Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Preparing for JUSTICE LEAGUE: Characters and Questions

This episode of the Justice League Universe podcast focuses on getting mentally prepared for Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, from a story by Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio and a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon (Warner Brothers Pictures).

There are no spoilers. This episode is written from the perspective of someone going in to see the film for the first time. The following topics are addressed:
  • Bruce Wayne / Batman
  • Diana Prince / Wonder Woman
  • Arthur Curry / Aquaman
  • Barry Allen / The Flash
  • Victor Stone / Cyborg
  • Lois Lane / Ace Reporter
  • Clark Kent / Superman
  • Steppenwolf
  • 7 Major Questions on our Minds
Our detailed analysis will begin next week!

Contributors: @ottensam @raveryn @derbykid @wondersyd @NBego
@JLUPodcast on twitter

Short Recap of Batman v Superman:

<Transcript Below>
Welcome, fans of the Justice League Universe. My name is Sam. In this podcast, I collaborate with Alessandro Maniscalco, Rebecca Johnson, Sydney, and Nick Begovich to analyze the Warner Brothers films that are part of DC’s Justice League Universe. This isn’t a review show or an opinion-based chat show. What we aim for is to think carefully about the themes and character arcs of these movies, and to give a detailed look at the craft of filmmaking and the creative efforts that go into these works of art. And although we are comic book readers and will make some connections to the source material, this is not intended to be a catalog of easter eggs or a detailed specification of canon. Our style is primarily in the vein of literary analysis, with some attention to filmmaking techniques as well.

We admit that there is some bias inherent in this podcast because it started due to a love for the depth of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and over time, our full team was pulled together because of our mutual appreciation for that film. So we are not a random sample of people; we are people who are specifically drawn to a dramatic and literary take on comic book characters, as was done in Man of Steel and BvS, and also to a certain extent in Wonder Woman. Although we are biased in this sense, we are not blind DC followers. We look for coherent themes, well-designed characters arcs, and solid filmmaking technique, and we call it out if, in our view, any of those things are lacking. See our Suicide Squad analysis, for example, and some aspects of our Wonder Woman analysis. We will try to take that same fair-minded critical stance in future movies, as well. So with this podcast, we hope that you will find thoughtful analysis with claims that are specific and supported.

Typically we move scene-by-scene through the films. We have already covered BvS and Suicide Squad, and we are 15 scenes into Wonder Woman right now. But for the next few weeks we will be taking a look at Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, from a story by Snyder and Chris Terrio and a script by Terrio and Joss Whedon. This episode is a preparatory episode for Justice League and within a few days we expect to have our initial thoughts on overall themes and the major characters.

But right now, we are going to lay out our anticipatory thoughts about the major characters, and then we are going to talk about some of the big questions that we have as we head into the theater to see Justice League. And full disclosure, Rebecca, Sydney, and I already saw the movie at the early screening on Monday, but we will not mention anything from the movie in this episode. This is spoilerfree, and the content here is actually written from the perspective of what is on our minds as we go in to see it for the first time.

By the way, this episode presumes some solid understanding of the prior movies in the Justice League Universe. If you or anyone you know need a quick refresher on the main ideas from Batman v Superman that will be important for Justice League, I have a blog post and video that can help you out. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

Potential Character Arcs

But let’s go through our thoughts on what we might expect from the major characters. And we’ll start with the presumed leaders of the newly forming league.

Bruce Wayne / Batman.

We know he’s been Batman for 20 years and he’s been through a lot. In BvS, it all kind of weighed him down and he went into a dark mental place. He had isolated himself in a lot of ways, but by the end of BvS, he was able to break out of his mental funk. He reconnected with Alfred, he connected with Diana, and he was newly inspired by Superman’s sacrifice. So we’re hoping to see that progression continue, from isolated loner to a more optimistic team leader. He will be “playing well with others again” as Jim Gordon said in the trailer. In an Entertainment Weekly article, Ben Affleck said about Batman, “He was holding on to a lot of anger, in a little bit of an irrational way,” ... “Whereas this is a much more traditional Batman. He’s heroic. He does things in his own way, but he wants to save people, help people.” We are very curious to see if this heroism is directly tied to the idea from BvS about Superman, “If you seek his monument, look around you.” It would be great if Batman’s heroics in Justice League could be seen as a direct follow-up of Superman’s sacrifice in BvS and Bruce’s final monologue about men standing together and doing better.

