Justice League 19.11.17
I'm still not sure why they needed Aquaman. He has a trident, and he swims really fast; fine, but the single oceanic scene comes and goes in the shake of a fish tail, and for the rest of the movie, he really is a fish out of water. I want more female superheroes, and fewer macho, gruff-voiced bodybuilders, whose presence in the story is expendable.
That lament aside, I thought Justice League was really quite okay. Ben Affleck plays a believably intelligent and down-to-earth Bruce Wayne / Batman, and Gal Gadot is a strong Wonder Woman. New characters that add something to this universe include Ezra Miller's Flash; I love Ezra Miller, a beautifully androgynous actor who brings a gentle, youthful dizziness to proceedings. He's a tech nerd and is further proof of how today's superheroes need superpowers in computing; along with Fisher's Cyborg – a young man turned, after an accident, into a semi-computer system – the Flash is part of a new trend in superheroes who can use the Internet and accompanying technologies in a way we can only dream of. Like Downey Junior's Ironman in that 'other' franchise, they provide the intel that make these adventurers like semi-detectives. Jeremy Irons plays a necessarily tougher and more able Alfred, no longer Bruce Wayne's butler, but a savvy ex-military techie in his own right. For these modern superhero films, those former background characters like Batman's Alfred and Spiderman's Aunt May have been the most noticeably updated, made into more active participants in the superhero's lifestyle, and a good thing too.
Things I liked about Justice League? The love story between Superman and Lois Lane – yes, of course he returns to life – and then Superman and his Earth mother, united after she thought him dead. I found these scenes genuinely moving, and I watched them with tears in my eyes. But I'm still not sure that Superman has a value in this genre, he's just so super-powerful that he enters scenes as a deus ex-machine, like the cavalry that you know cannot lose. Can he, like the Hulk, be more compromised in his powers?
Equally, can the villains be more interesting? The biggest flaw in Justice League is the arch-villain, Steppenwolf. He's one more Satanic figure made from CGI. You know he's going to lose, and that it doesn't really matter when he does, he's just there as the pantomime plot element.Finally, how does Justice League compare with the Avengers franchise? Perhaps they're the real adversary to this film, and I found myself comparing them in match-ups: Cyborg is the equivalent of computer-whizz Ironman and Spiderman and the Flash are similarly young science wizards. Aquaman is a bit like Thor, including the Nordic similarity. Affleck's Batman is an amalgam of Ironman and Captain America. Superman's like the Hulk, as an invincible warrior. The only real difference is Wonder Woman, but it would be great to have other kinds of female superheroes in this Justice world. There are just too many men who are similar in their roles for the comparisons not to be drawn. The feeling persists that the Justice League is trying to cover the same kind of ground as the Avengers, of a macho world of banter, advanced technologies, and smash-mouth muscle. Can the Justice League not see the gap and give us female gods to celebrate?