An American, an Englishman, a Jew, a Greek woman, a black guy, and a Maori looking guy that is of Hawaiian-German descent walk in to a Marvel audition. And the casting director says “Ok, those first two guys can stay. But we’ve only made 19 films so far that are considered canon, we’re not quite ready for this much, um, non-normal people to be leads in our films”.
But they were a team, so they went to DC, swung for the entertainment fences, and knocked it out of the expectation park.
I’ll happily watch Marvel movies all day. But let’s be honest, they’re not exactly pioneers of diversity. Ok, they eventually got round to Falcon. And Black Widow is there from like the seventh movie onwards. But they’re pretty side-kick-y.
I’m not gonna turn this in to an equality rant, taking a political stance isn’t what makes this a good film. It’s just nice to see, and you’ll be aware of the difference between it and Marvel while you’re watching it. I’d also like to not just compare it to Marvel films, because that’s a little lazy, and every film stands in it’s own right. But I’m lazy and I don’t care about rights.
So far DC has struggled to get off to a running start. They’ve had a lot of third act problems.
Man of Steel (2013) spends the whole movie showing how invincible Superman is, then they have to shoehorn in a reason why someone else would be able to beat him so there is some threat for us to rally about. But it felt like a day late and a dollar short.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) could have been a masterpiece but just as they ramp up to a final battle, there’s some confusion about everyone’s mum being called Martha. Which is just really lazy on behalf of the original creators of both characters not to have checked. Like, if Batman was also called Clark Wayne, they’d have changed that before the release of the first comic.
And the Suicide Squad wouldn’t have gotten together if it wasn’t for Viola Davis. However, there wasn’t a threat until she did put them together, and their only mission was to get her out of a building that she apparently went to after the threat began. And the big final fight Killshot didn’t use any superpowers, they just used a bomb to defeat the witch. Admittedly it took someone really strong to throw it at her, and someone who was quite a good shot to make it explode. But urgh, oh my god that film had first, second, and third act problems. And a soundtrack that might as well have been “Now that’s what I call replacing effective storytelling with obvious music: Volume 4”.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a Fan Beffleck. He’s lush, and I love him, and all of his films. So it’s going to be hard for me to try to argue that he’s the best Batman without seeming biased.
Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Adam West are obviously out of the discussion. I’d need to hear a really compelling argument for why they should even be considered. And even then it wouldn’t guarantee I’d even let them on the ballot.
Christian Bale was in the best Batman film. And two other very good ones, as long as you don’t worry too much about the logic of them. But was he good at the role itself? I don’t think so. He was a little too smug at times, and a little too pouty at others. Bale is a fine actor (if you haven’t seen American Psycho (2000), you’re a fool, because it’s the best film ever made) but even his body type wasn’t convincing enough. Yes, I’m body shaming him. But not for being too skinny in The Machinist (2004), and not for being pudgy in American Hustle (2013). He was too average in the Dark Knight Trilogy.
Michael Keaton. Wow. What’s not to love? Did you know he used to be a stand-up comedian? He was a little Michael McIntyre, just slightly more 70s, and less annoying. His Batman voice was gravelly enough without being comical, but his Bruce Wayne is not quite vulnerable enough. His first film is clearly the second best Batman film, it’s a nice mixture of the dark back story and the campy villain.
But is Keaton the best Batman?
No. Even though he’s not had the best outings up until now, there’s something about Affleck’s portrayal that reminds me of the cartoon version. He’s age-appropriate, brooding, classically handsome, and has that amazing square jaw. We’ve seen him doing some actual detective work in BvS, and outsmarting the joker briefly in Suicide Squad (2016), and now it’s a real joy to see him compiling his team and working with others. And not only because he uses the phrase “getting the band back together”, which is one of those phrases that I love even though they’re really dumb. Like when someone says “You working hard, or hardly working?”. That really moves my furniture.
We need to talk about Ezra Miller.
Oh my god I love this kid. He’s the comic relief for the whole film. And he fulfils his role perfectly.
Another dumb thing about Suicide Squad was that after Deadpool (2016) came out (Ryan Reynolds, not Clint Eastwood) DC decided that they needed to make their film funnier, because it was the first time anyone had pointed out that people like laughing. Unfortunately all of the characters in Suicide Squad were “cool”, or at least played by “cool” actors. So all of the new little scenes and one-liners they added in were “cool” humour. Pithy little lines that make a good comeback, but not jokes. Did you know that both The Rock, Vin Diesel, and Jason Statham have in their Fast & Furious contracts that they’re not allowed to lose a fight in the film, because they can’t look bad? Well, Suicide Squad had that kind of problem with jokes.
