An Open (love) Letter to Zack Snyder
Dear Zack Snyder,
Thank you for 300. Thank you for The Watchman. Thank You for Man of Steel. Thank you, for Batman v. Superman.
That wasn't easy to say, and I'll probably be invited out a few less times this week for saying it. But it needed to be said.
Of Auturist action movies Christopher Nolan's are the obvious (and popular) choice. But here at the Yippie Ki-Ay! Do Cinema we live in growing fear that one of the mediums brightest minds is being relegated to some corner of pop culture punchlines that could snuff it out forever. His quest stands upon the edge of a knife, and depending how Justice League goes this weekend, and in the holliday weekends to follow, we'll soon know whether we were worthy of Mr. Snyder's artistry or no. So, this is an open love letter to Zack Snyder, but we hope you read it too.
It seems like we all pretty much agreed that 300 was great. Though that wasn't always the case, and it took some of our top critics more time than seems healthy to come around on Mr. Snyder's revolutionary tactics. It was smart, exciting, visually revolutionary, endlessly quotable, proved his ability to reinvigorate and reimagine a myth, and pretty much insured us another decade of Gerard Butler flicks (take that for what you will). It will forever be the first touchstone we have for the inside of Mr. Snyder's brain, a set of images and idiosyncrasies as ingrained in the story and the fabric of popular culture as anything short of Star Wars.
Thank you for 300 Mr. Snyder.
It was the film you'd all been waiting for, and one that even now, eight years later, popular culture seems split on. It's either too much like the original (Devin Gordon, Newsweek) or not enough like it (upperlevel-diehard fans). I suppose most of the world agreed that the cinema of it, the effects, the color, the visual art of it was rather immaculate. And yes, that's the source material, and the endless team of effects wizards, and the, you know 28 years of development hellfire the property was tempered by, but you can't watch The Watchman without being very aware that it is the product of a post 300 world.
Forget for a moment that I know who Nat King Cole is because of the opening of this film. Forget for a moment that it did more for the proliferation of Kurt Weill's (the real one) music than anything this century, forget for a moment that when I'm not voicing surprisingly minority opinions here I'm a folksinger who bought his first Bob Dylan single after watching the title sequence of this film. Forget the Brecht touchstones. Forget that it gave us the gift of Jeffrey Dean Morgan (sorry Supernatural/Grey's Anatomy fans but it did).
This film brought a tangible sense of the Cold War to a generation that had never lived through it. From the Doomsday Clock to a Nixon Dynasty, the history and alt-history of late capitalism jumped off the page and into the subconscious of a millennial generation just beginning to wrestle with the big questions. And yeah, those ideas are the script, that's Miller. But the tangibility, the memorability of it, is all Snyder. I have a hard time thinking of a more visceral look at the Vietnam war with the exception of the few great epics on the subject. But Apocalypse Now is two and a half hours long. Redux is twice that. Watchman captures at least the essence of the fear and the evil of that war in a flashback. A goddamn FLASHBACK!
The sheer weight of the disparate philosophical, political, economic, historical, and mythological sinew of the story should have crushed anyone trying to pull it off the page. And it did for nearly thirty years. But Snyder's adaptation not only managed to get made, something that had proved a quixotic quest for even filmmakers of Terry Gillam's stature (wink). But it treads every line of action, adventure, sci-fi, romance, rock n roll film, and educational historical epic.
It's a weighty picture, it's neither simple pop culture fare nor a creation of the art house and thus somehow, more than both.
Thank you for The Watchman, Mr. Synder.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Weird choice coming off of Watchman. It was, uh, certainly a motion picture.
Dear Tina Fey, thank you for your Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole/Matt Damon inflight movie joke.
I actually watched Sucker Punch as an inflight movie. But I assure you, that won't effect my thoughts on it. It was pretty terrible. Rather one long perversion of any burgeoning "girl power" predilections in the Hollywood of 2010, the whole thing looks like some straight to DVD director with a large budget saw 300 (and not The Watchman) and tried to ape it. Nothing worse than being a parody of your self.
