League is better than you think

Ashley Huizinga—Staff Writer

I love Aquaman.

I know, pretty weird. Or maybe not, since nowadays it’s considered trendy to like what no one else likes. But anyway, I claim Aquaman as my favorite superhero and have for years. I have the comics: I know he’s often considered a joke or comic relief.

I’ve heard or read “Doesn’t he talk to fish?” enough times to drive any Protector of the Oceans fan mad. That’s why I was more than a little afraid of the new adaptation of Aquaman that was slated to occur in DC’s Justice League.

I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, so I didn’t know anything about actor Jason Momoa beforehand. Neither had I watched Batman v. Superman or anything else featuring Ben Affleck as the affluent, antisocial, playboy-turned-vigilante. I disliked Man of Steel for the sheer destruction in the film that distracted from the story, because the set was so dark all the time, and because Superman (Henry Cavill) didn’t seem expressive enough.

All good enough reasons to have avoided the newest addition to the comic franchise, Justice League. I’d heard mixed reviews from friends who like it, didn’t like it, thought it didn’t compare to Marvel, etc. But when I was invited to attend a screening, I did. And I realized something.

I realized how much fun superhero movies can be. I realized how much DC movies make me want to be a superhero myself. I realized that I had forgotten about how I always walk away from a DC movie flexing my fingers and bouncing in place, wondering if my next step could launch me halfway across the room like Wonder Woman or Superman.

I hate to even compare the film to the Marvel franchise, because the studios operate with such different, distinct styles and claim such different themes. But Justice League had nearly everything I liked about Thor: Ragnarok. Funny, but serious. Dramatic, but utilizing the best of the deus ex machina trope at the last possible moment.

Additionally, there’s both a horned villain and a lot of dramatic hair-in-the-wind shots, not to mention soundtracks that I would actually listen to again and remember.

The thing about DC that’s struck me recently with such offerings as Wonder Woman and Justice League (and even 2009’s Watchmen) is that these movies are very aware of their identity as comic book adaptations, more so than Marvel, which is doing its best to create an entirely new and unfamiliar superhero universe (they’ve succeeded, by the way).

In Wonder woman especially, some shots feel like comic book pages animated before your eyes. Scenes and settings in Justice League felt the same, like someone had seen an artist representation featuring the lake above the Batcave and then done his or her best to bring it to life.

On the flip side of things, actor Ezra Miller has some room to improve with the delivery of such lines as “I eat a lot of snacks to fill this black hole. I’m a snack hole!” and “Hi, Barry, I’m Diana.” Miller isn’t the only one: large chunks of dialogue in important scenes, especially between Bruce (Affleck) and Diana (Gadot) or between Lois Lane (Amy Adams) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), feel forced and unnatural. Sometimes, Miller’s and Momoa’s personas come across as campy, like a superhero television series predating my time.

But all in all, Justice League was immensely fun to watch, and I took full advantage of the unintentionally private screening to interact with the movie by yelling things like “Of course!” and “I dig this romantic tension!” and “Why are you still shirtless? You don’t need to be shirtless!” at the screen whenever the need arose.

As a whole, I bought into the emotion and the pockets of cleverness in the film without too much effort, and I didn’t regret staying for the whole 2 hour 13 minute runtime to catch the two post-credit scenes (seems like a certain rival studio began something they will never be able to finish), even if I can’t remember how to pronounce the villain’s name only an hour out of the theater.

And as if wonders never cease, I’m actually excited to see Momoa’s portrayal of “The Merman” set to be released in 2018. There’s a lot of the three new characters – Aquaman, the Flash, and Cyborg – that we don’t know yet, but I’m willing to wait for those origin stories to come around.

Maybe next time, you’ll be a few rows away from me in the theater, spilling popcorn and loudly questioning WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BOXES?

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