What Can ‘The Justice League’ Movie Learn From BVS?

With exclusive footage newly shown of Zack Snyder’s ‘The Justice League‘ at Warner Bros. studios in London just two weeks ago, it seems as though audiences are still evidently optimistic with two contextual clips showcased to a group of around 40 journalists.

As the critically ripped apart ‘Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ became almost an instant classic for all the wrong reasons, surely Warner Bros. wants the 2016 superhero smack down to be considered at absolute rock bottom from now on.

But what can Warner Bros. learn from its overall failure? Any idiot can highlight a problem and whine behind a keyboard but it takes a little more to come up with a solution – not saying that I have it – but I try.

Here are five pointers and readjustments related to the production/direction that perhaps should be undergone in my fantastic opinion below.

Beware, this contains ***BVS SPOILERS*** and this one’s long winded. Feel free to disagree.

1. Sack Snyder

I know that I began this breakdown as a sort of idealist, but as many of the angered hardcore fans of this mythology were with BVS, it isn’t unrealistic to suggest that much of the problem was in fact the director, Zack Snyder.

Now look, I actually enjoyed his Dawn of The Dead remake from 2004 and I don’t necessarily hold as much of a grudge against Man of Steel as others. But if there’s one thing Zack Snyder actually can do; it’s visuals.

300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel and even BVS all do have an accurate and stark visual style. Sadly, the fans have concurred that Snyder should step down from directing, full stop.

If you take a long look at his track record and sift through his disputable filmography, it doesn’t display many projects that particularly strike out as critical or even heavy financial successes (forgive me for being harsh).

Sure, Watchmen and 300 do have a wayward cult following but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Perhaps by giving input from the producer’s perspective, or even as a cinematographer, lending his keen visionary eye to the picture wouldn’t be such a detriment to the film.

Kevin Smith said on his ‘ ‘ review that he just doesn’t believe that Snyder knows his comics in the first place. Also that it was as if he read The Dark Knight Returns and just solely focused on the fight between Bats and Supes while throwing the whole political conundrum on screen so haphazardly.

As for deciding on another director for The Justice League, George Miller springs to mind after his massive success with ‘ ,’ another Warner Bros’ production.

Of course, Miller is just a suggestion among a good number of potential directors that are attached to certain future projects such as James Wan, David Ayer and Ben Affleck.

For the record, I actually enjoyed BVS a whole lot more after a second watch. Still, it just couldn’t hide the many flaws.

First and foremost, the deposing of Snyder’s authoritative position in DC at the moment would be a paramount step or two in the right direction.

2. In Batfleck We Trust

As put it, “Batfleck was absolutely the least worst thing in this movie.”

The highs and lows of any affluent thespian’s career doesn’t cry out more than the career of Ben Affleck. A two time Oscar winner for writing and best picture, along with an array of successful cult films, even recently playing Nick Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl for example.

But being the hot and cold Hollywood mogul he is, and also the butt to an exhausting amount of shallow low blows such as Daredevil or Pearl Harbor – in which their failures were not due to Affleck – the same goes for BVS.

I’m just going to say it: Ben Affleck is the best Batman.

Casting aside the fact that this Batman certainly murdered a few people by stabbing them in the neck, blowing bad guys up and branding thugs to an apparent death sentence, okay, this Batman is different to say the least.

Yeah, the character of Batman is such an insurmountably ‘subjective’ preference – he’s sort of the modern day Hamlet – but pretty much the only aspect that fans universally seem very happy with was Affleck’s Batman portrayal.

No more horse throat cancer Batman, no more goofy Clooney Bat-nipples and no more flat-footed soft bodied Michael Keaton Batman (although I’ve a soft spot for Keaton myself, but that was a different time to be fair).

Sorry to disappoint the bandwagoners who initially crippled Affleck’s reputation at the casting news and wanted him to fall on his ass but unfortunately for them, he ticked virtually all the boxes.

Never have we ever seen a Batman that actually moved around and fought the way we’d imagine him fight in the comics, or even the Arkham games as a friendly reference.

His Bruce Wayne was considerably strong as an older more weary and cynical Batman, a morally challenged vigilante, a psychotically obsessive detective – a monster driven by fear (even paranoia).

Affleck’s portrayal was as spot on as any other actor’s take on the character in my opinion and although Christian Bale is fundamentally the superior actor, Affleck is simply the better Batman – it was just a bullseye performance. But playing the caped crusader isn’t enough and that’s where his brilliant battle bound experience comes in.

As we all know by now, Affleck is slated to write, direct and star in his own Batman trilogy. He recently spoke out that he’s ‘taking his time’ with the script and that he’d only make it if it suits his very high standards and Affleck standards are very high standards, indeed.

Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, The Town, Argo and now with Live By Night getting some early Oscar buzz.

Ben Affleck is a highly accomplished film maker and his directorial history barely has a blemish to show for itself in comparison to Snyder’s. If I’m being honest, if it was swiftly confirmed tomorrow that Affleck was directing The Justice League instead, I don’t think we’d be mad at that at all.

If there’s anybody who can give DC the biggest helping hand – pound for pound – it’s the immaculately bearded Jersey Girl hunk.

3. Taking Tips From Marvel

Marvel gets it. Time and time again, Marvel consistently smashes things out of the park. The difference between the MCU and the DCEU is that the decisions made in the Marvel movies feel like they’re being made by genuine fans and comic book enthusiasts.

Whereas on the other hand, the decisions made by Warner Bros. seem to be steered by Warner executives. Marvel has been meticulously building the cinematic universe since Jon Favreau’s Iron Man in 2007 and slowly expanding its lore ever since.

