Justice League (2017): What Does This Mean for the DCEU? (PLUS TALK ABOUT THE MOVIE’S BOX OFFICE RETURN)

Before we get into my review for “Justice League,” let me remind you that the buildup for this movie has been objectively crazy. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of DC, you’re anti-DC, you’re a fan of Marvel, or you just aren’t into movies based on comic books, you might as well agree with me on how bonkers this movie’s buildup truly is. I cover all of that including the director change, the sexually suggestive events, the date of the review embargo lift, all in another post I’ve done titled “What the Heck is Up with Justice League (2017)?” If you want to check that out, click the link down below and that’ll take you to that post and you can discover the complete insanity of “Justice League’s” buildup.

WHAT THE HECK IS UP WITH JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)?: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/what-the-heck-is-up-with-justice-league-2017/

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“Justice League” is directed Zack Snyder (300, Watchman) and stars Ben Affleck (The Town, Argo), Gal Gadot (Fast Five, Criminal), Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian), Ezra Miller (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and Ray Fisher as the members of the league established in the title. Batman and Wonder Woman try to unite a bunch of beings with superpowers in order to defeat the evil Steppenwolf.

*MAJOR BOX OFFICE RANT AHEAD, IF UNINTERESTED, GO TO NEXT PARAGRAPH*

Before we actually go any further, part of me is glad that I’m not seeing this film on opening weekend. This is because I can now make a portion of this post dedicated to how nobody went to see this on opening weekend. If I were to see this on opening weekend, I would have. However it didn’t fit into the schedule of those who I was going to see this with. I will say this, if you have read the post I recently mentioned, you may recall I said essentially Marvel does better at the box office compared to DC, and to show that, I went through the results of 2016 comparing DC’s “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” with Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War.” To be fair, those movies had somewhat similar concepts, although “Batman v. Superman” is something that comic book junkies have been waiting to see on the big screen for years. Not to mention, “Batman v. Superman” released first. The thing I said must have brought more people into the theater has to have been the difference in tone and the reviews regarding the movie. Just look at Rotten Tomatoes! The box office results for both movies ended up being pretty high. I wouldn’t say they’re close, but it doesn’t mean they’re not high. Although I will say “Batman v. Superman” failed to make over $1 billion overall unlike “Captain America: Civil War.” Now fast forward to November 2017. This month, two big superhero movies come out. “Thor: Ragnarok” is scheduled to come out November 3rd, two weeks prior to “Justice League,” which comes out November 17th. So “Thor: Ragnarok” releases, and as expected, it won the box office on its opening weekend. The total “Thor: Ragnarok” earned on said weekend is around $427 million. In just a week, the movie has flown past $500 million. This is over $50 million greater than the combined total the original “Thor” made DURING ITS ENTIRE RUN! Also, just recently, specifically November 19th, reports came in that “Thor: Ragnarok” has now reached $739.2 million at the box office! This report suggests that “Thor: Ragnarok” has also made more money than “Thor: The Dark World” in just a couple of weeks! Also a little thing to keep in mind, the budget for “Thor: Ragnarok” was estimated to be $180 million. Suggesting that “Thor: Ragnarok” made its budget back on opening weekend. As for “Justice League,” that movie had an estimated budget of $300 million. Unfortunately, they couldn’t make it back. Some of you might be thinking, did they at least make as much as “Thor: Ragnarok?” Hate to point this out to you, but if you’ve been reading this whole paragraph, that’s a stupid question, because I said “I can now make a portion of this post dedicated to how nobody went to see this on opening weekend,” so if that doesn’t give you any hints I don’t know what will. Overall, the box office total is considerably high, but comparing it to a film like “The Avengers” would be like comparing the heights of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. Both are high when you look at them, but compared to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State is a whole new level of high. The specific worldwide total for “The Avengers” turned out to be $392.5 million dollars on the first weekend whereas this year’s “Justice League” came out to $278.8 million. “The Avengers,” a movie whose budget is estimated to have been $220 million, made its budget back on its opening weekend. Yes, that’s a shorter total, but I’m leaving that in. Interestingly, “Justice League” happened to make more overseas than “The Avengers” ($185.5 million vs. $185.1 million). Going off of “The Avengers,” just think about this. A technical action-comedy starring Chris Hemsworth as a short haired Thor, made more on opening weekend than “Justice League,” which has Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash. Strange, isn’t it? When it comes to international openings, this takes the #20 spot for the top openings in that category and when it comes to the worldwide rankings, this happens to be in the top 25 worldwide openings of all time. In reality, $278.8 million is a lot of money for a movie to make over a single weekend, although with a movie like this, it’s a tad odd that it wouldn’t end up making more.

