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The ‘Justice League’ Exit Survey

Covering all the important stuff from DC’s latest blockbuster, from CGI villains to Batfleck to Lois Lane’s feature writing

The Justice League Warner Bros./Ringer illustration

Another weekend, another superhero movie. This time around it was DC’s turn, as Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and maybe one other superhero (spoiler alert, by the way) officially teamed up for the first time to take on a villain hell-bent on destroy the world. After watching the movie, the Ringer staff answered several questions about it, the state of the DC Extended Universe, and Ben Affleck’s future as Batman.

1. What is your tweet-length review of ‘Justice League’?

Micah Peters: Nahhhhhhhhhhh, that ain’t it, y’all.

Zach Mack: Plot of Avengers, Transformers, and Justice League: An ancient evil (Loki, Steppenwolf, Megatron) comes from far away to kill or enslave earth while also looking for their magical box of power (infinity stones, Allspark, Mother Box) … until the heroes band together to beat them back.

Alison Herman: I went into my screening of Justice League with a hangover and left it with a worse one.

Andrew Gruttadaro: People in my theater were laughing really hard during the climax, and I’m not sure that was the intended goal.

Sean Yoo:

It was worth exactly $6.50; I wouldn’t pay any more than that.

Daniel Chin: They did reshoots, but I really wish they could’ve just pressed the reset button on this whole franchise.

Kate Halliwell: It’s not a Hollywood reshoot unless you can spot the new scenes based on the lead actress’s inconsistent wig style. (Pick barrel curls or beachy waves — you can’t switch between both in one scene!)

Miles Surrey: To any actors who feel they’re being held hostage by the DCEU, use the Bat Signal to call for help!

Sean Fennessey: [Dad voice] I’m not upset, I’m just disappointed.

2. What was the best moment of the movie?

Richard Wolff: Does the 30 seconds of J.K. Simmons count as a moment?

Herman: My theater erupted into applause after Wonder Woman’s intro scene, which has precisely nothing to do with the rest of the movie and was clearly tacked on due to popular demand. Thanks, popular demand!

Halliwell: The only time I genuinely smiled during the entire movie was in response to Barry’s pure and wholesome joy at seeing the Bat Cave. Protect Ezra Miller forever.

Chin: Witnessing the impeccable team chemistry of the Amazons. The way they were able to keep that cube thingy away from Steppenwolf for so long was truly impressive.

Fennessey: I enjoyed the “Let’s try to beat up Superman before he beats us up” sequence, though I have no idea if he had amnesia or was cranky about being Mother Box–shocked back to life, or what.

Peters: You know, I’m torn. It’s either the little girl in the nondescript and vaguely Chernobylish town shaking the bottle of bug spray as the parademons flew overhead or, “… You know if she killed you, we’d cover for her.” One of those.

Mack: That moment of honesty and comedy when Aquaman unknowingly sits on Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth as the Justice League set off to face Steppenwolf for the fate of the planet; 100 percent a late insert from Joss Whedon.

Yoo: I guess it’s indicative of what I thought about the movie itself, but the mid-credits scene where the Flash and Superman race brought a massive smile to my face. It was an homage to a long-running joke within the comics and the animated shows, and it was perfect.

Surrey: The end-credits scene with Deathstroke (Joe Manganiello) and Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) was pretty dope. I hate to admit it, but if the sequel is Deathstroke, Lex Luthor, and a grabbag of DC villains teaming up to take down the Justice League, I’d probably check it out. I’m part of the problem, I know.

Gruttadaro: Well, it’s always nice to see Billy Crudup’s face!

3. What was your least favorite part of the film?

Surrey: Whenever Ben Affleck tried to make a joke.

Wolff: It’s a tie between the fact that the Justice League couldn’t take five minutes to break Barry Allen’s innocent dad out of prison, and Atlantis’s absolutely pathetic attempt to protect its Mother Box from Steppenwolf.

Peters: There are so many. Maybe Fugue State Superman? Or maybe the first Batman scene? What was Holt McCallany doing there? Did I miss something?

Gruttadaro: “You smell good.”

Chin: This film had an overwhelming number of corny one-liners. The worst of them all had to have been when Superman shows up to the final battle incredibly late and announces, “I believe in truth, but I’m also a big fan of justice.”

Mack: Any and all scenes involving the overly CGI’d primary antagonist, Steppenwolf, and his swarms of bug-men.

