Awhile back, I admitted to not watching any Snyderverse films. I got tired of being the uncool kid who couldn’t join in the lunchroom conversations, so I set out to assimilate. I watched Man of Steel, followed that with Batman V Superman, and now I’m onto Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Four hours? Man, run times are getting stupid. What is going on in the world that the entertainment industry is steadily increasing its doses of brain-drain? Remember when Marx said religion is the opiate of the people? Oh Karl, you poor naïve fool. If only you saw superhero movies. They are the fentanyl of the people.
Let’s fire up our dream stick and inhale Zack Synder’s magnum opiumus: Justice League.
Justice League starts with a flashback to Superman fighting Not-Doomsday. Onlookers like Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and Batman are concerned. You can tell by their Kabuki-like expressions. It looks like Superman’s yells have the power to awaken box-shaped infinity stones.
Even Amber Heard gets to look concerned. Remember when countless incels wondered what Amber Heard would do in bed? Now they know. Amber Heard defecates in beds. Her mystique is officially ruined. She Dylan-Mulvaney’ed her simp-quotient.
The prologue shows the Land of the Vulvalini. They have an infinity box, too. A gaggle of them stand around it in action-figure poses. Not even the Queen’s Guard could hold those kinds of positions. Thanks to Heard, we have to wonder if they defecate in beds, too. What if it is not just a Heard thing? What if it is a woman-in-general thing? Thoughts like these keep me up at night. I’m going to the store first thing in the morning to buy a rubberized mattress pad.
Part One: Don’t Count On It, Batman
Batman rides a horse through the mountains to reach a poor Icelandic village. He is there to find Aquaman. Batman also speaks a line of Icelandic to show his brilliance. Batman V Superman made me disappointed we didn’t get a standalone Batfleck flick. His roid-rage Batman was aces. Justice League allowed me to get over my disappointment. Snyderverse Batman is way overpowered. He is continually depicted as an expert at everything.
At the end of the day, Batman should be good at detective work, beating criminals to a pulp, and being a billionaire. That should fill his plate. The Snyderverse Batman would show up at a charity performance by Martha Argerich. Argerich would get sick, and Batman would get up on stage and play piano better than her. Then he would rebuild a Tesla engine and solve a mathematical equation written in Egyptian.
“Tut-tut,” Batman would quip. “T’was nothing. Or should I say…Tutankhamun-Tutankhamun?”
Apparently, Aquaman likes to bring fish to this poor Icelandic village. Hear me out…what if he taught them to fish instead? Then instead of feeding them for a day, he could feed them for a lifetime…
I don’t get Aquaman’s look at all. What does a gay-biker esthetic have to do with living under the sea? Throw in an Icelandic lady singing a haunting song as he swims away, and I begin to wonder if everyone involved with Justice League had hidden bags of clean urine sewn inside their pants.
Suicidal terrorists try to blow up children, and Wonder Woman thwarts the bombing. The terrorists are white men in suits, so they are a tad cliché. When someone says “terrorist,” white men in suits are the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind. It’s like whenever someone asks a person to imagine a Kung Fu Master, I guarantee they imagine a Mexican.
This isn’t your parents’ Wonder Woman. Lynda Carter could only bracelet-block one or two bullets. Gal Gadot can bracelet-block bullets at a full-auto pace. The buzz said Gal was a great Wonder Woman. Maybe she is in her standalone film. The more I see her in Justice League, the less she impresses. Her performance can be summarized as look concerned, give a banter smile, look bad-ass, and finish with a pose. That’s it. That’s all.
The movie goes back to the Land of the Vulvalini. A blue laser shoots into the sky. Finally, now this feels like a real superhero movie. Steppenwolf shows up with his dragonfly men and proceeds to put the beat-down on the Amazonians as he tries to snatch their infinity box. This is a good sequence. It’s fun, exciting and the action is sufficiently comic-booky.
Justice League does a solid job with its villain. For a fully CGI character, Steppenwolf is nicely realized. His motivation is clear. He is dangerous, and his voice work (Ciaran Hinds) is top-notch. Whenever he shows up, the movie’s energy picks up. Steppenwolf’s suit of armor is a great design, as well. It is always in motion as it adjusts itself around his body. This prevents him from going flat onscreen the way some CGI characters do when they simply stand there and deliver dialogue.
