While Marvel fans are treated time and time again to entertaining superhero films and the company is not afraid to dive into different genres (eg the spy thriller in Captain America: The Winter Soldier or the comedy with Thor: Ragnarok), DC still seems to be looking for what they want to bring their audience. Do they want their heroes to be darker or is it better to have lighter tone and add more humor? Batman vs. Superman was an example of the first, Wonder Woman an example of the second. How have they approached Justice League?
The death of Superman awakened three “mother boxes” that are located in different places on earth. Because of that, a villain named Steppenwolf shows up, who wants all three boxes to conquer the earth. Batman (Ben Affleck) wants to stop him and decides to approach several superheroes in order to defeat Steppenwolf together. He links up with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to form the Justice League.
The film was originally directed by Zack Snyder, but when his daughter committed suicide, Joss Whedon (who was previously responsible for The Avengers) took over. They are two directors with very different styles and that’s something you clearly notice when watching the film. Snyder is known for his visual style, with slow motion shots and action zooms. Usually he’s not as strong as adding emotion. You recognize Whedon by his way of writing, with funny conversations between characters which help in the characters forming a bond. These differences are clearly present here and you can regularly point out who was responsible for which scene. As a result, it often feels like you are watching various types of films where the humor usually feels out-of-place. Ezra Miller as The Flash is the best example of this. He is good in his role and has comedic skills, but the character seems to come from a completely different film.
And there is more to note about this movie. Steppenwolf is perhaps one of the least interesting bad guys in comic book movies. He’s entirely CGI and never comes across as a real threat. Although it’s something I usually don’t notice, here the CGI was generally very bad. When the Amazonians fight Steppenwolf, the models that are used seem to simply miss detail and weight, which makes them stand out in the wrong way. What also stood out was the way some shots were framed, which makes you notice that this movie was directed by a man. An example of this is Wonder Woman. In her own movie you never see shots that objectify her, but here there are a couple of moments where the camera is clearly positioned close to the ground, so that the viewer can take a look at a piece of her butt, which feels disrespectful.
Justice League lacks cohesion, which gives you the feeling that you are watching a different short film in each scene. Yes, there are connecting elements, but they simply are not strong enough. As a result, DC still can not seem to find a clear tone and here it’s neither as dark as BvS:DoJ or as good as Wonder Woman.