Having seen what Marvel Studios and Disney had done with their shared Marvel Cinematic Universe, the powers that be at Warner Brothers decided that now was the perfect time to bring together some of DC Comics’ finest heroes to create their own shared cinematic realm.
The first movie in this world was Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, which introduced Henry Cavill as the titular Superman. Then came Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which brought Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight into the fold along with Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman — not to mention brief debuts for Ezra Miller’s Flash, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. Gadot’s Diana would get her own movie, plus we’d also have Suicide Squad as the DC Extended Universe continued to expand. But the initial target of this shared world was to get to a point where DC’s biggest names could come together for Justice League.
Again directed by Snyder, Justice League would finally arrive last year, and to say it was a mixed bag of a picture would be a huge understatement. Don’t get us wrong, there was plenty to enjoy about the film, but there was also a whole lot that left audiences disappointed or just outright confused.
So with that in mind, here we’re going to take a look at fifteen things in Justice League that made absolutely zero sense!
15 What Exactly Was Going On With The Mother Boxes?
We know that the three Mother Boxes that Steppenwolf was hunting in Justice League are some pretty serious instruments of destruction. To go on further, yeah, the three could literally destroy the Earth. That’s all well and good and perfectly fine, but the logic behind the Mother Boxes becoming relevant doesn’t exactly make all that much sense.
In Justice League, we heard that the Mother Boxes had laid dormant for thousands of years; since Steppenwolf first tried to use them for his own no-good means. Back in the present day, and we are basically told that the reason that the Mother Boxes have once again become active is down to the death of Superman. With the Man of Steel dead, all hope and optimism is gone; in turn allowing the Mother Boxes to flourish once more.
Following that logic though, the big question about all of this is why didn’t the Mother Boxes begin to function before Superman came along? In this shared realm, Supes is literally in this mid-30s and has only actually been full-on Superman for a handful of years. So, after thousands of years lying dormant, it seems pretty ludicrous to see the Mother Boxes reawakening as being pegged on the Last Son of Krypton’s death when he’s only been around and active for such a miniscule amount of time in comparison to the thousands of years in which this whole issue has existed.
14 Style Over Substance
If you’re going to go the whole Death of Superman route, then surely it makes sense to be looking to hit a whole bunch of emotional beats along the way? Sadly, one of the many things about Justice League that let us shaking our heads is how the movie instead seemed to go with style over substance.
If you can pay no notice to the awful CGI removal of Henry Cavill’s moustache, the opening moments of Justice League are brilliant for setting up what should have been a truly emotional roller coaster of a movie.
We were given a glimpse at a Superman who was every bit the Superman that we’d been hoping to see in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, and then we saw the fallout of his death; the emotional toll on his loved ones, most notably Lois Lane, and the ensuing chaos that raged in Supes’ absence. So, the stage was set for something pretty special, right?
Err, not exactly. Instead, the film’s heart and soul seemed to be shunted to one side in favor of glitzy CGI set pieces and uber-dull villains. How much this has to do with the Zack Snyder/Joss Whedon situation, we’ll never officially know, but Justice League seemed just so tonally conflicted at times.
13 Where Exactly Are The Authorities?
Clearly, a group of all-powerful superheroes are going to be far more effective than any sort of government or military group, but still, the lack of any such presence in Justice League is baffling. From what we’d seen in both Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, it seemed as if the DC Extended Universe was going to shine a fair amount of spotlight on governments, in particular with how Congress was a pivotal part of Batman v Superman.
So, fast forward ahead to Justice League and, with the existence of the very planet threatened, we basically see no sort of response from anyone in any sort of government or military power.
If this was simply a standalone movie with no established foundations, you could maybe just about let this slide. The fact that such organizations have played such important roles in previous entries of this shared cinematic universe though, well that just makes this all look a little stupid and poorly thought out. But then, sadly, you can say that about quite a lot of things where Justice League is concerned. It yet again just feels like the left hand has never met the right hand, and that not everyone involved in the DCEU has been on the same page so far.