Can somebody drop a coconut on my head? I think I’m going f*cking insane!

So, where was I? Oh yeah right, I have a whole review to do! This just goes to show you the absolute s*itshow this movie is regardless of my personal thoughts. Going into this film, I had similar feelings as I did with “Thor: Ragnarok.” Although with this particular movie there happened to be some differences. Like “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Justice League” had me going in with mixed thoughts. I honestly thought the trailers for this movie were better, although the TV spot marketing, at least from my memory, was barely noticeable. Visually, I thought this movie was somewhat superior, even though “Thor: Ragnarok” happened to be vivider. Based on this year’s movies released thus far from both DC and Marvel, you might as well say DC is kicking Marvel in the ass. “Wonder Woman” is currently at a spot somewhere as one of my top movies of the year. The other movies released in the MCU thus far, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” underwhelmed me. OK, maybe “Spider-Man: Homecoming” didn’t underwhelm, after seeing the trailers, especially the one that revealed way too much about the movie, the hype I had for the movie was not as high as I hoped it would be. Nevertheless, that movie could have been better. Although despite “Wonder Woman” being one of my favorite DC films ever made, the reception for that movie regarding the DCEU, or the Detective Comics Extended Universe, is pretty much a fluke. “Man of Steel,” while not liked by everyone, did get a number of positive reviews from critics and audiences. “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” in terms of reception, was one of the most controversial movies of 2016. In fact, “Suicide Squad,” also released in 2016, happened to be met with the same results. I had at least one thing that I enjoyed about every DCEU movie thus far. As of now I think “Suicide Squad” sucks, but at least some of the action was cool, the visuals were stunning, and the casting for Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) was stellar!

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Now we’re here, “Justice League” is out. While it currently has better results, at least according to Rotten Tomatoes, than “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad,” it’s not getting exactly what one would call positive reception. The big question is, does “Justice League” qualify as a film or not? I’d say it does. It’s got problems, but I’d say there’s still hope for the DCEU. It’s by no means as good as “Wonder Woman,” but I’d say it’s worth your money.

As mentioned, this movie has problems. So let’s begin our Negative Nancy segment of the post. This movie is an hour and fifty-nine minutes long. In all honesty, it could have been longer. I do believe this movie is going to get an extended cut for the home video release so my issue may be resolved there depending on what happens. The main reason why I wanted this to be longer is for characterization purposes. Let’s look at Cyborg in this movie.

Cyborg is played by Ray Fisher, who I imagine is a lovely guy. After all, while I never technically met him and shook his hand, I saw him at Comic Con as I was waiting in line for the person next to him. By the way, I’m referring to Gal Gadot, who’s also in this movie, and I’ll get to her later. While I did get some of his backstory, and I also happened to be introduced to a parent of his, I don’t really feel like I got to know Cyborg in full detail. If the movie was a bit longer much like some of the other installments in the DCEU then maybe we would have gotten a closer look at Cyborg. Also, this does bring one question to my mind. How long was this intended to be?

This film was directed by Zack Snyder, a man who had prior experience when it comes to films based on comic books or graphic novels. These films include “300,” “Watchman,” along with two movies in this film’s universe, “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” However, he didn’t have complete control. For the record, that was his decision. An unexpected tragedy hit the Snyder family earlier this year when Zack’s daughter, Autumn, committed suicide. This caused Joss Whedon to take over.

