When I first heard that Joss Whedon was taking over 1997’s Justice League in light of a family tragedy with Zakk Snyder, I was a little excited. He’d done good things with the MCU, and after Batman V Superman (which I did enjoy for the most part) – I was curious to see what route he’d take.
I also enjoyed 1997’s Justice League, but nobody could deny how disjointed it was. It felt rushed, overloaded with plot points and minimal character development. Things that absolutely required more development were cut short (ie Flash bursting through Bruce Wayne’s monitor, and his nightmare of a dark future).
Still, it possessed enough story and Whedon’s humor that it wasn’t a total train wreck.
I caught the Zakk Snyder cut of the film the other night, and within the first 10 minutes I knew I was in for a treat. Starting with the 4:3 format of days gone by which allowed me to focus specifically on what Snyder wanted me to, the plot which was ignited by the death of Superman as opposed to the obligatory mourning of 1997… It felt like the opening to Watchmen.
What followed was a near fully explored story, an epic story that was paced and developed more like a Lord of The Rings film than a comic book film. This wasn’t remotely like the loose MCU clone of 1997, and it lacked the blinding and wildly deconstructed feel of both Batman V Superman and the 1997 film. This is what we get when an artist shares his vision.
To be honest – I did miss some of the humor and light-hearted nature of 1997, but that was more for my own biased fan service, and this film did not require the distraction of laughter to gloss over the shortcomings in direction. Also, Cyborg doesn’t say “booyah” once, but I digress. As a whole the movie just plain works, and entertains – until the end.
The main plot terminated spectacularly. I was not disappointed by any means with the way the story ended, with Darkseid committing to getting the job done “the old way.” After that, we get an epilogue, some leads into future installments, that’s fine. I’m talking about the future scene which took a concept I looked forward to after reading the Injustice comics and ruined it.
Injustice was a series created to support the video games where various DC heroes and villains beat the crap out of each-other. At the root of it, Joker fools Superman into hallucinating that Lois Lane is a threat, and in the midst of the delusion, Superman kills Lois. Kal-El snaps, heads back to Earth and violently executes Joker. What follows is tyrant Superman.
Batman unites members of the Justice League who haven’t aligned with Superman to overthrow the new regime and defeat Superman. I never actually played the game, but the comic was excellent. Now whether Snyder tapped this concept for the future scene or not, one simple thing absolutely ruined it for me.
Jared Freaking Leto.
I cannot put into kind words just how much I disliked his portrayal of the clown prince of crime. Every other cinema iteration from Cesar Romero through Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger possessed a madness salted with dark humor. Leto’s Joker was like visiting Hot Topic while on LSD.
I’ve been annoyed with characters in the past because the actor did a great job. Leto’s Joker? I was annoyed with him because every time he showed up on screen the movie came to a dead stop. IMHO Mark Hamill, voice of the animated Joker, nailed the deep, dark, laughing madness of the character like no other…. Leto? Great Value Brand Criminal Mastermind.
So when I saw a now long-haired kool-aid mouthed Joker alive in this dystopian future where Darkseid has won and has control over Superman, I honestly did not care what was going on or whether my Injustice itch would be scratched at some point on the silver screen. As far as I’m concerned, casting for nearly every other hero and villain in the DCEU was perfect.
I would love to see Snyder get green-lit to continue to develop the DCEU, but please… Get Superman to punch a hole through Leto in the first 60 seconds… and never, ever let Joss Whedon near it again. That is all.