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Non-Review Review: Justice League

The Parademons, the monstrous zombie bugs at the heart of Justice League, smell fear. It is a lucky thing that they don’ smell desperation, because otherwise they’d eat the movie alive.

Justice League is not a movie so much as a two-hour attempt at atonement. It is an extended apology from Warner Brothers to the most vocal internet denizens, an obvious attempt to backpedal away from the controversial and divisive (and provocative) attempts to jump-start their shared comic book universe with Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman. Richard Donner’s Superman inspired audiences to believe that a man could fly; Justice League serves as evidence that a film franchise can grovel.

The Just Us League.

Justice League is contrite and submissive. Anything resembling a jagged edge has been carefully sanded down, anything resembling a unique identity stripped from the film. Justice League has listened to the internet’s overblown criticisms of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, and decided that the best response is to offer something generic and appeasing. Justice League has the feeling of a studio mandated checklist captured on celluloid, a list comprised primarily of “don’t”s; don’t run over two hours, don’t be so dark, don’t be pretentious, don’t be political.

The result is a movie that feels defined by what it isn’t, an empty space much larger than that created by the absence of Superman. It is a movie without any ambition or any personality. It wants so desperately to be loved, but ultimate feels hollow.

Out of their League.

The most striking aspect of Justice League is that it is too bright. Not just thematically or tonally, but also literally. Although a lot of the credit for the film’s brightness is given to co-writer and co-director Joss Whedon, reports suggest that this literal brightening began much earlier in the process as a direct response from the studio to the stock criticism that Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were both too dark for movies about a guy who wears his underwear outside his pants.

Justice League is hyper saturated. The colours pop off the screen, especially the ambers and purples. In some ways, the production design on Justice League feels like an extension of that on Suicide Squad, a superficial attempt to turn up the colour on a franchise that had been regarded as too dark and too monochromatic. While the brightness in Suicide Squad seemed tacky, the brightness in Justice League looks cheap.

This is most obvious in the computer-generated imagery. Hypersaturation tends to push computer-generated imagery into the uncanny valley, the colour revealing the awkward textures and the unconvincing shading. Desaturated movies have their own inherent uncanny quality, in that they do not look like the real world, and so computer animation tends to fit more easily within that framework. For example, it is worth considering how much better (and more effective) the computer-generated imagery was in the black-and-white cut of The Mist.

The computer-generated imagery in Batman vs. Superman was occasionally awkward and clunky, especially at the climax with Doomsday attacking Metropolis. However, the bright colours in Justice League only serve to push its computer-generated animation further away from the more human cast members. Steppenwolf is put in the awkward position of being that antagonist who brings the team together, but he looks like a character who escaped from a video game. His facial expressions look terrible.

Flash and substance.

However, the brightness effects more than just the the computer-generated imagery. Despite accusations that Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were attempts to “ground” Superman in the real world, they were both consciously hyperstylised. There was always a sense of unreality to those films, particularly in terms of speed ramping and frame composition. However, the decision to turn up the brightness on Justice League has the side effect of making the production design look cheap.

Justice League was not a cheap film, by any measure. Indeed, there is some argument as to whether or not it is the most expensive movie ever made. However, it looks terrible at points, even when shooting on standing sets. The movie’s introductory sequence finds Batman prowling the roofs of Gotham, but the lighting makes it look like a set from a really impressive primary school play. This is not a conscious choice on the part of the production team, it even applies retroactively to standing sets.

There are points at which Justice League revisits characters and sets from Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, but there is something uncanny about them. An important scene unfolds within the Kryptonian ship from Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, a set that looked like something from The Thing or Alien in its original appearances. With the lighting turned way up, it looks like an unconvincing movie set. What should be grey is a pastel blue. What should look like metal looks like styrofoam.