I understand that the DCEU is quite behind and is playing catch up to some extent. ‘Copying’ Marvel could result in such accusations of replicating it’s rival studio in the fanboy’s eyes but it’s clear now that abstaining from developing the universe is unequivocally negative.

A 20 second video email of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg is a tad bit unforgivable when in comparison to Marvel’s devoted movies catering to their characters’ beloved origin stories.

This was what infuriated me personally about BVS. The film wanted the audience to accept these unclear events that occurred in the past (and future) with no development or standalone films prior and character motivations were, again, unclear because of it.

As I watched it, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had missed a prequel in the timeline. Marvel doesn’t rush their films and it’s very evident. From start to finish, Captain America: Civil War was such a pleasure to watch because we’ve been with its characters and events over the past decade.

This is what the DCEU should be aiming for and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad is probably a good move on the chess board as it looks to expand things. Heading into Wonder Woman and now The Justice League, perhaps DC should take a page from The Avengers and heed its focus on character motivations.

Character development, patience and sticking to the source material is what Marvel seems to do flawlessly and with DC Comics having an arguably richer mythology, it’d be a crime if these goals aren’t met in the JL.

4. Dark Doesn’t Mean Humourless

Snyder’s was a fairly bleak and dreary representation of that world, but it stuck to its guns and stayed in the realm of being a sort of artsy hipster movie at least and we could accept its ballsy dark horse direction.

But BVS and Man of Steel are probably the most joyless and colourless mainstream superhero movies. Although Man of Steel was a more straight forward and coherent movie than BVS, it had a miserable mopey tone for the brightest boy scout hero known to mankind; Superman in case you forgot.

Just a smidgen of whit and a pinch of humour wouldn’t go amiss and when there’s no comic relief in any comic book adapted movie, it can be a tiresome sitting. Having BVS released in March, just a month after Marvel’s grotesquely hilarious , it did nothing but damage the film.

Deadpool‘s meta humour literally satires and takes the piss out of its own genre and it was so self aware of its own clichés that Batman V Superman‘s huge sense of self importance just downright hurt.

On the plus side, judging from the reception that the clips shown in Leavesden last Friday, according to the audience, Ezra Miller’s Flash sucked up the scenery on set stealing the show, allegedly performed more like Wally West.

The Justice League needs to delve into Batman’s relationship with The Flash as we know how enjoyable and full of heart the two of them can be together.

Similarly to how Marvel handled that dichotomy between Iron Man and Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, it sounds as though The Justice League is trying to tap into that same frequency, ever so hopefully.

There were tiny minuscule flashes (pardon the pun) of ironic comedy here and there with Martha Kent’s funny line to Batman, “I figured with the cape,” but again, only few and far between.

Having some humour injected into the piece doesn’t mean for it to be whimsical or hammy as we all know how even Marvel could get it unbalanced at times (*cough* Iron Man 3 *cough*). But the DCEU is starving for some happiness.

Hopefully David Ayer’s can do it some quirky villainous justice – or injustice – see what I did there?

5. Recognize The Audience

One major issue behind the scenes that was subsequently twigged after the release of the film was that Snyder and Warner Bros. didn’t necessarily see eye to eye to some degree.

Every movie has eventual hiccups in the editing room and keeping things close to the chest of the PG-13 rating thereupon the completion of shooting the film.

Critics say that it sounds as if Warner Bros. kind of got cold feet announcing the uncut version before primary release. The idea being that they were basically like, ‘Well here’s the real version in July in case you hated this version.’

In this coming July, a Blu-Ray uncut version of BVS is due to hit the shelves adding a hefty 30 additional minutes or so with it also having an R-rating.

A three hour director’s cut allegedly goes into Clark Kent’s investigative trip to Gotham to gain information on ‘The Batman.’ Which was a loosely half assed plot line as to what precisely Superman was attempting to achieve in the theatrical movie.

Although the general consensus (massive Box office number declines, Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb aficionados at least) seems to agree that BVS was insufferably too long.

With Batman dropping F-bombs, accompanied with much cleaner edits and coherent storytelling, it could prove something. This version could reveal to us that if the unfortunate ‘restrictions’ from the studios weren’t implemented in place, then we could’ve had a less erratic and much more complete film in our theaters.

It so desperately wanted to be an adult film involving mature themes but it was almost as if it was strong armed into being shown at a PG-13 rating.

This goes without saying that this is speculation to a certain level and after all, Snyder was still directing so we’ll have to critique the Blu-Ray cut for ourselves. But this has to be addressed as a factor with The Justice League.

After Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, it was as if DC and Warner Bros. thought, ‘Dark is good. Let’s go dark with all this. Let’s paint this show black!” That’s just not how it works.

As well as some shoddy writing in parts of BVS, an issue that I’m anxious about with The Justice League is the movie’s aftermath of the death of Superman.

This very serious philosophy of serving Superman in death with this whole DC Comics liturgy of the Eucharist type ordeal in the conclusion of the film may perplex audiences into pondering on whether this is a damn kid friendly movie or not.

For flip’s sake, did it need to be that deep?

Deadpool was not for kids and Marvel knew that. BVS didn’t know what it was for and it lost its sense of identity as a result. With The Justice League, Warner Bros. needs to aim for an actual demographic and stick to it.

These are just my unfiltered thoughts so who knows? Maybe Snyder could do a Ben Affleck bounce and have some galvanizing epiphany after Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and make history for the better and not worse. But alas, many of us doubt he will.

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A qualified Irish journalist whose interests are all over the shop. A film/TV fan, a gaming fan and a combat sports fan. That’s it really…