Thoughts On Justice League

JL Film PosterIt’s been years since I’ve written a review of anything, but after seeing Justice League on opening day, I’ve had some thoughts percolating in my mind.

First up, I’m a big Justice League fan. I’ve always been a DC Comics diehard and have been devouring comics since before puberty, so I have thirty years of minutiae stored up in my brain to “impress” my friends and answer the occasional quiz question. When DC rebooted their entire line with the New 52 initiative, I pretty quickly stopped feasting on superhero comics, but I do enjoy the occasional nibble.

In short, I was disappointed with the JL film. Yes, there were some good things about it, and there was some serious behind the scenes issues that led the film to not being all it should’ve been, but with that in mind, here are a few bullet points.

I like Ben Affleck. He’s a great actor and director, and is actually a pretty good choice to play an older Batman. However, just because he has pointy ears and a gruff voice doesn’t make him the Dark Knight. When asked what his superpowers are, Batman answers, “I’m rich.” That’s not something Batman would say. That’s a Tony Stark line. It doesn’t belong here. With the Flash and Cyborg, the film has enough humour. Don’t drag Batman in to it too. Let him be Batman. Not everyone needs to be witty.

The first scene is all about how Superman inspires people, and how his death at the hands of Doomsday at Batman v Superman has united the world in a sense of loss. In the two Superman films we’ve seen starring Henry Cavill prior to this, there’s nothing inspiring about him. He doesn’t inspire. He terrifies! He’s not warm, and smiling. Thor has taken the role that Superman should have. If you ask anyone (kids or adults), who’d they’d love to hang out with, I’d imagine most would easily choose the happy god of thunder over the glowering, morose Man of Steel. This is a Superman who allowed his earthly Dad to die, caused massive property damage and killed Zod infront of a traumatised family, when he had so many other options available. (Fly him up to space! spin him round so he loses consciousness! even break his limbs! anything but neck snapping!). The Superman who has existed for almost a century in pop culture, and who will outlast all film makers, is someone who cherishes life and only takes it as an absolute last resort. The last time Superman was properly portrayed was in the 1980s with the maginificent Christopher Reeve. Who else could say, “I like pink very much Lois,” with a straight face, let alone with gravitas and sincerity? The world would not mourn the death of this version of Superman. They barely knew him, let alone embraced him.

There was a cleaner who showed up briefly at STAR Labs. They could’ve made him Rudy Jones, who becomes the Parasite, and as Kevin Smith pointed out – even the thief at the start of the film could’ve been a DC character, rather than a generic bad guy. Again, the terrorists who Wonder Woman stops could’ve been anyone from DC’s rich history, like Cheetah, or the Royal Flush Gang, or even someone linked to Steppenwolf, to give the villain  much needed dramatic weight. Speaking of which…

Steppenwolf had no visible motivation. A scene where he’s speaking to a hidden Darkseid would’ve helped tremendously. Perhaps he could be sent off to earth amidst cheering crowds from Apokolips, or he’s failed to conquer other planets before and this is his last attempt before Darkseid executes him in dishonour, and he thinks earth will be an uneasy target. As it is, Steppenwolf just shows up to cause havoc and..be bad.

There was no need for the jokes at Aquaman and the approach they took to make him the tough guy was desperate. I can imagine the writers thinking, “Quick! Let’s make fun of Aquaman before the audience does, and then we’ll show how grumpy and angry he really is. That’ll shut them up!” Aquaman is a great character, as Peter David has shown with his tremendous run on the comics. When your film stars apologizing for a great character, it’s not off to a good start. The acting here is great though, and Jason Momoa, like his castmates does a great job with these versions of the characters.

The Russian family at the final battle was odd. Perhaps it was meant to be a microcosm of the potentail destruction the rest of the world would face, like the family at the end of Batman v Superman was.

Okay, now the good points….

It was pretty awesome to see Superman unleashed and take on the whole League single-handedly. Oh yeah.

The humour generally works, with the scene with Aquaman and Wonder Woman’s lasso a nice touch.

The Mother Box battle/Amazonian escape was thrilling.

Both end credits scenes are great, and even the actual credits thanked comics creators such as Jack Kirby, and I noticed Detective Crispus Allen, who eventually becomes The Spectre, listed as a character. Nice.

DC’s animated films have a much better track record of their live action output, barring the last two (The Killing Joke, Batman and Harley Quinn) and I’m excited to see the two Death and Return of Superman animated films that kick off next year.

Geoff Johns is a legend and super talented writer, so his continued involvement in any live action DC films is a huge step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic about what DC has planned next, and the Wonder Woman film showed that they can get it right. Come on DC. You can do it!

Peter and Wally Return, Michael Debuts

Peter Parker is Spider-Man. “Of course he is,” you say! “Everyone knows that!”

