At this point, there's no denying that "Justice League" was a box office disappointment. I wouldn't call it a bomb, but falling over $200 million short of the unbelievably divisive and critically panned Batman v Superman is nothing to brag about. Even though I think Batman v Superman was a brilliant movie that many people have misunderstood and unfairly criticized, it's clear that some mistakes were made regarding the DCCU along the way. What were those mistakes? Everything is easy in hindsight, but these are some of the things that immediately raised red flags for me.
The casting: Not all the casting was bad. But there's been too many controversial choices. WB has, in the past, shrugged off any criticisms regarding casting, especially when concerning comic book movies. In fact, they seem to thrive off the controversy thinking that all will end well. This goes back to Michael Keaton as Batman, and Heath Ledger as The Joker. Probably even to Christopher Reeve as Superman. But it will not always end well. One thing I do give Marvel credit for is for bringing their superhero's to life as visually accurate as possible. Their villains are another story, and aside from the occasional misstep (The Ancient One), they've remained fairly faithful to how these characters ought to look for the most part.
Zack Snyder and WB have made some good decisions, at least visually, like Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie. But that's largely where the good casting stops. Jason Momoa as Aquaman? Nope. Ezra Miller as Barry Allen? Nope. Will Smith as Deadshot? Nope. Amy Adams as Lois Lane? Nope. Amber Heard as Mera? Nope. Kiersey Clemons as Iris West? Nope. Even though her scene was cut, she will likely appear in the upcoming Flash movie. All are, decent-to-great actors, but none of them worked, especially from a visual standpoint. At least in Marvel movies Thor looks like Thor, and Captain America looks like Captain America. WB needs to get rid of the Michal B Jordan; "Who cares. They're still gonna see it anyway." attitude. They're not. Fantastic Four proved that much. Don't take the "hardcore" fans for granted.
Bad publicity: Not only were many of the casting choices... questionable, but there seemed to be a lot of bad publicity surrounding many of them as well. Ben Affleck, while looking like Bruce Wayne, has drawn a lot of ire from the public because of his off-screen antics. Coming off as an arrogant hypocrite who habitually cheats on his spouses, has a drinking problem, and got caught up in the sexual abuse mania that's been sweeping through Hollywood while incessantly pontificating about what a righteous individual he is. And let's not forget the "Sad Affleck" meme, or the cgi'd mustache for Superman either. Jason Momoa made a rape joke days before the Justice League premiere, and I don't even think it was that bad, but the perception of someone joking about rape is not a good one to have. Even Gal Gadot caught quite a bit of heat because of her outspoken support for Israel's right to exist. Jesse Eisenberg made that holocaust remark back when he was doing the rounds for Batman v Superman. People tend to remember things like that. Even Joss Whedon was "liking" criticisms of the movie just days after the movie had been released. Not to mention that the same virtue signaling 'feminist' and 'white knight' was outed as using this guise in order to pressure young girls into having sex with him. While he was married of course. Amber Heard lying to fleece Johnny Depp out of some cash. It goes on and on. One or two slip ups can generally be forgiven, but they just kept on piling up for the DCCU. Like nails in the coffin.
The lack of imagination: This is more towards WB than it is Zack Snyder. I would think that much is obvious. When I heard that WB were trying to get rid of Zack Snyder's "controversial flourishes", I was worried. I love his "controversial flourishes". The Knightmare sequence in Batman v Superman was terrific, if only Zack Snyder got to go full circle with it in Justice League it would have made it so much better than it already was. But it wasn't only Zack Snyder that WB was hindering. David Ayer and Patty Jenkins also faced similar situations. David Ayer, Jared Leto, and Will Smith all thought they were signing on to make an R rated Suicide Squad, only to have cut it down to a PG rating, and edited by a company that does trailers.
Wonder Woman went along relatively smoothly, and some people praised it as being the best DC movie to date, while other people said it was a very formulaic superhero movie. Replace the gender and would it really have been seen as anything other than another typical superhero origin movie? I don't know. I still haven't seen Wonder Woman, and it's not because I don't like Wonder Woman. I do. It's because I can only stomach about one Chris Pine movie every two years or so. WB also wanted to remove the "No Man's Land" sequence from Wonder Woman, which was apparently a highlight of the movie, though it somehow made it into the theatrical cut of the movie. I will watch Wonder Woman soon, but I'm getting to the age now where I don't really feel like I need to rush out see any movie. I'll get there, eventually. But WB really need to trust their directors.
