The State of DCEU: Part 1
OP-ED by Anna Aaron, Visual Journalist
Granted I’m no comics virtuoso and admittedly this review may have been better posted on Quora’s discussion block, however I do adore the superhero genre since being a kid watching Spiderman on my black & white tv back in the 70s and seeing Superman for the first time at my neighborhood theater which has long-since been torn down. I make a yearly pilgrimage to the C2E2 comicon to showcase it through my photography. I’m a big fan of SuperWonder, so I dedicate time to creating fan art— some originals and some edits of existing works. So comics is a part of my life and it’s not going away anytime soon. Here’s my better-late-than-never reviews of the Snyder DCEU movies. (I’ll be posting my reviews starting with the last film and going backwards.)
The last I had seen this movie was in the theater. I didn’t want to watch it until I watched Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman again, so I had to continue and see how I would feel about it now.
Overall, I enjoyed it.
It was endearing to me to finally see a live-action movie of beloved DC superheroes. Unlike MOS and BvS, I was able to rewatch this film several times. Great that there’s plenty of animated Justice League but we should have had more live-action. Imagine a well-written JL TV-series on par with Gotham? So much could be explored and done there. Gotham is so well-written, it keeps me engaged in the plots and the arcs while rooting for the good guys as well as the bad.
I remember being in the movie theater watching this. It felt like I was watching a Marvel knockoff. Sad I know. DC could have been what Marvel is and maybe more. The characters in the DC universe are far more diverse and interesting. No wonder Marvel copied from DC in the early times of comic genre formation.
I see with these Snyder films, his style is about packing everything into one film. I’m sure if he makes chili, it would have way too much of everything and cease to be chili. Hence this is what happens to these films. Most people like these characters fleshed out in their own stand-alone movies instead of throwing everything into one pot. Which is why the heroes seriously lack. They’re not fleshed out nor in some cases true to their comic iterations. You find yourself not rooting for them because they frankly don’t inspire.
On to the heroes! Breaking down some nitty-gritty critiques.
Honestly the only impressive moment was her fight scene with the terrorists. The rest of the movie, she looked like a little girl when in costume amongst the boys. Yea, she had fight scenes but she is woefully de-powered in this film. Like some Captain America female knock-off. Wonder Woman is more powerful AND she flies. So that aspect got ransacked in favor of placing her in a lower position with her JL teammates. If she flew with her super-speed, she wouldn’t need Flash to stop time while he went and pushed the falling sword back to her. You would think in the 100 years she’s been Wonder Woman, that she’d really be on top of her game but according to this rendition she hasn’t done nothing in man’s world this entire time because of the death of her “boyfriend”. So uninspiring and this Batman calls her out on it. Good on him for that. (Note: yes I know there’s WW 1984 so we’ll see how that turns out and if it connects at all to these other films).
- “Children. I work with children.” That indeed you do.
- “I think that was beautiful.” Yes it was. 😀 After listening to Aquaman’s truth reveal courtesy of the Lasso.
- “Pet Sematary.” Yes Barry, Superman was exactly that.
- “Should we bow? Should we show our bellies?” Barry, much-needed sarcastic wit! Thank you.
- “Civilians.” Superman finally rescuing civilians and not moping around. Good except during an epic battle with the main villain?
- This convo: “What are your superpowers again?” – Flash. “I’m rich.” -Batman.
I think the film favors Batman. But this Batman is a different one from BvS. They’re inconsistent with each other and he is not portrayed as the world’s greatest detective and tactician. Whenever I see Affleck, in any flick, to me it’s Affleck playing Affleck. His Batman is nothing to aspire to or be inspired by. He plays it like he’s tired. In some instances, he looks like a good Batman physique-wise. But wasn’t Batman a short stocky guy? I personally like Bale’s Batman. Every time I watch The Dark Knight Rises, I AM MOVED. Moved to tears at the heroism of his Batman portrayal. He is not brooding or looking at others as the enemy. The way he treats Selina shows that he wouldn’t have a personal vendetta like this Batman did with Superman. I think Batman is too smart and would seek to form an alliance with Superman not kill him off. And yes he would be smart enough to figure out how to take any of these superbeings out if that was necessary. That in itself could be another movie. Which I know already happened in animated.
The Ridiculous Tension between Batman and Wonder Woman.
So unnecessary really. I know it caters to the Wonderbat crowd. It was cringe-worthy listening to Batman talk about Wonder Woman’s “boyfriend” like some jealous wanna-be boyfriend. Nolan’s Bale wouldn’t do that. He’d flirt but he’d know better. And I use quotes on boyfriend because the length of time she knew Steve Trevor doesn’t qualify for boyfriend status (unless they slept together which was hinted in the WW movie) but still that’s too short of time for ‘boyfriend status’ especially if you’re a demi-god. [insert eye-roll]
Like some Captain America female knock-off.