Dear Mr. Snyder, thank you for the offer, but no.
Man of Steel
A lot of people didn't like it. That blew my mind. They say Cavill is stiff, they say the movie should have been more fun, Ty Burr at the Boston Globe evening going so far as to decry its lack of "pop joy." And I'm tempted to forgive that, they didn't know what Snyder was building, they perhaps hoped the darkness of of The Dark Knight had received enough acclaim to be put behind us, that the would be cleverness of Superman Returns would teach Warner Brothers to just give us a movie with our perfect golden boy having some laughs, some power struggles, and a whole lot of the American way.
But even after Batman v Superman, it seems popular culture is yet to give Snyder's DC universe the complete awe it deserves. We'll get into most of this in the next section, but Man of Steel was the beginning of it all.
From the very first frames it should be clear that this is a different kind of film. It's not Nolan's hyper-realism, or Christopher Reeves bright eyed cartoon magic. From the first moment's of Russell Crowe as Jor-El's kingly stare across the strange and overpowering landscape of his doomed and beautiful world, this is an epic. An epic, in the classic, mythological sense. There are dragons and volcanos and queens and dark noblemen all in the first 8 minutes.
Superman always had the lattice work of an epic hero. Orphaned, hidden behind a secret identity even he believes, powers he knows not of. Sure, but who doesn't these days. That could just as easily translate into the technicolor teen dreams of Spiderman: Homecoming. But from the very first moment of the DCEU, Snyder's telling us that this is a world of ancient magics, legacy come from beyond the grave, Gods and Monsters.
Does that make it a little heavier than its predecessors? Sure. But that's the point. It seems more and more that we long for old fashioned super heroes, technicolor gods quick with a joke and to light up Supreme Leader Snoke, but with just a little more self awareness and Woke AF meta humor than they would have had a two decades ago. Yet with the same breath we bemoan the conspicuous lack of Hollywood Auteurs. "Give the greats a big budget, they'll make history." "The studios are too afraid of those artists." "Look at Edgar Wright and Antman. Lord and Miller and Solo."
But if Hollywood's making endless tentpole pics than isn't that the best way in? They make tons of them, they're all a little different, isn't something as straight forward as the first Thor a great counterpoint for something like Man of Steel. Something for everyone, and auteurism lives. Cinematic universes are a perfect system for this. That Marvel can give us Winter Solider, and Homecoming is the system working the way it's supposed to. Imagine a romcom Hawk-Girl counter to Nolan's Dark Knight, that'd be cool. It's something they were trying (to little effect) with Suicide Squad.
So Cavill seems a little slow? Well how wonderful that Superman isn't a genius invulnerable hunk-a-hero. A big part of him is that he's a kinda average Kryptonian who just got lucky to land on a planet of physically inferior beings. His bodies super, but his soul (and mind) are human, and that takes some adjusting, some learning. He's not the brightest tool in the cannon.
"The Fight's absurd."
Yeah, it's a big one, and yeah Superman would have done everything he could to get it away from Metropolis. And THAT'S whats makes it so compelling. Multiple times we see him try to fly away and draw General Zod with him, but Zod doesn't let it happen, knowing that the innocents will be a liability for Kal, and an advantage for him. Not to mention it sets up pretty much ALL of BvS.
The fact that the word "terraform" is never used, but that's the world ending danger that we face is delightful. That it's not kryptonite, but his own native atmosphere that weakens Clark is brilliant. My god the psychological after effects of that alone!
Watching Henry Cavill realize that he has to kill Zod is probably one of the most heart breaking moments in all of Super Cinema, second only to the sound he makes when he does it. His moral code, the extinction of the people he's only just begun to know, there's so much that makes that wild. But for me, the most powerful part is that he tries so hard to find another way. We watch him search desperately, even as he closes his arms around Zod's neck, for any other way to end this. Zod sees that and forces his hand, but I've always felt that Clark must know that if he was just a little faster, a little smarter, he could have found another way. But he's not smarter, he's not especially special. Except that he is a centrally moral actor with general imperviability. That's our greatest hero, an average joe who wants to be more, and happens to be bulletproof. Solid crack is the skin of divinity. I bet Batman coulda found another way.
