Justice League is only a few weeks away from premiering in theatres around the world, Warner Bros. is ramping up its marketing and before long we’ll be inundated with ads for the superhero blockbuster. There’s one problem though; I don’t know if I could be less excited. It’s a strange sensation for me, having been a fan of DC almost as long as I can remember. I’ve literally had dreams about what a Justice League (JL) movie could look like. Now, having closely followed the production and watched the trailers I have a pretty good idea what the world's first live action JL movie will be, and I have some reservations.
The first time I developed concerns about the film (besides immediately after Suicide Squad) was as far back as January of this year when rumours were swirling that there were issues with the script and that the movie was “a mess”. We were still coming down from Suicide Squad and Batman vs. Superman (BvS), and Wonder Woman (WW) was still on the horizon with rumoured issues of it’s own. At that time there was even an online petition to remove Zack Snyder from the project. This was just the start of what would be a fairly tumultuous production.
Later in the year, we got even more rumours. Apparently Ben Affleck was getting cold feet about continuing as Batman in the DCEU. On it’s own I think this would have quickly faded away but right around that same time we learned that he was stepping down from directing the Batman solo film. His script was being shelved and Affleck went from directing, writing, and starring in the film to simply starring. He made a statement at Comic-Con this year trying to quell the fears of fans but I’m still not convinced. When there’s that much smoke there’s probably some fire. How does this affect JL? Well it’s possible it has no effect, but it certainly doesn’t enspire a lot of confidence in the product when one of DC’s big three appears less than interested in being there.
Unfortunately, things only got more complicated from there. Part way through production Zack Snyder announced that he was stepping down from JL due to personal matters. We learned that Joss Whedon, having recently been brought on at WB was going to be taking over. There would be extensive reshoots and script work done. It was clear that this was a movie caught between two worlds. The original vision of Snyder, that started as far back as Man of Steel, and the new, more hopeful plans of Geoff Johns and company. Now much of this is speculation but it appears that after the commercial and critical success of WW, Warner Bros. (WB) examined what they had with JL and made a difficult decision. They were already trying to course-correct the DCEU and it looks like they chose to use the director change as a means to shift the direction of the movie. Immediately after BvS it became clear that WB and DC were trying to move away from the “dark and gritty” nature of the previous DCEU films in favour of something a bit lighter. See the mess that is Suicide Squad as exhibit A. Unfortunately for that film it was far too late to make any major changes and a recut version of the movie only left it feeling disjointed. By this time WW and JL were both well into production, so the question was whether or not this tonal shift would lead them down the same path.. We now know that WW was a success, even if the film still has some issues. Hope remains! Problem is we just got another piece of information about the movie that really puts everything in perspective.
Just a few days ago we learned JL’s runtime would be a minuscule 121 minutes long (including credits). It will be the shortest DCEU film to date and the final piece of the JL puzzle that, when placed with all the the other turmoil, reveals a worrisome picture. Imagine a movie featuring 5 main characters (and let’s be honest; 6 including Superman), 3 of them plus the villain are completely new, and all of them need to share that screen time. Even after months of reshoots and script rewrites I find it hard to believe that they managed to give every character their due. Something, or someone, is going to get short shrift.
At this point Justice League just has too many red flags to ignore and I haven’t even gotten into the concerns I have over some of the cast; most notably Ezra Miller as The Flash. Or the fact that, just weeks out from it’s premiere, some of the CGI looks a bit shoddy. Even Superman himself, Henry Cavill, has expressed concerns over how the DC movies were going. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not HOPING that it sucks or that it bombs at the box office. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. Nothing would make me happier than to find out that WB and DC were able to successfully right the DCEU ship using their biggest franchise. Unfortunately I need to be a realist and accept that I might need to wait a few more years before I can see the Justice League movie that existed only in my dreams brought to life.
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