Justice League Coming Faster Than a Speeding Bullet!

So this week Warner Bros. confirmed that they will be doing a Justice League movie with Zack Snyder at the helm and he will be filming it back to back with Superman vs Batman (tentative title, I’m still expecting Superman/Batman or Superman/Batman: World’s Finest or the like).

The Internet, being the Internet, has decided this is a stupid move that will explode in Warner Bros. faces or the most brilliant thing a comic fan could ever hope for, with some arguing so long as we get our comic book heroes on film, the sooner the better.

I fall somewhere in between the extremes.  I’m looking forward to seeing many of the Justice League members on film, but I’m not sure I feel they’re giving it it’s proper treatment.  Part of my reservation comes from the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Man of Steel.  I didn’t hate the film and my reasons for disliking it are probably not the ones people have often repeated since it released, but in the end, I didn’t think Man of Steel was a very good movie and I feel like its weaknesses are going to only become more glaring with each film from Snyder unless he seriously reels himself in.

As for Man of Steel, I liked the beginning well enough. I liked seeing Krypton, though I wish they had made use of past iterations using a bit more crystal motif suggesting that was a common minerals they made use of in their society, but overall I liked seeing it.  Imbedding Kal-El’s DNA with the…DNA of all of Krypton seemed like a strange and unnecessary subplot to me, but I could roll with it.  But soon enough the inevitable happens and we send the baby of steel to Earth.  Now, I actually liked Clark’s scenes on Earth as a child through drifting young adult best.  It showed the challenges Clark’s had growing up as a true outsider on the planet, not belonging and struggling to adapt to all the powers that overwhelm him.

Most of all, though, I liked how Clark had this inherent moral code.  He’s told he should expose his powers because the world wouldn’t be ready to accept it so above all else, he’s taught that he needs to hide that side of him and the fact that, even as a child, he struggles with that idea because he feels he has the ability to help people and he should use it.  To me, that’s the foundation of Superman – he helps those in need.  The movie did a good job establishing that with him saving the bus of children, restraining himself from abusing his powers in the diner by using them against someone, and then saving the men on the oil tanker.

Beyond that, however, I felt the movie lost any sense of character development and even avoided a lot of pesky plot for the sake of disaster porn.  Lois Lane discovers his ship and he saves her from the automated sentry, but then leaves her to die in the ice.  And yes, the scene prior establishes that the temperature should drop so low she’d be dead before anyone found her.  Despite that little nuisance, she returns to the Daily Planet, where Perry won’t run her story, despite some indication he might believe her.  She gets a web news site to run it instead, but we don’t really explore much more of the Daily Planet or Lois’ job so much.  We rush through Lois figuring out who Superman is right off and from a single meeting, we establish…an interest for Lois, I guess?  There’s really no development between Lois and Clark, yet we get plenty of decisions and actions that would need to be rooted in said relationship like Clark turning himself in, but wanting to speak with Lois, Zod choosing to bring Lois to his ship (which isn’t really explained why, I might add).

But once we get back to Earth, well, abandon all hope of characters or plot all ye who watch.  At this point we get the destruction of the world with reminders of where to buy your products.  I’d say the actual town of Smallville is essentially wiped off the map, though the fight in Smallville isn’t as bad as what’s to come.  Superman destroys one of the (I’m just going to call it what it is) terraforming machines and then heads to Metropolis to destroy the other one.  He takes care of that and Metropolis is already pretty devastated from its impact.  With nothing left to lose, Zod decides his only remaining purpose is to destroy Superman himself.  Nothing ground breaking there, but what comes next just really killed it for me…

Superman fights Zod through the crumbling Metropolis.  People flee for their lives, skyscrapers are collapsing, there are quite likely people still in them, there’s destruction all around, explosions, chaos, mayhem, MASS HYSTERIA…..and Superman’s only real action is to keep…hitting…Zod.  Like the whole fight, the entire time, Superman’s focus is attacking Zod.  He doesn’t try to save anyone!  This was my biggest complaint about the film. They completely ignored a prime opportunity to solidify Clark as the protector while building up the hopelessness of the situation and the inability to stop Zod without resorting to desperate measures.  To play keyboard script writer a second, why not have scenes where Superman saves someone from falling debris only to have Zod come smashing down behind the debris, pummeling him into the ground?  Why not have Superman focus on Zod only for someone to get injured by the result of the fight?  There was a chance to show this fight as a truly no-win situation where every decision Clark makes results in a failure on one side or the other.  Fight Zod, people get hurt. Help people, Zod gets the upper hand.  This would have built the tension up to the final scene and offered more weight to the struggle and the desperation Clark is under when he makes that final controversial act to end the fight.

