By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The problem with the live action Justice League not living up to its pedigree is that it’s missing its seventh member. We have Batman (Ben Affleck), Superman (Henry Cavill), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) leading the charge. In the film, he’s dead but everyone knows he’ll come back to at some point. Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Flash (Ezra Miller) round off the team. In the comics, there were seven founding members. This number is also very symbolic, usually a measure of completeness. Depending on the culture, just what it means will vary.
As a film which hints at a possible add in the future, the wait will be long to see who that will be. In other mediums, either Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter will become a member. But before this can even happen, a set of solo films are in store for the other half of the team. This baggage is unneeded; let’s just assume audiences know them and offer story arcs which can shake up the DC multiverse (conveniently enough, Flashpoint will be the story in Flash’s solo outing even though no date has been set).
After the events of the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, the world is without hope. Folks from all over understand what Supes represent and crime is rampant. In the opening moments of the film, the narrative suggests some heroes have hightailed it out of here and those who remained are upping their game. Bats is noticing an undercurrent which reveals itself as winged creatures capable of feeding off fear — Parademons. They are like the Dementors from the Harry Potter books, but far worse. Both he and Diana realize they can not handle it alone and have to recruit other heroes. Bruce has a dossier on other metahumans who can make a difference and about a third of the film is about recruiting and convincing them to help.
The Flash is quick to join, Cyborg (who gets a better backstory on his origins in this film than the others) is reluctant and Aquaman says screw you, I’m going home (only to find this film’s villain wreck part of Atlantis and this king of the sea wants some good old revenge). Steppenwolf is looking for three boxes which hold infinitesimal power. These devices, when combined, look like they can offer more power than the Matrix in Michael Bay’s version of the Transformers universe and together, it is dangerous in the wrong hands. Fortunately for the team, Cyborg can interface with them and save the day.
Although this film offers inspired performances from Ezra Miller as the speedster, this character is underutilized. After I have been following the small screen version with passion, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two Flashes, as various iterations of the character do exist in this multiverse. The question of which Earth-# this movieverse fits under does need to be asked.
Mamoa is a total bad ass and he makes Aquaman one of the best live action interpretations to date, especially when compared to previous attempts on the small screen. This movie feels more like a Cyborg movie when considering his connections with the boxes. A larger world is revealed and as for how much of it will unravel in future films, a Green Lantern movie is needed sooner than later.
Although this film gives the DC cinematic universe a jump start to compete with Marvel Entertainment’s hold in comic book movie domain, the films Warner Bros are offering feels too little and too late. Not even Joss Whedon’s contribution can save this work. While he did give the film a lighter tone, the jumble of philosophies in what Zack Snyder wanted to Whedon’s interpretation was very evident. Also, the studio heads do not want to rush getting additional movies out either, but with Marvel having a huge head start, there’s no easy way to close the gap. While DC’s properties and The CW dominate the television world, Marvel has no chance to even conquer even if they tried.
Though for this DCverse, the hints offered in Justice League at what’s to come to proper fruition will take about four years to materialize. When that happens, I’ll be there rooting for the Thanagarians (Hawkman and Hawkgirl)!
3½ Stars out of 5