Well, let me clarify. Peter Parker is Spider-Man – again.

For the last year, Doctor Octopus has been secretly running (and swinging) around in Peter Parker’s body, while Parker has been desperately trying to reclaim it. It was a bold and controversial move at the time, but after 25 issues of the re-named “Superior” Spider-Man, plus two spin-off titles, and a surprising amount of critical praise and fan acceptance, Peter is back in costume in April’s Amazing Spider-Man #1.

Read a great interview with the writer of all this Dan Slott right here.

Amazing Spider-Man 1

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Graphic Gaffe: The Flash #6

Last week’s issue of The Flash, starring the resurrected speedster Barry Allen battling accusations of murder from future Rogues, had the following error on one of its last pages. It seems someone missed the double up of Barry’s dialogue, or something. Great cover though.

Empire Picks Flash

My fave movie magazine, Empire has a quick rundown regarding fantasy casting for The Flash film, starring recently revived Barry Allen. They have some interesting choices from Neil Patrick Harris to Josh Lucas. Check out the other 6 candidates here.

Scott Kolins On The Flash

Is this piece (from next month’s Blackest Night: The Flash #3)  the best thing Scott Kolins has ever done? I would say yes. Though it’s not hard to make The Flash look dynamic, with lines and lightning everywhere, especially in his wonderful new Blue Lantern costume, but this is a great pic.

The Flash In DCU Online

Press release below about Wally West in the upcoming Sony MMORPG, DC Universe Online. The games set for release…sometime. Players can create their own characters to team up with DC’s expanding gallery of spandex wearers and live vicariously in the DC Universe.  On a related note, Warner Bros. appear to be buying Midway Games, the holders of the Mortal Kombat franchise. I think that’s a good thing. Maybe.

Wally West 1

Wally West 2

 

The Fastest Man Alive, Wally West easily runs at light speed vibrates through objects, create explosions through friction – and, when at agonizing top capacity, can manipulate time and bridge dimensions.

The Flash is a time-honored member of the Justice League. The latest in a long line of Flashes, each with their own unique way of tapping into the primal “Speed Force,” Wally is determined to live up to the noble legacies of speedsters such as Barry Allen, Max Mercury, and Jay Garrick.

Flash’s enemies call themselves the Rogues Gallery. This deadly collection of brutal foes includes Captain Cold, Heatwave, Mirror Master, and the lethal speedster Zoom – villainous threats not just to Keystone City, but the world.

Wally West 3

The Flash: Rebirth #1

The Flash: Rebirth #1Like most readers, I felt disappointed after reading this issue. Sure, superheroes come back from the dead all the time, but Barry Allen, who for a generation of readers wasthe Flash, was dead for a long time. He gave his life to save the world, or worlds, from the Anti-Monitor in 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. Virtually unseen since then, Barry’s mantle was taken over by his nephew Wally West. In my mind, Wally isthe Flash, and then when Bart Allen showed up as Impulse, and later Kid Flash, that was enough to fulfill my speedster requirements. So why bring Barry back? Good question.

 

And it’s one that goes unanswered here. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver are a great dynamic duo, and they brought Hal Jordan back to the land of the living in Green Lantern: Rebirth 5 years ago. That was a phenomenal, meaningful, action-packed series, and as much as I grew up enjoying Kyle Rayner as GL,it was great to see Hal return. That’s not the feeling I get here. There’s enough of a framework constructed for future issues to build upon, but I can’t really say I’m entirely interested. I’ll keep paying attention though, only because Johns is an expert story builder, and Van Sciver’s art is impressive here, as always, with it’s fluidity and extreme motion. At last year’s Comic-Con I sat in on the panel where Van Sciver explained his enthusiasm for this series and his interpretations of the Speed Force. I look forward to seeing that more than anything else in this series. 

This is an issue not for newbies, with it’s abundant guest stars (primarily the JSA) and the complicated relationships Barry has with other speedsters (exactly how did Bart get resurrected, and why his anger at Barry’s return?). I can only hope this series will become more focused in the future, and I am somewhat intrigued to see how the DCU adjusts to this latest development.

Not much happens here though. Basically Barry talks with Hal at the Flash Museum, and various other spandex wearers talk about Barry, filling in a few details about him along the way for perplexed readers. I was happy to see the return of Savitar, a villain I haven’t seen in years, and the surprises that the Speed Force holds are intriguing. THough the revelation about Barry’s father-not so much. The ads for this series have claimed that Barry is back and it’s the worst thing that could’ve happened to him. How that plays out will be mildly intriguing, but I guess after the spoils of GL: Rebirth, I was expecting more. This is a slow build rather than a shot out of the gate, but Johns can usually be trusted. I hope he knows what he’s doing.

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