What to expect from Justice League — and what not to

AWith Wonder Woman headed to the big screen this summer, superhero film fans are already turning their thoughts to November’s upcoming Justice League. Obviously DC’s first team title is going to invite comparisons to Marvel’s Avengers series (ironic, since Justice League is the older comic series), and there are a lot of similarities — but also some crucial differences. Let’s take a look at the trailer and think about what we can expect to see this autumn.

As the first film in a series, we can expect the traditional getting-the-team together story. Reprising his role from Batman v. Superman, Ben Affleck seems to be taking on the role of the team leader and mentor. Several of the characters here are making their first big-screen appearance, and it’s interesting to see how they’ll be interpreted here.

Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot was one of the few parts of Batman v. Superman to be widely praised by both fans and critics, and here she’ll be coming off the strength of June’s Wonder Woman. We can expect her characterisation to be pretty consistent between the two, and probably also not to contain very many surprises: determined, brave and self-sacrificing, she’ll be filling the conventional superhero role in the absence of Henry Cavill’s Superman.

The other characters, however, haven’t shown up in DC’s new cinematic universe, so let’s look at the trailer and see what we can expect.

Aquaman: Jason Momoa plays Arthur Curry, protector of the seas. Aquaman has never been a hugely successful character for DC, which means he’s been reinvented more than a few times. This gruff, bearded portrayal seems to be indebted to the Aquaman of the later 1990s, a no-nonsense warrior type best remembered for his role in Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s acclaimed run on JLA.

It’s a cool version of the character, but it’s a shame we’re not going to get to see the heroic bravado of the Aquaman who appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

Cyborg: Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) came to prominence in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run on New Teen Titans. A gifted athlete injured in an accident, he had parts of his body replaced with machines. In his original appearances, he tended to be one of the most mature and responsible members of the Titans, but he tends to play the scientist role in more modern team books.

Cyborg emerged in the 2000s as one of DC’s most prominent African-American characters, especially to younger viewers who may know him from the Teen Titans cartoon.

The Flash: Barry Allen is one of the oldest and best-established DC heroes, but as played here by Ezra Miller he seems to playing a younger role, owing more to his portrayal on the Flash TV series. Charming and witty in the teaser trailer, he seems more like the Wally West Flash, but the Barry Allen name seems to be more recognisable.

So what isn’t in the trailer that we would have expected to see? The Justice League’s membership has varied so much over the years that it’s hard to predict who you might find on it — no sign of core members Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter, much less Black Canary. All three characters have appeared in other films or TV shows, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the film from including the Flash. It’s a shame, because they’re all characters with potential, but maybe Warner thought that three new characters were enough already.

As for the villain, we see an army of Parademons, and we know that Irish actor Ciarán Hinds will be playing the villain’s lackey Steppenwolf. No sign of the big guy himself, of course, so we don’t know what he’ll look like, but the Kirby classic is probably too much to hope for.

In any event, it looks like the trailer promises more of the Superman v. Batman model: great big fights and a lot of dark backgrounds. Will it help DC finally translate its comic universe effectively to the big screen? We’ll have to wait and see.

About James Holloway

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