Some Thoughts on Justice League and Dawn of Justice


Spoilers for Justice League are in this post! Don’t read if you haven’t seen the film yet.

With the recent release of Justice League, I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Justice League and Batman vs Superman and how they can’t be dismissed lightly because of how layered the films and the overall story are:

First of all, we can’t take the plot of these films too lightly. If you think Justice League is about the Justice League defeating the alien threat of Steppenwolf and his parademons, then you should go rewatch the film again (I say rewatch it anyways, cause it’s such a great film), as this is the secondary plot of the movie. The primary plot of Justice League is really about the formation of the team and the individual team members having to learn how to come together and unite to form an unbeatable force (it’s all right in front of us in the marketing of the film). They all have a personal journey to make, and they have to overcome their fears and doubts before they can begin to trust each other and work together. This is illustrated to us very well in the beginnings of the film as Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince contact the different metahumans, Barry Allen, Arthur Curry, and Victor Stone. The names of these three and others were given to Bruce by Amanda Waller as shown to us in the Oscar winning film – Suicide Squad, which occurred in between Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

We are also shown how invincible Steppenwolf is as he is able to easily overcome the individual forces, the Amazonians, the Atlanteans, and Man to obtain the Motherboxes. It isn’t until the League is able to unite and work together that they are able to defeat him, and even then they need some “super” help (sorry, couldn’t help myself. lol). We see how, without Superman, Earth is doomed and the inhabitants of Earth would be unable to defeat Steppenwolf. The League has to learn how to work together to bring Superman back and they all played a part in bringing him back with the help of one of the Motherboxes. It isn’t until Superman is fully back and unites with the League that Steppenwolf can be defeated and sent packing.

Some have thought that Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice only showed us 15 mins (or whatever it ended up being) of Superman and Batman actually fighting, if so – then you need to rewatch the film. Batman versus Superman starts in the Prologue of the film when Batman witnesses firsthand the destruction of Metropolis and he sees Superman and Zod destroying Metropolis and he decides Superman is dangerous and he then starts his quest to destroy Superman. The whole movie is Batman/Bruce Wayne’s machinations to destroy Superman.

Having Lex Luthor behind the scenes pulling the strings to drag Batman further down into the darkness is icing on the cake for this film. While Batman is distracted by figuring out a way to defeat Superman, the real villain, who is Lex, ultimately unleashes a devil to destroy a god, in which he eventually succeeds. Lex is aware that in defeating Superman he can bring in true chaos to the world by way of the Motherboxes. The effects of Lex’s plan is dealt with in Justice League, which in turn makes that last end credit scene in Justice League more meaningful and it isn’t just eye candy.

Lex would’ve triumphed except for he forgot the one thing that trumps everything and can’t be quantified- Love. Especially the love a son has for his mother, and how some men would do anything to protect their mother. He was counting on Clark Kent’s love for his mother to manipulate him into defeating Batman, but he overlooked Bruce’s love for his long dead mother. Maybe he thought Bruce was too far down the dark path and couldn’t be redeemed because of the crimes he had committed. Bruce Wayne became Batman because of the love he had for his mother and father. But he had lost sight of this over the past couple of years due to the darkness of Gotham. He was becoming the type of person he had initially set out to protect people from. Clark’s love for his mother broke through this darkness and reminded Bruce of why he became Batman in the first place. He became Batman to protect the Martha and Thomas Wayne’s of the world.

With Clark Kent speaking the name of “Martha” and to “save Martha” this snapped Bruce back to what he was all about in the first place and he also realized the being in front of him was more like him than he realized. He saw a chance to do what his pre-teen self couldn’t do – “save Martha”.  He saw that Clark cared just as much for his mother and that his last dying breath was for someone to save his mother regardless of what happened to him. This is why he was willing to spare Superman and go save Martha Kent while Clark went to deal with Lex. Thus the beginning of the Justice League and you can say the Dawn of Justice.

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Suicide Squad

 

suicidesquad

A black man, a white girl, a latino man, a white dude from Australia, a crocodile, an asian woman, and another white guy walk into a bar. No really, this happens in Suicide Squad, but Suicide Squad is no joke – it’s the real deal!

