By: Alex Templar - MSTv writer
"Thor: Ragnarok is yet another Marvel film in receipt of wildly positive reviews, with its typical MCU inclusions of action, fun and humor - precisely balanced and delivered to a hungry audience. Plus, its grossed over 700 million already. Yes, the Marvel cinema machine has done it again, even with one of the weaker links in their cinematic universe."
However, this obviously isn't a Marvel movie review, especially given the photo emblazoned above. This a more of a a query, from myself and others who wonder how a movie (IE: Justice League) made about the virtual "originators" of Marvel comics, (yes, its true) could be such a hackneyed mess?
Can a decent answer, or fair excuse can be given? That's another query, but let's give it a shot.
Justice League finally debuted this Thursday past; and for many a viewer it felt like a betrayal; one built after nearly two years of promises of change from within the DC film universe. Yet as expected, only the trailers painted a beautiful and exciting canvas of what would hopefully - but didn't - come to pass.
Yeah, trailers tend to do that.
However, a considerable promised change was addressed: Gone was doom and gloom look and feel of Zach Snyder DC films past. Justice League, in contrast, is a colorful, vibrant and sometimes, humorous delight to watch. But, it seems that was the rub. While Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both were dark, gloomy and ofttimes depressing films, they both at least had a sense of range and depth, plus some character development. These attributes were all missing in Justice League.
The film itself only brought the feel of some disjointed super-powered misfits, who kinda banded together to fight a second-rate villain (and his flying monkey bugs) with no apparent motivation other than just to fight them. Never once did I think that this band of Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman and the Flash (and a revived Superman, thrown in at the 11th hour) would actually congeal into a "team."
Batman, as expected, prefers to play solo and seems to be gathering this group only out of guilt.
Flash is a wide-eyed innocent, prone to tripping and with no clue as to how his powers really work.
Cyborg is cool as hell, calculating and brilliant. Also as expected, extremely bitter.
Wonder Woman is bad-ass beauty and glue of the team. In other words, she's hot and the guys all see that.
Aquaman is a loner, major-attitude-having, alcoholic party-boy who lives for a good time/fight. In other words: cool...
And Superman?? Er, he's Superman! He doesn't really need this team and boy, does he shows it!
All in all, this sounds like the makings for a awesome comic movie, depicting the virtual "gods" of the entire superhero genre. Yet, it falls extremely flat almost from the jump. And with the comic-inspired source story-line this team was forced to play out, its even more amazing that this film didn't work better.
Comic fans will no doubt see similarities between the film and the 2011 New 52 version launch of the Justice League comic. As in both film and comic, a villain from Apokolips (Steppenwolf/Darkseid) invades Earth in a takeover attempt. From this point, the changes are minimally different.
In the comic version, the team are all relatively young and new to their careers. They just "kinda" come together to repel Darkseid. But from the start, they do so as a team - a very disgruntled one - but a team, none the less. As before stated, the film "Leaguers" seem to form only a "team-up" of convenience - not a team.
The film story is mostly the same. The only changes are that Batman and Wonder Woman gather the team, the baddie is a Darkseid minion and Superman is initially dead, later revived and pretty much wraps up the final fight by himself. And besides a few extraneous details, like Olympian Gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, ancient humans, and Green Lanterns first fighting Steppenwolf', centuries earlier; Superman being revived as a secret weapon and Russia being the spot of the final showdown, this movie is basically the 1st story arc of "The New 52: Justice League comic." That comic showed all the raw, wild and unfettered egotistical ambition of youth, working together and proving themselves to a crisis-terrified world; which for the most part, fears them. In contrast, the movie, though action-packed, is ofttimes boring, visually busy for no reason and sometimes lacking focus with the story, or far too little character development. You often feel like any member, besides Wonder Woman, could or would walk away from this group at any moment. And in a sense, you might not blame them.
This film League only excels at playing with legendary comic characters, who sorely lack the type enthusiasm which made their counterpart comic characters story so engaging. The directors got the look generally right. So how could they have a completely missed out on the characterization and story originating from such strong source materials??
In closing, I tried very hard to like this film and still can't comprehend why It let me down so much. DC has so many brilliant interpretations of the League, ranging from Super Friends to the perfection that was Justice League Unlimited. With so many excellent prior versions to reference, a Justice League film of this quality is unexpected, unacceptable and may wound DC film futures in an unrecoverable way.
Yes, the entire Marvel Universe is indirectly the bastard spawn of the Justice League. But, while the kids remain media darlings, the parent remains slightly out of touch. Unfortunate..