In the Marvel vs DC debate, I’ve not been the kind of person who shows loyalty to one over the other. It’s weird. There are characters on both sides that I love and those that I don’t care about. I’m not entirely sure that it’s as much of a thing as it used to be now that so many people have been introduced to graphic novels and comics. Maybe I’m just naive though. I’m just happy to embrace anything well-written and well-drawn. However, that’s only for the comic. When it comes to the film side of things, I’m a Marvel gal all the way. DC films just haven’t had the same impact on me. They’ve just never been able to match the skill and precision that Marvel has become known for. And I don’t say that trying to pretend that Marvel films are perfect because there are still plenty of flaws. It’s just that they have embraced different approaches and have such a tight grip of where they’re going. Some might call it overthinking or overplanning but it’s clearly working. Just look at those box office figures mixed with the critical response.
After all, in 2012 Marvel pulled off the impossible with The Avengers. This was the first time there had been a major superhero team up and, thanks to plenty of planning and following several successful films, it worked really well. It was a refreshing, fun, and clever film that showed us these types of films were possible. So, the pressure was really on DC to get their first Justice League movie right. And they took their damn time. We’d already seen another Avengers movie and Captain America: Civil War by the time it came out. You’d think somebody would have spent all of that time really planning it. Instead, they’d made a dull film about Superman, a stupid film about Batman and Superman, and an amazing film about Wonder Woman.
So, that’s half of the League already introduced but what about the others? Well, aside from a brief cameo in Batman vs Superman they hadn’t made their presence known in the DC films. It’s a huge problem for the pacing of this film. We waste so much time getting the gang together that the action doesn’t really get going until about two-thirds of the way through. Introducing these new characters takes too much time away from the plot and from developing our villain. Instead, we get a very uninspired and thin narrative and a villain we know very little about. Yes, there’s the obligatory Lord of the Rings-style flashback but it’s just the same thing we’ve seen before. There’s a big evil guy, all races need to come together, they stop him, but he’s pissed. That’s it. No more backstory and no characterisation. No wonder Ciarán Hinds as so angry about it. He deserved more.
It’s not that this is a terrible film. I was actually a little surprised. After Batman vs Superman, I was sure this was going to completely fail but it had some great moments. The fight on Themyscira was incredible and there are some fun moments between some of the characters. The problem is it’s all just the same old thing. Okay, maybe it doesn’t take itself as seriously as the previous efforts but there’s still that undercurrent of stiffness there. Just look at the way the weird and forced bromance between Clark and Bruce is handled. It comes out of nowhere and made me feel uncomfortable. I was genuinely waiting for another “Martha” exchange. It’s so fucking stupid.
But there is definitely hope in the other characters. Ezra Miller and Jason Mamoa are amazing in their roles and Gal Gadot continues to be the Diana we all need. And, though I still like Batffleck, Batman is the fish out of water here. He’s lost and feels really out of place. Seeing him fighting winged creatures is strange but hearing him crack jokes is even weirder. He’s the odd one out here. Yes, he might own the “my superpower is money” but he just can’t compete with these guys. He was behind in the action sequences and he doesn’ get to much beyond growl anyway. It’s no wonder Affleck made the decision to step away and give the cowl to somebody else.
I started watching Justice League in 2019 but I had to stop. It was so slow that I couldn’t take it. Starting again was just as painful but I stuck it out. There are some fun scenes and some decent action sequences. It’s a step up from Dawn of Justice but this still doesn’t show us that DC is anywhere near Marvel’s level. The disjointed nature of the film is distracting, the plot is too simple but too complex all at the same time, and most of the characters need a lot of work. Still, there’s potential. And it’s got me quite excited for Aquaman. It also makes me wonder what this film could have been if Joss Whedon had been in control in the first place. Or, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, what the fucking Snyder cut would look like. What’s happening to me?