Part 2: The Age of Heroes
We visit Wonder Woman at her day job. She is Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters 2. She restores artwork while a Peter MacNicol stand-in supervises. The guy is no Peter MacNicol, however. Where have the all the Peter MacNicols gone? Ghostbusters 2 is weak, but MacNicol was a highlight.
Everything you do is bad. I just want you to know this…
Wonder Woman wears skin-tight evening dresses while restoring art. This makes sense. It helps her blend in. Pay no attention to this woman. She is just your average, ordinary supermodel going about her day. Nothing to see here. You wouldn’t notice her if she passed right in front of your face like a goddess who fell to earth and made your heart flutter like that exploding parrot in Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Totally nondescript.
Meanwhile, Aquaman talks to William Dafoe under the sea. How much do you want to bet Dafoe did something douchey to prepare for his role as an underwater person? He probably swam with dolphins or spent a week immersed in his hot tub. All of this helped him “find the reality of the character” and “add truth” to the role. He probably ate algae, too. Because it is sustainable.
As I watch Steppenwolf have a Zoom meeting with DeSaad, it is clear Snyder could make a great Masters of the Universe movie. You think he wouldn’t nail Skeletor and Eternia? Snyder is next level visually and displays ambition. He is similar to Gore Verbinski, in that he puts the budget on the screen. He just needs a proper script to channel him. Otherwise, when Snyder aims for “stupid-awesome,” he can land more in the “stupid” part of the target than the “awesome” part of the target. He also lets his costume design get out of hand. For example, who lets this look into one of their movies?
Part 3: Beloved Mother, Beloved Son
The Flash enters Justice League. He saves a girl from a car crash in a low-rent Quicksilver kind of way. Flash and this girl have an amazing connection, something really special, judging by the way it is filmed. How this will play into the movie later on?
What’s that? You say it doesn’t play into the movie later on? Then why are we doing it? “Why are we doing anything” is not an answer. You sound like a millennial who just took their first philosophy class. If life is meaningless, why do you keep posting your stupid face on Instagram under the belief that people care that you are “feeling cute, might delete later”?
How is Ezra as the Flash? He is a twerp. It is a thankless position within Justice League. Ezra is supposed to be comedy relief, yet everyone in the movie is a comedian. Justice League is full of one-liners that fall flat. Comedy during dark moments can work. Gallows humor is a real thing. Humor could even be found in the trenches of World War I. That trick is, the jokes have to be funny. The comedy in Justice League feels like it was inserted by a last-minute Diablo Cody rewrite.
This part of the movie also introduces us to Cyborg. Some friction existed with Ray Fisher on this film. I don’t know what that scuttlebutt was about, but Fisher is alright in Justice League. He pays the part with a detached aloofness. Cyborg is basically a human who is now so far above humans as to be unrelatable. He is similar to Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen.
The movie shows Fisher as a quarterback at a college football game. It is Gotham City vs. Wisconsin. We know it is just a movie because no one in the stands is fat. Real-life Wisconsin football fans have to buy three seats per person: two for their porterhouse buttocks and one for their bucket of cheese.
Fisher gets in a car accident, which causes his estranged father to turn him into a cyborg that can hack any system on the planet, manipulate currency and probably get the highest score possible in Tetris. This makes Cyborg extremely moody, which is to say, he fits right in with every other character in the movie. They aren’t so much a Justice League as they are a Depression League. For sure, all of them have gone more than two weeks experiencing feelings of hopelessness. They should talk to their doctors about Prozac. It may offer the boost they need to find joy in the little things again.
Part 4: Change Machine
The gang’s all here! Justice League finishes doing that thing where Batman asks people for help, and they say no, so then he asks them again, and they still say no, but then they show up anyway. Aquaman and Cyborg could be the same character in this regard. One way to tell them apart is that Cyborg looks like he was built by the same civilization that constructed Al’s handlink on Quantum Leap.
The Justice League celebrates its newfound unity by a sewer assault on Steppenwolf, who is interrogating prisoners to find another one of the infinity boxes. Batman has a crab-mobile to facilitate the attack. Once again, Batman is an infinite solution box. The only challenge he faces is that he can’t get a troop carrier to fly. The troop carrier is treated like the final piece of the puzzle needed by the team. I’m not sure why. All of them already have fast travel unlocked.
