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Debate – The Avengers Vs Justice League


Posted November 26, 2017 by

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The Avengers Vs Justice League

We have a new superhero team-up in town – the Justice League. A handful of hits and misses in the DCEU franchise has finally led to the team coming together. But, despite the hype, the reception to Justice League has been… luke-warm, to say the least. This is particularly disappointing considering the immense success of DC’s Wonder Woman earlier this year.

The question on everyone’s minds, undoubtedly, is how the Justice League stacks up against the already established Marvel superhero team, the Avengers. It would be unfair to compare the Justice League to the current Avengers team, after all, Marvel are way ahead of the game and the Avengers already have two films under their belt. So, in this debate, we’ll restrict ourselves to comparing Justice League to The Avengers; as the superhero team-up origin stories of warring comic book franchises, the films lend themselves well to some sibling rivalry.

(Spoilers ahead)

The Avengers Vs Justice League female cast

Sole female character

An unfortunate similarity in both films is that the teams have only one female character – the Avengers have Black Widow and the Justice League have Wonder Woman. That in the 21st century Hollywood still struggles to bring female characters to the big screen is a huge disappointment but one we hope to see rectified soon.

The treatment of said sole female character is different in these two films. In The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s take on Black Widow reduced her to a glorified secretary to the team – Fury commands her to show the (male) members of the team to their quarters. Black Widow doesn’t have as much screen time, either, and for some bizarre sexist reason, she is the only Avenger allowed to show fear, even though Hawkeye is the one who is brainwashed early on in the film and has every cause to be terrified.

This is where Justice League comes out on top. Wonder Woman has a large chunk of screen time and a complete arc. At the start of the film, she is unsure of her place in the world but puts her doubts aside when she realises what the threat against the world is. Despite needing some rescuing (frustrating, we know) she has clear action scenes and holds her own. She is also considered a leader within the group. Plus, despite Whedon’s involvement in Justice League, at no point is Wonder Woman terrified of the villain. That’s what the Flash is for.

Marvel – 0

DCEU – 1

The Avengers Vs Justice League Villains

The Villain

Both films have other-worldly villains as the joint cause to bring the teams together.

In Justice League, parademons announce the arrival of Steppenwolf. In The Avengers, the Chitauri soldiers follow Asgardian Loki into battle on Earth. The parademons and Chitauri are both homogenous alien forces with little personality other than their ability to hit things.

However, the parademons have one over-arching characteristic – they are attracted to fear. This underutilised trait in the film sets them apart from the soulless Chitauri who are defeated by destroying their connection to the Chitauri mothership.

The primary villain in Justice League is Steppenwolf and he’s… a bit dull. There’s nothing to recommend this bland character whose sole motivation is to take over the world for unknown reasons. His scenes have him fighting the Amazons and the Justice League and working towards gathering the instruments necessary to call upon a greater evil.

On the other hand, The Avengers’ villain Loki is full of life and personality. His motivations aren’t just to dominate mankind, but to get his own back at his father and brother for not giving him the Asgardian throne. Loki believes it his birth right to rule; if he can’t have Asgard, he will take his brother’s beloved Earth, instead. His motives have as much to do with greed as it does with vengeance.

Of course, Loki has the advantage of having had an entire film to develop his arc before his appearance in The Avengers. Loki was such a remarkable presence in Thor that he was brought back as the villain in The Avengers, much to the delight of fans.

Steppenwolf, on the other hand, has only had this one film as introduction, arc and conclusion, but that is not a good enough excuse to have such a poorly developed character – whatever his arrival on Earth portends, he himself did not make for an arresting or lethal enough character. Literally anyone else could have been the villain and it would have made no difference whereas Loki continued to stand out even amongst the band of heroes in The Avengers.

Marvel – 1

DCEU – 0

The Avengers Vs Justice League CGI


Marvel’s effects have, as a whole, been incredibly polished and realistic throughout the franchise and, expectedly, the special effects in The Avengers were top notch. From the Chitauri soldiers to their vessels, Loki and Thor’s magic and lightning powers to Iron Man’s suit, the effects looked believable.

It is thus, remarkable, that five years after The Avengers, and with a big budget to play with, Justice League has incredibly poor special effects.

In one of the film’s opening scenes, Batman fights a parademon on a rooftop in Gotham. The creature squawks and twitches as it tries to struggle free and it all looks so amateurish. The scene looked like it had been tacked on with little to no attention paid to graphics or sound editing. What should have been a well-defined monster geared to evoke fear, or at least disgust, ends up looking like a 3D cartoon. Fortunately, the rest of the film has few one-on-one scenes with the parademons so we are spared any more cringes.