This brightness applies not only to the sets, but to the actors occupying them. There are several scenes in which it is hard to recognise familiar actors and returning faces. This applies even in terms of low-budget exposition scenes, such as an early bonding sequence between Lois Lane and Martha Kent at the Daily Planet. Neither actor looks like they did in the previous films, with Amy Adams’ red hair and rosy cheeks practically glowing. Even ignoring the fact that the character is supposed to be suffering a depression, there is something uncanny about this whole thing.

Those red skies are also blatant nostalgic fan service. Because who needs plot, characters, theme or structure when you can have nostalgic fan service?

Then again, there is something very uncanny about the relationship between Justice League and Batman vs. Superman. There is a very conscious sense that Justice League is trying to atone for a perceived slight against the audience, begging for forgiveness for some unfathomable sin. Steppenwolf is hardly the most well-defined antagonist, but there is something very telling in the closing line of his introductory scene. “You will love me, “ he promises his fallen adversaries after a daring hit-and-run. “You all will.” It feels like Justice League is desperate for fan approval.

This sense of atonement is reflected in various character apologies and references. “You didn’t have to do this,” one character explains to Bruce Wayne towards the end of the film. “Think of it as making up for past mistakes,” Bruce confesses. It feels like the entire point of Justice League is to respond to every perceived criticism of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman, an entire movie stuck in damage control mode.

This attempt at atonement takes many forms. Sometimes, it is a conscious attempt to lighten the mood. Even Justice League does reference the events of Batman vs. Superman, it is often with a sense of derision and dismissal. At one point, Batman is brutally thrown across a field. “Tell me,” his opponent mocking asks, quoting one of the most memetic lines from Batman vs. Superman“Do you bleed?” This is all set up for the easiest possible punchline, as Bruce picks himself up. “Something’s definitely bleeding,” he groans, feeling his age.

However, a lot of Justice League is given over to pretending that Batman vs. Superman didn’t happen, or at least happened quite differently. At one point, cops in Gotham City report a spate of kidnappings by demonic bat-like creatures. “What?” Commissioner Gordon asks. “He’s been protecting the city for twenty years, you think he’s suddenly going to move to Metropolis and kidnap eight people?” Gordon seems fairly blaisé about Bruce’s crippling and branding of low-income criminals in Batman vs. Superman.

“Well, everybody has bad days.”

This is reflected even in various editing choices. While Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were fascinated with the creepier and more unsettling aspects of Kryptonian technology, Justice League frames a lot of the scenes on the Kryptonian ship to avoid these elements. Various scenes from the trailers are cropped and cut, most noticeably a decision to drop the word “again” from the end of Commissioner Gordon’s reflection, “It’s good to see you playing well with others.” When the Flash geeks out in the Batcave, he ignores the monument to Bruce’s dead sidekick.

One of the postcredits scenes features a surprise return appearance from one of the most controversial reimagined characters in the earlier films. This interpretation of an iconic comic book character generated a great deal of online derision, even if the goal was clearly to update a somewhat outdated concept for the twenty-first century. When that character fleetingly appears, he has been given a makeover, so that he resembles earlier and more conventional interpretations of the character in question.

Unquestioning nostalgia permeates Justice League, as if to atone for the more provocative and novel aspects of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman. Indeed, Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman dared to offer audiences versions of existing characters that had never appeared on film before, as opposed to pandering to beloved childhood memories. As ever, Justice League is desperate to atone for this particular offense. Composer Danny Elfman weaves in themes from earlier iterations of the characters. He quotes liberally from his own work and that of John Williams.

When Hans Zimmer worked on Batman vs. Superman, he worked very hard to provide a unique soundscape for Ben Affleck’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader. Zimmer is a composer who has occasionally borrowed from his own work, but he provided something distinct and distinguished for this iteration of the Batman, something to stand apart from soundtrack to The Dark Knight. Where Batman vs. Superman rejected empty nostalgia, Justice League indulges it.

Race to the bottom. But don’t worry, they digitally alter this to a daylight shot.

