Cinema’s Greatest Triumphs: JUSTICE LEAGUE (The Whedon Cut)
If you were to bring a person to JUSTICE LEAGUE without any preparation, you'd be fucking up. The film will only confuse because your friend won’t understand this Superman's profound journey toward likability. You have to go all the way back to MAN OF STEEL to see how Kevin Costner taught him to be a mean jerk. He worked at it and by BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE, he got pretty successful at being horrible. But at what cost, Superman? It’s not until the end of JUSTICE LEAGUE that he can finally be a personable hero who smiles, the conclusion of a truly profound arc in American cinema.
If you have seen MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN, then everything in JUSTICE LEAGUE will make perfect sense. You’ll have absolutely no problem following the plot, especially if you’ve also seen WONDER WOMAN, which will tell you about Steve Trevor. And THE AVENGERS, which will tell you about magical cubes.
Basically there is Batman. He feels guilty because Superman died in the movie where he spent two hours trying to kill Superman. That’s really bad now because he has these fly people buzzing all over his town. One at a time, they are no problem. Two at a time, they are irritating. More than that, however, and he is pretty much outmatched.
I like Ben Affleck’s Batman, by the way. This is going to be the only time someone slipped an old and thicc Bruce Wayne by us. And it’s definitely the only time our kids or even our grandkids will see a Batman who is the butt of the whole film’s joke. So enjoy it. He never got the “ouch, my back” solo movie he deserved, and it’s a shame. When you get right down to it, he’s only the third-worst Batman. His sad consolation is essentially leading this movie, which is more an experience in editing than a film.
Batman needs a team, so he goes to Wonder Woman who actually has super powers. They hatch a plan to recruit two kids (Cyborg and Flash) and one drunken roadie (Aquaman) to help kill all these bugs. Two out of three refuse the call because being helpful and having friends is nerdy. The other says yes immediately because he is a fucking nerd - a nerd with perpetually sucked in cheekbones who thinks saying “okaaaaay” as if standing before a live studio audience counts as humor. He’s very funny and I hope he returns in the sequel.
This is all very important and takes about an hour. I’m not being fair, we also meet the villain during this time.
Imagine the bad guy from LEGEND, played by a legend himself, Tim Curry. The bad guy here is played by a good actor as well, Ciarán Hinds. Unlike LEGEND, which has outdated effects, the filmmakers were able to erase the actor’s face and then electronically manipulate his voice, thus eliminating all the things about actors that no one enjoys. The filmmakers knew we wanted Ciarán Hands’ body language as translated by a computer and by god that’s what we got.
This guy’s name is Steppenwolf and he wants to turn the world into a shithole. One thing to know about Steppenwolf is he has horns. One thing we don’t know about Steppenwolf is whether those are horns or just his helmet.
Steppenwolf’s plan is to take the magic cube from THE AVENGERS and combine it with two other magic cubes to make one giant magic cube. Luckily, his magic cube is made out of Cyborg, so there is a real chance to stop it. Cyborg’s body is an alien computer which means he can provide valuable keys and info to the macguffin and be the macguffin at the same time. He is a screenwriter’s best friend and I hope he returns in the sequel.
Wonder Woman’s Amazons have one cube. They protect it from Steppenwolf by playing keep away with it, which they ripped off from AVENGERS: ENDGAME. When they fail, they light a fire beacon to alert Wonder Woman, which they ripped off from RETURN OF THE KING. Just in case she misses that one, they have a clown shoot Robert De Niro on live television.
Aquaman’s Atlanteans have the second cube. Aquaman does not have his army of giant fish yet, so nabbing this one is easy. The Justice League have the third cube. Instead of worrying about using it, they are worrying about necromancy.
There was no way around this, so I applaud the filmmakers just holding their nose and getting through it. At some point, they have to bring Superman back from the dead. Rather than just show up with a body so internet dicks like me can make jokes about “what did Flash and Cyborg dig his ass up?”, they just go ahead and give us a scene where Flash and Cyborg dig his ass up. Flash acknowledges how bizarre it is. Then he asks why he isn’t just doing it himself with his super speed. Next he wants to know why Superman’s upper lip looks weird. He continues asking but not answering questions until he’s lampshaded every stupid decision this movie feels guilty about.
And they zap him back to life. Noobs might believe he is non-communicative and aggressive because he’s still waking up from the dead, but sadly this is the right guy. He fights everyone, beating them all at whatever their skill is, thus negating those skills altogether. He especially fights Batman, the weakest of the bunch. Then he sees his girlfriend and flies to Kansas. And he will stay there until just after Steppenwolf rips Cyborg’s leg from its socket.
Thinking the whole Superman thing was an embarrassing bust, the team flies to Russia to fight Steppenwolf. Cyborg is going to fuck with cubes. Aquaman and Wonder Woman will fight Steppenwolf. Flash’s job is to keep Batman alive. Batman’s job is to shoot bugs. They all suck at their jobs. Eventually Superman shows up and beats the guy up. He feels so good about it, he finally smiles and gains human-like qualities. I hope they focus on this in the sequel.