It is impossible for me to talk about this movie anymore without referencing or acknowledging the insane amount of baggage that is attached to it. It is arguably the most controversial and devastating movie in the history of the DC Extended Universe just because of what it represents and what happened as a result of it. We all know this, we all remember it and we will all likely never forget it.
All of that being said, my original thoughts on Justice League as a movie are still the same. It’s live action DC Animated Universe tone and pacing that was designed to appeal to the general audience as a whole. It represents a giant tonal shift from the previous four movies, it has elements of heart and emotion within it, but it lacks a good part of the depth in storytelling and character dynamics that it could have had if the original plan had been maintained.
I, and a lot of other people before this movie came out, were wrong about it’s production issues. This movie is a masterclass on what should never, ever, ever be done with a major franchise motion picture and it’s evident in the film itself when you watch it for understanding. It has its own tone and it is quite definitive, but it is not a tone that matches any of its predecessors, not even Wonder Woman. Ordinarily, we as an audience wouldn’t even see much of the difference between how things were shot and which scenes came from which shooting schedule, but because we know how it happened, we know what to look for and it’s not a movie directed by Zack Snyder, no matter what the credits legally tell us and what others say we need to get over.
Justice League put simply, is what happens when you let your original director film an entire movie, build a rough cut, then screen said rough cut for the executives, they freak out because there’s no producer truly in charge to calm them down, order millions of dollars worth of reshooting the entire movie over again with a new director after dismissing the original director, and then piece elements of both shoots together under the gun to hit a November release date.
It was literally one of the most haphazard and idiotic situations a movie studio could even find itself in, and it was all because the studio heads, many of whom have no idea how film creatives actually work, panicked after the critical firebombings of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.
You seriously can’t get that out of your head when you watch this movie anymore. It’s too short by at least 10 to 15 minutes, there’s not enough civilians reacting to what’s going on, the plot machination is rendered thinner than it should be, you have characters like Batman acting out of character at times and in character at other times, you don’t get enough development with the newcomers in Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/The Flash, Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman and especially Ray Fisher’s Victor Stone/Cyborg, and that’s not even getting to the Superman problem with his mustache and how Lois Lane is reduced to ten minutes or less of a plot device character for his backstory.
And yet, with all of that and so many other problems that Justice League absolutely has for those of us diehard DCEU fans, it’s still not the worst comic book movie I have ever seen. Not by a long shot. If I compare it to what it increasingly looks like we would have gotten with Zack Snyder’s original version, then it’s awful times a thousand, but if I gauge it against other comic book movies in general, including those in the DCEU itself, it’s not a bad movie. It just has room for A LOT of improvement.
Operationally speaking, this movie is the catalyst for what has been a great swell of change in the DCEU. Several people were fired or let go as a result of this movie and Walter Hamada was placed in charge of the franchise, giving it its first true boss overseeing everything and providing a go-between for the executives and the creatives, it would appear. So it seems that WB/DC learned a valuable lesson in the abject failure of what was their lowest grossing movie in the entire franchise. It is just very unfortunate that they had to learn such a painful lesson with the first ever Justice League movie, which is really why so many people are still upset about it to this day.
I own this movie, but I’m not likely to pop it in and watch it much ever again. I’m waiting for the day when I can replace it with a better, more originally complete version, and I fully believe that day will come.
Before that happens though, it’s time to talk about the next incredibly bright spot in the DCEU that we waited 13 months to see next.