There is never any consideration of what this nostalgia actually means, or what purpose it serves beyond providing the audience with a touchstone to earlier beloved iterations of these iconic characters. As a result, several sequences in the film feel horribly misguided and awkward. There is something unsettling about the decision to play John Williams’ iconic Superman score at a point when two members of the team seem to be trying to smash each others’ skulls in. But, hey, the internet wanted more nostalgia.

This is particularly infuriating because there is definitely a weirder and more interesting movie entombed somewhere within Justice League, a version of film that feels more comfortable in itself than the final cut. There are shades of the more intriguing and unsettling aspects of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman writhing beneath the surface, struggling to break out from beneath the movie’s oh-so-bright exterior.

Like Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman before it, it is very clear that Zack Snyder originally conceived of Justice League as a superhero horror film. Indeed, it is telling that the production design of alien technology in the trilogy owes a lot to The Thing or Alien, even with the lighting turned way up in Justice League. In fact, Man of Steel painted Superman himself as a horrifying concept while Batman vs. Superman rendered Batman as a monster before unveiling an “abomination” in an extended nod to Frankenstein.

There are traces this approach here, even as the edit fights against them. Death is a recurring fascination, with Steppenwolf leading an army comprised of zombie bugs converted from his fallen adversaries. The character of Cyborg describes himself as a monster, and is introduced skulking around the scene like a creature from a gothic horror. A janitor accidentally disturbs a horde of predatory bugs. Around the middle of the film, Bruce contemplates an act of necromancy out of nowhere, causing Barry Allen to liken the situation to Pet Sematary.

Little Wonder.

However, Justice League is unwilling to actually consider the implications of any of this. Scenes cut away before they can become unsettling or confrontational, leading to a bizarre tonal mismatch. Justice League is a movie which features a banter-filled buddy comedy sequence in which two heroic characters are digging up a grave belonging to an iconic hero. The Pet Sematary sequence suggested by Barry Allen leads to a resurrection confrontation that avoids any hint of horror by filming this zombie fight in the middle of the day with the lighting turned way up.

The same holds true of any ideas carried over from Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman. In theory, Steppenwolf is a potentially interesting figure in the larger context of the trilogy. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman (and Wonder Woman) have all been explicit about the idea that these superheroic characters are essentially a new breed of god, that they challenge human conceptions of what it means to live in the world. Steppenwolf is literally a “new god”, and he is introduced in conflict with the “old gods”, the Amazons of Themyscira.

However, because all of the conversations about religion and power in Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were deemed “pretentious” or “boring”, Justice League has little interest in any of this symbolism. There is no opportunity to wallow in the mythic properties of this confrontation. No opportunity to explore what it means for these two forces to stand in opposition to one another. There is not even any of Snyder’s signature style. There is just generic computer-generated-animation-driven actions.

Similarly, Justice League is completely disinterested in Steppenwolf as a character. It is suggested that he has been living in exile, but living where? He is introduced with magic “boom tube” technology that allows him to teleport at will, but where is he based? Why did he take so long to return? The character is ill-defined, awkwardly offering a few lame one-liners between action setpieces, but without anything that might distinguish him from any other generic blockbuster antagonist.

On the Wayne.

There are moments when Justice League suggests that it might tie Steppenwolf back to the ideas of masculinity that run through Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman. Indeed, in keeping with the much derided climax of Batman vs. Superman, Steppenwolf’s most developed relationship is with the suggestively named “mother box.” He gets very sensitive when other men interact with it, and seems awkwardly devoted to it.

The “mother box” is an entity of creation, but one suggested to be value-neutral. Batman vs. Superman was a film about toxic masculinity, to the point that the “abomination” at the climax was effectively the result of Lex Luthor crossing his DNA with that of General Zod. The female “mother box” is used twice over the course of Justice League in the act of creation. In both cases, that process of creation is more constructive and less violent than the exclusively masculine procreation at the climax of Batman vs. Superman.

