Warning! “Justice League” spoilers below.
We don’t need to be roped by Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth to admit “Justice League” has some missteps.
The movie doesn’t capture the same magic or build on the runaway success of the Gal Gadot–led “Wonder Woman.”
On the positive side, as The New York Times put it, it’s definitely “better than” “Batman v Superman” — the DC ensemble piece featured, among other things, one of the most upsetting, time-wasting twists that happens when the two heroes stop fighting because their moms have the same first name.
(My mom’s name is Robin. If that’s your mom’s name, hit me up in the comments, because I guess we just became best friends.)
Nothing in “Justice League” is that egregious.
Ezra Miller is the perfect, awkward comic relief as The Flash. Gadot’s Wonder Woman is, again, wonderful. I could probably watch an entire sequel devoted to Khal Drogo, aka Aquaman, aka Jason Momoa, slo-mo guzzling booze to The White Stripes, because it’s pretty baller.
You can certainly watch “Justice League” and have a good time. That being said, the movie didn’t play White Stripes forever.
Some peculiar moments stick out.
Ben Affleck is weird.
In “Justice League,” Affleck’s Batman is mostly busy rounding up a gang of superheroes to help him fight the bad thing that is coming. We don’t know what that bad thing is. We just know it’s something. Something bad. And it has to do with three mysterious objects called “mother boxes,” which we’ll touch on later.
During a scene toward the middle of the film, Batman gets in an argument with Wonder Woman about the morally questionable decision to bring Superman (Henry Cavill) back to life to help them fight. Affleck, in support of the whole resurrection scheme, claims that villains like Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) aren’t out there talking “about ethics.” (Instead, Steppenwolf’s ignoring ethical demands and, you know, doing villainous things like swinging his cool ax and setting up his headquarters in a mostly uninhabited area of the world. So they should just resurrect Superman already!)
It’s already not the greatest run of dialogue, but when Affleck mentions ethics, it just falls flat.
This isn’t the movie’s fault. But considering the wave of sexual harassment stories coming out of Hollywood right now ― and claims that Affleck, who made what many people thought to be a poorly conceived sexual harassment joke in a recent interview, may have had knowledge of misconduct in the industry ― the actor’s mention of “ethics,” even as the character of Batman, rings hollow.
Someone, please cue the “Sound of Silence,” because this is our mood:
“Booyeah” ... “You smell good” ... “My man” and everyone else’s un-super lines.
Great one-liners can be the best part of movies.
In “San Andreas,” the Rock jumps out of a plane with his character’s ex-wife (Carla Gugino) and lands in AT&T Park, seemingly just to deliver the line, “It’s been a while since I got you to second base.” There’s really no reason to talk about “San Andreas” in 2017. But something about the Rock jumping out of an aircraft just to say a corny baseball pun to his fake ex-wife deeply affected my life.
A lot of the lines in “Justice League” probably won’t do that.
More often than not, when a character gets the chance to say something memorable or funny after an awesome feat, they wind up with a cliche.
Take, for example, when the camera moves to Cyborg (Ray Fisher) after a crazy sequence just to get a close-up shot of him saying, “Booyeah.” In another scene, Jason Momoa is destroying Steppenwolf’s minions only to break out his Denzel Washington impression and say, “My man.”
And then after Superman, who’s supposedly been dead for about a year, finally comes back to life, Lois Lane (Amy Adams) tells him, “You smell good.” To which he replies something like, “Did I not before?”
(Today I learned: Superman must usually smell like barf.)
Superman comes “back to life.”
In the final moments of “Batman v Superman,” dirt rises off of Superman’s coffin, heavily implying that he is, in fact, alive and not dead.
This movie pretty much ignores that.
Instead, we have a lot of plot about Batman and his crew trying to bring Superman back to life, and you’re left wondering the point was of that other film’s last scene. (Or what was even the point of anything in “Batman v Superman”? And did Lois Lane really tell him he smells good after he’s been dead for so long?)
A quick search on Google could tell you that, even if his final wish was to be buried with a crap ton of Axe body spray, dude’s gonna be pretty ripe.
The Amazons get their new outfits half-off.
Left: Amazons in Wonder Woman— Fawfulator (@fawfulator) November 13, 2017
Right: Amazons in #JusticeLeague .
Why? Even ignoring the obvious issue here, why muddy the visual continuity between the two movies? I have a feeling that folks who skipped BvS but saw Wonder Woman are in for a shock when they see Justice League. pic.twitter.com/WgIk1U4TkF
A lot has been written about the Amazons’ much more revealing outfits in “Justice League,” as opposed to the ones they wore in “Wonder Woman,” so I’m not going to just pile on.
Brooke Ence, who plays the Amazon Penthesilea in both movies, even defended the outfits to USA Today, saying the look “didn’t bother” her at all, explaining that the actors “never thought of (the new costumes) as a sexy version” and the outfits “felt a little more glamorous, if anything.”
What I will say is: I saw no reason given for the outfit change, which seems much less protective than the armor the Amazons were already wearing. Does it make them more agile? Is it for aerodynamics? Was it just on sale at Hot Topic? Who the heck knows?
Have you see “Lord of the Rings”? The producers have.
An early sequence in “Justice League” recalling the first war Steppenwolf waged against men, the Amazons and the Atlanteans appears to be pretty reminiscent of “Lord of the Rings.” DigitalSpy and other outlets reported on the similarity before the film’s release, but there was no indication it would be this intensely alike.
Think about the film’s plot: “Justice League” centers on three powerful rings “mother boxes,” and how they were divided among men, the elves Amazons and the Atlanteans to protect from Steppenwolf and his orcs “parademons.”
Some people might watch and think the war sequence doesn’t resemble anything. But (*Cate Blanchett voice*) they were, all of them, deceived.
If six “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies weren’t enough for you, “Justice League” is something to check out. Just don’t go thinking it’s the one superhero movie to rule them all.
“Justice League” hits theaters Nov. 17.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.