Snyder's singular sense of a divine struggle begins here, and we should all be so thankful that it did. We long so for auteurist Hollywood, just as long as it doesn't take too long or make us to uncomfortable. But Snyder's a big part of what we've got right now, he's got all that Hollywood power and, with great power ya know...
Dear Zack, Thank You for Man of Steel.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice may well be the most publicly reviled major motion picture of 2016. It's become a bit of a cultural punchline. And that's terrifying. I went into that movie just looking for a laugh, didn't have much faith in it, I'd been told not to and I suppose I was forgetting about the magic of Man of Steel. Within the first 7 minutes I was hooked, but constantly on guard. Here Snyder creates of world of pure mythology. Far from the "what would it take to really become Batman," thinking of Nolan's trilogy, Snyder wrestles with what it would take to live in the same world as Superman, with a semi-divine being dropped from the sky. And that's rather a broader, and darker, question.
From the opening shots of Thomas and Martha Wayne walking out of a Gotham theatre Snyder reminds us that we need no reminders of this story, that it is as ingrained in the fabric of our mainstream culture as anything, a legend that belongs to the people, a myth we all share. And that's the key, the myth of it all. This isn't a tale of kitschy superheroes who battle demons both literal and figurative with a catchphrase and a smile, these aren't easy myths. And when you accept that, the rest falls into place. These are the Grimm Brothers fairy tales to Marvel's (literal and figurative) Disney iteration. And that's great, because we probably need both.
That said, the charges against BvS are many, and well documented.
Batman v SupermanThe amount of time's I've heard people claiming that the movie isn't actually about , and that when their fight finally does take place it's not near worthy of being the titular moment. But that's just simple minded folks. The entire premise of the picture is that Batman's out to find a Kryptonian deterrent, while Superman (masterfully manipulated by Jessie Eisenberg's Lex Luthor) sets out to curb the Bat's power and increasing ferocity. It's a spy game, a cloak and dagger battle, but it definitely Batman V Superman. Just not in the high flying superpunching way that title may trick you into imagining.
Bruce Dreamed a Dream
There are a bunch of "dream" sequences, yes, sort of. Writing for HuffPo and making his SIXTH joke about Batman sleeping, Bill Bradley asks "Is this whole movie a dream sequence? Are these all visions? Have we all been incepted?" Well Bill, no.
The first of these sequences comes during the titles as a young Bruce Wayne, underscored by Ben Affleck's grim voice, falls down a well and then is raised back up to the light on a wind made of Bats (a trick that would have come in handy in the second act of Dark Knight Rises). Drawing ire for the in your face magic of its metaphor this moment seems a perfect fit for a movie that only needs a few touchstones to remind us of a major character's mythic origins, while also underlining the mystic darkness the rest of the film will thrive one.
There's a moment where the corpse of his mother seems to burst from it's tomb as a giant vampire bat, which creates a sudden and rather encompassing entry into the mind of a Batman we've not yet seen on screen before. A post-robin, post-murder free, post-optimism Batman.
The Future Vision.
Yeah, at first you feel out of place, then you begin to piece together the events of a scene made up of giant bug desert warfare. You should feel out of place as this isn't a dream, but a nearly prophetic moment that catapults the viewer into a new potential timeline likely brought on by Bruce's exposure to The Flash and his Speedforce.
The Flash and his Speedforce.
So yes, when we break out of the giant bug vision and find The Flash (who we've at this point heard or seen nothing about) yelling out of some sort of crack in the fabric of reality, it could be a little confusing. But isn't that the point? That many many fans will know what's going on and follow along, while others newer to the world will be, much like Bruce is, more than a little lost. It's not a plot point moment, it's atmospheric exposition for the next film. Something that the much beloved Marvel film's do all, the, time. But generally make a joke out of them. Like, for real, why the HELL has The Collector ever mattered in those movies?! And yet, we just keep going back to him. Because one day, he will. But the meta nerd charm of that is easy to swallow and move beyond. Snyder's version puts you right there with Bruce, terrified, wondering WTF just happened, but realizing he needs to move on to more immediate threats.
