I like an empty cinema. It builds my expectation. Calling at the late night showing, for a hitherto unknown picture, carries a certain frisson. It was in search of this buzz that I had considered the Thursday’s twelve o’clock showing of Justice League, but instead I opted for the first showing on Saturday morning.
Now here’s the thing, the frisson doesn’t really work for blockbusters, nor does it really work for mornings. It seems that mornings are quite popular with children; and there were crowds of them. I hadn’t considered the Paddington 2 effect, which appears to be considerable. Equally, it seems I was not the only one to feel Justice League’s draw. Screen ten had a bit of unexpected bustle to it. Though, it has to be said that my warm Starbucks disposable cup did contain just a slight frisson.
The plot of Justice League is thus: Batman is feeling pressed. Superman has died and it seem word has got out. Forces are at work that have detected earth’s weakness and see this as their opportunity to strike. Batman, feeling that his earlier attempts to murder Superman may have been misplaced, realises that he alone isn’t much cop against dark supranatural forces. This prompts Batman to find support in the form of Wonder Woman, Cyborg, the Flash, and Aquaman. The Green Lantern, though tantalised, is not to appear in this movie.
In the past, DC has felt a little pent up. It has had a lot to prove. It is the original comic book studio with many of the most iconic super heroes, and yet it has been consistently outperformed, in recent times, by Marvel. Not that any of this should matter. Getting creative individuals on-board with a vision, and just letting them create and shape their cinematic universe achieved marvel’s early success. This is all DC really needs to do, and to their credit, this seems to be exactly what they are doing.
Joss Whedon left Marvel, sick of the studio’s meddling, and Edgar Wright pulled out of Ant-Man for the same reason. I’ve previously commented that while Taika Waititi’s Thor threw paint at the wall, it was very much from within a Marvel Studios structurally defined cell. If DC are offering latitude for creative freedom then that’s pretty bully, but what’s the film?
Justice League was an enjoyable romp. I loved the ‘getting the team together’ format: Batman taking trips to visit Aquaman’s Nordic village and hunting down a weird nerd with lightning speed. Nor was the tone of the film too bleak, the darkness of Batman being offset by the introduction of more fresh faced, less jaded superheroes. There was also quite the frisson between Batman and Wonder Woman, which served to mellow Ben Affleck’s woebegone Batman.
The romp held much to enjoy, but there was a slight tendency to punctuate action with “yeah!”-s and “whoop!”-s. It was easy to picture the poor actors being shot in front of green screen backing, encouraged to enthusiastically punch the air to imagined triumphs. This, coupled with an occasional light topping of cheese, took away from an otherwise serviceable script.
Justice League shows that DC is perfectly capable of stringing decent comic book movies together. They have been ambitious in chasing Marvel’s massive seventeen-movie run of success, but I’m interested to see where the likes of Joss Whedon take it next.