8 Big Questions We Have After Watching ‘Justice League’
As hard as it is for this comic-book geek to believe it, a big-budget, live-action movie of Justice League is now playing in theaters. It is real. It is here. You will believe a man can fly, and also a rich dude can dress like a bat, and also Jason Momoa has the sickest abs.
There are some things you might not believe though; plot points that don’t entirely make sense and continuity holes large enough to drive a Batmobile through. Here are eight of the biggest questions we had after watching Justice League. (And, yes, this post contains SPOILERS and is intended to be read after you watch the film.)
1. Why is Bruce Wayne so quick to tell people he’s Batman?
Justice League is explicit about it: Ben Affleck’s Batman has been on the job for 20 years by the beginning of the movie. In that time, he has remained such a creature of shadows that people don’t even call him “Batman.” (Newscasts refer to him as “The Gotham Bat.”) And yet in Justice League he walks up to total strangers like Arthur Curry and Barry Allen, and before they’ve even agreed to join his team, he’s revealed his secret identity. I could see after weeks or months of building trust, Bruce might let these people in on his secret. But instantly? Before they even agree to work with him? What if they had said no? “Okay, that’s fine, but do me a favor. Ixnay on the whole atman-Bay thing, okay? Thanks.”
2. Why is Superman so nice when he comes back to life?
When Superman is revived by the Justice League and their Mother Box, he doesn’t remember who he is. He’s also royally pissed off. (“Do you bleed?” he asks Batman, the same question Bruce posed to him in Batman v Superman.) Then Batman deploys his secret weapon: Lois Lane. Supes calms down, and flies away with Lois. When we see Superman next, he hasn’t just calmed down, he seems like a totally different person; not just back to his previous, heroic self, but way more upbeat and cheerful than he ever seemed in either of the previous two DC Extended Universe movies. In other words: He’s acting like the Christopher Reeve Superman, not the Henry Cavill Superman.
I guess coming back to life could give someone a newly optimistic outlook. But I don’t know. All the problems that existed before Superman died are still around, and now a bunch of aliens are trying to conquer the planet to boot. It just seems like a convenient opportunity to retcon the character in response to the many complaints that the Zack Snyder Man of Steel was too dark and morose. When Superman died in the comics, he came back in a black costume and had a sick mullet. That seems like a more believable reaction to me.
3. Why does the League leave their Mother Box hanging out in the open?
Speaking of the scene where Superman comes back to life: The League uses the last remaining Mother Box to resurrect Superman. The procedure works, but when it does, it blasts Superman’s body and the Mother Box out into the sky. The whole League arrives to check on Superman; he’s temporarily evil, they fight, he leaves. Then, while they’re distracted, Steppenwolf’s minions show up and yank the Mother Box away. It’s not hard; after it was used on Superman, it fell into a Metropolis parking lot where it was sitting, alone and unprotected, for at least five minutes.
The whole movie up to this point has been about protecting these Mother Boxes and ensuring that Steppenwolf doesn’t get his hands on them. This is the last one. If Steppenwolf acquires it, it’s supposedly game over for Earth. They use the Mother Box on Superman as their hail mary play. And of course you want to check on Superman to see if the plan worked. But there’s five heroes present. Shouldn’t one person go check on the item that will supposedly determine the fate of the entire planet? This feels like Superheroing 101.
4. Speaking of the Mother Boxes: If Superman’s death woke them up, how did Victor Stone’s dad use it to turn him into Cyborg?
One more note on the Mother Boxes. Here is the Cyborg cameo from Batman v Superman:
You see it there, and it’s repeated in Justice League: After a terrible inuury, Victor Stone’s father, scientist Silas Stone, uses the Mother Box to save his son’s life, turning him into Cyborg in the process. Okay fine. But then in Justice League, we also learn that the Mother Boxes were lying dormant for thousands of years until Superman died. When he died, they reactivated, and Steppenwolf began seeking them out so he could finally conquer Earth and get his revenge.
Separately, both of these plot points are fine, but they don’t work together. Silas turned Victor into Cyborg before Superman died. Meanwhile, the Mother Box supposedly only started working after he died. So when did the Mother Boxes really reactivate and why? I suppose it’s possible this was a deliberate misdirection and a hanging plot thread for future DCEU movies. But at this point, it feels more like a continuity error that no one could figure out a way to solve.
5. Who was that thug Batman was chasing in the opening sequence?
Maybe as a result of all the reshoots and the change of director, parts of Justice League feel disconnected from others, and some stuff is just never explained. Batman is introduced chasing a criminal across some Gotham City rooftops. He catches him, then uses him as bait to take out a Parademon lurking nearby. Then he leaves the guy and ... that’s it. Who was that guy? What was he doing? What law did he break? The movie can’t be bothered to tell us any of that stuff.
(Also, isn’t it super convenient that when the Parademon dies, he leaves an energy residue in the exact shape of the item that Steppenwolf needs? Pretty easy to be the world’s greatest detective when people leave extremely specific clues behind instead of corpses.)
6. What’s Aquaman’s connection to Mera?
More stuff the movie can’t be bothered to tell us: Who Mera is, what her powers are, or how she knows Aquaman. She shows up in a single scene, fights Steppenwolf, dumps a whole bunch of exposition about Arthur Curry’s mom, and disappears. I understand that Aquaman is getting his own movie next year, and it will hash out a lot of this stuff. But shouldn’t a tease make you more interested in seeing the next movie? Isn’t it good storytelling practice to at least give the audience a basic comprehension of the characters? If you haven’t read a lot of Aquaman comics, all the underwater stuff in this movie is going to be hopelessly confusing.
7. What happened to uniting “The Seven”?
Remember that poster? Director Zack Snyder tweeted it out back in February of 2015. A year before Batman v Superman even came out, Snyder was already hyping its follow-up with social media teases like this one. And it’s a really cool poster and image of Jason Momoa as Aquaman (who, I should note, is the main highlight of the final film.)
But there’s one problem here: There aren’t seven heroes in Justice League. Even if you count the mostly-dead Superman, there’s just six main heroes. I guess if you want to be incredibly generous you could count Alfred, Batman’s butler, as an unofficial Snapper Carr-style member thanks to his technical assistance. But that’s definitely not what this poster meant.
ScreenCrush video editor Ryan Arey says he always thought this poster referred to the Seven Seas, as in Aquaman would unite the Seven Seas to save the world. But the movie has just a handful of underwater scenes, and uniting the oceans doesn’t even come up. So it doesn’t work that way either. Plus, the film’s official website is UnitetheLeague.com, so it was definitely a reference to the team. So who was going to be the seventh member? And when and why did they get dropped?
8. How does Clark Kent explain coming back to life to the world?
Superman coming back to life is easy. People accept that. He’s Superman. But how do you explain Clark Kent’s resurrection? In the DC Comics’ version of The Death of Superman, Clark Kent is declared missing in the battle between Superman and Doomsday; after Superman is resurrected Clark gets “found” in an underground bunker where he was supposedly trapped for the time that the Man of Steel was dead. Justice League doesn’t even offer a hint of an explanation, and it’s way less ambiguous about Clark Kent being dead. He even has a grave; Flash and Cyborg have to dig it up to retrieve his body before the League brings him back to life.
I suppose if Warner Bros. makes another Superman or Justice League movie they could retroactively include a scene or some dialogue offering some similar clarification to the comics about Clark going missing in the interim between Batman v Superman and Justice League. But the end of Justice League already shows Clark Kent walking around Metropolis like nothing happened. Wouldn’t someone be a little freaked out by a dead dude inexplicably wandering the streets? Or is the DCEU all in on zombie reporters?
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