THE METAHUMAN THESIS
Ok, yeah, it's a clunky title the explanation of which is the closest the movie comes to eye-rolling exposition, though it never quite gets there. The "here's a bunch of videos of the cast for the next movie" is often accused of being a random plot break in the middle of the film stalling an already bloated and overlong motion picture making it all the more bloated and overlong. But it's not. The Metahuman Thesis, the idea that there are lots of other super beings beyond the Man of Steel, is not just a major turning point in this world, but certainly another BIG catalyst for Bruce to go after Superman. His world is changing all too quickly. He's fought madmen and clowns and cops and robbers. But suddenly there are demigods and cyborgs and ancient submariner kings? Of course he's gonna go after Superman, the X factor, the unknown. Bruce is our cypher for baseline humanity, and what does even the most basic superhero origin story writer clunkily remind us every time? That humanity always fears the unknown. Well what Bruce doesn't understand just got cranked up to 1000.
Lex "Mark Zuckerburg" Luthor
Leave Jessie alone. In one of the most joked about performances since Russell Crowe's Javier (another unfairly assailed bit of art work) Mr. Eisenberg's millennial mastermind take on Lex Luthor is "a jittery, hysterically pitched performance that resembles a gnat impersonating Heath Ledger," according to Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post.
There's no doubt that he's jittery, but it's perfect. To begin with his youth is perfect for this, a spoiled child unused to change in a world that's known nothing but for the last 18 months. His childishness sets him at the center of his world and he cannot cope with the idea that that simply may not matter. "Knowledge without power is, paradoxical," the young Luthor yells at a house full of the Metropolis elite. And yet, it's his youth that allows him to see far and wide, to rail against Superman with the dogmatic and singular vision of untamed youth.
And sure, that's all nice on paper you'll say, but, was he any good? And, uh, yeah, yes he was. Eisenberg goes big, unhinged, paranoid, and incredibly focused, a combination that of course fits a future criminal mastermind. He can't be the cool, public faced Luthor we're used to because this is his first experience of being overpowered and outdone, of course it drives him mad. But he'll cool his heels in the slammer for a bit, adjust to the new world order, and come out with the perfected veneer needed to continue his perverse works.
Eisenberg's ability to balance the childishness, commanding power, and ability to go as far into the mythic madness of his character as Cavill into the "prodigal super son" elements of his own is wonderful. And it is no small moment of culturally aware casting to bring in the fictional face of Mark Zuckerberg to remind us how easily those things we take for granted, we trust and rely on, can turn against use. Luthor's the Golden Boy of Metropolis, until he goes to far. "Die the hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." And that may be Eisenberg's crowning achievement with Luthor. That, through it all, he still manages to summon the tragic elements of the man, mirroring both the orphan psychology of Wayne and Kent. With a more than healthy dose of the, "did I even know my father," that carries Kal-El so well through the second half of Man of Steel.
Doomsday and Kryptonite
Why would Lois Lane know that the green spear thing Batman threatened Superman with could kill the big boss monster thing? Uh, why wouldn't she? The monster's clearly Kyrptonian, she sees it come out of the Kryptonian ship. Super strong, laser eyes, that's the only possible example of superbeing earth has yet known. But, even more than that, if you saw Superman get his ass kicked, and then needed to kick someone else's ass, of course your first move would be to grab up whatever Superman was hit with. Anything that can take down Superman, I want one too.
I'll admit, it took me out of the film to the point where I, on the spot, googled to see if that was some crazy plot point worked into the film in an attempt to hasten reconciliation and speed the premise. It wasn't. Batman and Superman's mom's have canonically had the same name for decades. That's quite strange. But it's an old school DC problem, not Mr. Snyder's.
It's a narrative idiosyncrasy that Snyder seizes on. He reminds us many many times as we go along that's Martha Wayne's name is Martha Wayne, and helps us to remember that Diane Lane's a Martha too.