However, all of this gets lost in the edit, a conscious desire to play down anything that might read as controversial or provocative. Batman vs. Superman repeatedly suggested that the existence of Superman provided a challenge to Bruce Wayne’s perceived masculinity to the point that Bruce tried to impale Clark on his giant glowing spear while talking about how Clark wasn’t really a man after throwing him around a men’s room. In contrast, Justice League falls back on awkward banter and giggles.

“You really don’t like me,” a male character quips to Bruce in the heat of combat. Despite the fact that these characters are in the middle of a catastrophic and existential struggled against the forces of darkness in the universe, Bruce is still a little flummoxed. “I don’t… not,” he replies. It’s stock combat banter of the kind seen in films like The Avengers or Captain America: Civil War, at best gently prodding notions of masculine identity instead of brutally deconstructing it.

Tri and dent his confidence.

Justice League is terrified of the idea that anybody might possible read it as a “dark” or “cynical” film, so much so that it undermines its narrative tension. There are multiple points in the film when it is clear that the production team have had to restructure the movie in postproduction, and not just because of the absurdity of Henry Cavill’s computer-generated upper lip. Justice League feels stitched together, often over itself.

This is most obvious at the climax of the film, which hinges on suspense about whether a particular character will join the team for the big climactic set piece. The team is in danger and under pressure, they need every able body to help. However, one key member is not present. Because the team are heroes, they opt to go into combat without that member. The scene is very clearly set up to generate suspense, designed to make the audience anticipate the arrival of this missing element.

However, Justice League is very wary that this suspense might be perceived as “dark” or “ambiguous”, or as something that would potentially offend fans with a very clear sense of what is within the realm of acceptable behaviour for this particular character. So the movie stitches in a sequence in which the character decides to help the team a good twenty minutes before showing up to the battle. The result is a plot development that makes no sense.

Why does it take that character so long to get to the final battle, given that the audience has been told that they will be joining it? The Answer is quite clear in storytelling terms, the action set piece is set up to generate suspense, but that suspense would involve potentially misleading the audience or creating a sense of ambiguity. However, Justice League has been so traumatised by the online reaction to Batman vs. Superman that it doesn’t trust the audience to handle twenty minutes of suspense and so plays its hand early, undercutting any real sense of tension.

Top of the world.

There are a lot of moments like that within Justice League, when the film finds itself faced with a potentially interesting story or character beat, but always opts for the path of least possible resistance. It isn’t just boring, it is bad storytelling. Justice League is an incredibly lazy piece of work, playing to the cheapest seats in the house. “What’s you superpower?” Barry Allen asks Bruce Wayne at one point in the film. “I’m rich,” Bruce Wayne replies. Justice League is makes fan-pleasing jokes that were already tired four decades ago.

Much like Justice League avoids grappling with the potent religious symbolism of Man of Steel or Batman vs. Superman, the film is consciously apolitical. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman understood the appeal of Superman as an immigrant figure, meditating upon issues of class and race. Indeed, the quasi!Trump and quasi!Zuckerberg collaboration to stir up racial resentment of a perceived alien in Batman vs. Superman has aged remarkably well in the single year since the film’s release.

The opening montage of Justice League hints vaguely at the prospect of some political subtext, featuring a bunch of skinheads attacking a shop owned by a Middle Eastern family, tying into those ideas of immigration in Batman vs. Superman. Wonder Woman is introduced facing down a group of self-described “reactionary terrorists” (what?) in London. However, none of these themes are developed. There is never a sense that Justice League is actually about anything. Indeed, there’s a sense that is consciously trying not to be about anything.

For all the derision that Marvel Studios films receive for their lighter approach to comic books, they have never produced anything as consciously insubstantial as Justice League. Even the goofy Thor: Ragnarok was a postcolonial fable about the sorrows of empire. Justice League seems afraid that by actually saying something it might offend or alienate some member of the audience. So it expends an unhealthy amount of energy trying to say nothing.

Think fast.