12 A Little Help, Please?
A well put together shared cinematic universe can be absolutely phenomenal for audiences to devour through. The thing is, while shared realms are all well and good, you often have certain questions start to surface. And that’s indeed something that has been experienced by the DC Extended Universe. The big question is where are the other heroes when the sh*t hits the fan. As in, in Man of Steel. In that first outing for Henry Cavill’s Superman, we saw the very existence of Earth being challenged by General Zod and his plans to turn our planet into a de facto New Krypton.
The key point here being, you know, the truly monumental threat to human life and the very planet that we all call home. Which begs the question, where were Batman and Wonder Woman at this point?
Sure, you can kind of let it slide that Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg wouldn’t respond to such a serious threat, given how those three were largely kept out of the public picture until coming together in Justice League. But Batman? We’ve been regularly told how Ben Affleck’s Caped Crusader is battle-worn and has been protecting Gotham for years. And Wonder Woman? Again, she’s been a loud and proud superhero for decades by the time of Man of Steel.
It’s not as if the Man of Steel threat came about over a five-minute spell. This was something that the entire world was aware of, which begs the question as to why the Big Blue Boy Scout didn’t get any sort of help from some of this shared realm’s other heroes.
11 Expecting Fans To Believe Superman’s Death
Going in to Justice League, the DC Extended Universe was missing on its brightest shining lights: Superman. Yes, the poor Man of Steel was dead. Totally dead. Dead, dead, dead. As dead as a dodo dead. Well, that was what we were supposed to believe, with Supes’ Batman v Superman demise meant to be taken as a huge deal. And rightly so, for the death of Superman should be a major moment, a game-changing moment, a heart-breaking moment.
Instead, many struggled to buy it as any more than a desperate move to add some oomph to Batman v Superman and the DCEU as a whole. As such, fans simply struggled to buy it.
Skip ahead to Justice League, and fans were still meant to believe that Superman really was dead and that he totally, totally wouldn’t swoop in to save the day when DC Comics’ finest heroes come together to battle Steppenwolf and avert utter disaster. To be fair though, keeping Henry Cavill’s Boy Scout away from the early marketing material was a smart move, and some even started to question whether Superman really could be out of the equation for Justice League. That wasn’t to last, though.
10 The Marketing Regarding Superman
Many of us were left scratching our heads a tad when the decision was made to kill off the Last Son of Krypton at the close of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the marketing surrounding Superman’s Justice League role was quite frankly baffling.
Of course, we all knew that Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel would eventually be resurrected and would end up coming back from the grave to help the JL team to battle Steppenwolf, but we were at least trying to suspend our disbelief a tad by playing along with the idea that Superman wasn’t going to be a part of Justice League because he was really, really, really dead.
With all the will in the world though, this was an uphill battle thanks to the marketing decisions made by Warner Brothers.
Sure, the first trailer had a Superman-shaped hole and the early promotional material featured the entire Justice League team with the exception of Supes. So far, so good. Then, as the ensemble effort got closer to its big release. The WB decided to release a whole load of new posters and promo work that showed Cavill’s Kal-El alive and well, stood alongside his BFFs in DC Comics’ iconic superhero squadron.
9 Would There Not Be Another Green Lantern?
In establishing just how big of a deal Steppenwolf is, audiences were treated to a flashback sequence early on in Justice League. There, we saw this nefarious power-mad sort battling and besting a whole host of Amazons and, more interestingly, a Green Lantern.
The Lantern in question was never particularly revealed, and it was a completely CGI character. Regardless, by acknowledging the existence of the Emerald Knights in this shared DCEU, you then also have to acknowledge their roles.
As in, each Green Lantern is assigned a certain sector of the universe to protect. If that’s the case and a Lantern was previously shown trying to stop Steppenwolf’s assault on the Earth, where exactly are the Green Lantern Corps. this time around? In the comic book world, Earth falls under Sector 2814, and that sector’s most famous protector is Hal Jordan. But by introducing and acknowledging that Green Lanterns are ‘a thing’, it just makes them look a little half-assed at their job to see not a single Emerald Knight coming down to help out the Justice League when Steppenwolf is once again threatening the planet’s very existence. What can we say, maybe the events of Justice League just so happened to play out while the Green Lantern Corps. were out to lunch.
