Once upon a time, DC let Christopher Nolan have his way with the Batman franchise and set the standard for dark, adult, and intelligent comic book movies. I don’t think it’s unfair to say that Logan was able to be made in part because of the ground that Nolan broke. But then Marvel made six bazillity million dollars and so DC decided that they needed to have their own giant shared universe. And in the brilliance of disposable studio executives, they took exactly the wrong lessons from everything on the table.
Instead of looking at Marvel and seeing that well written and acted characters can create a deep universe of interconnected stories that dabble in every genre under the sun, they instead thought the lesson was that you could throw every random character you had rights to for the last fifty years onto the screen and the idiot nerds would lap it up.
Instead of looking at Nolan’s films and seeing that intelligent and searingly topical plots grounded heavily in a realistic world could accommodate comic book stories that appealed far outside the fanboy core, they said “you like dark and grim, well Zack Snyder makes Christopher Nolan look like a flower child.”
The result has been a set of films almost universally reviled by critics. Let’s check in on the Justice League trailer that was released yesterday:
1. Batman now has a pony.
2. Oh jolly good, vague menacing voice over of undefined badness.
3. Miles Dyson is getting attacked by a Terminator.
4. In character listing and introduction of new characters. We’re practically paying bad trailer bingo here.
5. So monochromatic it’s practically black and white.
6. Someone told them that Avengers has banter, and so they have introduced banter-adjacent dialogue that does not actually have the humorous or witty qualities inherent to banter.
7. Except for Jason Momoa. Please cancel this film and just give me Khal Aquaman: Drunk Howling Surfer Bro
8. In form and CGI mannerism, Cyborg is utterly indistinguishable from Iron Man.
9. The bad guys are Terminators with wings. I guess James Spader had a non-compete clause.
10. THE AGE OF HEROES MUST COME AGAIN. Well, at least they’re not taking themselves too seriously.
11. Get it? Batman’s super power is that he’s rich! HAHAHAHAHA. Move over Whedon, we’ve got a dialogue badass here.
12. Edgy remake of classic rock song to add super duper drama to the slow motion in the second half of the trailer? It’s almost as if Zack Snyder had something to do with this.
13. Gratuitous shot of a football player running. Sure, why not.
14. Amy Adams would like to remind you that Arrival gets the awards, but tights and capes pays for the mansions.
15. I’m glad they gave Aquaman a giant wave to punch. Makes him feel useful, that’s kind.
16. Gal Gadot still has 3/4 of the entire charisma of the DCU.
17. The other quarter is Momoa: “Dressed like a bat, I dig it.” I am not entirely convinced that Momoa isn’t just really drunk and making up his lines as he goes, and I am entirely fine with it.
18. I’m sure we’re supposed to read something into Superman not being in there, but Cavill’s take on it is so devastatingly boring that you just sort of forget that he was missing.