Posted January 27, 2014 by Yuri Mangahas in Movies/TV

What Went Wrong With JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR?

Flashback to April 2012. It was the premiere of The Avengers. Everyone was exclaiming in pure adulation and joy as they see their favorite Marvel superheroes team up for the first time in live-action. Hyped was fulfilled, and a new horizon emerged for comic book movies. Most critics even find it as an example of a good ensemble film, with each character having their chance of standing below the spotlight.

It was a moment of agape we’ll never forget.

Fast forward a bit to August 2013. Hot off the heels of the critically acclaimed Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, came the announcement for another New 52-based movie, Justice League: War. Based loosely on the updated origin tale of the League for The New 52, I’ve had hopes for the film, granted the fact that Flashpoint did very good.  The script’s spot on, and it was way better than the comic book event it was based from IMHO. Those factors made me look forward to see how this movie goes come January.

And so, I’m hyper-driving to January 2014. I was sick, so there was this female buddy of mine who graciously shared her copy of Justice League: War. I was wiggling in excitement since; 1. She was the one who lent me the copy(but it was a different story), & 2. It was Justice League for God’s sakes! Yes, I’m a big DC fan, so I’m kinda excited to see how it pans out. So I tuned it up for the next 81 minutes, and guess how it all wound up for me?

I was disappointed.  The animation was good though. In fact, it was superb.

However, kick-ass animation won’t save a movie alone. Some critics and fans alike even claimed it was the worst they saw so far from DC’s growing library of direct-to-video films.

Let me count the ways as to why DC received that similar feedback (minor Spoilers ahead!):

1. It was not the Justice League we were used to. 

Are these the droids you were looking for? You won’t see them in this movie.

Indeed. It was NOT the JL we were used to. While it is true that the movie exists in a rebooted continuity and some aspects of the main DCU would change, this does not dismiss the fact as to how most of us view the League as a whole. There was no sense of leadership and true camaraderie among the team(their teaming up appears a bit forced), and majority of them feels out of character. More of that aspect later on.


2. Haven’t we learned from stories with one-dimensional villains?

Even Darkseid’s pissed. Well, he looks pissed all the time.

Yes, I thought so too. Turns out, not all of us got the lesson right. It was the same as before: One big, bad guy threatening to destroy your homeworld because, well, he is bad and wants to go on a rampage.

Clearly, the Darkseid they created isn’t the same as its comic book counterpart: A villain with ulterior motivations for igniting an invasion that spans the entire multiverse. This JL: War version, on the other hand is a flat character, and formulaic even. It’s more like he only serves as a big boss of sorts, akin to that of a video game.


3. Most of them seems out of character. I’m looking at you, Green Lantern.

Just when I thought Flash was the talkative one.

Okay, so there’s really a huge problem with characterization here. A big majority of them doesn’t act right.

Truth be told, most of the heroes feel like total jerkbags. Wonder Woman binding a protester with her Lasso of Truth, Superman being far too cocky and stereotypical as a jock, and Green Lantern swapping heads, or rather, personalities with the Flash, who’s supposed to be a motormouth. We all know that Hal tends to be confident, but not borderline douche. Barry Allen, on the other hand, is quite reserved. Where are the jokes now, Scarlet Speedster?

I’m just glad that Cyborg, Shazam/Billy Batson and Batman retained their personalities all through out, but I think they overdid it this time with Batsy being the all knowing, awesome guy of the group. Well, as the fan-made adage goes, he is THE Batman.


4. Cyborg.

No, not this Cyborg. I love this guy though. We both love video games and bullying our best friends.

So much potential was left for Cyborg in this movie. Too bad it didn’t go to fruition in full.

There was this side-plot(SPOILER WARNING! You have been warned!) depicting Vic Stone having a slight bickering with his dad as he prioritized his Boom Tube research than attending his son’s football game. The buildup to that drama was good. I actually got a bit teary eyed. However, it became a drag on minutes later. It did not properly materialize. There’s your side plot, left hanging on the wall.

Honestly, I have no problems with including drama in this flick(but not the usual teledrama shiz, please). It creates a bit of conflict, and delivers potential for better characterization. But to not grab that opportunity is just so, strange.


5. Not everyone got their chance to shine.

Again, what made The Avengers great is that everyone had their chance to shine(even Hawkeye, despite serving as Loki’s boytoy for most of his scenes).

I didn’t saw that this time around with JL: War.

Here’s an example: Shazam was a great character. Coupled with his magical abilities and super strength, he can pummel metahumans and aliens with ease. Heck, it was the dude who can go pound-to-pound with both Superman and Black Adam. However, he was overshadowed by both Wonder Woman and Supes, and was reduced as a boon to Victor Stone who’s still adjusting with his newfound capabilities.

Another thing noticeable is the lack of proper character buildup for the cast, or should I say, ways to balance it, making them seem flat in a way.


6. It was supposed to be a movie, right? It did not feel like a movie at all.

Seriously, it was supposed to be a movie, right?

81 minutes of it didn’t feel like a flick at all. I even told myself, “Am I watching a regular Justice League episode set in an alternate universe?”

“Perhaps.”, said my inner conscience, as we traversed the great expanse of the dream world.

But of course, I invented that moment.

Back to my point, it all goes down to how the pacing went. It was not smooth per se. I understand that these direct-to-video stuff have a format to follow(including the no. of mins. and what not), but that does not give them a merit to abandon pacing all together.


There were a lot of opportunities wasted in this movie. Following Flashpoint, I was hoping for something that I can praise for, and in a sense, even brag to my buddies. Turns out that it was pure hype and my mouth was left open, hanging, asking DC this question:


Let’s just hope these mistakes won’t be apparent with Son of Batman. After all, it’s the big movie debut of everyone’s little snot.

Right, Damian?

Okay, I take that back. You’re not a snot. Sorry na, please?

Oh, and stay tuned this week for more insights from our writers here in Flipgeeks with regards to Justice League: War! 


Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.