The first trailer for the upcoming Justice League film is here and first impressions are that director Zack Snyder hasn’t learned anything from his previous divisive entries in the DC cinematic universe.
Whilst there’s definitely an initial thrill to be had when seeing the characters on screen for the first time, especially those that are gracing the big screen for the first time like Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, this is quickly replaced by the realisation that this is seemingly yet another venture into the murky, dark and shadowy world of the Snyderverse, a place where the sun rarely shines, colours are distinctly muted at best and it’s hard to tell what’s going on.
This shouldn’t be confused with the Fincherverse, which whilst somewhat similar doesn’t feature superheroes, unless you’re one of those people that worships Tyler Durden.
To say DC and Warner Bros have a lot riding on Justice League is a distinct understatement, their entire cinematic universe output to date has been leading to Justice League. This is further compounded by their desperate attempt to catch up with rivals Marvel who are so far ahead of them they can barely see them on the horizon.
There’s definitely some good stuff here, I can see Jason Momoa’s Aquaman stealing the film, but the visual aesthetic seems really at odds with antics of the premier team of superheroes from one of the biggest publishers in American comics. The thing that really stands out is how the character moments seem really good, “What are your superpowers again?” asks Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen for Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne to respond “I’m Rich”. There’s a sense (and a hope) that the writing might actually be better and have more warmth and humour to it but the actual glimpses of characters using their powers to fight whatever they’re fighting seem like a dingy depressing cartoon of digital FX nonsense, much like the climax of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
This shouldn’t be in anyway surprising because why fix something when the box office tells you it isn’t broken, for all the arguments they caused and the mixed critical responses for both Man of Steel and Batman V Superman Dawn Of Justice definitely brought in the big money.
One of the things that does stand out pretty badly is Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, who seems like he could be in a cutscene from a PS3 game. There’s definitely a sense that Cyborg would’ve looked far better as a digitally enhanced prosthetic suit rather than what seems to be a digital suit mapped onto Fisher’s body.
I should emphasise that Dawn of Justice really was pretty awful, the only good thing about it was introducing Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman from director Patty Jenkins, set for release in June, looks like the best cinematic offering based on a DC character in years. The difference in aesthetic between Wonder Woman’s latest trailer and this one is quite staggering really.
There’s still little in the way of exactly how the Justice League film will work because it has a lot of pieces to move around, with the Justice League themselves and several other characters in the mix like Amber Heard’s Mera, Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta, Amy Adams’ Lois Lane and more besides.
One of the things which will really impact on whether Justice League lives up to its potential is how it utilises its numerous characters, if it ends up being just a case of Batman or Superman saving the day then that will be a massive disservice to the other characters.