing has not shied away from his inclusion, but I will not spoil the recently deceased hero’s return. All I will say about it is that this is a far stronger portrayal and depiction of the last son of Krypton than the previous appearances of the character that newer DC films have presented.

“Justice League” is a very safe movie, if not a rather rushed one. The pacing is odd, as origin stories are passed over as singular lines, and traded instead for action and explosions (as have become a Zack Snyder standard). Still, it leaves me interested to see what will be done with the characters in the future, as an Aquaman solo film is slated as the next big film release for the franchise sometime in late 2018. 

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