Here are five things I didn’t know before watching Justice League:
1) “The uncanny valley” is actually an area located on the upper lip of Superman (Henry Cavill).
2) The Flash (Ezra Miller) is so catastrophically dumb, he’s lucky he hasn’t exploded himself by awkwardly running at Mach 5 directly into a brick wall clearly labeled “Careful, idiot, this is a brick wall.”
3) Atlantis receives the broadcast signal for the FX channel, as is evident by the fact that Aquaman (Jason Momoa) has a persona based entirely on an extra from Sons of Anarchy.
4) Humanity’s evilest villain is named after the guys who sang “Born to Be Wild,” looks like a buff Larry King in a beer helmet and just wants to make three metal boxes kiss.
5) Ben Affleck knows how to blink “I regret all my life’s choices” in Morse code.
Being better than the fiery cinematic hemorrhoid that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice does not make Justice League pleasant or, you know, “good.” Actually, the one way in which BvS outdoes JL is perhaps the most bizarre: Given a budget the size of curing cancer or developing functional time travel, how was this movie released with flat-out atrocious — often seemingly unfinished — visual effects? The digitally resurrected corpse of Peter Cushing from Star Wars: Rogue One refuses to see JL because the unnatural effects make him uncomfortable.
And yet, the script is somehow even worse than that. Here’s all of it: Batman (Affleck) sees a flying, alien, bug-looking dude in Gotham City, so he gets Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) to help convince the Flash, Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and Aquaman to resurrect Superman in order to punch Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), who looks like Iggy Pop covered in powdered sugar. With comedy beats written by a “Dad Jokes” Twitter-bot, the attempted climactic crowd-pleasing moment is horrifyingly punctuated by a black man triumphantly declaring “boo-ya” in 2017.
DC Comic fanatics — and director Zack Snyder’s apologists in particular — have created a profoundly misguided and frequently repellent narrative that suggests a secret conspiratorial agenda to hold Marvel movies to a lesser standard. In reality, the secret to Marvel’s success is merely a basic functional understanding of its characters, whereas DC movies treat their own heroes like poo-poo caca.
Consider: The Flash is a scientist who runs fast. In Justice League, there’s a running gag that he’s so dumb that he doesn’t know the four cardinal directions, and he runs like someone who doesn’t understand the concept of legs. Superman should be a noble Boy Scout who inspires the masses; here, he once more fights everyone and acts like a dick. Batman is the world’s greatest detective; Snyder can’t wait to have him fire all the guns again. Cyborg’s entire thing is he’s half-robot; he looks worse than Robocop. And not the movie, the short-lived 1994 TV show. Wonder Woman is fine, save for the copious upskirt cinematography that surprisingly wasn’t there when a woman directed her earlier this year.
Justice League is a bad movie with a bad script, a bad villain, bad direction, bad effects and bad acting. That it is less bad than Batman v Superman only means Jesse Eisenberg didn’t pee in a jar this time.
This review previously appeared in The Reader of Omaha, Nebraska.