Experts have yet to agree on what the hell was going on for most of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, but the general consensus has it that Superman was dead at the end of the film. Dead. As in bereft of life, pushing up the daisies, shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the bleeding choir invisible.
But wait. Who's that in all of the Justice League promotional materials? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it pining for the fjords?
This is but one of many epic logic fails underpinning the (literally) butt-ugly new film from the ever-disappointing DCEU. Speaking of butts: did Wonder Woman’s skirt just get a lot shorter? Or does it just look that way because the entire film was apparently shot in ass-cam?
Even if Joss Whedon's feminist credentials had not been questioned by his ex-wife back in August, his signing off on the ass-cam shots would have raised a red flag. To be fair, this is not a Whedon picture (The Avengers director was drafted in during post-production last May), although the quippiness of The Flash (Ezra Miller, a bright spark amidst the gloom) might play well alongside a snarky Robert Downey Jr.
This is, alas, very much a Zack Snyder film. Thus, having been pared back to a lean two-hour run time, there’s still a good hour of meaningless CG goop. And a whole lot of stuff that makes no sense.
Here’s what we do know: Justice League assembles the planet’s sulkiest superheroes to finally determine who is the mopiest of them all. Will it be Wonder Woman, who, on more than one occasion, gets to visibly pine for Pine (last seen saving her well-exposed arse in her standalone picture): “I lost someone I loved once,” she says wistfully, while minor piano chords kick in on the soundtrack.
Will it be Cyborg (Ray Fisher), who is struggling to come to terms with the technological enhancements that have allowed him to survive an otherwise fatal accident? “Gifts?” he harrumphs, as he stares ungratefully down at his mad cool robo-bits.
Will it be hard-drinking, hard-bodied Aquaman (a flexing, growling Jason Momoa)? Because of his hastily explained mommy issues.
Or will it be Batman? Because Batman.
Together, they pout and pose at the nefarious Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his hordes of, erm, human-sized gnat robots. Kudos to Hinds for a motion-capture performance characterised by much floor-punching (what do these people have against the ground?) and valiant attempts to make sense of dialogue that, at best, sounds like utter balderdash.
Even without the messy mythology, Justice League is a muddle. Too often, it seems like the screenplay is making stuff up as it goes along. When the gang have figured out Steppenwolf’s location and balderdash plan, Batman declares: “Transport won’t fly that fast”. “It will for me,” says Cyborg. Right then. Screw the physics.
The lack of adequate sciencing is, at least, consistent in a film that displays little or no regard for the uncanny valley effect. There is no sense to be found in the fast-cut fights, the teal and orange murk, and the too, too many pixels.
No wonder Affleck looks uncomfortable (in Batman’s jerkiest incarnation yet). Gadot’s halting delivery, which worked with the fish-out-of-water theme of Wonder Woman, now scans like pitiable am-dram: “Such harmony out of such horror,” she says, as if reading aloud from a pizza toppings menu, “It was truly an age of heroes.”
It falls to Henry Cavill and Amy Adams to bring some semblance of humanity to the unlovely material. But it's not enough to save us from the balderdash.