To some of us, it’s a little hard to see Cyborg as part of the crew in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Why’s that, you ask? Well, that’s because to a lot of longtime fans, Vic Stone will always be a Titan, dammit! From his debut in 1980, Cyborg went on to become a true mainstay of the Teen Titans group. When certain fans think of the most famous of the Titans team over the decades, Cyborg is right up there with names such as Dick Grayson, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy as the first characters that come to mind.
Granted, the 2011 New 52 refresh of DC Comics saw Victor Stone established as a founding member of the Justice League that time around. But then, let’s face it, the New 52 was a mixed bag at best, as highlighted by DC having another relaunch in 2016.
So with that in mind, when it finally came time for the finest of DC Comics’ roster to be brought to the big screen in the DC Extended Universe, some still baulked at the idea of longtime Titan Cyborg being a part of the Justice League. Still, Ray Fisher’s take on the character was pretty damn good, and stood out as one of the better parts of the so-so Justice League.
7 Why Cut It?
We’re not saying we want to see a movie that’s four hours long, but cutting the theatrical cut of Justice League down to two hours seemed a bit of a crazy idea, particularly as we’ve now had chance to watch the movie and dissect what went on.
Originally, there was talk of a three-hour cut for the film, although that was before Zack Snyder had to step back from the project and have Joss Whedon take over for some reshoots. Maybe three hours would’ve been a little too much, but two hours just seemed too short given what threads the picture was aiming to bring together.
You have to remember, while Henry Cavill’s Superman had been given two full movies, Ben Affleck’s Batman one movie (Suicide Squad cameo not withstanding), and then a full movie and a supporting role for Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, there had been literally 30 seconds of screen before Justice League for the combined trio of Ezra Miller’s Flash, Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman. The point being, a longer running time for Justice League could have allowed for a little more depth to be given to the latter three characters, especially how Kiersey Clemons’ Iris West was to be shown with Miller’s Barry Allen, and how Aquaman’s had a whole lot more Atlantis-set action planned. If ever there was a time to dish out a two-and-a-half-hour picture, Justice League was it — if not simply just for the amount of characters that needed to be fleshed out.
6 That Mouth…
Talk about an instant turn-off for anyone looking to take a dig at Justice League. If you remember back, one of the very first scenes of Justice League is a flashback of sorts to Henry Cavill’s Superman doing what Superman does best: saving the day and putting a smile on people’s faces. The problem is, Cavill’s mouth just looked absolutely awful.
Of course, Joss Whedon was brought in to handle some reshoots that were supposedly geared at lightening the mood of Justice League a tad. One such scene involved Cavill’s Man of Steel. The only problem was, by this point, way after the initial shoot had finished, Cavill had grown an impressive moustache for his role in the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Cavill was in production on that movie and so rightly couldn’t shave his facial hair, and so the decision was made to have the English actor return to play Superman in the reshoots — on the basis that his moustache would be digitally removed by the wonders of modern technology.
The end result? That was the atrocity that we saw within those opening moments of Justice League. Even more infuriating is that this was the movie where Warner Brothers finally got Superman right after two disappointing outings for the Boy Scout.
5 Everything About Steppenwolf
Well, we say everything about Steppenwolf, but in fairness, the narrative about him hunting down Mother Boxes wasn’t particularly awful. It’s just everything else about this villain that was painful to watch at times. The biggest problem with Steppenwolf was simply the special effects work on display for the character. For those of us who have been around and watching movies for a little while now, you’ll likely have some painful memories regarding the special effects work and CGI used in the late '90s and in to the 2000s. That was the point where the ambition and vision from filmmakers was clearly there and they were embracing modern technology, but the technology itself wasn’t quite up to the standard needed to make things look truly lifelike.
Right now, of course, the CGI and technological options on the table are ridiculous in just how very real they can make things look. So, that means there’s no excuse for Steppenwolf looking like a C-level villain from a 2002 movie.
Throw in the fact that you never truly felt that Steppenwolf was any sort of legitimate threat to the assembling Justice League, and all in all you had a villain that was a non-entity and only served to further fuel the fires for those who took a dislike to Justice League.