Then there’s Steppenwolf. A motion-capture CGI villain certainly adds to the film’s numerous woes. You can’t take Steppenwolf seriously as a character when he looks so shambolic and, often times, even a bit silly.

I hate to put this on Justice League’s special effects team, but the CGI removal of Henry Cavill’s moustache looks awful. You can clearly make out in which scenes the moustache was removed. Superman is such an integral character in this series and though his scenes are limited in this film, they are pivotal. Superman’s presence should have filled us with hope and joy but the CGI upper lip takes the audience right out of the film and diminished the effect the character was meant to have.

Where the effects in Justice League shine are in Cyborg’s suit. I had no idea that his suit was entirely CGI; it looked seamless. Flash’s speed-force effects were also well done though nowhere near as impressive as the X-Men franchise’s Quicksilver scenes. Having said that, Ezra Miller’s awkward running during the epilogue was hard to watch – couldn’t they have CGI’d that?

The standout CGI scene in Justice League though, was the fight in Atlantis. I would love to know how they shot an entire fight scene underwater. The movement of the water was awe-inspiring.

Marvel – 1

DCEU – 1/2

Avengers vs Justice League Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

DC has received a lot of flak for its collateral damage in Man of Steel. So much so, that Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was focused solely on the after-effects of Superman’s battle with Zod. But it seems like DC is still reeling from their disregard of fictional public property and lives in Man of Steel.

In Justice League, Steppenwolf is a villain with the means to destroy the entire world. But, who exactly is in the crossfire? From the visuals of the film, only one family.

During the final fight, the heroes are aware that they need to rescue civilians but the audience never actually sees the civilians they keep talking about, save for the aforementioned family. We see a building being protected but it looks uninhabited. Whether this was a flaw in the CGI or just carelessness on the part of the directors (or chopped by the producers?), one may never know, but it took away the impact of what the heroes were trying to accomplish. Worse, it made the finale seem less epic than it should have been.

In Marvel’s The Avengers, the threat from Loki and his Chitauri goons is ever-present. The Avengers spend the bulk of the finale trying to save civilians as they battle the Chitauri ground and air assault. There’s a real threat to the people and the superheroes which makes every part of the battle and their eventual success exhilarating and epic. And, of course, Iron Man’s near-sacrifice would have never been worth it had all of New York not been at stake.

Marvel – 1

DCEU – 0

post credit sequence Avengers vs Justice League

Post-credits scene

The post-credits scene has been almost exclusively in Marvel’s domain all these years. DC effectively shunned the tactic but have clearly come around to the popular method of teasing future films and partnerships. But, did we get enough bang for our buck with the team-up films’ post-credits scenes?

In a post-credits scene in Justice League, we find that Lex Luthor has escaped from prison and is now putting together a team of villains of his own, including Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. All signs point to the Legion of Doom appearing in future DCEU films, either as a solo film ala Suicide Squad or as part of the second instalment of Justice League.

The collective groan that escaped the audience at the theatre I was at when Luthor appeared is testament to the fact that Jesse Eisenberg’s Luthor is not well-liked. His manic Joker-Luthor combo from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice was probably the weakest part of the entire film and one shudders to think how the franchise will be affected by his continued presence.

Conversely, The Avengers’ brief glimpse of Thanos had fans all aflutter at the prospect of him as an over-arching villain. Granted, Marvel’s use of Thanos in the franchise since then has been annoying, but we are now at the point when Thanos is set to be the primary villain in Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel have succeeded in building up the biggest and baddest villain in the franchise (perhaps for too long) and the audience will finally have their patience rewarded. Following the teaser in Thor: Ragnarok, Marvel fans are now even more excited for the next instalment of the Avengers. The same cannot be said of Justice League – for some, anyway.

Marvel – 1

DCEU – 0

Avengers vs Justice League result

And there you have it, a clear 4-1½ victory to Marvel. Justice League failed to capture the magnificence of their on-screen team-up, which is really a shame considering how fascinating the characters and the dynamics they share are. The film was unable to capitalise on the excitement and magic so prevalent in Wonder Woman, and actually managed to diminish the character’s towering presence within the film.

When compared to the incredibly successful The Avengers, the flaws of Justice League become even more apparent – the former was a novel entry into cinematic history, the latter looks like it’s still playing catch up.

Failing box office returns on what should have been the most successful film of the year, and even the franchise, should give DC pause. Many of Justice League’s flaws could be put down to studio interference and director Snyder’s sudden exit, and his replacement, Whedon’s, significantly different directional tone. But, honestly, these excuses have already become old. Clearly the DCEU needs to be examined and some difficult changes made, especially behind the scenes.


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Louis Skye
Freelance Contributor

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