Fennessey: All things involving Steppenwolf, but most especially Wonder Woman playing exposition ranger through all of that silly villain’s backstory, explaining his desire to make all other worlds like look “the hellscape from which he was born” (?). Forcing Gal Gadot, one of the only figures in this universe with any good will, to slog through while walking the lakefront grounds of Wayne Manor (?) felt like a small metaphor for a big problem in this series of movies.

Herman: My eyes glazed over during every single one of the numerous exposition dumps. I don’t really care what pseudoscience brought Superman back from the grave, and the Aquaman movie is gonna have to resell me on the character all over again; that bubble talk did not do the plot- or emotional-lifting it was supposed to.

Halliwell: There was not one person watching this movie who thought the argument about reviving Superman was going to end with Batfleck going, “Yeah, bad idea, let’s just leave him in the ground,” so why waste 20 minutes arguing about it in the first place?

Yoo: Honestly, the fact that there is another set of world-destroying cubes is really exhausting.

The Justice League DC Comics

4. Pick a favorite member of Justice League.

Mack: Batman is far and away the best character on DC’s roster. Not just for his incredible rogues gallery, but also for the emotional depth and grounded abilities that make him a relatable hero. However, it’s difficult for a rich, street-level detective with emotional trauma to thrive in a world where aliens descend from the sky to destroy the planet.

Chin: Wonder Woman. She’s the biggest badass on the squad, and she also has some fantastic clock-management skills.

Gruttadaro: Wonder Woman, duh. That said, I do look forward to the next underwater bubble in Aquaman to explain why the character has such a serious drinking problem.

Halliwell: This movie did Wonder Woman dirty — so many butt shots! So much mothering! — but she’s still the best part of the DCEU. I still get excited every time she does the magic-bracelets thing.

Surrey: Pretty sure the only correct answer here is Wonder Woman, but for the sake of the other heroes: I didn’t hate Ezra Miller as the Flash, and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman seems like the type of guy you could grab a beer with (in a tavern in a remote fishing village).

Peters: The Flash, even though his running form is awful. Like as in, every part of his body moves the wrong way.

Fennessey: Ezra Miller’s Flash is winning, and Henry Cavill’s Superman is underrated. The best Justice League member, a founder, is Green Lantern, Hal Jordan edition. But DC already screwed up a chance at that character six years ago.

Yoo: Hal Jordan? J’onn J’onzz? For the sake of this exit survey I’ll say Barry Allen, who was the constant comic relief in a movie that tonally looked about as lost as that Russian family who was trapped in the middle of hell reincarnate.

Wolff: As a millennial, I’m demographically obligated to say the Flash, though as someone who also fancies himself an outdoorsy type and loves drinkin’ whiskey straight from the bottle while shirtless, I feel like I should say Aquaman.


5. Let’s talk about the return of Superman! (Full transparency: This question is here to provide a forum to discuss Henry Cavill’s CGI’ed upper lip.)

Halliwell: 2017 is such a garbage year that it has managed to ruin what I previously thought un-ruinable: Henry Cavill’s face.

Peters: I’ve thought about it, and it might’ve been better if Superman just came back from the dead with handlebars and they never acknowledged or explained it.

Herman: Just let Superman have a mustache, damn. If we can believe a character can come back from the dead, we can believe he has facial hair!

Chin: I honestly wish they’d kept his Mission: Impossible mustache just so it could’ve been featured prominently in all those close-ups of Superman beating up the other Justice League members. That would’ve been worth the price of admission. (Maybe.)

Mack: I may be on an island here, but there’s sooo much CGI in this movie that I’m not sure you’ll notice Henry Cavill’s upper lip. As for the return of Superman … he should’ve come back as this guy:

Cover of a ‘Superman’ issue reading, “Ready for the next century!” DC Comics

Yoo: We could’ve at least given the rest of the Justice League their own mustaches.

Fennessey: It was fine. There are several dozen characters in this movie composed entirely of CGI animation, including the big bad, which happens to be the worst villain I can recall in a vast ocean of abysmal villains.

6. So … Steppenwolf?

Gruttadaro: How could they do that to my guy Mance Rayder?

Mack: A wise man once said, “This town deserves a better class of criminal.”

Surrey: Seriously, this might be the least compelling villain in the history of superhero movies.

Chin: I really don’t know why they picked this guy to be the villain. Even Joss Whedon apparently agrees that he was terrible.

Herman: As the Justice League is — theoretically, at least — a greatest-hits collection of heroes and the traits that make us love them, Steppenwolf is a compilation of everything that makes modern comic book villains so wretchedly forgettable. (CGI! Boring motivation! Incomprehensible monologues!) I guess it fits?

Fennessey: Just a colossal error. They could have gone in 100 different directions (I’m partial to Vandal Savage), but they went with this one.