4 The Misplaced Funnies
In Justice League, more often than not it was Ezra Miller’s Scarlet Speedster who was given the funniest lines. And that worked, for Miller was essentially the “in” for the audience in many ways; given how he’s the wide-eyed, slightly bumbling guy who ends up stumbling into a world of literal gods and monsters. Plus, Miller’s quirky personality and the tone in which Barry Allen is written just simply makes it feel perfectly fine for him to be quipping wise.
What doesn’t feel particularly right, however, is the amount of comedic lines given to Batman and Aquaman. Despite some saying the opposite, Ben Affleck has been a great Caped Crusader in his outings to date, and his performances have marked this incarnation of the World’s Greatest Detective out as a po-faced, gritty and frankly pissed off hero who has little time for anyone that threatens to get in the way of his never-ending mission to protect Gotham City and beyond.
Now, while Justice League sees Batman learning to lower his guard a tad and work with others, it does at times go a little too far with some of the one-liners gifted to the Dark Knight. And similarly, the brutish and aggressive Aquaman also gets given a little too many ha-has throughout the film.
3 Why So Generic?
Let’s be honest, pretty much every single superhero movie has some sense of formula to them. The real trick, however, is making said movies still manage to feel fresh and engaging while also having you question just how the largely paint-by-numbers plot will actually unravel. Unfortunately for Justice League, the picture just feels so, so generic.
In terms of making sense, how could anybody at Warner Brothers have seen the plans for Justice League and expected audiences to lap it up — particularly given how moviegoers are now accustomed to constantly seeing comic book-based movies of genuine quality on a frequent basis by this point in the game.
At best, Justice League came across as naïve from Warners. At worst, it was plain lazy. An absolutely awful villain at its core, Parademons which quickly went from genuinely eerie to merely fodder, central heroes who you don’t really have any particular reason to get behind bar the impending threat to the planet and beyond, and some CGI work that looks fresh out of 2002. Then there’s the actual plot of “big bad villain turns up, our heroes can’t defeat him. Oh wait, they’ve got their sh*t together in the third act and their Super-pal has turned up to help out,” which again just seems to work through a generic checklist of motifs.
2 How Does Clark Explain This One?
Okay, fair enough, bringing Superman back from the grave ultimately worked out for the best and helped put an end to Steppenwolf’s nefarious scheme. But still, what about old CK? By the end of Justice League, Bruce Wayne has helped out with the Kent family farm, and it all looks like sunshine and rainbows for Clark, Lois, and Ma Kent. The only thing is, err, Clark Kent died! As in, he was buried, he had a funeral, and he even had an obituary in The Daily Planet. So how in the blue hell do you explain that Clark is back and just casually strolling around, grabbing some lemonade and cookies with his dear old mother?
For the most part, you’d like to think that the everyday folk of the DC Extended Universe could buy Superman returning from the dead because, well, he’s an alien who nobody really knows all that much about. But Clark Kent? To the masses, he’s merely a simple country boy who works as a reporter for The Daily Planet. Expecting people to not question why he’s no longer dead is plain stupid, not to mention that the totally, totally, totally dead Clark just so happens to resurface at the same time that Superman does the same.
Yeah, good luck explaining this one.
1 Why Do It So Soon?
Seriously, just why? One of the biggest problems that many had with Justice League happening was why was it happening so soon! We get it, you can easily see a room of Warners Brothers’ top brass sitting around and giving envious goo-goo eyes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the huge box office hauls its movies bring in. And yes, you can’t blame them for wanting to get themselves a piece of that shared cinematic superhero pie.
Sadly, while Marvel Studios and Disney took their time and slowly introduced their characters and actually got you emotionally invested in them before ultimately brings them together in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, Warners seemingly only had eyes for the team-up endgame.
So, they got things started with Man of Steel. Okay, cool, that’s a movie focussed on just one sole hero. By the time of their second picture, Batman v Superman, they then brought in Batman and Wonder Woman while also introducing Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. A bit too much too soon? You bet!
There would be Wonder Woman after those movies — not to mention Suicide Squad — but the way that some of these characters have been handled by this point, it’s clear that they would have fared better by taking a slower approach to getting to that Justice League endgame. After all, what’s the point in bringing all of these heroes together when nobody has any emotional attachment in them by this early point in the game?