Everyone jumps and yells in the sewer. This action scene isn’t as fun as the one in the Land of the Vulvalini. Eventually, Steppenwolf returns to base. He has a vision where he hits the ground with his ax, and a pattern that looks like a tattoo that might exist somewhere on Tom Hardy’s body appears.
This is revealed to be the anti-life equation. Apparently, the anti-life equation is more important than the infinity boxes. As a result, the infinity boxes are no longer interesting, but Justice League still needs to spend the rest of its time focused on them. Why should the viewer continue to care about the infinity boxes? They’ve been showed a newer, shinier MacGuffin.
Speaking of infinity boxes, our heroes are in possession of the last one and discuss using it to raise Superman from the dead. Just when I thought Aquaman’s look couldn’t get any stupider, he wears a man scarf. Again, this is not Aquaman. This is the bassist for a gay Motley Crue cover band. I fully expect him to perform Kick Start My Heart when they get to the Superman resurrection scene.
Part 5: All The King’s Horses
The team digs up Superman’s body. Flash wonders if Wonder Woman would add him to the list of men she has rejected. This could be fun to explore, like Finn’s crush on Rey. In fact, this is just like Finn’s crush on Rey, in that it is brought up and never mentioned again.
They bring Superman’s body back to the Krypton ship crashed in the middle of Metropolis. It looks like they will use the infinity box, in conjunction with a wading pool, to raise Superman from the dead. Flash needs to assist in this by bringing the infinity box to life by shocking it. Basically, he is going to shuffle his feet really fast, build up static electricity and touch the box.
Zap! Superman is back. Without a shirt, of course. Got to show off that vitamin regimen. Superman is confused and attacks everyone until Lois shows up and calms him down. Ah, so that is why we were subjected to periodic cutaways of Lois throughout Justice League. She is the plot device that makes Superman come to his senses.
Speaking of Superman, was his body resurrected or is he a clone? The movie isn’t clear. It mostly talks about “turning smoke back into a house.” If his body was rebuilt, that means the original Superman is still dead, and this is a copy. If Superman was resurrected, that means his soul came back from some place, and he is still Superman.
“Turning smoke back into a house,” does not track as resurrection. It tracks as cloning. The fact that Superman doesn’t remember what happened to him also tracks with cloning. It seems to me we are supposed to cheer for a copy of Superman and not the real thing. Justice League can’t be bothered by these questions, though. A whole movie could be made about bringing Superman back from the dead, but this is a brainchild of DC Films. Ten minutes is more than enough.
The return of Superman has the coolest moment in the movie, though. As Superman fights Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Batman, Flash tries to enter the fray in super-fast mode. He works his way behind Superman, and the world goes into slow-motion, only for Superman to turn his head and follow Flash’s progress. Awesome moment.
The second coolest moment of Justice League was Aquaman’s bass solo during his band’s cover of Kick Start My Heart. I especially liked the part when he rode his bass around the stage like a witch’s broom.
Part 6: Something Darker
Maybe-Superman and Lois stand in corn. She finally gets him a shirt. With the shirt, Superman regains his humanity. Men watching Justice League with their girlfriends can rest easy again. Their better half no longer has Cavill eye-candying up the place with his perfectly coiffed pecs. Just kidding. No woman wants to watch this movie.
Martha also shows up. Diane Lane was not a good choice for Superman’s mom. She was a standard actress until 2002 when Unfaithful came out. Then everyone praised her steamy sex scenes. Twenty years later, that is still her main claim to fame. Basically, DC hired someone a notch below porn star to play Superman’s virtuous mom. Nailed it.
Regardless, the plan is set. Cyborg is going to mind-meld with the infinity boxes to make them harmless. My guess is he will touch them and grimace a lot. Everyone else has something to do, as well. Batman will go all Endor on Steppenwolf’s shield generator. Aquaman and Wonder Woman will jump around and kick-ass. Flash will run really fast.
We know this plan will work because, finally, the trooper carrier flies! It is a momentous occasion, something Justice League has built to for over three hours. They all get aboard and fly the troop carrier to their destiny. I can’t help but smile. I cared about that troop carrier, man. It is basically a metaphor for the superhero in all of us yearning to break free.
