Wonder Woman, Batman and friends team up in this make-or-break movie. Here's my wish list for DC's group outing.
Richard TrenholmFormer Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
"Justice League" hits theatres this weekend, uniting
, The Flash and other mighty heroes from the pages of DC Comics. It's DC's attempt to solidify a superhero universe rivalling the success of Marvel's Cinematic Universe, but with mixed reactions to previous DC movies and a troubled "Justice League" production history, there's a lot riding on the new film.
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It has to be fun
Now I'm not saying "Justice League" has to hit "Thor: Ragnarok" levels of mirthdom, but it definitely needs a bit of light after the relentless bleakness of previous movies "Man of Steel" and "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". One of the big strengths of "Wonder Woman" was that it wasn't afraid to lighten up at times, which leant more weight to the film's serious parts.
Hopefully in "Justice League", Joss Whedon's lighter touch will balance out Snyder's grimmer hand.
It has to be for everyone
I love a grown-up superhero movie as much as the next nerd, but there's a difference between grown-up and just plain nasty. For me, Batman literally branding dudes in "Dawn of Justice" was a step too far. I'd love to see a "Justice League" that welcomes fans of all ages and, more importantly, makes some new ones. Many kids were introduced to these classic characters by the Batman TV show of the '60s, the Superman movies of the '80s and DC TV shows of recent years, and I hope "Justice League" does the same for a new generation.
And yes, I know that the grim and gritty "The Dark Knight Returns", which inspired much of "Dawn of Justice", is a great comic, but it's also an extreme vision of the character. I'd love to see "Justice League" welcome not just young fans but also those who don't necessarily have an intimate knowledge of DC's history. I'll be squeeing over comic-flavoured Easter eggs right along with every other funny-book geek, but I don't want to have to do homework just to work out what in the name of suffering Sappho is going on.
It has to have a good villain
Let's not heap too much praise on Marvel movies: one of their biggest failings is a rash of forgettable villains, even when played by amazing actors. DC movies have also yet to really produce a great bad guy, although Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor and Jared Leto's Joker have at least been distinctive.
"Justice League" is opting for a lesser-well-known antagonist named Steppenwolf, which is something of a gamble, especially when there are so many other characters jostling for attention. But the threat does at least need to be compelling enough to justify the gathering of heroes.
DC has to chill with the continuity
"Justice League" will properly introduce Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg, lesser-known DC characters who haven't yet had their own solo outing. "Dawn of Justice" was determined to crowbar them in, and those garbled, barely comprehensible attempts to set up later movies were one of the biggest problems of that film. Contrast that with Marvel, which introduced each of the Avengers over time and over the course of various individual movies.
Hopefully now that the full Justice League lineup has arrived on screen, DC can relax about setting up future films and stop shoehorning in rushed and clumsy continuity.
It has to be good
Most of all, I really want "Justice League" to be good. DC's movie enterprise has struggled to find its feet as it races to catch up with Marvel's cinematic efforts, and "Justice League" in particular has walked a bumpy production road. So to be honest, expectations are set at an all-time low.
And yet, and yet ... it's Batman! Wonder Woman is back! The Justice League are together on the big screen!
You know what, I'm actually looking forward to it. To the Batmobile!
"Justice League" in in theatres in the UK, US and Australia on 17 November.
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