Bruce is also going to be letting new people in on his secret and his private life, so we are curious to see how that will play out. In Entertainment Weekly, Ben Affleck said about Bruce, “He brings them to the Batcave and lets them in on the central conflict of the story, who the enemy is.” From this quote, we can see that there is this moment of letting the other leaguers into his private space, and it also means that Batman is the one who’s aware of the threat and he informs the others about it. Perhaps this is a chance for Batman to use some of his famous detective skills at the beginning of the movie.

Another thing to look for with Batman is the shift from Gotham street-level crime fighting to a much broader scope of world saving. He was involved in the Doomsday fight in BvS, and he definitely made an impact there by luring him and using his Kryptonite grenade, but it was also clear that Batman was a bit out of his depth when facing Doomsday. So we will be looking to see how Batman adjusts to the task of taking on alien invaders. We know that part of how he’ll adapt to this is with some new tech and vehicles. So we can anticipate some of Batman’s contributions as being through supplying the vehicles, whether it be the batmobile, the Nightcrawler, or the Flying Fox. Will there be specific scenes or specific moments in the plot where those vehicles become essential?

One other thing that comes to mind is from the Empire magazine cover story on Justice League. It mentioned that Bruce keeps his damaged armored batsuit from BvS in his batcave. Perhaps this is a new reminder for himself, to go along with his Jason Todd Robin suit, and his parents’ rundown manor. He keeps a lot of the pain around him, feeds off of it, but at least in this case of the BvS suit he’s remembering (and owning up to) his own mistake and not something that was out of his control. Maybe he has finally come to terms with his power and his powerlessness. And speaking of the rundown Wayne manor in BvS, we are curious to see if that is addressed at all in Justice League.

Alright, moving on to the other co-leader of the league…

Diana Prince / Wonder Woman.

So it’s no secret that after the huge success of the Wonder Woman film this summer, many people will be coming into Justice League as Wonder Woman fans and they will be curious about how her character might develop even further. In her solo film, she had a lot of development from a naive daughter to an experienced and wise warrior, from someone very sheltered to someone out there in the world making choices, making a difference, and feeling both joy and sorrow. She also learned about the complexities of mankind and about the presence of good and evil in everyone.

So where might her character go next? Well, one idea is that part of her characterization in this movie will be about finding the right balance in terms of working with Bruce. Just as we said Bruce will have to deal with working with others again, Diana specially will have to learn how to work with Bruce. And we saw a lot of leadership from Diana in Wonder Woman, so we can see how that leadership back with the Oddfellows might transfer to leadership skills with a league of meta-humans. Will there be references back to that team of people on a mission to save the world?

Another thing we will want to see in this movie is if they address at all the idea of Diana’s time over the last one hundred years. In BvS, she suggested that she had withdrawn from mankind and she accused them of not being able to work together. That could tie in with Justice League and the idea of getting the team to work together effectively, and also the idea of mankind, Atlanteans, and Amazons, as suggested by the history of the three motherboxes. But then there’s also the idea since the Wonder Woman film was released that Diana may have been lowkey but that she wouldn’t have totally abandoned mankind for a Century. So will we get any clarity on what she did during that timespan? We will soon find out. Hopefully, whatever they bring up in Justice League about her history, it will not just be to fill in details for canon but will somehow tie in to her character arc in this movie.

It will also be interesting to see how Diana and Bruce may contrast in their recruitment efforts. We know that Bruce is going to have a bit of trouble in his first visit with Arthur Curry. Maybe Diana will be able to use a more compassionate, delicate touch to win over some team members. By process of elimination, we can presume that Diana will have interactions with Cyborg because we’ve already seen clips of Bruce with Arthur and with Barry. But it’s also possible that Bruce might fail with one of them and Diana has to come in to clean up Bruce’s mess. Either way, we can look to their approaches to talking to strangers as a window in Bruce and Diana’s characterizations. And as Ben Affleck said in the Entertainment Weekly article, them getting the league together has “a little bit of a Magnificent Seven aspect to it.” “Part of the drama of the movie is the question of whether or not the team is going to come together. It’s very different from the tenor of the last movie.”

