So here’s the thing: I have not once posted in long form about the Justice League movie since before it was released in theatres. Sure, I’ve commented on social media and to friends, and yes, I have a number of drafts with thoughts on different elements of it. But because I was so disappointed with the released product, and because I knew full well it was not what Zack Snyder had intended to release, and because I just didn’t have it in me to write a full blown critique for the studio sanctioned version, I just…never actually wrote about it in depth. I never spoke about it on this blog again after I saw it. It was a big change from my level of excitement in 2017. It’s very different from how I can never ever shut up about Batman v Superman. But finally, that’s going to be able to change. 2021 on HBO Max. Finally.
I watched the Vero live stream two days ago and immediately began geeking out once Snyder made the announcement. This was and is a huge moment. 2020 has been a rough year, but this? A director getting to finish the project that was derailed by a whole lot of stuff? Awesome. Good news! Yay! Everyone loves that. But if we set aside all conversations of creator freedom and artistic vision and all that for a second because other people have undoubtedly expressed that better than I ever could…I’m just delighted at the prospect of this three and a half hour movie as chock full of allusions and literary references as BvS coming out because Giant Nerd is my middle name.
As anyone that reads my posts knows, I adore Batman v Superman. I rewatch it all the time. But I have not watched the theatrical cut since the ultimate edition was released, because the ultimate edition is just such a better movie. I used to write about it all the damn time. Two and a half years after the release of Justice League, I have still only seen it once. I originally had tickets so I could watch it with a friend after seeing it for the first time on opening night alone, but I didn’t go. I didn’t want to see it again. But now we’re going to see the version that we were sold initially. And that means my nerdiness is coming right back to where it was in 2017. So…you know how I promised I was done talking about philosophy, mythology, and religion as it pertains to superhero movies? PSYCH. Turns out that next year, all of that will almost certainly be coming right back.
Justice League is coming out in just a few days, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’ve been avoiding the clips and TV spots, because I want to save as much as possible to see in the theatre. I’ve been avoiding Twitter because I’m terrified of spoilers. There has been a huge amount of debate and worry and irritating think pieces putting every aspect of production under a microscope. And yes, I don’t like everything I’ve read. But when I put all of that aside and think about how in less than a week, I’m going to be sitting in a theatre to watch the first ever live action Justice League movie, I feel both excitement and a sense of relief.
This has been a rough year. Personally as well as in terms of the state of the world. But Justice League is my childhood being brought to life, and it’s almost time to see it. As I’ve talked about time and time again, Batman v Superman was the dark, serious story that highlighted a lot of the bad in the world while offering a positive way forward. Justice League will be the hopeful light, and I can already tell it’ll give me a wonderful feeling of catharsis. It’s a warm, optimistic story coming at a time when we all really need it.
We’re jaded. All of us. We’re so used to wars, mass shootings, bigotry on all levels, horrible abuse, corruption, lies. The world is filled with so much hate and negativity, every positive story feels good for a split second, before we forget about it to wallow in misery again. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Justice League is a story of heroes coming together and making the world a better place. The first word that enters my mind when I think about the DCEU is compassion. Clark’s story is that of an immigrant and a refugee, perceived differently and feared because of what he is. He wants to use his abilities for good, but people hate him just for what he is. I’ve talked about him and why he matters again and again and again. It can be summed up by pointing out the fact that he keeps trying to do good. He sees the bad. He’s affected by the bad. But he never stops believing in a better world. The Justice League itself forms in his honour, to fight for that better world. And everything about that story reminds me that we can do the same.
It may be fiction, but it matters. There’s a lot of bad in this world, and I’ll take my inspiration where I can get it. Real people are horribly flawed and exhausting. But in fiction? That can be simple. That can show us people coming together, people struggling to overcome evil. We can’t ignore or forget about the bad in the world. If we do, we can’t improve it. But we also need to remember the good, because that’s what we’re fighting for – to make the world a better place in whatever ways we can, for all the people t hat we can. It’s not easy. But nothing that’s worth having comes easily.