Portrayed as a drunken bad-ass rebel. He had flying capabilities unlike Wonder Woman. Aren’t Wonder Woman and Aquaman cousins? Yet with all his might, he couldn’t take on Steppenwolf either. If you watched the Aquaman movie, you know he’s powerful. Of course if you really take a critical look at the timeline of everything, when do the events of Aquaman take place exactly? Because he’s a drunk vagabond in the beginning of the movie then shows up in his costume and the Trident of Neptune in full Aquaman glory. Yet in the Aquaman film, he had to go retrieve the Trident of Neptune from the Dead King. See it’s these things I notice that makes loving DC all the more difficult. Marvel treated their characters a lot better so we have a marvelous (no pun intended) extended universe that works. With DC, not so much.
My first impressions were that his jokes were corny and felt poorly timed. And when did Snyder’s rendition get lighthearted and humorous? Clearly it was the work of Whedon dousing Justice League with Avenger’s style and humor. (I’m well aware of the tragedy that occurred with Snyder’s family and the takeover by Whedon to complete the movie.)
Now that I’ve watched it a second time, I actually appreciate Flash’s humor, no matter how awkward because it’s much-needed. I don’t think I could take going through another Snyder “deep, dark, moody and brooding” movie. Humanity isn’t like that. We joke even when things are going downhill. So do our superheroes. The Flash in JL resonates with me because I would be acting the same way.
Additional Note on The Flash
They fashioned Flash’s relationship to Batman and the JL team like the Tony Stark and Spiderman relationship. Of course, copying Marvel instead of just being DC. An immature, child hero who has yet to learn the ropes of being a superhero. We get different iterations of these characters which creates frustrating inconsistencies, because you know TV Flash is smarter and put together even though there’s that problem of the annoying girlfriend.
Special Shout Out to Jim Gordon
Played by J.K. Simmons, who played J. Jonah Jameson in Spiderman. What a hoot it was seeing him in that role. I do love the Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon portrayed in Nolan’s trilogy. And the TV series, Gotham’s Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie) is pretty good too. Glad they didn’t screw up that character.
Cool but he’s from Teen Titans. The greater question here is where is Green Lantern? Martian Manhunter?
Unite the seven, hello!
I’m old school what can I say? We do get some Lantern nods in the battle scene of the Age of Heros on Themyscira. It wasn’t enough but couldn’t have had anymore anyway. This is why it should have been in a separate movie about Green Lantern, imagine how nicely it would have tied into the Justice League, oh say like the Marvel movies are interweaved into a greater storytelling tapestry. Too much to ask for, eh?
There’s so much there that’s just, oh boy. The one thing DC has always been good at is killing Superman off. The fact that they dig up Superman’s body, drag the coffin to the ship and drop his body into the amniotic fluid (wasn’t it all destroyed by Doomsday?) is more MACABRE than any horror flick I’ve watched. If they didn’t kill Superman off so soon, he would have been there to form the Justice League so that they would be able to take on a really good villain. Which brings me to the villain.
Is this dude Surtur’s cousin? He has a one-track mind. We like our villains to have personality and inner conflicts like Loki. That’s why he has a bona-fide fan club and T-Shirts folks want to wear. Plus they keep bringing him back. He’s such a truly good villain. Steppenwolf, meh, you just want to him punch out of the whole movie.
Were woefully unprepared for Steppenwolf. Like, really? Just let ALL your sisters die inside that poorly made death trap of a vault. No magical barrier either. All those bared midriffs would be easy pickings for a de-gutting. They were dressed for some Amazon summer festival which takes place on the other side of the island, not for a battle with the universe’s most formidable villain [yawn].
The Russian Family Subplot
Totally unneeded. It also makes Russians look like they all live in poverty, third world style. They don’t. There are plenty of billionaires from Russia. I’m sure Bruce Wayne probably knows some of them and has done business there with Wayne Enterprises. 😉 The only thing I could think of about this whole scene is that the director figured that Steppenwolf taking over Earth would probably start a base in a town resembling Chernobyl. Destruction of the world from a nuclear reactor. Oh how clever! There was nothing on the news about the arrival of Steppenwolf or his Parademons, did you notice that? The only thing was the janitor being kidnapped by aliens. Oh that element would have made the villain at least interesting.