Suicide Squad provides us with one of the most diverse ensemble casts in a major blockbuster movie ever, interestingly enough I have yet to read any review out there that praises this. I’m sure there are one or two out there, but my point is critics have heavily criticized Hollywood for not casting more diverse actors in big budget movies for quite some time. Now that there is a major blockbuster being released with a strong and diverse cast, all we get are complaints against the movie.

Despite Suicide Squad getting such negative reviews from critics, but curiously enough normal movie goers are giving it high ratings, this movie is worth watching. No, Suicide Squad won’t change your perspective on life, you won’t walk out of the theater wanting to work at the homeless shelter, or you won’t have an epiphany and realize you’re doing everything wrong. What it will do is take you on a wild ride for two hours, as you watch the bad guys kick butt and realize that they actually need to do some good in the world they live in.

The Good, the Bat, and the Ugly

The good things that we get to see right from the start are short backstory’s on the members of the Suicide Squad and how they ended up getting caught and placed in Belle Reve. We get to know the Suicide Squad and who they are. We see the reasons for what motivates the Squad to be able to do what they do in the rest of the film. We see how the world’s best and most hardened assassin, Deadshot, just wants to be a good dad and watch his daughter grow up. We see when Harley Quinzel first meets the Joker at Arkham Asylum and how she falls under his spell. We see a tortured soul, June Moone, possessed by a witch, the Enchantress, and how the man, Rick Flagg, loves her and just wants to ease her pain.

The surprising thing about the Suicide Squad members is that they all have their reasons, emotional and meaningful reasons, for what they do. It’s a welcome relief from the trite, one dimensional (two dimensions, if we’re lucky) villains that we’ve been getting from other films (yeah, Marvel I’m referring to your films). And the great thing about this film is that they are all villains and they all have multiple facets and motivations to them!

Now to the Bat. Yes, the Batman makes his mark in this film too, and it is fun to watch him work. This hearkens back to the Dark Knight trilogy where we see Batman hunting down criminals and locking them up. We see Batman confront Deadshot in what is most likely the most emotional sequence in the film. We see Batman chase down The Joker and Harley Quinn, in what is the funnest sequence of the film to watch. We see a brief cameo of The Flash as he captures Boomerang.

Now, all of this is post Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and pre-Justice League. The film references the Death of Superman, and also shows Bruce Wayne gathering intel on MetaHumans to recruit for a project of his – the beginnings of Justice League!

Since, you can’t have Batman without The Joker, The Joker is also planning and working behind the scenes in this movie. He is the wild card in this movie and every minute he is on screen, The Joker is fun to watch. In my mind, he is to this movie as Wonder Woman was to Dawn of Justice, it just wouldn’t be as entertaining without him. The end of the film leaves it open to a Joker/Harley Quinn stand alone film, which DC and WB better explore sometime soon!

The ugly is ugly in this movie. We meet Killer Croc and boy is he ugly! He was a little hard to understand in the film and had few lines, but he could fight and he was a beast to behold. El Diablo has a dark side to him and is always in the background for the first part of the movie. When he comes into play though, we understand his reticence to come to the battle full throttle and that he is a man who realizes how ugly inside he is and realizes he has a penance to pay.

The woman in charge of this Squad is Amanda Waller, and she too has a dark side to her. This is someone you don’t want to mess with and is the perfect person to manage this ragtag gang of misfits. She is able to keep them in line by coercion, threats, and manipulation. Although she does have a very slight soft side to her that comes out in the end of the film, but I think that is even a means to end for her and her management of Project X.

Suicide Squad has it’s failings and is in no way a perfect movie, but it does more than entertain. It fits nicely in the already established DCCU and furthers the overall narrative of this new Cinematic Universe created by DC. At the time of this posting, the Monday after release, the audience and fans think so too as Suicide Squad is already in the top 10 for domestic earnings for 2016 in it’s first weekend.

In addition to the movie, the official soundtrack and the official score of Suicide Squad are top notch and worth listening to. The film has a hip hop vibe to it (maybe this is what turned off critics) and this is reflected in the soundtrack with artists such as Lil’ Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, and Eminem. It also has a cover of the classic hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, and includes Credence Clearwater Revivals’ Fortunate Son. The best new song on the album is ‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots. The official score is composed by Academy Award Winner, Steven Price (for composing Gravity), and fits in nicely with the other DC film scores by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.