Costume design in the DCEU has been stunning. The superhero outfits draw inspiration from the comics looks, but veer away from tights and spandex in favour of costumes that capture the spirit of the comics, while also being a little more practical and grounded, things that look better in live action.
Wonder Woman is the most well known female superhero ever, and by a huge margin. If the big three in general are Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, the fourth – and the first woman on the list – is Wonder Woman. She’s had a lot of suits over the years her character has existed, of varying levels of quality, but the most famous is the look she wore in both the animated Justice League cartoon and the Lynda Carter series. A major consideration in the design of that suit was the sex appeal. Michael Wilkinson, the Batman v Superman costume designer, took a bit of a different route with it.
Diana’s DCEU suit is beautiful. It’s practical, with clear Greek influences. It’s something she can move and fight in. The leather and metal gives it a much more grounded, serious, warrior vibe than sticking to the star spangled unitard that is the most iconic Wonder Woman costume, while also loosely resembling Diana’s New 52 look. This suit shows a lot of skin, but neither the costume itself nor the way the movies are shot sexualizes her. Her costume sacrifices some protection so that she can move more easily. The boots are still armour. Her gauntlets span the entirety of her forearms, so they protect her more than the bracelets we see in the cartoon. The WW is everywhere. There are still stars, but they’re a bit more subtle, less reminiscent of an American flag. All those components together help build a suit that looks ancient, gorgeous, and very functional.
Superman is the most iconic superhero in the world. He’s had a huge number of adaptations before the DCEU, which made it important to create a standout costume. And boy, did Wilkinson deliver.
The level of detail in Clark’s costume is astounding. The colours in it are rich and almost regal looking, bright enough to be eyecatching and not look dull or washed out, but no so bright as to be distracting when he’s supposed to be the focus of the scene, not the suit. The texture makes such a huge difference when you compare it to Superman suits of the past. Those were all flat spandex. And that’s fine, for a cartoon, but it doesn’t look great in live action. It’s a bit of a dated look. This one is less silly – it doesn’t look anything like a grown man wearing a onesie. You can imagine how it would feel to touch.
The DC Extended Universe is the first live action adaptation of Aquaman that we’ve seen, and as such, it could have gone in many different ways. The pop culture image of him as a kind of loser that talks to fish has stuck around, even though it doesn’t have much basis in canon. Zack Snyder chose to embrace all the awesome potential of the ruler of the seas and went the route of Aquaman the Complete Badass.
Arthur’s Justice League suit, combined with the fact that it’s Jason Momoa wearing it, makes it very clear that Aquaman is someone you should take seriously. It draws upon Polynesian influences, on Momoa’s Hawaiian background, and that’s an incredibly inspired choice – to make the King of Atlantis Hawaiian makes perfect sense, and to include that in the costume was genius. The shark teeth motif is everywhere, along with a somewhat more subtle spear tip pattern. It’s textured, it’s regal, it’s distinctive. It’s a bold, powerful look, and the costume alone is enough to give us an idea of who this character is.
Mera’s costumes in both Justice League and Aquaman show off just how much thought went into making beautiful suits for different purposes that capture the spirit of the comics costumes. I might even go so far as to say that hers are my favourite in the DCEU.
This is a warrior queen’s armour. The scaly look, the stylized shoulder pieces. It’s functional and fit for royalty. It’s formfitting, but in the same way as Superman’s or Aquaman’s is. She’s not wearing a painted on catsuit for the sex appeal. The tightness isn’t what you notice about it. It’s very complementary to what Arthur wears – the same colour palette and ornamentation, similar care taken with the minute details. It’s not an exact replica, but it’s very close.
Her Aquaman suit is clearly designed in a similar style – the scales, the full body coverage, the fingers free to move, the same green with touches of gold colour palette – but it isn’t a combat outfit, and is a lot less ornate. She doesn’t have the plates at her shoulders, elbows, and knees. She isn’t wearing a headpiece. Instead, she’s wearing what looks more like a wetsuit than a suit of armour. This costume, with the vividness of the colours and the low cut of the neckline, is the closest the DCEU has had to a direct comic-panel-to-movie spandex suit, except the details – the lines, the scales, the texture, the shine – distinguish it and keep it from looking like a cheap, tacky Halloween costume.
