A lot of people were excited about the idea of DCEU entering the cinema market. And while they’ve done well on some films, there have been just as many missteps. Justice League was one of those missteps. It may very well be the biggest disappointment to date in the DCEU. For as big as it could’ve been, comparing it to what we got just makes the nerd in us all sigh in discontent.
In this list, I’ll be looking at the ways Justice League could’ve been much more than it was. More than that, here’s how the live-action film could’ve been what all of those iconic heroes deserved.
5: Use an Iconic Storyline
Justice League suffered from the same issue Batman v Superman the year before it. It was convoluted and hard to follow. You can forgive the mistake once, but not twice. Batman v Superman should’ve been a learning experience for Warner Bros.: don’t be overambitious. In trying to emulate the Marvel movies and weave details for later movies in the film, they just diluted what we got. The basic premise is simple and a common comic book trope: Heroes join forces to stop a powerful evil from destroying civilization.
Start asking any questions—why, how, what—and it just becomes a messy series of plot ideas that sound cool but don’t meld well on screen. They tried doing too much and couldn’t do it well. Warner Bros., you aren’t Marvel. They’ve had a decade to work out the franchise formula. Do what they did, start small. Iron Man was the first Marvel Universe film and it wasn’t as ambitious as the Avengers are now. But Marvel knows what they’re doing. WB, you don’t. Just adapt a Justice League arc or something from the New 52 series. Boom, easy film with the potential for plenty of sequels and tie-ins.
4: Terrible CGI
Remember the early days of CGI? Go back to those early 2000’s films and you’ll see it. It’s painfully obvious. But by 2017, we should be beyond that. Technology has improved massively in just a few short years. Marvel’s CGI is more or less top-notch. They have occasional moments when the scene is a little artificial, but you can suspend your disbelief almost entirely for the films. Justice League felt like a first-year film student’s half done final project. Steppenwolf was very obviously CGI. Every time you see him, you’re acutely aware that he’s fake. It takes you out of the moment and diminishes the film. There are also the plainly computer-created landscapes. All of that feels tacky and underwhelming for a big-budget Hollywood film. We expect more from them, so when they fail to deliver, it hurts the film.
3: Watered Down Characters
You can’t give every hero a plot arc, but they need fleshing out in the movie. Otherwise, they’re just caricatures. Man of Steel made a very real Superman that we all felt for. In Justice League, he’s a flat facsimile of the embodiment of justice we expect from him. Wonder Woman was hit the hardest in this regard, honestly. Her solo film was a box office hit and the most successful DCEU movie to date. Instead of capitalizing on that boon, we get a dumbed-down Amazon heroine. None of the characters felt real, frankly. It just felt like the actors were trying to breathe life into very flat characters. And there’s only so much they can do when that’s all they have to work with.
2: Disappointing Villain
The DC universe has countless villains that fans would love to see in movies. Though he’s powerful, Steppenwolf is not one of them. You obviously can’t have the biggest villain in the entire franchise appear this early on, but the precursor baddies need to be interesting as well. Otherwise, no one will stay for the whole journey. The films appeal to a wider demographic of people than just the comics. My friend, a hardcore comic geek and the sort of person who would recognize Steppenwolf, was confused why they would use such an unknown villain. The flat, predictable way he was written definitely didn’t get him any more credit with fans, old or new. It just makes them want someone, anyone, better.
1: Wasted Talent
Justice League wasted a lot of potentials. But its biggest sin was the underused talent. Gal Gadot was the most obvious example. Her powerful presence from Wonder Woman was summarily erased in the movie. Ben Affleck, Jason Momoa, and Ezra Miller have all been great actors in past roles. While they all made the best of what the were given, there wasn’t much material given. So, basically, every hero felt lacking. The supporting cast was squandered even more. With the likes of J.K. Simmons, Diane Lane, and Amy Adams (and more), Justice League had a swath of wonderful actors who were cheated with terrible lines and minuscule screen time. The problem isn’t that Justice League had nothing to work with. It was the film trying to have a Marvel scope with none of the practice. If Warner Bros doesn’t learn soon, they’ll doom the DCEU before it ever gets good.