They reach Steppenwolf’s base. Steppenwolf is a supervillain who has been fortifying his base all movie to keep attackers at bay. Breaching it should be a formidable challenge. And it is; it takes Batman nearly a minute to render Steppenwolf’s defenses useless. Finally, Batman faces a real challenge in Justice League. Anything that takes him nearly a minute to overcome is a true obstacle.
The final battle culminates with Cyborg touching the infinity stones and grimacing. Yet, it looks like it is all for naught as Steppenwolf winds up to axe Cyborg good. Then Superman shows up, beats Steppenwolf senseless, and Wonder Woman cuts his head off. Does she pose after? You bet!
Some of the little issues our heroes went through in the movie get resolved. For example, Martha lost her farm because she was behind on payments. Batman buys the bank and gives her the farm back. This sounds cool and all, but it is actually pretty stupid. The farm looks to be 100 years old. As a family farm, it was probably paid for in the early 1900s.
Nevertheless, the movie says Martha was behind on payments. Maybe her and Costner bought it as a retirement project. A rundown acreage like that in rural Kansas might run around $250,000. Put down 20 percent and get a 30-year mortgage, and you are looking at $1,600 monthly payments. Man of Steel came out in 2013. Justice League was 2016. We will say Martha made no payments for three years. She’s not a strong woman. Her husband was the breadwinner and once he was gone, all funds ran out. That means Martha wracked up a bill around $60,000.
You are telling me that Batman needs to buy a small-town bank to cover a $60,000 bill? His boots probably cost $60,000.
Justice League then moves on to a Lex Luthor cameo. He sits on a yacht and hires Deadpool to kill Batman. Deadpool is not played by Ryan Reynolds, however. He is played by Flash Thompson from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. I am excited about this crossover!
The movie ends with Batman having another nightmare about that apocalyptic future world. In it, Darkseid came back and took over earth. Batman is a freedom fighter wandering around with Deadpool, Cyborg, Flash, and She Who Defecates In Beds. Batman also has Joker Leto with him. Leto successfully acts like a terrible Joker, which is a bold choice. Then evil Superman pops into the scene, and Batman wakes up to say hi to Martian Manhunter.
That’s how you make Rolling Stone’s List of the 50 Greatest Superhero Films, kids! Number one is Black Panther. I confess I haven’t seen that movie either. I’m guessing it has something to do with that cologne Brian Fantana wears in Anchorman.
Zach Snyder’s Justice League is ambitious. One is tempted to give it credit for that. How much credit, I’m not sure. Das Boot has a four-hour cut that is ambitious. It is also good. Is Zach Snyder’s Justice League good? Not really. For every good thing it does, it does a bad thing. Plus, visiting these characters for four hours allows the cracks to show.
Batman is overpowered. Wonder Woman is caught in a loop of looking concerned, banter smiling, looking bad ass, and posing. Aquaman is visually one of the stupidest characters ever created. Flash tries too hard to be funny but at least has some life to him. Superman is hardly in the movie and might not even be the real Superman. Cyborg is mostly alright.
Probably the best character is Steppenwolf. This was a surprise, but he emits menace, and his motivation is interestingly pathetic in conjunction with that menace. He just wants Darkseid to love him again. Plus, he got to throw horses around like bolos.
Action-wise, Justice League has some fun scenes, like the fight in the Land of the Vulvalini at the beginning of the film. However, they all kind of blur together after that. The whole movie kind of blurs together after a while. It is grandiose like a puffer fish. It feels like Snyder was more interested in the things he teased, and he went through all of this to get to the movie he truly wanted to make (Batman in apocalyptic future world). Then the plug was pulled.
The other part of the problem is that Justice League copies Marvel too much. Darkseid is Thanos. The mother boxes are the infinity stones. Justice League is too late to the party and brought a re-gifted present besides. DC should have just given Snyder $150 million to make his Batman Mad Max movie. That might have been weird enough to be fresh.
As far as I’m concerned, this completes my dive into the Snyderverse. Suicide Squad and the Wonder Woman movies also qualify as Synderverse movies. Maybe I will dive into them at some point, but I’ve had enough for now. Let’s grade Justice League, make like a tree and get out of here. Justice League has some good stuff and some bad stuff. It’s got some smart stuff and some stupid stuff. It’s got some cool stuff and some lame stuff. Add all that up and 2.5 stars is reasonable.