For the first time in the past few years, DC has arguably stepped it up and surpassed Marvel movies by releasing two of DC’s best superhero films in Zack Snyder’s Justice League and James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. These are fully realized features that encompass an uncertain but very promising future for the DC Extended Universe. Not only does each film successfully follow up their respective predecessors, but they are improved versions with better plots and more creative action that audiences have been craving for in the DCEU.
The major team-ups, and the variety of superheroes and villains involved in both DC films, are vast and enjoyable to watch. While there are only two major DC live-action films this year, they each provide dramatic, funny, and/or entertaining moments that are memorable for the confrontations between essential characters, and (for a welcoming change) there’s some well-earned R-rated violence and profanity that adds to the raw grittiness of these features.
The Man of Steel’s resurrection in Joss Whedon’s 2017 theatrical version of Justice League was admirable but is even better in Zack Snyder’s Justice League because he has a little more screen time with Lois Lane and his mother Martha Kent, and the emotions they share together are truly profound. However, the most pivotal moment is when Clark returns to the pod that brought him to Earth, and views all the Kryptonian suits (along with his new fancy dark suit).
Clark doesn’t even have to say a word because he is reflecting on getting his life back, both as a superhero and as a human being, and there are effective voiceovers from his fathers (Jor-El and Jonathan Kent), whose lessons have always been a part of Clark/Kal-El’s epic journey. Superman revisiting the pod and getting his new black suit not only represents the Man of Steel’s resurgence in life, but also his way of coming full circle, from being a misunderstood alien to the hero he believes he can be for the people, while also honoring the family from Krypton who brought him to life and the family who raised him on Earth.
There’s a comically violent scene in The Suicide Squad where two supervillains (Bloodsport and Peacemaker) show off their weapons and fighting skills in an attempt to outmatch one another as they take down freedom fighters and rescue Rick Flag from captivity (or so they thought). Their competitive banter is one of the best moments of the film because they’re two of the toughest squad members and have cool weapons, including Peacemaker’s long desert eagle pistol and sword, while Bloodsport has several weapons in his costume that can turn into a large gun, sword, a bow and arrow set, etc.
This scene shows how Bloodsport and Peacemaker are both elite killers who are skilled in weaponry and have unique gadgets, but it also displays both men’s egocentric behaviors because each man thinks that he is better than everyone else when it comes to combat. However, this scene also foreshadows how their weapons and skills will work later on as they face tougher enemies (including battles within the squad).
When the DC heroes fought Steppenwolf and his army during the final battle in 2017’s theatrical version of Justice League, there were some comical and action-packed moments, but it was rushed, and Batman’s involvement was minimized. However, in Zack Snyder’s cut, the climactic battle contains more bloody violence, along with more engaging action from Batman as he shoots down several alien insects, and makes effective use of his Batmobile and aircraft.
Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and Superman also display their mighty strength as they work together to destroy Steppenwolf, while Flash also has a cool part in which he reverses time to save the league from destruction. This final battle is perfectly shot in darkness (unlike the bright daylight in Whedon’s version), which works effectively because it appears apocalyptic and eerily scary. The battle also works because it symbolizes the unity that has developed within the league to defeat evil, while also showing the villains that are yet to come (like Darkseid).
If The Suicide Squad proved to be a worthy sequel/reboot to David Ayer’s 2016 film, it’s because Gunn wasn’t afraid to kill off major characters. The fight between Rick Flag and Peacemaker is intense and brutal because it displays the differences between both warriors, while also exchanging hard blows at each other. They may each be strong and skilled men of combat, but when it comes to cover-ups and conspiracies, there is a line drawn between them.
While Flag wants to reveal the truth about the monstrous creature Starro to the world, Peacemaker disagrees and intends to destroy all the evidence surrounding the mission Project Starfish because he is dedicated more to following orders than caring about his team. The confrontation between both killers, and questioning how to handle substantial information, makes the film (partly) a conspiracy thriller. Flag’s death is indeed hard-hitting, considering he was such a tough and well-respected character who fought with honor and grace, while Peacemaker’s guilt is shown all over his face, and will perhaps be carried over to his new HBO Max series.
The best DC moment of 2021 comes from the Epilogue in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, in which Bruce Wayne has another Knightmare where Superman turns evil after the death of Lois Lane, and Batman is accompanied by Deathstroke, Cyborg, Flash, and Mera (who wants to kill Superman to avenge Aquaman’s death). However, the greatest part of this Epilogue is the confrontation between Batman and Joker. Jared Leto’s Joker is at his finest here, displaying dark humor and cynicism, while Ben Affleck’s Batman is at his bleakest, speaking to Joker in such a profane and threatening manner that viewers want to see these two comic book legends go at it.
While their confrontation is brief, Batman and Joker’s pivotal meeting here is psychological because both men try to get inside each other’s heads. Joker taunts Batman about his Knightmares and how Lois Lane suffered a horrifying death, and the Bat in return threatens Joker with Harley Quinn’s death and promises to kill him. There likely won’t be more DC films with Affleck’s Batman and Leto’s Joker together, but their dark and eerie moment here shows the potential they have for more features (and Knightmares).
With the success of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and The Suicide Squad, DC films appear to be heading in the right direction, combining high-octane action and dark humor. The Batman, the Aquaman sequel, and the Peacemaker series will surely provide more great DC moments in 2022.
Dolph Lundgren Says Aquaman Sequel Is Better Than The First Film
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is looking to top its predecessor, and according to star Dolph Lundgren, James Wan will succeed in that goal.
About The Author
Christian Colby Eltell (51 Articles Published)
My name is Christian Eltell. I was born in Colorado, but I’ve lived all my life in New York. I’m an NYU Tisch graduate with a Master’s Degree in Cinema Studies, and a St. Joseph’s College graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree as an English major and history minor. I’ve always enjoyed watching movies, especially crime dramas, Westerns, gangster pictures, and superhero films. I hope to entertain everyone with my writing on movies and television.