It's a strange moment, one that arguably doesn't work if someone needs to pull out their phone in the midst of it to wikipedia just how stupid it is. That said, once you accept that they do indeed have mothers with the same name, it's kinda great. Highlighting their shared humanity, dispelling some of Kal's "alienness," and underlining yet again the myth of it all. Mother legends are as old as anything, from Isis and Mary right on down to the Marthas. Employing this most human of archetypes allowed Snyder to both bring the heroes down to earth while embedding the narrative even deeper into the bedrock of large scale mythic structures. And that, despite all the near unbelievable reconnaissance done on the heroes, Luthor overlooks, of course, the human side of Bruce.
Maybe it's a little jarring, it's certainly a biiiig coincidence. But maybe that's the point, that in the midst of this Divine battle it's the unforeseen bits of humanity that save us, it probably should be jarring.
It's Just so Dark
At the end of the day though the biggest criticism has always been that it's long, and heavy, and dark. The amount of critics up in arms that it wasn't a more straightforward "pop corn entertainment" is actually frightening, because why should it be? I was more entertained by this film the fourth time I saw it than any outing I've had with Civil War (Marvel's installment in the same season.) We want more auteurs in Hollywood and Hollywood's making big superhero pics. Isn't something like BvS the best of both worlds? A truly intelligent auteurist film that Hollywood threw it's considerable weight behind?
Of course, you'll say, "what's that matter if the movie doesn't work, if it's not enjoyable?" But I guess that's the scariest part of it all. I had a yabba dabba do time. And by any other standard BvS is a blast. From the cinematographic mastery of the film's early moments as Bruce picks his way through the smoke and pulverized cement of Metropolis, to the detail of the film's non-linear jumps through time and dimension, to the simple storytelling of Clark and Lois in the bath, it's a great film.
I hold that we've been spoiled by the often wonderful, often simple faux intelligence of much of the recent Marvel cannon. Our current standard of adventure film is one that draws you in with bright colors, instantly suspending your belief to a magic land where of course wonderful things can happen, but danger is never really around. Where a series of expository lines and in your face images hold your hand all the way through to a neatly tied metaphoric conclusion hoodwinking you into the false belief that the characters were transmuted into detailed representations of...something, that they've gone on a journey, come to the end, and you were with them almost every step of the way. Amalgams of pop psychology, simplistic easter egg metaphor, and baseline emotional manipulation. Superhero movies are easy. They've been aimed at the lowest common denominator and so, in some ways, betray their tradition.
Heroic epics are rarely simple and have drawn some of the most enduring scholarship and criticism of any storyform in history. From our shifting understanding of the Aesir of northern epic, to Beowulf, to Perseus, to Anansi the Spider, heroes are never simple.
And that's what Mr. Snyder has created here. A world of Gods and Monsters not removed from our own, but set within it. Forcing the question, what would we really do? It doesn't hold your hand through Bruce's idiosyncratic morality, never allows Alfred a simple explanation of a character's motives, no "some men just want to watch the world burn." Lois doesn't have a soliloquy on the psychological ramifications of Kal-El's guilt around the death of General Zod, but it's all there. In the fabric of the world Snyder's summoned with light and music and swooping camera. You just have to watch the movie to see it. Watch the movie.
You wouldn't be angry at Bergman for asking you to read between the lines, or Fellini for jumping from one perception of reality to the next. But because this film was so different from it's occasionally simplistic counterparts from the shop across the street it becomes a cultural joke?
And yes, it's very possible that the VAST majority of people walking into BvS on opening weekend, or even into Justice League tonight, have no perception of how they'd feel about Fellini or Bergman, or even Woody Allen's rip offs of Fellini and Bergman. But is that true of the critics that buried this film as well? Yeah I guess it probably could be.