Joss Whedon was added on in order to finish the movie and shoot some extra scenes. The movie also went through reshoots, which isn’t new for this universe considering “Suicide Squad” also went through reshoots which happened to be met with mixed opinions. Joss Whedon, much like Snyder, isn’t a stranger to comic book films. Whedon directed both “Avengers” 1 & 2 so as far as concept goes, this is almost like a trip down memory lane. I like Joss Whedon, but he almost might be a problem here. When it comes to directing, it might involve one person with a certain vision for their movie. It almost felt like Joss Whedon came in with a different vision and it kind of affected this particular movie. Part of that vision, from what I can tell, possibly came from a musical perspective. Snyder initially hired Junkie XL to do the movie’s music, but it turns out that he was eventually fired and replaced by Danny Elfman. After hearing Elfman’s score in this film, I wasn’t exactly impressed. Not only is it somewhat ordinary, but even borrowing themes from other superhero films with characters didn’t work out. I liked what he did with Wonder Woman’s theme, but that’s about it. This is rather unfortunate because I love Danny Elfman. Admittedly, I don’t think he’s the right guy for this project. Junkie XL was probably the better choice. I even saw a video on YouTube that showed Junkie XL’s real theme for this film, which was scrapped due to Elfman replacing him. After hearing that, I knew for sure Junkie XL was right for this. It’s not surprising Danny Elfman did the music if you think about it, because he worked with Joss Whedon in the past on “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” I didn’t even like the score for that film, maybe superhero crossover films aren’t for him. He did well on standalone superhero films though such as the “Spider-Man” trilogy, so if he were doing superhero films, that’s what he should be hired for. Who knows? It might not even be Whedon’s fault, because this movie, from a perspective regarding itself from a point of view that I imagine must be Zack Snyder’s, could have affected it as well.

I’ve seen news and trailers regarding this movie leading up to it. At times I heard this movie was going to have more humor than say, “Batman v. Superman.” Tell me guys, doesn’t that sound like Marvel to you? Maybe Zack Snyder thought if the movie was more like a Marvel movie, and by that I mean generally more comedic and happy go lucky, he’d receive more positive criticism. Granted, the movie was funny, and there were moments where the comedy happened to work. Although in general, let’s just say this. If a movie sets up a tone, it’s best that they stick with it. This movie starts out rather dark, in fact part of it has to do with the death of a major character in the DCEU. There’s still comedy throughout and it works. Some of the comedy, maybe not as much because I’ve seen it in the trailer, but overall it works. Then we progress throughout the movie, while some of the original vibe is still there, it’s starting to diminish. The movie’s getting tads lighter as we go. This may be due to the writing, the reshoots, anything. In fact, it could be Joss Whedon’s fault after all! He was credited for his work on the screenplay. Also when it comes to the screenplay, Whedon technically had possibly more credit than Snyder because while Snyder had a focus on the movie’s story, Whedon was given credit on the screenplay itself.

Some people might not notice this, but Whedon also likely decided on changing the climax of the movie. The idea is pretty much the same, there are scenes from multiple trailers (both before and after Snyder’s departure) that made it into the final cut, but you might notice the sky is red. I mentioned this in my “What the Heck is Up with Justice League (2017)” post comparing this result with one of the earlier trailers where we see identical moments with a dark blue sky. I thought the blue sky worked, the red was a little too much. I will give some credit because the sky wasn’t, say, pink, but I thought the dark blue was more fitting for the movie overall.

As far as the action goes in this movie, I’d say for the most part, it’s awesome. Zack Snyder has proven that he can direct great action scenes in previous movies and he just shows he’s not messing around in this one. There was one scene that for the most part, was great, but there was a time where I almost couldn’t tell what was happening. Just for the record, it wasn’t as bad as “Transformers 5.”

Another complaint I’ll give here is that Steppenwolf wasn’t exactly the strongest villain I’ve ever seen. Comic book movies in general, mainly the ones that have come out this decade, lack memorable villains. There are exceptions like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Spider-Man: Homecoming” but for the most part, they don’t exactly resemble greatness when it comes to antagonists. Steppenwolf was a serviceable villain with a somewhat clear motivation, however at the same time, he was rather cliche.

Now that that’s over, let’s move onto some positives. The cinematography in this movie is very solid for a comic book film. There are a number of scenes where it’s rather conventional, but at times, the camera is moving like crazy which goes along perfectly with the fast paced action. If you ask me, the DCEU’s best cinematography however comes from “Man of Steel.” Although that’s kind of a compliment since both movies were directed by Zack Snyder. At the same time however you can say I’m kind of insulting the cinematographer because the director of photography for “Justice League” and “Man of Steel” are two different people.

