Universe (or DC Cinematic Universe, as it is called by others)- one of admiration, but also one of concern, and a kind of anxiety.
The foundations of this relationship can be traced to 2013, when the first movie in this cinematic universe was released- Zack Snyder’s “Man Of Steel”. Practically everyone I knew (or could hear from online) had a laundry list of issues with the movie, leading me to believe there was something about this approach to Superman that *just wasn’t connecting* with audiences, despite the fact that I largely enjoyed it.
When the follow-up to the movie, “Batman v Superman”, was released a few years later, this belief was confirmed: this approach was simply not connecting with audiences, and I wondered whether those in charge of bankrolling these movies were taking notes
This, I realised, meant that I could not count on the movies continuing to entertain me- as they would definitely continue to change- to struggle to find their voice, to figure out exactly what was going wrong. And I was so very afraid that this would lead to a grievous mistake.
To further escalate the situation, the incredible “Wonder Woman” released earlier this year to rave reviews. By far my top pick of all the DCEU movies, this fresh, beautiful take on my personal favourite superhero was unique in the series not just due to its universal acclaim, but also due to its marked departure from the tone of the previous films.
Since I knew that Wonder Woman was also going to be featured in the Justice League movie, I found myself with even more to be anxious about! Not only could Justice League fail due to existing problems with the DC movies, it could potentially disappoint and alienate a legion of new Wonder Woman fans who, expecting an encore from the character that had entertained them so well in June, might well be met with grim disappointment from what should be the tentpole of the series.
News of extensive reshoots and last minute editing did nothing to help the situation. So as I sat down to finally put to rest the matter of watching this movie, I braced for impact. .
And you know what? The landing wasn’t bad at all! It wasn’t particularly smooth, either, and I will attempt to detail this below
The movie does many things well. It had a good, clear, and positive message regarding re-connecting with the world, rebounding or “returning” from misfortune, the importance of unity, and taking responsibility. It repositioned DC’s characters as heroes who care about people first, and punching the bad guys second. It refrained from having its main characters commit acts that might undermine their status as role models, such as taunting their opponents or killing people in cold blood. And it achieved something the first two movies failed to do- it gave it’s heroes strong characterisation and some entertaining banter.
A few things it tried to do, unfortunately, didn’t quite land as well. It attempted to re-establish Superman, a character whose brand had been tarnished by the poorly-received Batman v. Superman, as the central focus of DC’s movie universe. Unfortunately, it achieved this at the expense of other characters, including its titular villain, Steppenwolf, who proved not to be a credible threat as a result. Also undermined by this decision was the central theme of unity, as Superman’s “reconnection with the world” did not do much to align with the theme of needing help from ones’ friends.
The movie also attempted to introduce three new superheroes- Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg- and within its short running time, the only character that was done justice was, arguably, the Flash. Unfortunately, this movie has not left me anticipating the planned Aquaman and Cyborg movies that are currently scheduled for release in the coming years.
Finally, there are a few things that, sadly, held the movie back from absolute perfection. Among these less than desirable attributes is the uneven quality of the Computer Generated Imagery, sets and special effects. In several scenes, digital alterations to close ups of actors take away from the quality of the finished product, and other sections that were added to the movie later in its troubled production are of markedly lower quality than others. As the movie’s scenes featuring Wonder Woman, currently the DC universe’s most beloved character, were filmed separately from (and before) the positive reception of the Wonder Woman movie, they do not reprise a lot of the attributes that it has become known for. Gal Gadot, in that role, however, still manages to absolutely steal the scenes she is a part of.
All said, I have to conclude that I felt a sense of relief when the movie was over. Not because I was glad to be free of it, but because I no longer had to worry about the quality of DCEU movies. Whatever the faults of this movie might be, I am now firmly convinced that the DC universe has its heart in the right place, and its sights set in the right direction. The introductions of Aquaman and Cyborg may not have been perfect, but I have a lot more confidence in the likelihood that their movies, when they finally arrive, will be done Justice.
Official verdict: Go and see the movie! It’s fun
Thanks for reading!