La Dolce VitaThe Great BeautyNow I'm not saying you need to have a monthly screening of every month, but if you've never sat through a film that asks you to make your own way through it's universe and doesn't simply lead you along, then you've seen a very limited selection of films. It's following that journey, not simply seeing it, that's the fun in movie going. And that is important because, and this is true of critics and viewers and small children on youtube, this is important because popular culture is perhaps the best tool we have for talking to one another. This Batman could easily be an Alt-right hero, beautiful wealthy white masculinity set on stopping the danger he perceives whatever the cost. But in the end, he's realizes that's maybe not the way to go. Whether it's one thinker sharing with the populous, or as a water cooler touchstone, better movie goers make better member of the republic. Because films force you to see the world beyond your own, to grapple with their ideas and ideals, and to learn to articulate your own. in conversation with
In this age of instant review, 24 hr hype and the occasional echo chamber, how many of us actually experience BvS free from the prattling of our more narrow minded friends?
If you write BvS off as heavy, or mismatched, or just a "bad superhero movie." You're going to miss out one some of the most interesting questions posed to a culture at large, in the mainstream movie house, in years. From the brilliant news sequences to the struggles with faith or greater goods or chaotic goods and lawful evils this film should be a conversation starter in a thousand directions, and it probably would have been if Guillermo Del Torro had his name on it before he was famous. But because it's a superhero movie it needs to be easy fun? No, that's what Marvel's for, what Gotham City Sirens could be for, but there is no uniform number of laughs and sophomoric psychology necessary to make a good epic (a popular one maybe, but not a good one.) And it's not like we didn't have some sense of what we were in for, Man of Steel wasn't all that different. And I wish I could say the same for Justice League.
Dear Zack Snyder, thank you, for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It may be your greatest work.
Pretty much everything BvS did right, and was panned for, JL gets wrong. And that’s precisely what we were afraid of. Since its inception, and certainly since BvS, the DCEU has happily caved to nearly all of the shortsighted and simplistic demands of both its often lazy audience, and lazier critics. From Jeremy Irons lightening fast betrayal of BvS (shut up Irons, you’re a great Alfred) to the heart wrenchingly backward faux fourth wave feminism of Wonder Woman. A cynical manipulation of media by the studio made all the more terrifying because both the audience and, seemingly the majority of those involved, have bought into it.
Perhaps the weakest moment of BvS is the awkwardly forced reminder that these films are made by a progressive studio when, on the cusp of the final battle Wonder Woman’s (really fun) theme song begins to play as both men, Super and Bat, remind us that she’s the support of neither one, but a singular actor with agency and self determination and the like. That’s all great, but we didn’t need to be reminded.
It’s this tendency to cave to the demands of the latest buzzfeed or reddit frenzy that, I fear, will likely cause the fall of the DCEU.
So what’s going on in Justice League? Well, Batman’s looking for a team, Wonder Woman hangs out in London, The Flash is homeless, Cyborg’s newly made, Superman’s still dead, and there are, suddenly, giant alien bugs pretty much everyone knows about without explanation.
The wonderful detail and visual emotion of BvS’ Gotham is replaced by the cartoonish neon gothic playground that Tim Burton originally provided us with and has really absolutely no relation to the prior installment.
There is no sense of the wider human world, we’re told that crime’s up and everyone’s sad, but there’s no real look at that. Something that would be FASCINATING coming on the heels of a world where Superman was called before congress and picketed. But no, everyone’s just sad he’s gone, and cool that there are new aliens. Again, without explanation. Alien’s that can, of course “smell fear.” Uggg.
The Villian’s a superpowered primordial evil plumbed from the depths of the Warner Brothers computer systems and given, in one of maybe two genuinely enjoyable sequences, a backstory clearly culled from Cate Blanchett’s opening of The Lord of the Rings, but it’s cool.
He’s got to collect three rings of—- no, boxes, of power left here when a last alliance of, whatever drove him back in “the first age.” And that’s all cool, these are super myths after all. But that’s about all we know, all we’ll ever know about him. That, and that he knows a guy named Darkseid.