Back to Wonder Woman, there are a few moments in the trailers where she is front and center in what seem to be fight scenes. There’s also a line where she says, “on my lead.” So we should not only look for how she tries to bring the team together but we can also see how she leads them in battle. This could be some nice development for the character. In BvS, she came in and kind of improvised her fighting with two men she had never fought with before. She often led the charge, but not in a tactical way, she just happened to be the first to leap forward. She had some nice combination moves with Superman, but it wasn’t like purposeful or planned leadership on her part. In Wonder Woman, she certainly inspired the Oddfellows and also moved out in front of them, but she was the only super-powered individual on the team and so it was really like her as the main person and the Oddfellows as back-up. With the Justice League, on the other hand, there’s really a chance for her to be a tactical leader with a whole team of super-powered individuals. So we can watch how she handles that new challenge.

Then there’s also the emotional dynamics of the team, and the emotional labor that must occur in any group that has to function together, and research has shown that women often bear the burden of this emotional labor. Gal Gadot has described Diana as “the glue of the team. She finds moments to support every one of the team and make them feel stronger or believe in themselves.” This builds on her compassion -- seeing people’s struggles and connecting with them -- and also her leadership -- inspired by strong leaders like Hippolyta and especially Antiope.

The last thing we’ll bring up about Diana is her connection to Themyscira and the Amazons. We know that the Amazons are involved in this movie in at least two ways -- way back in history with the arrival of the motherboxes, where Amazons will be fighting alongside men and Atlanteans and somehow each civilization will be left with one motherbox. And then there will also be a more recent connection to Amazon as we see Hippolyta and the Amazons on Themyscira when a boom tube is opening up for Steppenwolf. Before seeing the movie, we don’t know exactly how that part fits into the timeline, but we know that since it’s on Themyscira, it has to be sometime after the ancient history lesson because the Amazons are secluded on Themyscira. They’re no longer out in the world where they fought alongside men.

Now, for Diana, the question is going to be how she reacts to this or how she fits in with this Amazonian history. Maybe this will be a chance to show Diana missing home and Hippolyta missing her daughter, because as we just talked about in our Wonder Woman analysis episode, that solo film never actually deals with the absence from Themyscira after the first part of the movie. But anyway, after Wonder Woman, it will just be great to see Themyscira again and see some more action scenes with the Amazons’ fluid and natural fighting style.

Speaking of the Amazons, there’s been a bit of a controversy online about Amazonian armor and accusations that Justice League is over-sexualizing women. All we want to say on the subject is that two photos that are the center of the controversy showed an extreme contrast but didn’t represent the range of costumes in either film. There were more revealing costumes in Wonder Woman and there are more modest costumes in Justice League. You could pick different photos and try to make the opposite accusation. Other than that, we’ll just point people to Samantha Jo’s statement in defense of Zack Snyder and Michael Wilkinson. She is one of the martial artists playing an Amazon in Justice League and she said that the filmmakers were very respectful and that the costumes that did have less armor and less material were actually more comfortable and easier to perform in, so they were thankful for it. And she viewed it from an athletic perspective and said they felt very powerful in the costumes. Plus, Amazons don’t care what men think so they’ll wear whatever they want. Her full statement is really good and worth the read. We’ll link to it in the show notes.

Alright, let’s move on to the justice league members who haven’t yet been a major character in a previous film, but who will be starring in the next Justice League Universe film...

