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November 15, 2017

Whedon Saves the DCEU With Justice league

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Written by: Rodney Brown
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The latest movie in the DC Warner Bros canon is better by an unmeasurable stretch than Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s even better than Wonder Woman, the high-water mark for DC films in the new Extended Universe.

Credit for the quality of Justice League as a superhero movie can be laid at the feet of Joss Whedon. While the movie credits him as co-writer with Zack Snyder, it gives Snyder sole directing credit. But make no mistake, this is a Whedon movie.

Below I’ll explain how that worked to make Justice League the first DC movie to give Marvel films some real competition, with no spoilers as per usual.


The dialogue in Justice League is pure Whedon, and would be at home in Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer or it’s first cousin once removed, The Avengers. If you’ve seen any of the trailers you know Justice League is funnier than all four DCEU movies combined. None of the humor comes from forced jokes, however, but naturally from character situations and interaction — a sure sign of Whedon’s hand.

I don’t know why he didn’t get or take directing credit, because it is almost exclusively Whedon’s direction on display and just an occasional moment of Snyder bombast. After all, Whedon stepped in when Snyder left the film following the tragedy of his youngest daughter taking her own life.

How Whedonesque is the directing of Justice League? There is even a gratuitous butt shot of Gal Gadot in tight leather pants that mirrors the Scarlett Johansson interrogation scene butt shot in The Avengers.

Brooke Ence in the pointlessly redesigned Amazon armor. Photo credit Vero/Zack Snyder/Clay Enos as per Digital Spy.

Brooke Ence in the pointlessly redesigned Amazon armor. Photo credit Vero/Zack Snyder/Clay Enos as per Digital Spy.

That makes this a good time to address the controversy surrounding the redesign of the Amazon’s armor into skimpier, midriff-baring armor crop tops. First, it isn’t as pervasive as made out. Maybe 50 percent of the Amazon’s on screen have the new armor, and the other half look like they came right out of Wonder Woman. Aside from a few Amazon’s with speaking parts in that armor, most are basically cannon fodder. That said, redesigning them at all was a dumb move, and cheapened the quality and representation found in Wonder Woman.

Speaking of her highness, Gal Gadot continues to shine as Wonder Woman, holding her own against actors with decades more experience. Ben Affleck again proves he was the right choice for Batman in the DCEU, and Ray Fisher brings some real gravitas to Cyborg, a character often portrayed as a one-note tortured soul.

But Ezra Miller as The Flash and Jason Momoa as Aquaman are the real revelations in this excellent cast. Miller plays Barry Allen like a socially challenged Peter Parker if Parker had been bit by a puppy not a spider, and it is adorable. Momoa has never been more relatable in a role than he is portraying Arthur Curry. Sure, he’s larger than life, but also life-sized in his responses to things. He is both superhuman and, for once in his career, very human.

Whedon keeps the two hour film moving along deftly. Justice League suffers neither from the bloat of BvS nor the pacing problems of Wonder Woman. And the character writing for once makes sense. People do what you would expect them to do if you are familiar with the characters, or just logical writing in general.

Unlike either BvS or Wonder Woman, the villain in Justice League is both villainous and threatening. While he is rendered completely via CGI, he is voiced by the amazing Ciaran Hinds.

Justice League is loaded with Easter eggs and DC comics references. There are even references to previous films, like the occasional appearance of the Danny Elfman Batman theme from the 1989 movie. OK, sorry, minor spoiler. In fact, the music is very loud, at least early on in the film. Either it settled down or I got used to it.

Whedon even puts two credit scenes at the end of Justice League, like a Marvel Studios film. But he flips the importance — the mid-credit scene is fun (loads of fun) and the end credit scene is the big (and I mean big) setup.

If you like superhero movies in general, go see Justice League. If you are a DC fan in particular, definitely go. There are moments and Easter eggs that will have you cheering and fist pumping. This is the movie DC fans have been waiting on for years.

Justice League (Warner Bros.; 2 hours, one minute; PG-13) gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

About the Author

Rodney Brown



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