It’s got a hell of a lot of jokes provided primarily by Ezra Miller’s Flash, with a few thrown in thanks to the obligatorily brooding sexpot that is Aquaman. The jokes carry most of the movie. Which seems counterintuitive since, ya know, it’s about the end of the world and Superman being dead, but, whatever, Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wanted more "Pop Joy".
Unlike its predecessor JL holds your hand from start to finish even going so far as the allow Wonder Woman to psychoanalyze Batman in what should be one of the few human driven sequences of the film. She accuses him of only wanting to resurrect Superman because he “feels guilty.” Oh yeah, they resurrect Superman. And yeah she’s right, but we knew that already, anyone at all watching the movie got that, and it just breaks the films fabric to declare it on the floor of the Justice League.
Speaking of human scenes, they do exist. They aren’t especially well shot, or acted really. They feel like they were shot the way you’d shoot exposition knowing you needed to save your time and money up for the big fight scenes. Problem is, this accounts for much of the first half of the movie. Uninspired camera work leaves the scenes feeling flat and the world of this film much smaller than the one before it.
The actors we’ve already met seem to be phoning it in a bit, especially, I’m sorry to say, Mr. Affleck. Gal Godot seems like someone told her both that she was to be in more of the film than she was, and that simply embodying the sheer trendiness of fourth wave feminism was enough to sail her to another successful turn. It’s not. And more often than is comfortable finds both her and the film relying on the same sort of girlish “charm” that infects her standalone, simply increasing the amount of instances wherein the tentpole film of modern feminism builds its foundation upon the infantilization of its heroine, a classic, if sometimes less obvious, sexual objectification.
That said, Gadot’s costuming makes even less sense than usual. Finding her roaming the dark streets of Gotham in skin tight trousers and a blouse whose neckline makes her amazonian battle armor seem kinda reasonable. Though that just seems like a Snyder/Whedon/DC Studios oversight. Probably, by the men.
The Amazons have some utterly illogical ideas of how to keep a superpowered alien box locked away that involves some sort of stone wall dominos designed to kill the warriors closing them. The Atlanteans have a power structure I’m just assuming we weren’t meant to think about, at all, less it all come tumbling down like the walls of an Amazonian temple meant to keep a superpowered alien box locked away.
Superman comes back from the dead, races the flash, smiles as he beats up the bad guy, who upon realizing he’s losing, is eaten by his own minions as they can, of course, smell fear. This easy moral copout has no place in the franchise that saw Kal-El break General Zod. The movie ends.
It held our hands through a lack of questions, mid level technicolor and, I am very, very sorry to tell you this, catchphrases.
In other words Justice League is exactly what the world asked for. It asked for comedy and got the middling Suicide Squad. It asked for digestible bits of “trendy” feminism and got Wonder Woman, a film whose take on the subject may well have set the discussion back at least 7 years. Now DC claims it will abandon plans for a truly contiguous EU, Affleck is probably out of here, and it’ll only get worse as their box office returns get better.
DC had a chance, a real chance to make really great movies for a built in audience that would, of course return no matter what. But, they caved, they got scared and they caved and what’s probably the worst piece of all of it, they’re going to take Zack Snyder down with them. Yes he left after shooting this one. And yes Joss Whedon took over, and that’s probably where it went wrong. Mr. Whedon’s incredible, accept for his superhero team up films (Ultron was interesting enough…sorta), and you can see his fingerprints all over this one. So many in fact, it’s hard to see the real story through them.
So, if you’ve disagreed with pretty much everything I’ve said thus far, Justice League is probably a great weekend choice for you. But I hope it’s not. I hope it tanks and Zack Snyder heals and Warner Brothers let’s him do what he always tries to. Make an actually great film. But my hopes are not high.
So, until then, I’ll continue to live with these massively minority opinions,and hope someone will still invite me out this weekend, just not to see the Justice League.
Dear Mr. Snyder, Thank you for all of your hard work and brilliance. I’m so sorry to see it slipping away.
The Yippie Ki-Ay! Do Cinema.
Taylor A. Purdee is an actor, writer, filmmaker, folk singer, and editor of the Yippie Ki-Ay! Do Cinema.
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