I actually had no problem with him killing Zod, by the way.  I had a problem, much like Mark Waid, writer of Superman: Birthright, with the fact that the movie failed to establish Superman’s connection to humanity enough to make this final act seem like it had weight.  I understand this is pretty much Superman’s first day on the job, so I don’t expect him to be the Superman we know from the comics and I expect him to fail and I expect people to die, but the wanton destruction in this film was just awe inspiring.  Snyder stated he would think about 5,000 dead and he wanted a mythic proportion of destruction like the Greek gods waged war on one another in a mortal city, but science suggests it’s closer to 100,000+ dead with over a million injured and many more missing and presumed dead.

So with a 2 hour and 28 movie exclusively about Superman, we got fairly little character development on this iteration of Superman, almost no development of Lois Lane or the Kents, and completely no development of Perry White or Jimmy Olson.  Superman vs Batman is going to have Superman, Batman, Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend apparently, Alfred, Lex Luthor, and apparently slipping in appearances by Wonder Woman and Cyborg (likely as their civilian identities).  How little character development do we expect there?  Granted, we might not need as much for Batman and Alfred at this point, particularly as they’ll likely have a solo film to do that, but will we get a full exploration on Bruce’s angle in this film? Lex Luthor’s motivations?  Is Lex going to be a sympathetic villain? If he hates Superman because of the destruction of Metropolis, can you blame him?  Did Superman really do anything to indicate he’s our savior in Man of Steel?

And now Warner Bros. announces Snyder will be directing Justice League immediately after Superman vs Batman.  So we’re going to jump right into a team of 18 possible characters, only two of which have any recent exposure whatsoever outside of the DC animated films and series.  No movie to establish Wonder Woman and we expect the general public to just go with Aquaman, Hawkman or Hawkgirl, Plastic Man, Flash, or Green Lantern, who many will associate with the more recent box office bomb?  Perhaps you introduce them and then spin off their own films, but you don’t even establish Wonder Woman?!

I’ve seen some people claim that Justice League is more well know and doesn’t need the build up that Avengers did to introduce the characters.  I just…can’t fathom that line of thinking. Wonder Woman’s last time in the spotlight of the public eye was about the same time as Hulk on television.  Both Avengers and Justice League have been in cartoons in various incarnations in the last few years.  To think the average non-comic reading public movie goer is going to know these characters is just asking for trouble.  Without the time to craft this film, I really worry about a disaster on our hands.

And again, keeping it small, we expect any resemblance of character development in Justice League for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Hawkman plus the villain, establishing the plot, and then dealing with it all in 2.5 hours?  It’s just a challenge I can’t understand building for the sole purpose of having to face it.  I understand building them up separately risks being compared to Marvel, but I’d expect you’d rather be compared to Marvel with similar success than take such wild risks that you have all the power to avoid.

Justice League

You can explore all of our personalities and motivations in 2 hours, right?

And to top it all off, Warner Bros. is still claiming they’ll be sticking to their date to release head to head against Captain America 3 after The Winter Soldier is basically coming off being the most critically favored comic book movie of all time and is well on its way into the record books.  On top of that, Marvel will be well on their way into Phase 3 towards Avengers 3 and things will likely be coming to a boil.

Warner Bros. just seems to be stacking the deck against their favor right now and I’m not sure it’s going to pay off for them.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t backfire and blow up in their face.

At the very least, I think Affleck will make a great Batman.  Hopefully in a few years, we can say “Affleck was the bomb as Batman, yo.”

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