Without any interest in themes or ideas, Justice League is forced to pad its runtime with exposition and set pieces. None of these sequences are particularly compelling, with various story beats feeling like cliff-notes versions of the dynamics at play within the shared DC universe. An early scene between Aqua Curry and Mera plays as set-up for Aquaman, and must seem really confusing to anybody who isn’t versed in the character’s core lore. Wonder Woman dumps exposition about Steppenwolf on a lake-edge stroll, complete with computer-generated flashbacks.

Whereas Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman had a strange and enticing operatic vibe, fueled by montages set to Hans Zimmer’s overwhelming piano-driven scores, Justice League aims for a more conventional and generic aesthetic. The montages in Justice League are set to generic pop and rock songs, because this makes it less likely to be labelled as “pretentious” or “grandiose.” The opening credits feature a version of Everybody Knows, while Aquaman goes diving to the beats of Icky Thump by the White Stripes.

To be fair, there are a handful of interesting scenes in Justice League. At one point, for example, Bruce ruminates on the possibility that Clark is more human than he ever was, that Clark has allowed himself to live in the world rather than apart of it. Another effective sequence underscores Superman’s versatility as a utility player and redundancy system within the Justice League, suggesting that the character is and always shall be the foundation of the shared universe.

However, none of these ideas are allowed to develop into threads or observations. Instead, they feels like scattered breadcrumbs. This is particularly obvious in the closing monologue from Lois Lane about the concept of “darkness.” The monologue is clearly intended to draw down the curtain on a dark and ambiguous period of this shared universe, to welcome a new dawn following the deconstructions and the brutality of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman. It works on paper.

Three of a kind.

However, Justice League completely botches the execution. “Darkness is more than just the absence of hope,” Lane reflects, but she seems to have misread her own film. There is no darkness in Justice League. Anything resembling darkness has been purged from the film, as the lighting was set to maximum. As a result, Lane’s closing monologue feels like disingenuous fan service, an attempt to move past the perceived darkness of Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman that comes two hours into a soul-destroying over-lit oblivion.

Justice League bounces around the stock story beats in a superhero team-up like this, but without any real heart or motivation. Instead, the characters almost come to blows twice and actually come to blows once because that is what is expected in a superhero team-up film. There is never a sense of why these characters are escalating this situation, and there is never a sense that these disagreements have any actual weight behind them or come with anything resembling stakes. They are there because this is what the internet has demanded that a superhero film look like.

That is Justice League in a nutshell, a desperate and pandering attempt to conform to the internet’s idealised version of a superhero film. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were both deeply flawed films, but they had a unique identity and craft. There are no other superhero films that attempted to construct their narratives in a similar manner, that so brazenly rejected the culture of nostalgia that infuses modern blockbusters. Man of Steel and Batman vs. Superman were utterly unlike any other superhero blockbusters.

Justice League just feels like a pale imitation of any other superhero film.

34 Responses

  1. I was afraid this was going to happen :/ Oh well I will still give it a shot and wait for Snyder’s cut.

  2. Just Saw it. You can tell the film was toned down and made to be brighter. The jokes from Aquaman and The Flash were cool but Batman? That was one major sin to me. I really want to see the “unwatchable” version of this film.

  3. Great review, as always.

    I didn’t know the run time when I saw it. I remember reading it was going to run for something like 180 minutes originally. The film does seem chopped as a result and, with Snyder out of the picture, I wonder if we’re getting yet another extended cut. It’s getting old, but I’d certainly like one for this movie.

    It’s disappointing to see this days after your piece on nostalgia. It was somewhat inevitable, but it’s still disappointing.

    Some things that popped up for me:

    I know it’s common practice nowadays but I missed scenes like the one you posted an image here, the one with Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg at the ”final set”. There’s also the ”You should probably move” Cyborg line. Small details, but…

    Also, I had noticed the change from trailer 1 to 2, where scenes (like Wonder Woman saving Batman from parademons on the batmobile) were changed from happening at night to the cgi red bonanza we had for the final act. I was afraid this extra cgi was the movie attempts to lighten things up, but now I kind of wish it was.

