Comics Creators

Justice League - Pregame (Critical Reviews, Musings, etc. - No Spoilers)



I ‘m not hugely sure I follow you here. My understanding of Justice League is that it uncovers heroes who would otherwise have remained hidden. Superman is by definition the inciting event, his existence a rallying point. Otherwise it’s Batman, and he can only get people to listen. He can’t get them to act. Which kind of gives another meaning to action comics.


That is Justice League, but it is a shift from the Man of Steel perspective - where that world is essentially our world with one unusual difference - the appearance of Superman and the Kryptonian invasion that follows from that.

However, each subsequent film plays against that concept and makes the Earth a place where super heroic or epic adventures with superhuman powers have been here since prehistory. Rather than Superman being the genesis of a new age, his appearance is downgraded a bit. His appearance is just one of many AND really, he’s not even the first. The other heroes aren’t directly related to him and most of them actually were around before he showed up.


But that’s sort of an assumption you make about Man of Steel. In any pre-Iron Man superhero movie this was not only a safe but an automatic assumption, which subsequent sequels always bore out. But Iron Man changed all that. I maintain that the logic explored in Man of Steel’s sequels not only supports this conclusion but affirms it quite nicely.


It was also the way Snyder, Goyer and even Nolan were selling Man of Steel when it came out. Batman V Superman also kept that going. This was the “real world” reacting to Superman in as pseudo-realistic a way as Nolan’s movies dealt with Batman. It was intriguing, and even though it didn’t work for me, it worked for a lot of people - even on this forum.

For all their flaws, Man of Steel, Batman Vs Superman and even Suicide Squad (poorly) had the approach that this was about a real world approach (again, as real as Batman Begins) setting the less noble or epic nature of our daily experience against the extraordinarily unusual intrusion of superheroes and villains. Gods and monsters. All leading out of the historically unique appearance of Superman.

Now, those movies didn’t work for most critics, and while they did reach an audience, their expectations were significantly downgraded. The Wonder Woman was the first exception in both ways. First, it was much more fun, funny, fantastic and unrealistic compared to the other films, and, next, it exceeded its expectations critically and in audience response.

While Justice League on the other hand doesn’t really seem committed to either approach. The darker Snyder films or the more fantastic and pulp Wonder Woman movie. So, I would wonder if the people who liked either approach would be reticent to take a chance with JL. So far, it looks like Justice League won’t even beat Suicide Squad’s attendance numbers.


Aye, say what you will about Suicide Squad’s plot, editing, and character arcs…but it is at least tonally consistent with itself.



This is one of those parody headlines, right?


Hmm, suspect if it’s true, that Whedon’s just mad he didn’t create the villain and didn’t have a say in his execution. But I think Steppenwolf works about as well as he can.


He could have, had they built up on his assertions rather than make him a mess of hazy contradictions.


I guess I need explained his shortcomings.


It’s amazing the ability that people have to read other people’s minds now.


It’ll probably end up that it was just a ‘fat finger’ error on Whedon’s phone. I’ve ‘liked’ quite a few posts and tweets by accident over the years. :smile:


Didn’t Whedon take his account down entirely for a little while after Ultron? Maybe the guy just shouldn’t be on Twitter.


Nobody should be on Twitter


There speaks an aggrieved Myspace fan.


Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. There’s a lot of reaction here to one “like”.


That was what I thought was ridiculous about the story in the first place. Who cares? Who is reading that much into ‘liking’ a tweet?


Yeah, and this is primarily the thing that disappoints me both with the DC approach and with the critical response.

Justice League is, at heart, toxically cynical, even if it does ultimately conclude — not counting its second post-credits sequence — on a shaky note of optimism. In the film, paranoid millionaire turned nocturnal vigilante Bruce “Batman” Wayne (Ben Affleck) assembles a team of similarly powerful outcasts to defeat a doomsday scenario that, while inherently generic, is a survivalist’s wet dream. Demigod-like villain Steppenwolf (a personality-less computer-generated monstrosity voiced by Ciaran Hinds) has invaded Earth, and plans to transform it into his home planet of Apokolips (though his native world isn’t named in the film). Unfortunately for Batman, Clark “Superman” Kent (Henry Cavill) died fighting Doomsday at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Diana “Wonder Woman” Prince (Gal Gadot), the closest thing that the film has to a Superman-like leader, unfortunately takes a backseat while insecure teammates Arthur “Aquaman” Curry (Jason Momoa), Barry “The Flash” Allen (Ezra Miller), and Victor “Cyborg” Stone (Ray Fisher), muscle her out of the spotlight.

I’m not sure if Justice League or the DC movies are “toxically cynical,” but certainly that impression has turned a number of moviegoers off.

At the same time though, I think fans of the films could make the point that the DC movies are not inherently cynical, and rather take the point of view that the tone of the world today is toxically cynical.

To get a little academic (because really, since college I’ve been obsessed with the dramatic underpinnings of narrative structure), I believe that when Nolan and Goyer first started the Man of Steel project after the Dark Knight series, what interested them was a more tragic than triumphant through line for the character.

Walter Kerr in his book on Tragedy and Comedy (1967) made an interesting point. From his long study of plays (Greek, Shakespeare and onwards), he noted that the tragedies had true happy endings while comic endings were filled with “compromise, resignation, doubt, frank disbelief on all sides, the denial of dignity, the reminder that victory changes nothing and that the bumbler will go on bumbling.” However, when the tragic hero pays the price, it saves the family, country, kingdom, world. Whatever is at stake is secured by the hero’s sacrifice.

At heart, superhero movies are comedies - or the compromise between comedy and tragedy of melodrama. Escapism and wish-fulfillment that the hero can overcome dire circumstances and implacable threats to himself and those he loves without actually sacrificing very much because he is destined to do so.

Coming out of The Dark Knight, I think DC and WB felt they could continue the same sort of more tragically tinged melodrama with Superman. That setting the film in the same cynical world, they could tell a Superman story with a lot more depth than the lighter, more comic alternatives of Iron Man and the Avengers.

Not that the Marvel movies are actually superficial. Actually, I think they are a bit cynical in their approach as well. I mean, Stark started out as, really, a horrible person if you look at him objectively. Even after his literal “change of heart,” can you imagine how shitty the culture at Stark industries must be for an average employee? I’d rather work for Lex Luthor, honestly.

Obviously, I think DC and Snyder failed in their approach, but I don’t know if that is more a disproof of the concept or simply a comment on the actual execution.


I’m just saying it’s reasonable to assume.