I also appreciated the film’s CGI. Did it go overboard? At times, but that’s not a first for comic book movies. Overall, you can say the effects were massive, somewhat colorful, and somewhat breathtaking. Seeing Aquaman stop water from reaching a further distance was spectacular to watch. Also, you might not know, but Cyborg’s costume is CGI, and I got to say it worked.

Speaking of things that are done digitally, Henry Cavill appeared in this movie. I won’t go into further detail about what he did, but he’s there. During the movie’s production, he had a mustache. Why was this? He was simultaneously working on “Mission: Impossible 6” where his role required him to have said mustache. Under regulation, Cavill couldn’t shave it off, so it was removed digitally. While you don’t really see much of it, it’s still visible. I don’t know how much of the movie-going population would catch something like this, but it caught my eye nevertheless.

Sticking with the topic of heroes and the actors who portray them, let’s talk about some in depth, except for Cyborg since we already went over him. Starting off with Batman, played by Ben Affleck, he’s basically one of the two people organizing the Justice League. Before “Batman v. Superman” I was somewhat skeptical about him as Batman but now that I’ve seen him multiple times as the Caped Crusader, I have to say he does a fine job portraying the character. As Bruce Wayne, Affleck seems to stay according to plan and as Batman he appears to remain deep voiced and alert.

The other person organizing the league is Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot. There is LITERALLY no other person that should be playing this role but Gal! I may be biased because I love Gal Gadot, I view her as my celebrity crush, I met her at Comic Con, but seriously! Just watch Gal Gadot in this movie and you’ll come to realize, she has this system down. Her battle cries are probably some of the best I’ve heard in a movie! The accent, which by the way, is actually the real way Gal talks, works for the character! Seeing her in action is such a treat! The list of positivity is extreme! Her character, once again, SHINES in this movie. I was able to buy into both Wonder Woman and Diana Prince. When a movie makes you do that, you know you have a great character. On a sidenote, there’s a point in the movie where Bruce and Diana are having a conversation and when “Steve Trevor” comes up, I was wowed. I can’t exactly recall the quote where Trevor’s name is mentioned, but it was a highlight in the movie’s screenplay for me.

This movie also has Barry Allen, AKA The Flash, played by Ezra Miller. Out of all the characters in the movie, this one was pretty much the comic relief. Sure, there’s funny lines given by multiple characters in the film, but if there was one person that stole scenes from a humor perspective, it had to have been The Flash. I didn’t really laugh as much as other people, but I did end up laughing. His character was hyperactive, excited, and rather fleshed out. I can also give kudos to Ezra Miller for giving a good performance.

The last hero I’ll bring up is Arthur Curry/Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa. If you have read the comic books and watched this movie, you may notice some differences when it comes to Aquaman here. His backstory is similar overall, but in terms of character traits, he’s not completely identical. One difference you may notice is the hair. When you compare the hairstyle to the comics, it’s similar to certain installments, signifying that the hair in the comics isn’t always the same. Although one thing you might notice here is that the hair isn’t blonde, it’s more on the darker side of the color spectrum. Overall, I bought into Aquaman, I enjoyed seeing him in Atlantis, and personality-wise, he’s kind of like a rockstar. That’s what I get from the way he talks. On a little sidenote, I made a post months back saying that footage was leaked for the upcoming “Aquaman” movie. Turns out that’s actually in this movie. If you want to read that, link’s down below.

https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/03/03/leaked-aquaman-footage-revealed-on-zack-snyders-twitter/

Speaking of characters in this movie, Commissioner Gordon also makes an appearance here. This is Gordon’s first appearance in the DCEU and the reason why I’m excited he’s here is not because I have a passion for the character but I have more of a passion towards the actor who plays him. That actor by the way is JK Simmons (Whiplash, Juno). When it comes to JK Simmons, if you put a picture down on a table with his face on it and do the same with other actors, there’s a good chance that I’m gonna tell you “Screw the others, this guy’s the man!” I say this because JK Simmons is probably my favorite actor when it comes to ability. There are actors who I personally idolize more, such as Curtis Armstrong, but JK Simmons usually never fails to impress me, and that continues in this movie. Granted it’s not his best performance, but it’s also not his worst. He convinces me as Commissioner Gordon and I hope to see more of him if this movie’s universe continues. One interesting fact you may or may not know, JK Simmons is also J Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. So basically he went from doing movies under one comic book company onto another. Whether you prefer Marvel or DC, let’s just agree that JK Simmons rules!