Arthur Curry / Aquaman

So a couple things have been emphasized in the trailer -- first, he is going to be reluctant to join the team and he’s going to initially give Bruce a hard time. And second, he is going to be the BA member of the team, like the big tough guy but with the soft heart, probably. So the main thing to watch for is if he will also have some more nuance beyond that, or if he’ll basically just be defined by those traits. For me personally, I’m not totally satisfied by movies that just have characters with distinct personalities. Yes, characters having personalities is better than having stiff or lifeless characters, but for me it has to go to the next level, at least with your major characters, which is that the character has to go through a conflict or experience some growth. So I hope that that happens with Aquaman and at least the main five members of the league in this film. As for Superman, he will be the sixth member of the team, we expect, but he may not really have growth -- he should just have his return and then probably some emotional moments being back from the dead. That’s probably about the extent of what would make sense for his character.

But back to Aquaman, will his tough guy persona contrast with some softer moments late in the movie? Or will his initial conflict with Bruce turn into some mutual respect between the two men? We know they’re going to end up working together, with one surfing on the other’s car, so we can watch for that growth in their relationship.

We’re also curious how it is that Aquaman will end up joining. If he’s kind of a loner, stuck between land and sea but not really a full member of either society, what will make him decide to join Bruce in his battle? This may be a chance for a parallel with Diana and the Amazons. Maybe there will be a connection between Arthur and the ancient Atlanteans who have a motherbox. We’re really looking forward to glimpses of the Atlantis culture and how they handle the underwater scenes, because that will be a nice preview of the Aquaman film coming next year.

Plus we’re very curious to see how Mera will fit in. What’s her current relationship with Arthur? Hopefully they will leave a lot of room for that relationship to grow in the next film. Also, on a more material level, we’re curious to see Aquaman’s trident versus Steppenwolf’s ax. That should provide some good visual fodder for the action scenes.

Okay, next up is...

Barry Allen / The Flash

In contrast to Aquaman, we already know that Barry is going to be eager to join the league. So for him, the character arc might be about eagerness and inexperience having to shift into more controlled and deliberate participation. He is probably going to be the young, energetic member of the team, so we are very curious about how all those team dynamics and personalities will gel.

Barry also mentions in the trailer that he needs friends. So hopefully they do a really nice development of his character where they contrast his isolation with his later inclusion as a team member. This should give the young guy a chance to mature socially and emotionally over the course of the movie.

We’re also interested to see how much of his backstory they reveal. We know a solo Flash film is coming, so how much will they save for that film and how much will they include in Justice League? We know we’ll see his father in prison, but how much more will we get? Are they going to connect to the idea of Barry as a crime scene investigator? From the trailers, he doesn’t seem to have that sort of job yet.

We also wonder if the Flash’s cameos in BvS or Suicide Squad will be referenced in any way. Of course Barry won’t know about his time traveling because he hasn’t done it yet, but Bruce might bring it up to him. And if Bruce is digging into Barry’s exploits, will he mention the fact that he caught Captain Boomerang? This isn’t especially important, but just something to look for. Some people have said the easter eggs like this may be hidden in Barry’s apartment set decoration.

Also, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher have also talked frequently about how they are bringing a youthful energy to the movie, and those two guys really seem to get along well with other off set. So we are hoping for some good Flash / Cyborg scenes or interactions together, which will be a great new relationship that has never been seen in live action before.

Speaking of Ray Fisher, let’s talk about...

Victor Stone / Cyborg

Some people have said that the character seems stiff in some of the trailers, but I think this could make a lot of sense for the character. Stiff is kind of viewed as less human, and so they may be playing up the idea that Victor Stone feels less than human or that he has lost his soul since becoming Cyborg. There’s the common question with his character of whether he’s more man or more machine, so I think having him be somewhat emotionless or stiff may be a great way to explore that idea.

But then again, we’ve seen a clip of him sitting sadly, watching old clips of his athletic days. So that seems to imply some profound emotions. And Zack Snyder called him the heart of the movie, so maybe they will use an interesting juxtaposition of emotional beats and cold, emotionless beats for the character.

There’s also some interesting angles with Cyborg because he is going to be centrally involved in the plot in ways that the other characters aren’t. First of all, Cyborg was created by a motherbox and now Steppenwolf is here to reclaim the motherboxes. That will definitely have to be an issue that comes up in the film. Moreover, Vic’s dad, a STAR Lab scientist, will be kidnapped along with some other scientists. So he is going to have to worry about his dad, too, making it very personal. How does a part-machine like Cyborg deal with that personal trauma? Also, what will his relationship be like with his dad? In the comics, they have a lot of baggage that comes along with the loss of Vic’s mother and all the repercussions of the accident and so forth.