I absolutely adore the DCEU costumes. There are a lot more that I love that I didn’t mention, but Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman, and Queen Mera’s all are fantastic demonstrations of why the detail put into every costume is astounding. I’m so excited to see more in the coming movies.
DC puts out an amazing show for Comic Con every year. Last year, they managed to put together the special footage for Justice League, a movie that was a year and a half away at the time, while they were in the middle of filming. I had expected a few stills, or maybe a snippet of a scene. Nope! They put together an incredible first look.
Now, we’re only a few months away from the movie, and the trailer was confirmed before SDCC. I was so excited for this trailer, and it didn’t disappoint at all. It’s not that we needed to see it at all – the material we got before this did its job and hyped us up and left us wanting more – but we did want it, and I’m certainly not going to complain about DC giving me exactly what I wanted.
I have a soft spot for last year’s Comic Con footage, because that was the first look we got at the movie, and it looked great, and it started to hit me that this movie is actually happening, but everything we’ve gotten has been amazing. This trailer was no exception.
Going into this, knowing that we’d already gotten a mostly lighthearted official trailer and Comic Con footage that was essentially a trailer, I was hoping for something a little more serious, a little more thoughtful and introspective, like that gorgeous Man of Steel trailer with Jonathan Kent’s voice over, because as great as Snyder’s bombastic action sequences are, he’s at his best with the slow, quiet, beautiful scenes. I’d wanted more Cyborg, because it seemed like we’d gotten less of him than we had anyone else, and perhaps just a hint of Superman – a flash of his cape, a shot of the S, a mention of his name.
What we got was more serious than the others, and it was great. It wasn’t the MoS level, but it was heartfelt and wonderful. There were still a few jokes, and it wasn’t BvS level heavy, but we got references to Clark and how he’s a beacon of hope, Alfred talking to someone that probably was him – there was a flash of red at the bottom that could have been his cape, more Victor, references to the Green Lantern Corps. It was stunning, and I adored it.
I hate the word fun to describe movies, especially because of how it’s been used as a criticism of Batman v Superman being a serious movie. But I kind of have to use it with this anyway. This movie is going to be fun and entertaining and enjoyable. It’s still going to be a DCEU movie, a Zack Snyder movie – thoughtful, emotional, meticulously made – but it’s going to be lighter and gentler than Batman v Superman. We’ve seen that in the trailers. And that’s great. The varying tones and amount of emotional weight in the DCEU movies mean that I’m always going to have one of them I can watch, no matter my mood.
Justice League is obviously the conclusion to a story arc. It’s the lightness that comes after everyone has hit their lowest, darkest point and worked through it. And to me, that makes it a very satisfying, cathartic concept and a much richer story than had we just gotten this movie without Man of Steel and Batman v Superman preceding it. However, it’s undeniable that this movie is going to be much more in line with what critics and the general audience wants – lighter, more jokes.
I loved Man of Steel and Batman v Superman because every time I rewatch them, I catch something that I missed before. Because they’re layered and gorgeous and wonderful. They’re clever and detailed without ever being pretentious. These are movies that were clearly made by a director that loves movies, loves superheroes, loves stories. Zack Snyder doesn’t take our intelligence for granted at all. In Man of Steel, he gently guided us in the direction he wanted to go. After people apparently thought that was too subtle, he made aspects of BvS very pointed and direct, while never sacrificing the artistry or being overly in your face, and even then, he’s probably giving most viewers too much credit. Like other people have said – it’s probably the world’s most expensive indie movie. How people think his movies are just dumb action flicks where things blow up is beyond me.
I know I’m going to love Justice League. It’s going to have all the heart, emotion, beautifully written characters, and incredibly shot action sequences that the previous DCEU movies had, while never feeling like the same old thing rehashed again. The people involved with making it – Snyder, Terrio, the producers, even DC and WB – are clearly willing to take risks. They make movies that are anything but generic. Even the trailers show that off. When Justice League is great, it’s not going to be because Snyder capitulated to what critics wanted. It’ll be because he stayed true to his vision and carefully guided it through a story arc to create a smooth, elegantly developed, well paced trilogy. He earned his lightness because he went to a dark place with BvS.