    And to finish, I felt the movie starts like a Snyder movie and ends up as a Whedon one. It’s weird. The final act is so rushed, Steppenwolf stops making his oedipal statements and he suffers what I like to call ”Ultron solution”, but you could call it ”shameful and inconsequential stomping”.
    But I really liked those first scenes. The first one, with Superman speaking to the kids actually rang true to me. The opening montage gave me the impression the movie was going to position itself as a weird paralel piece to ”Watchmen”. I think Snyder would take the franchise to a ”lighter tone” with this instalment, gradually changing the world around it, but they compromised.

    Still, I enjoyed those first two acts. It’s too fresh, though, and I might be suffering from nostalgia overdrive, so I’ll see how it goes.
    (I love me some Secret Society refferences, so there’s that, I guess)

  4. Darren, is there any Justice League comics that you can recommend that are better than the film?

    • Almost any of them> 🙂

      I kid.

      I’m less fond of it than most, but Morrison’s Justice League seems like a good starting point. Waid’s follow-up is not bad, but is perhaps most notable for its introductory arc “Tower of Babel”, which is one of the best Batman stories ever told. I’ve warmed to the Bwa-ha-ha era of Justice League International by Giffen and company, which is basically a comedy series about what happens when you have to write a Justice League book without any of the a-list. I have a fondness for Meltzer’s Justice League run, even if I don’t like Identity Crisis which serves as a springboard into it.

  5. This felt like a heart broken review Darren. Like you were on the cusp of tears whilst walking out the theater. Dont get me wrong, i felt just just about the same and i haven’t even seen this film, yet, there’s a sense of sorrow simmering beneath the surface of whats to come.

    I didnt watched any trailers following the release but upon until wednesday i gave in to the temptation to browse initial reviews and, well, i was just….sad. And coupled with fact that Rotten Tomatoes didn’t release the aggregate score until the day before release just fed more doubt and sceptism.

    I anticipated ur non non review as the final say so because there’s always a sense of layered criticism to your reviews; a sense of depth of analysis that lacks with most prominent internet blogs (plus the added opinion pieces– most recently that one on nostalgia in the MoS and BvS movies was a timely reference).

    I guess my point is– as far as reviews go– you’ve basically painted a very vivid picture of the look, tone, structure of this film and its very sad. I’m not blaming you at all for any perception of it from here on out and I’ll still see the film but its pretty clear as to what I’ll be walking into. Its almost impossible to expect otherwise. Sad.
    You’ll get ma thoughts of it here after.

    • Hi Michail! Yeah, it a very draining and exhausting film. It really took a lot out of me. And, I mean, I’m a pretty generous critic, I’ll concede. Give me something interesting and exciting, and I’ll forgive a lot. But there’s just… nothing… there.

  6. While I enjoy the movie, is true the movie doesn’t push any envelope or make a bold move (probably left in the cutting room).
    But one of the most disappointing thing of the movie is the score, I do not understand why replacing Junkie XL for Danny Elfman.
    I definitely miss the pulsating score of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman in this movie.

    • I don’t know if it’s the most disappointing thing. But the film cuts out this grand and sweeping operatic score for… generic background music and fan service.

  7. “There is never any consideration of what this nostalgia actually means”

    You’ve hit the nail on my biggest tissue with DC Comics under DiDio’s direction, and continuing under Harras.

    The stories aren’t about truth and justice any more. They’re set inside Superman the symbol, the brand. We are supposed to feel truth and justice through association with the BRAND, not through the portrayal of truth and justice here and now.

    It’s why Smallville became a kind of industry joke by the end (despite some good years), and why Gotham is headed down that same path. They have forgotten how to characterize and dramatize, so they rely on continuity and shock value to get butts to the theater.

    It’s a bit like that metaphor about smashing a priceless Ming vase to get a reaction from the onlookers in the room. You’ll get a reaction, all right. Raw, genuine, human reaction. But what happens afterward?

