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  • Superheroes seem to be borne out of society’s desire to conquer overarching evils — and that means that, at times, the genre can be hammy.
    Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
    Superheroes seem to be borne out of society’s desire to conquer overarching evils — and that means that, at times, the genre can be hammy.

“Justice League” Is Mediocre At Best

Audrey Ruppert
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December 5, 2017

If I had to describe “Justice League” in one word, it would be “mediocre.” It wasn’t terrible, but it really wasn’t that great, and there was absolutely nothing memorable about it.

Full disclosure: I don’t have the nerd credentials to properly review superhero films in all their context and lore. I imagine the amount of lore one would need to learn to fit that description would be enough to fill an entire university course. However, it’s worth pointing out that most audience members aren’t fanboys, and are simply at the theater for one of America’s most beloved exports: good, old, action-packed, super-heroic fun.

“Justice League” is not fun. It’s not even funny. The main comedic character, the Flash, is certainly the best part of the film, as he breaks the monotony. Sadly, however, even he is not that funny. I laughed out loud at only one joke in this entire movie.

Superhero films typically take one of two routes. They can go the route I’ve described in the past; that is, passing the “line of ridiculousness” - being over the top, silly, full of action and very fun - or they can attempt to be serious in tone. “The Avengers” fits the former category and Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of “The Dark Knight” fits the latter. “Justice League” is not nearly over the top enough to be fun, and it falls flat on its face in an attempt to be serious.

Superheroes seem to be borne out of society’s desire to conquer overarching evils. And that means that, at times, the genre can be hammy. Superheroes also seem to be able to defy all laws of physics, and are able to leap huge plot holes in a single bound in order to defeat villains who embody a certain moral ill. “Justice League,” of course, has all these hallmarks; the dialogue is overly simplistic, and much of the film just doesn’t make any sense, but I’m not criticizing that aspect of it. These are just the hallmarks of the genre, and you can take that or leave it.

The problem is, if we’re being serious here and trying to conquer evil, what is the evil being conquered? What is the message being delivered? Superman in the past has fought Nazis in the pages of comic books. Wonder Woman brought feminism to the table in her latest blockbuster. “The Dark Knight” trilogy provided us with dark social commentary.

The villain in “Justice League,” Steppenwolf, seems to have been made up just to give the heroes something to do, and doesn’t seem to represent anything at all. Admittedly, he has some history in comic book lore, but it took me a Google search to glean this information; to the average viewer, he seems pretty random. If the filmmakers were going to dredge a vaguer villain out of the lore archives, they should have used him more effectively. The film is peppered with strange, vaguely moralistic dialogues that feel wooden and lead to nowhere. I suppose there’s a general message against being afraid, but afraid of what? If you’re going to go the “serious,” route, and are going to shoot the whole film with cool colors, dark overtones and grave music, have something serious to say.

Furthermore, while another hallmark of the genre is bringing characters back to life, I just don’t like this plot point. I’ll admit my bias. Death should have dramatic weight, as the death of Wonder Woman’s love interest did in her feature film. Spoiler alert: Half of this film is spent assembling the Justice League, which isn’t exciting at all, and then is spent bringing Superman back to life. All the fanfare over his death felt pointless, and resurrecting him just seemed like something on the to-do list in order for the heroes to beat the villain, since they couldn’t beat him by themselves.

Also, why is Superman so “OP”? This is a term we use in the gaming community, meaning “overpowered” to the point that a video game is too easy and therefore boring. The moment Superman comes back to life, the rest of the Justice League seems dispensable and useless, as Superman can do everything they each individually can do.

The whole thing feels haphazard. It’s never explained why this is the team of heroes that is chosen. The heroes don’t seem to work particularly well together. I didn’t even realize Victor Stone was Cyborg, as the word “Cyborg” is never used, until he said, “Booyah,” at the end of the film to remind me of my childhood “Teen Titan” cartoons. The plot is super predictable. I honestly cannot take Ben Affleck seriously as Batman. If I had to use a more millennial term to describe this movie, it would be “meh.”

Don’t bother watching this until it comes out on Netflix, and even then, you may just want to put it on as background noise to fall asleep.

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