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I will admit this much - up until Wonder Woman, I mostly hated every aspect of the DCU. I hated Man of Steel and its bizarre treatment of Pa Kent and Clark (respectively, for making Pa Kent instilling virtually no moral values into his son and literally telling him he should have let a bus full of kids die, and for making Clark/Superman only mildly interested in helping others), I hated BvS for mostly everything (its bizarre plotting, insanely bad Lex, baffling character motivations), and I almost walked out on Suicide Squad. The one bright spot has been Wonder Woman - but even that wasn't enough to overcome my hesitation over another Snyder-led entry into the DCU canon.

However, as of late, I've been feeling pretty optimistic about the team-up DC picture - here's why:



1. It's only 2 hours long!

While this still exists (somewhat) in the realm of speculation, I'm ecstatic over this - apparently, Justice League has around a 2 hour runtime. And while many in the DCU fandom are up in arms over this revelation (to the point of extreme controversy and conspiracy theorizing in certain subreddits), I could not be happier. At some point in the mid-2000s, someone just DECIDED that it was fine for popcorn blockbusters to be 2.5+ hours long slogs. Honestly, I sorta blame Peter Jackson for making his King Kong reboot impossibly long JUST BECAUSE HE COULD, and then others followed suit.

I love superhero movies. I love their mix of silliness and sincerity, their grandiosity and iconography, I love it all. But they do not need to be nearly 3 hours long. The Avengers, Age of Ultron, and (especially) BvS all could have been well-served by some more judicious editing (the fact that there's an EVEN LONGER version of BvS is, frankly, baffling). None of these movies are Gone With The Wind - they don't NEED to be this long. Hell, we've gotten to the point where even Michael Bay feels comfortable with stretching Transformers movies into the near 3-hour territory. It's gone too far, and I'm glad SOMEONE is finally taking a stand.

2 hours is plenty long to tell a fun, rousing superhero story. The folks at Marvel should take note - you could have cut the entirety of Thor's stupid cave freakout and probably a good chunk of Hawkeye's farm life and gotten Age of Ultron to a nice 2 hours, and the audience would have thanked you for it. Well, at least I would have.



2. They're adding some levity to the DCU!

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Up until Wonder Woman (mostly), the DCU has been hopelessly grim. The fact that a film about the horrors of the first World War is the lightest in tone should probably say it all - these films take themselves FAR too seriously, particularly when they don't have the weight of a Christopher Nolan backing them up. Zack Snyder is an incredibly talented visual filmmaker, but he struggles with subtext and theme - and when he's so, so desperate to make "deconstruction" a primary aspect in his superhero films, it's bound to be sorta a mess.

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There's no reason for Superman to be so humorless and doubtful, or for Batman to be THAT nihilistic and violent (Batman is honestly amongst the silliest comic book characters ever - he's a rich guy who dresses up like a bat and punches clowns because he's sad about his parents - HOW DID WE ALLOW SOCIETY TO DECIDE HE SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE GRIMMEST AND GRITTIEST HERO?!), or for everything to be so hopeless and dire (Superman DIES in his second outing?!). It's fine to have those aspects, but the DCU has been so relentlessly focused on JUST THAT that it's been more than a little distracting. Thankfully, Justice League looks to be adding some levity to the (admittedly very silly) premise - Barry Allen is jokin' around, Batman's makin' quips, Aquaman's a cool rad bro now, etc.

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It's refreshing! Dark moments seem a lot more impactful when everything else is a little lighter and cheerier - when everything is just non-stop darkness, the grittier moments don't really shine like they should. Marvel figured this out early on, but DC has been so committed to being taken seriously, they forgot to strike any balance between drama and humor.