Justice League however was written from the ground up with The Flash character being likeable and vulnerable and really funny. And because of that, he is legitimately cool. I dare say if he gets his own film, it might get a little tired if everything he says is a joke, but working as part of an ensemble cast, it’s really welcoming.
And Aquaman, despite being having the dumbest powers of every superhero ever, is a real badass. I actually went as Jason Momoa for Halloween this year, from Once Upon a Time in Venice (2017). At least one person, when prompted and shown a photo said that the likeness was “uncanny”. So I owe it to the world to dress as him from this next year. Oooh, but I did already say I’d do Vince Vaughn from Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017). Ok, year after that, I swear I’ll be walking around topless, showing off my rippling muscles and my long flowing mane.
It is kind of stupid that apparently he can swim in… um… well… he seems to swim in the air. But it might just be really good jumping. Fuck you. You don’t know how it works being an Aquaman. Give the guy a break.
There are a handful of other dumb things in the film. But if you can get over yourself and just enjoy it for the quirks that they are, you could make up little games like I did.
Firstly, the bad guy’s name is “Steppenwolf”. They say his name like eight times. And every single time I wanted the other person in the conversation to say “What, like the band?”
Especially after the line “I saw Steppenwolf up close”, which absolutely should have been followed by “What, were you backstage or something?”
Aquaman: You really are out of your mind.
Batman: I’m not the one who brought a pitchfork.
Joe Morton should stop monkeying around with cyborgs. Thankfully with all the Terminator timelines, it’s quite easy to imagine that Miles Dyson changed his name to Silas Stone. Because I pray that no matter what accomplishments he achieves as an actor in his lifetime, he will always only be that unlucky genius moron from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991).
To reiterate one of my main points from my anti-trailer article some weeks ago… There was a scene in the trailer where Alfred (Jeremy Irons) says “He said you’d come” to an unknown, off-screen character. Now, the mildly educated amongst us would surmise that because this is a Justice League movie, and Superman is a key member of the Justice League, and absolutely no-one was convinced that Superman really died at the end of BvS, that Alfred was going to say that line to Superman as he rocks up during a key moment.
EERHH. Guess again.
That line is not used in this film. So maybe Superman doesn’t even come back. He did die after all. Henry Cavill is a cast member of this film. They show a video of him giving an interview to some kids in the first couple of minutes. So why put that tease in the trailer? Because Hollywood thinks you’re a twat.
My only other gripe with this film is Wonder Woman’s bum.
Gal Gadot is a stunning woman. From head to toe, just beautiful all over. And I would do anything (except hard work) to be in a social position where her and I might regularly enjoy touching each other’s bums.
However, this year alone Miss Gadot has done more for women in film that a decade of Meryl Streep movies could do. Being the first female superhero to get her own standalone film in one of the major franchises was ground-breaking as well as glass-ceiling-breaking.
But the director is still a man. So there are at least four gratuitous shots of her bum. Some walking away from the camera, some as part of a group shot where her male cast members are facing her so the only, ONLY, shot that they could have gone with was a foot away from her knee-pit, at a 45 degree angle.
I just… Sometimes guys… I mean… Really. Come on! Can we just act like we’ve been there before.
While there are some obvious green screen moments when all the fun silly action scenes are happening, on the whole I prefer the tone of the DC films. They’re moodier, and dramatic, and gritty. It’s just until now they haven’t managed to make a movie that was also really enjoyable. BvS almost did it with the director’s cut, but seriously, that “Martha” moment was ridiculous.
If I can sum up how much I enjoyed this film…
When I left the cinema, I swung by the big Boots to pick up some Original Source Vanilla and Raspberry Shower Crème. It’s £1 a bottle. It makes me smell like Milky Mix Haribo. Which makes me really happy. Whilst there I noticed they had a display stand of those bobbleheads that have become popular in the last couple of years. I decided to take advantage of the 3 for 2 offer, so got a Batman, an Aquaman, and a Wonder Woman. The lady at the counter asked if I need a gift receipt in case my kids don’t like them.
“No, they’ll love them” I lied. I don’t have kids.
I never do that.
Buy toys that is.
I lie to people all the time.