The lineup: Generally speaking, I liked Zack Snyder's approach to the DCCU, but I do feel that there were many missed opportunities along the way. And I don't feel like they needed to copy the Marvel formula of having standalone movies for everyone (except for Black Widow and Hawkeye) first before they team up. Guardians of the Galaxy didn't need standalone movies beforehand, and neither do the DC characters. Superman already had his origin movie in Man of Steel. Batman arguably had his introduction in Batman v Superman, and Wonder Woman had her own solo movie before Justice League. So that's basically the trinity covered.
The ones who needed the most introduction in Justice League was Cyborg, The Flash, and Aquaman. And most of this was apparently in Snyder's cut of Justice League, but was all dropped at the last minute. What really disappoints me is how much better Zack Snyder's version sounds. But I got bad vibes when Justice League was announced as a two-parter, only to have it compressed into a single Justice League movie. The DCCU had been described as Superman being something like the tree trunk of the DCCU, with any number of potential "other" movies being able to branch out off that tree. That's all fine, but WB failed to capitalize on their opportunities. People thought that Geoff Johns would be the saving grace of the DCCU, I didn't, but a lot of people did. WB suffered from a sever lack of imagination, and probably still do. Even more so than before.
The new DCCU that began with Man of Steel, was a perfect first step. And then Batman v Superman followed up on the events that took place in Man of Steel, and it was even better. I couldn't ask for anything better. But that's where some bad decisions were made, and even more to the point, ones that weren't made. The first mistake was not releasing the full cut of Batman v Superman in cinemas. And this wasn't the first time that WB has undercut Zack Snyder's movies. Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch, were all cut, edited, and toned down for different reasons by WB. And Batman v Superman was no different. WB needed to release the R rated cut of Batman v Superman. Then WB needed to let David Ayer do his thing with Suicide Squad. Make it a small scale, mid-budget, R rated movie that explores psychopaths. But before Suicide Squad should have come "Mad Love" that was about The Joker and Harley. I would have incorporated The Killing Joke into the movie as well. So we get to see The Joker and Harley kill Robin, which would later lead into a " Red Hood" movie. That could have been David Ayer's trilogy; Mad Love, Suicide Squad, Red Hood. Just like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League was supposed to have been Zack Snyder's trilogy, or quadrilogy.
I would have cast Jason Momoa as Lobo. That's the easiest decision a casting director would ever have to make in his or her career. The man too evil for hell, and too uncontrollable for heaven could have been an amazing movie, and Momoa would have nailed that role so hard. And then you could have introduced Lucifer, Michael, and even Sandman and the Endless. Even the Legion of Superheroes. Justice League Dark would also exist in this realm of the DCCU. You could have had Guillermo Del Toro head up a Constantine, Swamp Thing, and Justice League Dark trilogy. Get George Miller to head up a Lucifer, Lobo, and Sandman trilogy.
Get someone to direct Black Adam, Shazam, and then World War 3. Involve the multiverse. Why wasn't any of this even touched on? WB should have shown some initiative to get these things going. I always knew that the DCCU was heading for Flashpoint, but it's too early to do it now. The Flash needs to be fleshed out more before Flashpoint happens. All the storytelling possibilities and what does WB give us? More Batman, more Wonder Woman, and more Suicide Squad. Which is fine, but stop playing things so safe, and stop trying to please everyone. It's ingratiating, and people can sense it.
I'm not singling out Zack Snyder or WB, both made mistakes, though I think WB should shoulder a larger portion of the criticism because they are the ones who ultimately okay'd everything, and didn't take full advantage of the world(s) that Zack Snyder established. I said it in my review for Justice League that WB is suffering from an identity crisis, one they're hoping that a Flashpoint style "soft reboot" will fix, but they're looking ten steps ahead instead of what's right in front of them. The critical reception for Batman v Superman shook WB, and it shouldn't have. Now they're lost, with no idea what direction to head in. But for gods sake, at least give Superman a sequel. And yes, I do consider Batman v Superman a Superman sequel, I mean another one.
Written by - The Sentry - 23/12/2017
Written by - The Sentry - 23/12/2017
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