Director: Zack Snyder credited, Joss Whedon with the assist
Cast: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ciarán Hinds, Henry Cavill
Have I Seen it Before: The better question is whether I’m ever going to feel compelled to watch it again.
Did I Like It: It’s… not the worst. As long as we live in a world with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) or Batman & Robin (1997), we can live secure in that knowledge.
The text of this review appeared previously in a blog post entitled “Okay, Warner Bros. Time for us to have another one of those little chats.” published on 12/03/2017.
Hey, Warner Bros. It’s been a long time. No, I still don’t think the name “Martha” is a sufficient plot development around which to build an entire screenplay, but I don’t want to talk about that. We’re friends; we’ve been friends for a long time. Let’s talk about something else.
So Justice League is a thing. You went waaaaay simpler on the title. That’s good.
You picked up Joss Whedon for some relief pitching. Tragic why it came to that point, but I think you hired the right guy to finish the job.
Wonder Woman (the film) and Wonder Woman (the character) are legit, and you doubled down on that. Good; very good.
Danny Elfman’s doing the score? Is he going to bring back his theme from Batman (1989)? He is? Well, you’ve got a hit on your hands if I’ve ever heard of one.
What’s that? Why wouldn’t you use the Flash you have set up on television? He’s even super dimension-hoppy… Fine, whatever. Flashpoint will sort this all out.
Who’s the villain? Steppenwolf? Like “Born to be Wild”/“Magic Carpet Ride” Steppenwolf? No, he’s a… with horns, you say…? Oh, a helmet. Like the dude at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok? No, not like that… Why not use Darkseid? You’re wanting to tease that out. :sigh: That’s fine, we can’t blame you for aping a format that certainly has worked for the other guys. Actually, I can blame you for that, but we’ll get to that later.
Wait… What’s that about Henry Cavill’s mustache?
Oh, Warner Bros, you sweet, innocent, beautiful summer child. What have we learned?
All Newhart-esque riffs aside, Zack Snyder’s third film with Superman as a character* is out now, and is fine. While it certainly doesn’t have any of the bewilderingly bad choices that Martha v Martha: Dawn of Martha had**, it still isn’t nearly as thrilling as Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, but plays it far safer than the interesting-in-concept, but uneven Man of Steel (2013). Is it a step in the right direction for the floundering DCEU? No. It actually moves the proceedings back to the gestalt of Mommy v Mommy: Mommy of Mommy; as it turns out, Wonder Woman was the step in the right direction. That right direction, as it turns out, would be to make a bunch (and not just one) really watchable movie, then try to bring those disparate elements into a huge crowd pleaser. If only there was somebody out there that had already done this. That would be marvelous.
And that’s where I come in with some thoughts about the future of the DCEU, especially in light of League’s anemic box office. The internet has already buzzed about the possibility, and several news items have indicated that Warner Bros. may be thinking in this direction, but it may be time to abandon the Marvel business model. DC might have had a chance at being the second person to the party, but too many missed opportunities, murky creative strategies, and well, let’s face it, Marthas mean that DC may never truly get it together. The massive superhero movie continuity may not be possible to replicate. Heck, any massive movie continuity is not likely to have the benefit of a Robert Downey Jr. opening salvo, and thus, falter. Just ask the poor, maligned Universal monsters, who—despite their proud tradition of creating the idea of a cinematic shared universe before 1950—have had to endure now two false starts in twice as many years at uniting their stable of characters.
So don’t try, DC. Be weird. Don’t worry about setting up the next movie. In fact, it might be better if you’re no 100% sure what the next movie will even be. That Scorcese-produced Joker movie? I’d rather you didn’t go back to that well, but as long as Jared Leto stays home, I’m in. Flashpoint could cleanse the palette, give Affleck a dignified*** exit, allow Gal Gadot to keep making Wonder Woman movies in perpetuity, and restore Henry Cavill’s upper lip to its once-humanoid glory…
But what do I really want you to do DC? What is the only Christmas wish this boy has on his list?
You know what I’m about to say.
Last year, I wrote <here on the blog> about how I would have preferred DC handle its shared universe. It didn’t involve Affleck, and it didn’t really involve Batman, per se. You didn’t take that course here, but if you are truly giving up the ghost on being Marvel-lite, can I ask for one movie to be included in your increasingly Elseworlds-esque slate…
Batman Beyond… with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. You can even bring back Danny Elfman to do the score.
Get that done, Warner Bros., and everything will be forgiven. Including any and all Marthas that may come up between now and then.
*Spoiler alert? Can something be a spoiler alert if the bit of info is built out of pure inevitability? These are the questions I ponder at night when sleep eludes me.
**Although it still did manage to include an irritating tag scene with profoundly miscast Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor.
***He wants a “cool” way out of the role, and presumably never have to talk about it again, but I think the “best Batman to never be in a good Batman movie” can be erased from existence via the Cosmic treadmill, right?