Here’s a question you might be asking. Is this movie good enough for the DCEU to continue? Personally when it comes to watchability, yes. However, the critics seemed to give this mixed reviews, it did make tons of money despite how it could have made more, and I have a feeling that moviegoers will either compare it to Marvel saying it’s not as good or too much like Marvel. Do I think it’s like Marvel? In ways, but DC has seemed to develop it’s own characteristics that Marvel doesn’t traditionally use that makes it stand on its own. “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” another movie in the DCEU, was dark as hell. It could have worked if more character development came into play. If these movies find their own path in terms of vibe, whether it be light or dark, personally I prefer dark, depending on the movie, and they focus more on characterization, then this universe would be less flawed. My other suggestion is that they try to just release one cut in theaters and go with it. I don’t care if it’s long as long as it’s effective. The original cut for “Batman v. Superman” was 2 hours and 31 minutes and that didn’t work out. This is why audiences loved “Wonder Woman” when they saw it. It functioned as a story and it managed to work out as far as the runtime goes (2 hours 21 mins). If a movie doesn’t rush and makes sure it can tell its story in full detail, chances are it will be better. Also, it seems suspicious that they would make the runtime 1 hour and 59 minutes. It almost seems as if the movie happened to be longer, the studio would be worried about making less money. I don’t know, but I think it’s a good assumption. Although it’s not as suspicious as when a movie gets split into two parts (The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga). But seriously, quality matters, not quantity.

In the end, I’d say “Justice League,” while not perfect, is an enjoyable ride and is certainly better than some of the other comic book films we’ve gotten this year. In fact, I’ll even go as far as to say, I’d rather watch this than “Thor: Ragnarok.” Am I a DC fanboy? Not really, I’m just a guy who likes good movies, and I had more fun watching this than I did watching “Thor: Ragnarok.” Is this movie as good as “Wonder Woman?” No, but I’d definitely say it’s worth watching if you’re into DC, you like action, and if you can get by the tones that clash throughout the film. I’m gonna give “Justice League” a 7/10. After watching a bunch of movies in both the Detective Comics Extended Universe and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I’ve got to say that the Detective Comics Extended Universe is this year’s clear winner. While Marvel’s films had some neat effects, cool moments, and likable villains, they all tried to be funny, but ended up falling flat for me. The DCEU balanced heroism, action, and humor. “Wonder Woman” is one of the best directed superhero films I ever watched, “Justice League,” despite its imperfections, is a joyride. So I can’t wait to see what next year brings for both cinematic universes and find out which one comes out on top. Now I know I’ve been talking for awhile and believe it or not, I’m unfinished. Because I need to talk about Stardust!

Stardust is an app you can use to talk about movies and TV. I recently used this to talk about “Justice League” along with my quick thoughts on it and I recommend you do so as well. Although if you don’t want to talk about “Justice League,” you can choose from thousands of movies and TV shows to give your two cents towards. You talk about how much you like them, how much you hate them, you don’t even have to see them! Stardust also allows you to follow people and see what their latest reactions are. If you want to follow me, my handle is JackDrees. It’s kind of like Snapchat minus the risque elements of the app that Tinder is also known for. If you want to download Stardust go right ahead, I recommend doing so that way you can start sharing your thoughts on movies and TV shows.

Thanks for reading this extended review, I also hope you enjoyed the little piece I did on the movie’s box office return, I tried to put a good amount of effort into that. Part of me feels slightly crazier than I once was for doing it, but I also had some fun writing all of this s*it down. I’m going to see “Wonder” on Black Friday. I’ve heard great things about this movie so far, I loved Jacob Tremblay in “Room,” so I’m really looking forward to this. Stay tuned for my review for that, along with more reviews! I need to know, what is the best superhero movie you’ve seen this year? I can’t say I’ve seen “Logan” so I gotta go with “Wonder Woman.” Also what is the worst superhero movie you’ve seen this year? My pick would be “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” but each person will have their own opinion. Comment below, I’d love to hear your responses! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

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