Will he also have a character angle of finding new purpose after his past dreams are dashed? For him, it might be a kind of rebirth, which could connect him with Superman’s character in the film. He might also connect to Aquaman in the sense that both are reluctant to join the team, but for Cyborg it may be more of a personal issue, like a sense of shame or of uncertainty about who he is.

And finally, with Cyborg there’s also the fact that he’s the only Black member of the Justice League, and he is also a character who represents differently abled people. Ray Fisher spoke really well on both of these points during some promotional interviews, and he said that it was really important to represent those communities but to not essentialize the character as only being those things. Joe Morton, the actor who plays Victor’s father, also talked about the otherness of the character. Cyborg has no way of hiding who he is or of blending in with other people. It’s very apparent to everyone that he’s a cyborg, that he’s “other.” So Joe Morton says that he is a metaphor for the “other” in society and that, no matter how you view yourself or what you want to contribute, people always tend to see you predominantly as the other because it’s so visible, and so there is a tendency to ostracize, and it is a metaphor for skin color, for example, which also is very visible to people and so can become a force of otherness. Morton’s comments actually happen to remind me very much of the book Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which I happen to be reading right now. So that is an interesting connection for me personally, but it’s also something that we can look for in the film.

Alright, moving quickly through the last three characters that we’ll cover...

Lois Lane

She had a great scene in the final trailer on the beautiful Smallville farm and talking about the engagement ring from Batman v Superman. We are very curious to see how she is handling Clark’s death, and maybe how her relationship with Martha Kent has progressed in their grief.

We are also very curious to see how she will respond to Clark’s inevitable rebirth. Will they be able to have a close personal moment when he arises, or will they have to wait and be reunited later? Hopefully Lois and Clark, even though they won’t be the centerpiece of the film overall because it is focused on the other five leaguers, will still have a great emotional imprint on this movie as a conclusion to the love story that began in Man of Steel with them finding each other and finding great respect for one another, and then their deep love in BvS that carried them even through the most dire of challenges. We really want to see how that trilogy between the two of them concludes.

And will there be any sort of reference to Lois as the key?

And then of course there’s the big guy himself,

Clark Kent / Superman!

This is his trilogy! So we are very interested to see how they handle his return. How will he be brought back? Who will he have interactions with when he comes back -- obviously there’s Lois, but there’s also Martha Kent who will be overjoyed to have her son back, and there’s Bruce who feels bad for failing him in life but who has pledged not to fail him in death. There’s also Wonder Woman, who didn’t know him personally but who did fight with him and was inspired by his death. And then there’s the other leaguers, who, if they meet the resurrected Superman, it will actually be their first time meeting him.

So all of that will be interesting to watch for. We are also interested in the coherence across the trilogy in terms of the messianic motifs. Will there be some clear religious imagery to accompany Kal-El’s return? We expect so, but it will be fun to see exactly how they do this visually. And we’re also really hoping to hear some of Hans Zimmer’s Superman score, so that it will have that cohesiveness across the trilogy. If it’s mixed with a bit of the classic Superman theme, that’s okay, as long as we get those great, pure notes from Zimmer or that sliding octave C.

When Superman does come back, we’re curious about whether his personality or his powers will be the same or different. He will have experienced death and he also will now be beyond the doubts and challenges of BvS -- he made his peace and showed his conviction at the end of that film, so that will probably lead him to be a changed man in either subtle or perhaps very profound ways. We have seen Clark struggling with his role on Earth since the beginning of Man of Steel.  Is that struggle over and will he have new purpose?  Will he approach things differently?  Does he have PTSD from his encounter with Doomsday?  Might that influence his effectiveness in battle?  Will the world embrace Superman’s return or be skeptical? In a recent interview Henry Cavill said something about Superman’s rebirth in Justice League bringing us the Superman we’ve known and loved, probably referring to the Reeve/Donner version of the character. So will we get some tropes from that classic era, and will those mesh well with the new cinematic universe?

