The publicized partial absence of Zack Snyder from the director’s chair for personal reasons and his replacement by a Joss Whedon that, whatever he does, no one can deny him the merit of having shaped the modern blockbuster of superheroes with the first ‘Avengers’, provides an extra and unexpected entertainment to the slightly informed ‘Justice League’: play to guess which parts of this frankenstein belong to each.
There is a pair almost guaranteed. The horrible initial credits carry the Snyder label, as do all the sequences of a resurrected Superman, incredibly thin and shirtless in a rural setting that seems to come from the cover of a romantic novel from the Harlequin collection. That and the sense of humor that defines Aquaman (a superhero who says “My man!”) Is bad taste in the purest Snyder style at two hundred percent.
On the other hand, the chatty conversation in a cemetery between Flash and Cyborg while digging up the body of Superman seems out of the very ‘Buffy’. The sympathetic irony with which the character of Flash himself is defined, undoubtedly the finding of the film, also has touches whedonianos and the idea of the race between Flash (again!) And Superman, output of the classic encounters of the characters in the comics, also has a lot of humor and Whedon light. There was no need to repeat the joke three times, but that’s another story.
The point is that this imbalance goes through the whole movie, and although it is fun to play who is who of the directors who take off the dead as they can, it affects the general tone of ‘Justice League’. In this way, although in general terms the film is presented with total seriousness (that is, it does not have a genuine light spirit, like that of ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ or ‘ Ant-Man’), the demystifying jokes are constant.
Sometimes more fortunate (the moment of Aquaman and the Loop of Truth is frankly fun, as are Flash’s first-time doubts in the inaugural battle), sometimes less (Jeremy Irons’ Alfred is a real waste, although its joke about missing the days of the pinguinos-bomba has an unexpected and possibly involuntary grief of bitterness), but they are continuous. The result is that the unprepared spectator will have the sensation of seeing an involuntary parody of the DC heroes.
For that same reason, the serious characters do not work, they are wasted or they walk like soul in pain in a movie that seems to have been written in patches: the Commissioner Gordon, the Wonder Woman who does not forget her dead boyfriend, the Martha Who Did not Die or Lois Lane, of which at this point we will not say anything because we have several movies crying how humiliating it must be to embody it once for an Amy Adams to which we expect the contract to end shortly, and to rest from a time.
The Mothers Boxes, the Parademonios that mentioned Darkseid… all part of the rich universe of the New Gods of Jack Kirby, through which one goes on tiptoe here.
The last section that reflects this lack of definition is the technical, especially in design issues: although it does not reach the limits of the climax of ‘Wonder Woman’, the whole final stretch, with an Earth that is transforming into a polluted world by the Mother Boxes, is of a screeching and discoteque aesthetic (it is not a compliment). Recall part of the depressing urban flaming moors of ‘Batman v Superman’, but here the context is different and the tone too, so once again, ‘Justice League’ remains half- hearted (let’s not talk about the criminal way to waste the fascinating mythology of the New Gods of Jack Kirby).
The design of the scenarios, the horrible costumes of the heroes (the tribal poochies of Aquaman or the ridiculously rigid armor with Flash grid) and the special effects, which sometimes seem to come from a SyFy television production, are other effects of that imbalance. In a film with a lighter tone, they would have worked or would have gone unnoticed. But here, even in its possible swan song within the DC film universe, the stiffness and babble solemnity of Zack Snyder weighs too much.
In crops of nobody
But then… is it a ‘Justice League’ disaster? The funny thing is that not at all, or at least it is not a fascinating train collision in slow motion like ‘The steel man’ or ‘Batman v Superman’. There are times when the lightness of Whedon’s tone works beyond semi-parrical jokes, starting with the adventure itself. What the film tells us is an extraterrestrial invasion that wants to take advantage of the absence of Superman, with a villain -Steppenwolf, of rather limited charisma- who needs to collect three Mother Boxes, vehicles of power to devastate the planet.
The plot similarities with the first ‘Avengers’, casual or not, are indisputable. But if the detail is overlooked, the fact is that the hour and a half of the almost incessant action that the film proposes is not as exhausting as in other group films. Personal traumas do not distract too much from a series of fights without surprises, but they do not irritate.
There comes a point where some problems become virtues. For example, Ben Affleck’s intolerablely apathetic interpretation seems to make sense in this fiction (Batman is completely out of his comfort zone between flying aliens, intergalactic threats and heroes with the power of a god). And the unjustified and temporary confrontation of Superman with his allies has something of that pure mechanics of superhero comics, where there is no friendship without a good previous coup.
A consolation only relative, but the truth is that this ‘Justice League’ has a certain transition film scent. Zack Snyder seemed to have dug a pit of traumas and gravity from which Warner could not leave, but here the irrelevant adventure works, there is chemistry among some characters, the possibility of a living universe and with different tones is pointed out, and there is a clear intention of , for example, to wash the face of that antiheroic Superman of the last films.
Maybe ‘Justice League’ has not yet emerged from that leaden gray of previous DC hero movies, but somehow manages to keep us hopeful.