I went into ‘Justice League’ wanting to love it.
I loved ‘Wonder Woman’, though there were problematic elements there. I knew about the new, leather bikinis for the Amazons, but was praying pretty hard there’d be a reasonable justification for trained warriors to be exposing their organs in battle.
I wasn’t expecting that the clichéd fetish armour would become the least offensive part of the movie.
It felt, at times, like someone involved in ‘Justice League’ took serious offense to the success of ‘Wonder Woman’, and was out to put her back in her place.
But whatever the reason, the revival of the dude-bro elements of the current DC franchise transcend problematic and go straight to pointlessly frustrating.
Taking the highest grossing part of the established franchise and making a joke of her to showcase the masculinity of her peers is, at best, shitty writing. But when the camera work gets added in, it becomes impossible not to acknowledge that this was an actual chosen ‘creative’ direction.
If you loved the empowered, female characterisation of ‘Wonder Woman’, chances are high that you’re not just gonna walk away disappointed here, but probably kinda furious.
‘Justice League’ is less a movie made by professionals as it is a stylised-frat party with a camera.
Even when Diana is taking charge, her innate ‘girliness’ is all but screamed at audiences; from camera angling to highlight tits and ass, to male characters flat-out saying that the men wouldn’t make this decision.
Some of it comes down to that DC lack of characterisation; a quip from one JL member would be more brotherly than condescending if time was spent re-establishing their camaraderie. But a lot of it can’t be shrugged off as easily.
The up-skirting camera work feels like the movie was created by a 13-year-old pervert rather than a slew of professionals.
The sad part, for me, is that ‘Justice League’ had such potential. And you can see glimmers of the amazing movie it could have been if they’d made the apparently impossible decision to treat female characters like, y’know, actual human beings.
In fairness, DC’s apparent commitment to the ‘boom over plot’ mindset doesn’t help. That lack of plot-awareness leads to some rather jarring, throw-you-from-the-moment questions as well as weaker characterisation.
The villain here is so forgettable that I can’t even remember his name and while his army of demonic zombie dragonflies should have made for more tension, they really didn’t.
It’s not all bad news, though. Jeremy Irons steals his scenes once more as the ever-snarky Alfred. I would watch the hell out of a series of ‘Day In The Life Of Alfred’ to be honest.
Ezra Miller’s ‘The Flash’ is hands-down the most engaging character and has me planning a binge-watch of the TV show.
New arrivals Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) have a knack of cutting through the brooding rather nicely.
And when the tedious sexism takes a breath, the banter between League members actually works brilliantly. The moments of humour are a tantalising glimpse at what ‘Justice League’ could have been if they set aside the alpha-male bullshit and let the characters be more than the reasons stuff keeps blowing up.
I wanted to love this movie. After all, at their best DC has a gift for creating complex, dynamic characters in their movies (think Heath Ledger’s ‘Joker’). ‘Justice League’ doesn’t even try to reach those heights.
If you like your movies with the tired, hypersexualised ‘women as meat’ tropes, you’re in for a treat. But if you loved the thoughtful, ‘women as humans’ approach of ‘Wonder Woman’, this is probably a good movie to skip.
'Justice League' releases nationally today, 16 November.