It’s exciting that we’re about to find out.

Alright, lastly let’s talk about...


We know his Apokoliptian origins and his relationship to Darkseid. How much of that will be explained in the movie, or will he just be an alien invader and that’s all people need to know? Will there be a connection to the knightmare scene and the omega symbol from BvS? Will there be a connection to Lex’s communion scene where he communicated with Steppenwolf? If nothing else, they might just say that Lex helped Steppenwolf learn that Superman is dead, and that might be what triggered the invasion to happen at this time.

Thinking more about themes and character depth, will he be as complex and compelling as Snyder’s previous villains -- General Zod and Lex Luthor? We absolutely love both of those villains. From the surface, Steppenwolf seems like he might be a more straight-forward scary bad guy, but there may be a bit more going on there. Ciaran Hinds, talking about Steppenwolf on The Michael Ball Show, said “this murderous, avenging Steppenwolf from the planet Apokolips” is “bent on Hell on Earth.” That could be the straightforward part. But then Hinds also said, speaking to The Independent in the UK, that Steppenwolf is “old” and “tired.” “[He’s] still trying to get out of his own enslavement to Darkseid… [But] he has to keep on this line to try and take over worlds." So that could be very interesting. A reluctant alien invader, or an evil alien invader who actually has his own problems with an even more evil ruler in Darkseid. The idea that he is old and weary, rather than all-powerful and in his prime, could also be an interesting angle.

From what we’ve seen, the design looks good but it remains to be seen how he flows in the action and how good the CGI turns out through and through. The battle ax is a unique weapon for him, and like we said, it might clash nicely with Aquaman’s trident or even Diana’s magical sword and shield, too. And since we know Diana is a Godkiller, what does that mean for her as she goes up against a “New God”?

By the end of the movie, we’re curious how much information we will have about Darkseid, and we’re also curious if Steppenwolf will survive or be killed. There must be at least conversations about Darkseid down the line, so it will be interesting to see if Steppenwolf might be a part of that future or if this is really going to be his only shot at Earth.

Questions going into the movie

Alright, so that’s our character rundown in preparation for the movie. The other thing we want to do here is just lay out a few of the major questions that we have going in. We’ve already mentioned several questions as they relate to specific characters, and we may repeat a few of them here, but we’re going to try to collect a fairly short list of big questions that are on our mind, and then we’ll return to them in our next episode after we’ve seen the movie. We just want to have them all in one place here. So let’s go through the questions.