But that’s because nobody cared about him neither did the superheroes especially Superman. He looked like he just wanted to hang out in the corn fields with Lois and talk about his humanity (because he’s not really a Kryptonian). Who cares about the end of the world and being an actual hero. The other thing about the Russians, well I don’t think they would just sit by and ignore something of that level going on in their country. They would have brought out nukes, and they have some formidable nukes.
So that brings me back to Superman.
The whole evil Superman thing could have been done in another movie, really. The Avengers did a better job of subduing Thanos (until Starlord screwed it up) then these guys did with Superman. I do appreciate the head-butting between Superman and Wonder Woman. At least they showed she could take a hit from Superman. They’ve had their smackdowns in comics. The disappointing part is that in this entire Snyder rendition, there is very little to no interaction with the two yet they are portrayed as best friends in the comics and in some iterations, lovers and partners with children.
So did they do anything right about Superman? Yea in the first part where a kid is taping his conversation with Superman. It shows him as he’s supposed to be. However the poorly done digital removal of actor Cavill’s beard was an annoying distraction. Along with the fact there is no actual Superman sequel where we can see the Big Blue Boy Scout in a more positive, uplifting true-to-comics representation. But nay, we’re stuck with a conflicted hero in the other two films. There were brief moments of Superman positivity at the end too when a hint of John William’s Superman soundtrack was played.
I still don’t understand what is the attraction with Lois Lane. The romance was rushed but what exactly binds him to a reporter? In this portrayal of Superman, he is shown with no journalistic background just bouncing around different odd jobs with a brooding outlook of himself and the world. Then bam, here’s Lois and he winds up at the Daily Planet where again nobody makes the connection that he’s Superman. I rolled my eyes hearing the part where Ma Kent talks about how Clark said Lois should get a second pulitzer. How cute. I don’t think any mention of Pulitzer happened in MOS. It’s an obvious nod to the comics (and nothing to aspire to unless you’re a journalist).
Stuff you probably never noticed.
- When Wonder Woman visits Bruce as he’s repairing his craft, she’s in heels. Then when they’re seen outside walking along the lake, her boots are flat.
- When Wonder Woman is arguing with Bruce over the Mother Box, she has on a burgundy lipstick. As the dialogue builds, her lipstick is gone and it’s only her bare lips. I would notice that because I blog about lipstick. 😀
WTH? Did she lick it off? Probably had a snack and it was back to filming.
- If Lois is the key to everything, then why wasn’t she there when they decided to bring Superman back from the dead?
- Why is Batman’s jaw still intact and unbroken when Superman is holding him up in air. Better yet, why hasn’t he sustained any broken bones after being tossed to the ground by said evil Superman?
- The Golden Lasso is truly powerful. Superman would have broken out of his weird post-resurrection disorientation. I know they had to write Lois in as being the only one who could ground him.
- Which brings me to probably wanting to join Lex’s team because if she dies, then that whole planet is SCREWED.
- Amazons move on. They don’t gloat over a man 100 years later.
- Bruce didn’t really have to buy the bank to buy a house on foreclosure. But that’s so Bruce Wayne, right?
- They just let Steppenwolf take the last Motherbox and didn’t look pissed off about it either.
- The poorly done digital remake of Cavill’s face to mask his beard. This should not have happened. You can’t use enough eye bleach to remove it from the viewer’s memory.
- FEAR. Make him feel fear. That’s all it took to get rid of Steppenwolf. Think about that.
- Luthor. Great for Jesse Eisenberg but really Luthor should have been an older dude. It’s like watching Dr. Evil’s son become evil. BTW, where’s the cat?
- Wonder Woman on top of the Statue of Justice.
- Wonder Woman calling Superman by his Kryptonian name: Kal-el.
- The shot of the Trinity at the very end when all the flora starts to grow. Which looks like alien flora.
- The Flash looking scared as creepy, peeved Superman’s eyes follow him during the fight scene.
- The Flash drawing that silly face on the guy standing behind him as he’s visiting his dad in jail.
- The race between The Flash and Superman. Too short!
- Hearing “Booyah!” from Cyborg. He’s also like the NSA, he’s got info on everybody.
- Queen Hippolyta shooting an arrow from the island back into the patriarchal world and hitting the intended target of the Amazon temple. What a good shot!
- The flyover shot of Themyscira.
- An embarrassed Flash who finds himself on top of Wonder Woman in order to save her during the tunnel fight scene.
- Wonder Woman and Superman taking out Steppenwolf like a power couple 😉 So much potential there.
So that’s that. You made it to the end.
I’ll probably wind up buying this film even with all the critiques. Until Part 2…
Man of Steel
Coming in Part 3.