Inevitably these film sequences will be seen to be competitors, with DC forever playing catch-up simply by virtue that DC are only midway through their first phase while Captain America: Civil War has already opened Marvel’s third phase, yet the timescales and the number of films are roughly equitable, so DC are in fact almost exactly where they should be at this stage of the game.
With a vast cast including returning stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and Jeremy Irons as Alfred Pennyworth, it will also see more screen time for Ezra Miller as Barry Allen / the Flash, Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry / Aquaman and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone / Cyborg as well as new actors in established roles such as J K Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon of the Gotham City Police Department.
DC’s next three films are their big gambles: Suicide Squad, an anti-hero team up, Wonder Woman, the first major superhero film to be fronted by a female lead, and this, which will demonstrate whether their own universe can compete in the long run with Marvel.
The first footage was shown last week at the San Diego Comic Con, and the Geek Chocolate team see that both the strengths and weaknesses of the already released films are in evidence.
Dario Persechino – The best parts of the trailer are the non-superhero bits. Ben Affleck again seems great as Bruce Wayne and will hopefully have the rough edges from Batman v Superman filed down. Jason Momoa in a few seconds of screen time makes a brilliant impression as Aquaman. A challenging character to bring to life on the big
screen without flopping (Get it? Fish? Never mind…), they seem to have done really well.
The chemistry between Affleck and Gadot still comes across strong, and I look forward to seeing more of the two of them together. Gadot proved herself by being the best thing in Batman v Superman despite only having two minutes of screen time, so we know she can bring the Wonder.
The superhero stuff is where things start to look weak. Ezra Miller’s Flash seems to be trying way too hard with his acting but then the lightning effects seem over the top and the overly shiny angular suit looks ridiculous. Considering DC have a really good Barry Allen on television with a good costume in the form of Grant Gustin, it’s a shame they decided to make the movie universe separate. Miller has a lot of work to do to establish the character here and the moments in the trailer are not encouraging. We’ve seen ‘speedsters’ done well in Avengers: Age of Ultron and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and DC are maybe just trying too hard to catch up. The ‘slow time’ here seems poor by comparison.
Cyborg’s superhero form also looks stupidly over the top, angular and CGI. We’ll have to see if big screen newcomer Ray Fisher’s performance can overcome that.
Michael Flett – It’s interesting that the Justice League of America are now getting their film debut as the more universal “Justice League.” Superheroes are now a global brand, and we’re got Aquaman on board, the oceans observing no borders.
I wasn’t that taken with this sizzle reel the first time I watched it, but it has rather grown on me. It has to be kept in mind that it’s not a structured trailer, it is just a demo reel of some of the finished footage as the film is still very much under production; they wanted something to be shown at San Diego Comic Con to get the buzz going and to reward the fans, and, let’s face it, DC have been on the back foot since Marvel took to the skies, and their attempts to catch up have felt rushed and half-hearted.
I honestly think one of the reasons this was done was as an apology for Dawn of Justice, where they told us far in advance all the cameos to expect, Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg – and then they did nothing more than show them on a video screen! They were talked about more in the publicity than they were actually in the film! When you spend that much time hyping something, please make sure your product actually matches the promises you make.
All the best Marvel films have put the characters front and centre, and they have the cast which allows them to do it: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey, Jr, Scarlett Johansson and all the rest. The DC films equally have great leads, Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Amy Adams, now joined by Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller amongst others but in both Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice they were smothered by the digital overkill and tedious destruction.
We care about the characters, we care about who they are, and what they represent, truth, justice and the (redacted) way and all that, we don’t care about rampaging monsters who have never existed outside of a computer mainframe or endless collapsing buildings. Man of Steel had a whole hour of wanton destruction across the whole of the city, Dawn of Justice at least confined it to half an hour in the docklands, but still, who cares? It’s not telling a story, it’s Zach Snyder desperately trying to compensate for something.
Snyder turned fifty earlier this year, yet he’s still trying to make films he thinks teenage boys want to see and he needs to grow up. He has all the pieces in place to make a truly great movie, and yet on his past two efforts he comprehensively shot himself in the foot with his overindulgence, playing to a lowbrow expectation of what a superhero film is supposed to be rather than actually first and foremost making a good film. Modern effects are a tool with which to enhance a story, not an end unto themselves.
He is my biggest worry about Justice League. By then Gal will have had her solo Wonder Woman film, Ben will have had Dawn of Justice and a cameo in Suicide Squad, which also has a guest appearance from Ezra’s Flash, and Jason is always good to watch. I have no worries about any of them.
Chris Terrio re-wrote the screenplay for Dawn of Justice from an earlier draft by David S Goyer; how much belongs to who, and how much was Snyder sat over either of them going “more destruction!” who can say; Terrio also wrote Argo, which I really liked and watched with the full knowledge that it was a structured dramatic presentation inspired by actual events, not a documentary. And yes, that is a dig at those who are unable to differentiate between the two forms and get all in a flap and say “I don’t believe that really happened!”
My fear is that this is going to be a story about nothing. Like the dreadful 2005 Fantastic Four was a tiff between former friends which got out of hand, Man of Steel was on a larger scale but boiled down to the same story, and Dawn of Justice was about how easily manipulated two of the supposed smartest men on the planet were until
they decided to bond over mommy love and be bestest buddies.
To bring all these folks together there has to be a story strong enough to warrant it and it has to give each of them a purpose. The Avengers managed to do it, though the ongoing plotline of the Infinity Stones has always been a bit of hokum; this better not turn out to be another quest for a mystery-thing-in-a-box-which-our-enemies-cannot-possess.
Ben had become a much better actor since he started directing, and Argo is only one example of that. I really liked him as Batman, probably more than Christian Bale who I can never warm to as an actor even though I can appreciate how good he is in everything he does. Jason will be fantastic. I’ve only seen him in a few things, but he’s always welcome onscreen. I’m one of those who dares to utter the perceived heresy that, despite the flaws in the film, he was a far better Conan than Arnold Schwarzenegger. For one thing, he can actually act.
I think the only thing I’ve seen Ezra Miller in is We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I have absolute faith that he will be brilliant. I have no knowledge of the Flash other than as a name, so I have no preconceptions about the character to weigh me down.
Ray Fisher and Cyborg I know nothing about, so have no comment other than I hope the effects on his prosthetics are improved considerably before release, but we have over a year to go.
I’ve never been a particular comics reader, and I find the absolute glut of superheroes on cinema and television screens tiresome and the expectation that you have to follow every single part of a universe in order to follow the story ridiculous. It’s just not reasonable for the studios to saturate the market and expect everyone to remain conversant.
So while I will be going to see this, out of obligation, in order to participate in the discussion of my friends, it’s not thrilling me yet. It feels like another step on a path which stretches out into the distance yet has no direction or destination in mind, and there will be a point when I lose all interest and I suspect I won’t be the only one.
Adam Dworak – So DC is trying to match Marvel in its attempt to create a superhero universe and failing. Instead of being original it’s just a copycat of Marvel, Justice League is The Avengers, Dawn of Justice is Civil War, the socially awkward Flash is Quicksilver.
Previously the DC movies were also much more dark and serious, but now to compete with Marvel, DC is forcing humour into its movies. The only good thing about this movie is Jason Momoa – grrrrrrr! We need more tattooed hot men like him on the big screen and this is one place where they should break from Marvel the rule of clean shaven heroes with waxed chests like Captain America – the kind of the oceans should be hairy!
Justice League is scheduled for release on 17th November 2017