  1. How will Superman be resurrected? And as a follow-up, how does Lois Lane factor into it, given The Flash’s message to Bruce Wayne in BvS that Lois is the key? That is of course a huge question for everyone, and it’s something that Warner Brothers has been very diligent about hiding from us. Beyond Superman, there’s also the question of how Clark Kent’s return will be explained, because he was also known to be dead and buried. In an interview, Henry Cavill was asked about this and in his answer he mentioned the DC Rebirth comic books, where Clark and Lois moved out of Metropolis for a period of time. There was also an imposter who claimed to be Clark Kent. But we’re really not sure how they’re going to handle this.
  2. If Arthur and Victor hesitate to join the others in forming the Justice League, what changes their minds? Overall, this is the one and only time that we get to see the story of the formation of the core league, so we’re very curious what exactly will motivate them to join. It could just be that they recognize the threat and want to help, but hopefully there are also some dynamics that play into character arcs, like the character recognizing that the league or the people in it will help them grow or address a need that they have as a person.
  3. What will be some of the clear influences on the movie in terms of prior works? We are thinking that the Justice League Origin graphic novel by Geoff Johns from the New 52 will be one source from the comic books, because of Geoff Johns’ role as a producer and also because that’s the most recent story in the comics about the formation of the league. That story also involves an invasion from Apokolips, so it seems like an obvious choice. But there might also be films that are influences, such as The Magnificent Seven that we already mentioned, and of course The Seven Samurai, with at least one of the Justice League posters already looking like an homage to the Seven Samurai. Zack Snyder has also mentioned the Seven Samurai by name. Zack Snyder’s quote on the influence of The Seven Samurai: “Bruce is having to go out and sort of Seven Samurai the Justice League together, which is fun, but slightly monumental. And at the same time they’re starting to grapple with this coming threat.”
  4. Will any Green Lanterns show up? There have been a lot of rumors about this, but we’ll finally find out for sure. We’re hoping there’s a quick nod to them, because this is an alien invasion story, so it makes sense to use it as an opportunity to open up the Justice League Universe into space a little bit. This also would continue the successful trend of using movies in this universe to briefly introduce characters and then spin-off future films. It worked really well for Wonder Woman, following up from BvS. And it could work here for Aquaman, the Flash, Cyborg, and possibly Green Lanterns. If Green Lanterns do show up, we predict it will be Green Lantern Corp member and not an actual Earth lantern.
  5. Will the musical score be a fitting conclusion to the Zack Snyder Superman trilogy? We know it’s a different composer, but we’re still hoping it will be thematically coherent (for example, using the “Beautiful Lie” notes in relation to Bruce’s struggles and acceptance of pain and loss; or using Clark’s piano theme during his reuniting with Lois or Martha; it would also be great to hear the Superman climax theme that was previously used in both the Zod fight and Doomsday fight, but that one is probably a long shot). We are also curious about how Wonder Woman’s theme might fit in, since that’s another great one from Zimmer.
  6. Will this movie continue the strong presence of parents? Parents have been very important in the movies thus far.  It seems very possible that that could extend into Justice League with Arthur, Victor, and Barry all having their own parental influences. In particular, the relationships between Victor and Barry and their fathers will be important, especially when you compare and contrast them. Barry loves his father and visits him in prison, but we know from the comics that things are strained between Victor and Silas, especially after the accident that turns him into Cyborg. Ultimately we believe that both relationships will be shown to be loving, despite some potential obstacles.
  7. And finally, number 7, what will be the main theme or themes of the movie? Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both had really strong themes that were not only embodied by the main characters but that also connected to the actual storyline and events of the films. This is a big reason we have so much affection for those movies. And Wonder Woman, too, did a fairly good job in this regard, although it may have been driven a bit more by emotional resonance and character growth than themes per se. But nevertheless, we are wondering if a core theme will be apparent in Justice League. Two possible themes that we’ve already detected from promotional materials are the value of multilateralism and collaboration, and the notion of rebirth. With regard to multilateralism, the movie might illustrate the point that even extremely powerful people still need the help and support of others. This would be a nice complementary theme to the exploration of powerlessness in BvS. In that Entertainment Weekly article, Ben Affleck reference this idea when he said, “I think it’s a really cool story. Actually, it’s sort of a story about multilateralism. It’s not a bad theme to have!” And then the article writer said, Hey, if the universe’s moodiest billionaire can learn the value of collaboration, there’s hope for us all.
    With regard to rebirth, there might be the idea that we can overcome tragedy or loss and actually use it to become something even stronger than before. “We can do better. We have to.”  We see Bruce heeding his own words in the trailers. And presumably Superman will rise again from the ashes after sacrificing himself to save his world.  Victor lost his body and he has now found a new one in the Cyborg body which allows him to be a superhero and help save the world. Diana lost Steve, and the love and lost she experienced helped her tap into her empathy after finally knowing what mankind endures. We don’t know Aquaman’s backstory yet, but I’m sure there’s loss in there.  And Barry lost his mother at an early age, and he has lost his father to prison, so if he is able to use that sense of loss to actually motivate something greater for himself, then that would feed into the theme as well.

So there are seven questions that we’re bringing with us into the film. Of course there are many more, but that’s enough for now. Like you, we just really want to see this movie! (Or see it again, for those of us who got to see the early screening.)

Again, our team -- myself, Alessandro, Rebecca, Sydney, and Nick -- are going to watch it this weekend and then we’re coming back around Monday with our initial thoughts on themes and character arcs. We’ll also share our answers to those questions that we just listed.

Thanks for listening. And if you want more DC-related content, we also recommend the Suicide Squadcast network and Man of Steel Answers.

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