3. Wonder Woman ushered in a new era for DCU (and Snyder's finally got some collaborators)!

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This cannot be reiterated enough: Wonder Woman was a damn breath of fresh air. From Man of Steel through Suicide Squad, there was a collective delusion in the DCU fandom that critics and audiences alike were engaged in some kind of baroque conspiracy AGAINST DC properties, which was the only possible explanation for their consistently low critical and popular reviews. After all, the only other option was that the films were ill-conceived and poorly-executed, and there was no way that THAT could be the case, right? ...RIGHT?!

Wonder Woman proved them wrong - a brighter color palette, an actually likeable protagonist, and engaging characters set it leagues apart from its DCU brethren (although I do kinda like Batfleck, Alfred, and Harley). And much of the success of Wonder Woman can be attributed to DC Films bringing in Geoff Johns as a creative advisor to the DCU film slate - which had, up until this point, been solely under the guidance of Zack Snyder and a few meddlesome DC executives (who presumably are mostly at fault for all of the things wrong with Suicide Squad).

It was something rather....wondrous (SORRY I AM SO SORRY). The film was straightforward, without the ugly pretense of the preceding films in the DCU canon, and it had clear messages of heroism, sacrifice, and love. It understood how storytelling works and it accomplished it with aplomb - resulting in near-universal praise and SO MUCH MONEY. Justice League is the follow-up to Wonder Woman - and hopefully the lessons that were implemented in that film will also be brought forth here.

What it ultimately comes down to is this: Snyder has a lot of ability as a filmmaker, but he works best when he's collaborating with others who can temper his less ideal instincts - and having Geoff Johns working with him alongside Joss Whedon (and likely with some influence from Patty Jenkins and James Wan, who's handling the upcoming Aquaman solo film) can only spell good things.



4. They can basically reboot Superman!

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I'll be blunt: the DCU Superman sucks. I don't blame Henry Cavill for this, who is a fine and charismatic actor (honestly, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is great) - it's just that the scripts and direction he's been given seem to have been designed solely to rob him of his natural talents. His Superman is grim and humorless - he doesn't really enjoy saving the lives of others, it's something he does out of obligation. He takes no joy or pleasure in doing good - he just DOES it, all the while plagued with doubts and uncertainties over how others perceive him. And why shouldn't he? His adoptive father told him humanity would reject him for his differences, to the point where he advised him against helping others (and literally prevented his son from saving his own life).

The net result is that Superman is a huge bummer. He barely speaks in BvS (no, seriously, he has literally only 43 lines of dialogue total in a nearly 3 hour film), and when he DOES speak, he's not the boisterous hero that you likely associate him with - he's a dud. When saving astronauts from a launchpad explosion, he looks constipated.

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And yet, since his "death" (c'mon - it was his second outing and you SHOWED THE DIRT HOVERING) in BvS, there's been a lot of lip service in the DCU film universe about the "hope" he brought to the world. What hope?! He was introduced to most of society by being party to like fifty 9/11s happening simultaneously in Metropolis - after which he grimly went about saving people without ever cracking a smile. Then a few years later he openly quarreled with a vigilante, was thought to be responsible for bombing the Capitol Building, and then died stabbing a mutant. WHAT ABOUT ANY OF THAT REGISTERS AS A SYMBOL OF HOPE?!

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But now they have a chance to start over - an ACTUALLY hopeful Superman! Maybe in his resurrection, Superman will have a new zeal for life - for saving others, for doing good, for fighting for truth, justice, and all of that good stuff.

Well, until Flashpoint that is (note to DC Films: please do not do Flashpoint as the FIRST Flash film).



5. The marketing materials are SO GOOD!

Reasons I Am Genuinely Psyched For 'Justice League'

Holy shit, those Alex Ross posters look AMAZING. And the trailers have been mostly VERY solid - showing a lot of fun action and character interactions without spoiling the story or giving away too much (and the latest one did a great job of indicating Superman's presence without actually showing his resurrection). It's really ALL been pretty stellar so far - and, to my own shock, I'm pretty psyched for Justice League.

MY MAN!




Feel free to yell at Andrew Bridgman on Twitter or Facebook about how dumb his opinions are.