  8. Nobody’s ever going to be satisfied with these movies, right? If it’s not ‘they are too dark’, it’s ‘they are too light’.


    I’m sure after this the franchise will tank and maybe you guys will be pleased at last, never mind the blow to the already unsteady comics industry as a whole, so don’t worry.

  9. It was fun but did have flaws. I can’t wait to see the extended version since that usually helps with these dceu movies

  10. I don’t think that “Justice League” was as bad as many claimed it was. To be honest, I rather liked it. But I do feel that the WB suits had overreacted to the negative press of “Man of Steel” and especially “Batman v. Superman”. I really enjoyed the 2013 movie and I regard the 2016 movie as one of the best comic book hero films I have ever seen.

    Both movies managed to be successful anyway, yet the WB suits were stupid enough to pay more attention to the critics, instead of the box office and meddled with “Justice League” when Snyder was forced to back off, due to family tragedy. If the WB suits are paying attention to the reaction, they would be wise to release an extended version of “Justice League” that is more closer to Snyder’s vision.

  11. Justice league was a movie that was shortened to much. The directors cut will make it so much better. Agree with you 100%

    • If we get a director’s cut, which seems increasingly unlikely because it would be a tacit acknowledgement that Warners made a mistake with the film. A lot of pride tied up in the movie, I suspect.

  12. I’m told that in the script, the soul of Steppenwolf’s mother was trapped inside the mother boxes and he was trying to combine them in order to release her. Hence the weird “mother!” stuff.

  13. Great review. I have strong feelings about this movie. I Loved man of steel (as I stated in this post: https://motionpictureaficionado.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/man-of-steel-2013-the-superhero-movie-we-need-but-not-the-one-we-deserve/ )
    I liked BvS very much. I didn’t mind Suicide Squad. Wonder Woman was amazing.
    But Justice League…oh, it gets on my nerves. I just blame Warner Bros. for not having faith in Zach Snyder.

  14. Grea write-up! I don’t hate Justice League, I do enjoy it. However when I saw it in theaters and again on blu-ray I just can’t help but think about how we’ll never get a proper conclusion to the thematics that Snyder set up. I love Man of Steel and really appreciate Batman v Superman. I love the idea that if we had these characters in our world it would not be as simple as we think it is in the comics. Your opening sentences summed up the film perfectly.

  15. Hey Darren, big fan here (all the way from first Pakistan, now Canada)! I’ve read almost all of your reviews (some multiple times) and don’t think there’s any critic / blogger out there as analytically sound and eloquent as you…so hats off! Been following your blog for years and I’ve made most of my comicbook collection based on your recommendation. Just 2 questions:

    1) this is more of an observation – this is by far the BEST review / critical analysis on how / why Justice League the movie was so disappointing for us fans…it wasn’t that it was aiming high and missed (like BvS), or that it was trying to hard to be too cool but sucked (like Suicide Squad)…it’s that it. Just. Is. Doesn’t make us feel anything. It should be as big (or bigger) as Infinity War, making us feel all the goosebumps and tears that amazing culmination of the MCU made us feel and yet, this just…was the end of the DCEU even more it got a proper shot.

    2) I miss your comicbook reviews! Please start them again! Would love your take on the Rebirth titles (Bats, Superman, ‘Tec, Action, Justice League, etc) as well as Marvel Now (especially Hickman’s Avengers and the trainwreck that has been the X-Men ever since Gillen left the franchise in 2012 – again, I bought and loved his run on your recommendation)!

    Thanks for writing, sharing ,and listening! Will continue to be a fan as long as you’re writing 🙂

    • Oh, trust me, I miss my comic book reviews as well! I’d love to be able to do more of them, but I’ve had a number of time crunches in the past year or so.

      Do you follow me on Twitter? I do more comic book stuff there, if only because the only time I really get to read comics and write about them is on public transport. So I occasionally do extended threads on things like Tom King’s Batman. I’m re-reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman at the moment.

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