Halliwell: I’d have been neutral on him if they could have decided on a consistent pronunciation of his name. Jason Momoa said “Stephenwolf” at least twice.

Peters: I don’t know her.

Steppenwolf DC Comics

7. Is ‘Justice League’ a step in the right direction for the DC Extended Universe?

Fennessey: No.

Mack: In the sense that it’s a step closer to the end, yes.

Halliwell: It was less terrible than Batman v Superman, so yes, but let’s call it a baby step. When is Wonder Woman 2, again?

Chin: I don’t know if I’d call this a step in the right direction, but it stayed on course. There were probably enough moments — Green Lantern showing up, Cyborg’s “booyah” Teen Titans reference, the Deathstroke teaser — to keep enough comic book fans happy and hungry for more, but whoo boy, are these movies bad.

Surrey: Well, compared with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, anything borderline comprehensible is a step in the right direction, but Justice League is barely an improvement. It’s like getting a D-plus on your exam after flunking your first two.

Wolff: Look, the movie was fun. Sure, the jokes were corny. Sure, the bad guy was sort of weird. Sure, I felt dumber when I walked out of the theater. But I was entertained. Isn’t that the point of superhero movies?

Yoo: I didn’t expect to feel this way before I watched the movie, but after seeing it, there is a small sense of hope and optimism surrounding the DCEU. Wonder Woman was a success, JL is a step up from BvS, and the Lex Luthor reveal seems to be pointing them in the right direction.

Herman: Not a step in the right direction so much as the franchise heading in the direction dictated by the Marvel playbook, organic enthusiasm be damned. It’s depressing, but also too inevitable to get truly depressed about.

Gruttadaro: Considering our overall mood after Wonder Woman came out, I’d say this is a big step back for them. Especially if you look at the box-office numbers.

8. Do you think we’ve seen the last of Ben Affleck as Batman? If so, where does he rank in the Hall of Batmen?

Wolff: I hope so. Ben Affleck as Batman gives me heavy Dan Bilzerian vibes. He’s the worst Batman that I’ve seen.

Fennessey: The movie’s box-office disappointment, coupled with increasingly loud whispers that director Matt Reeves is eyeing other actors signals a brief run for Batfleck. He hasn’t been given much to do in these two films, so it’s difficult to rank him properly. He’s somewhere between Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton.

Surrey: With respect to the Hall of Batmen, I’ll put Affleck in the middle of the two Bat Nippled heroes; above Val Kilmer, below George Clooney.

Mack: It’s hard to accurately judge this Batman when everything around him is also bad. He ranks miles behind tha god Kevin Conroy’s animated Batman (the people’s Batman) but ahead of Clooney’s cartoonish one.

Halliwell: I have no real allegiance to Christian Bale’s Batman, so I’m fine with Batfleck. The DC movies have worse problems than him, and swapping in another strong-jawed white actor in the next movie won’t be the fix-all that people seem to think it is.

Yoo: Knowing that the Flash’s solo movie will be based off the Flashpoint story line, it looks like that will be the perfect exit strategy for Ben Affleck to ditch the cowl. My Batman rankings: Christian Bale, Michael Keaton, Adam West, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, Val Kilmer.

Chin: I think Ben’s going to hang up the cowl after this one. His run places him slightly above George Clooney’s nipple-suit Batman, but still far behind all the other Dark Knights we’ve had. He tops out as the beefiest Batman ever, but is also the dumbest Batman ever.

Herman: Maybe it’s projecting, but while Affleck is the least believable Batman-as-action-hero, he is the most believable Batman-as-rich-bored-entitled-millionaire-asshole. I’ll miss him.

9. As an editor and/or writer, what are your thoughts on Lois Lane’s lede at the end of the film?

Gruttadaro: Far be it from me to criticize the work of a PULITZER PRIZE–WINNING JOURNALIST.

Wolff: Lois is trying to impart a much deeper point, one I think we all can learn from: Journalism isn’t about writing; journalism is about making out with Superman in a cornfield.

Herman: Sometimes the love of your life is miraculously resurrected, and you’re so high from the resulting endorphins/reunion sex that you resort to hackneyed clichés. We’ve all been there!

Halliwell: Marvel’s Daredevil already did the “red-headed journalist monologues about heroes to wrap up a story” thing, so that’s all I could think about watching this.

Surrey: Even Pulitzer Prize–winning reporters turn in shitty copy, apparently.

Chin: I’d say she did the story … justice. I’m sorry.

Fennessey: Get me rewrite.