You know the “reaction videos” that are always on Youtube? The ones where people watch trailers and sometimes talk about them? I know they’re kind of stupid, and it’s not like most of the people reacting are saying anything interesting or unique, and their reactions are almost always over the top and unnatural, but I find myself watching them anyway, just because I love the sense of companionship stemming from watching a trailer while someone else does and getting excited about it together. It’s such a cozy feeling. I’ve finally found a few people that can talk about how they’re excited for a different DC movie without complaining about Batman v Superman, and it’s amazing. I can’t wait for more of those videos uploaded, I need to watch like ten.
When Wonder Woman came out, it felt surreal. It didn’t feel like it was actually happening until I was sitting in that theatre. It felt like a movie I’d been waiting for forever that I was in shock I was actually getting to see. Justice League? It’s going to be that feeling times ten.
The movie isn’t coming out until November. That’s five months. That’s still a long time to wait. But compared to how long I’ve been waiting to see it, it’s no time at all.
Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly excited to see Wonder Woman. And I loved it. But that was just Wonder Woman. Justice League is going to have her, Superman, and Batman together again in the same movie, like in Batman v Superman, except there’ll be more, because she’ll be more than an extended cameo, she’ll be a character. It’s going to have Aquaman and the Flash and Cyborg, for the first time ever on the big screen. It’s going to have Mera. The League is going to fight Parademons together.
Thinking about this movie – and the fact that we’re getting another trailer in a month – makes me grin like an idiot. It’s going to come out on the anniversary of the Justice League cartoon first airing. The Justice League is finally going to come together, and we’re going to get to see all of them together. I’m going to be there opening night.
Even aside from the this is so awesome geeking out, it’s going to be so satisfying to watch this movie. It’ll be the epic conclusion to a three part story. We’ll finally get to see the entirety of Zack Snyder’s vision brought to fruition. Wonder Woman was excellent, and Suicide Squad was entertaining, even if it was a bit messy compared to the other entries in the DCEU, but Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League are/will be the core of this universe. Superman is the heart, and he was the catalyst for the formation of the League.
I love the way all the movies in the DCEU tie in to each other. Not just through characters, but through themes and the story. They don’t need post credit scenes to reference other movies – there’s direct cause and effect, and the movies are woven together much more tightly. Batman v Superman occurred because of Man of Steel and all the destruction caused by the Kryptonian fight. Suicide Squad described the world after BvS. Wonder Woman went back in time and explained how Diana became the woman we saw in BvS.
Each movie has its own style and setting and even genre, but they work so well together. They’re all essentially love stories at their core. I love that Wonder Woman is being acknowledged as such, but I’m still perplexed at how people don’t see that Man of Steel and Batman v Superman are as well. People claim that MoS and BvS are too dark and gritty and grim for the sake of being grim, but I’m not convinced those people watched the same movie as I did. These movies are all about love and hope in the darkest of times!
In MoS, Jor El and Lara loved Clark enough to send him away so that he could survive the destruction of Krypton and build a better world than theirs. Jonathan and Martha took him in and raised him to become a good man. He travelled the world and helped people, despite not knowing anything about who and what he was because it was the right thing to do. Out of love of humanity, he destroyed the World Engine and killed Zod.
In BvS, Bruce charged head on into a disaster zone because there were civilians and his employees trapped, and he refused to sit back and do nothing. His fury towards Superman began with him seeing a little girl lose her mother. It was hearing his own mother’s name that made him pause long enough to listen. Lois loved Clark enough to stand between him and a maniac with a spear. Lois and Martha brought gave Clark hope and inspired him to keep going, reminded him of why Earth is his world and why he’s willing to die for it. His sacrifice made Bruce and Diana become the heroes they had once been again and form the Justice League.
Justice League is going to be the culmination of a trilogy that began with Man of Steel. They are past their darkest moments now. They’re going to become their best selves, inspired by love and sacrifice, and they’ll be the team of heroes the world needs. I, for one, can’t wait.