I caught Justice League on opening night. No spoilers, so read on without fear. In fact, I'm not even going to review the movie directly, but instead talk about how the way it fulfilled (or did not fulfill) my expectations about it amounted to a creative win/win for me.
If you missed it, go back and read a post I made about how a large slice of my interest in seeing the movie was to confirm or deny a theory I had about how it might approach its chosen subjects. In some ways this was a redux of the experience I'd had with The Matrix all those years ago: because the promotional material for the movie was so deliberately and skillfully vague about it, I was able to hatch a theory for what it was really about.
Justice League wasn't nearly that coy in its marketing. Well, okay, it was terribly coy — one could say to the point of redundancy — about Superman and his presence in the film. But there were other aspects of it, chiefly the nature of the enemy threat and how the heroes rise to face it, that seemed like they could become the basis for something more interesting than just your usual comic-book movie punch-'em-up.
If by some miracle, the movie did manage to be about that stuff, I would be impressed. But if it wasn't about that stuff, then I could take those themes and build my own story out of them, one that served as a kind of response to the questions Justice League posed — or, in this case, didn't pose. In the same way, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned became a receptacle for my discarded but oh-so-nifty (at least, I think so) theories about what The Matrix was really about. Either way, I would win.
So, did Justice League touch on any of the things I'd speculated about?
Short answer: No.
Some of what I had in mind was mentioned, but never actually present in the movie as a thematic element or a serious story driver. It comes up, and it's brushed off like so many crumbs from the table. (Again, I hate to be vague, but I want to save a more spoileriffic discussion for later. Maybe next week when some of you have already seen it.)
To be dead solid honest, I didn't think the movie's circumstances would have allowed for the kind of ambition I had in mind. Talent has nothing to do with it — it's not that Snyder or Terrio or Whedon or whoever wasn't good enough or had the wrong mindset for such things. It's more that a big-budget Hollywood movie is not a suitable receptacle for the kind of complexity or ambiguity I had in mind. Sometimes, once in a great while, they are. But not here.
It crossed my mind that perhaps those things did exist in another, earlier incarnation of the movie. Pressure was apparently on to deliver a slim-and-trim two-hour experience, and I can see how those things would have been among the first to end up as cutting-room floor sweepings in favor of team camaraderie and plot pushing. But it's not likely we'll ever see an extended version of this film — or, if we do, it'll be in defiance of just about everything I've gleaned about the circumstances of its creation, and I'll be the first one to boil and eat my shoe if that happens.
So — I'm free to use the theory I had in mind for my own project. Like I said, even if I wasn't satisfied by this as a moviegoer, I'm satisfied as a creator — I've been given license to take The Stone The Builders Rejected (or at the very least, which didn't pass safety inspection requirements).
And if you check back in next week, I'll go into a little more detail about what exactly that is. And this time there will be spoilers!