Justice League was meant to be the DCEU’s version of the Avengers, a culmination of its biggest heroes coming together to fight an evil bigger than just one of them. Unfortunately, Justice League was a critical flop and didn’t do all that great at the box office, audiences were putting it somewhere between not as good as Wonder Woman, but slightly better than Batman v. Superman. The editing was similar to Suicide Squad‘s, in that you could clearly tell where re-shoots were inserted in the film, causing it to lack a cohesive storyline. The actors seemed to do the best they could with the material they were given, but many of the scenes depicted in the movie were ones audiences had already seen done before.
Ironically, while DC’s Justice League suffered terrible reviews, the Arrowverse’s recent team-up crossover, “Crisis on Earth-X”, gained more critical acclaim and favorable reviews from viewers. What made the difference? It goes something along the lines of the old “less is more” adage. While Justice League relied heavily on CGI action sequences and childish banter, Earth-X stuck with a multi-layered storyline that managed to involve (almost) every character on every Arrowverse show without doing any disservice to the cast or at the expense of the plot. CBR takes a look at the reasons why Arrowverse’s team-up succeeded where Justice League failed, along with some ways it could’ve improved.
15. BETTER: THE FIGHT SCENES
Any project that involves multiple characters going at it in an action scene is a logistical nightmare, especially if you’re on a TV show budget and schedule. But “Crisis on Earth-X” went all the way out to give us some of the most exciting and satisfying action the DC Universe has ever seen. From the very first fight that interrupts Barry and Iris’s wedding, to the final fight against Overgirl & Co., this crossover managed to make excellent use of its cavalcade of all-stars.
Some of our favorite stand-out moments include Killer Frost creating an ice sword for her to use in battle, Flash throwing bullets back into their guns, Supergirl’s Hulk clap while fighting Overgirl, and Sara Lance and Alex Danvers teaming up to take down the Earth-X Prometheus with their bare hands. The fight scenes were huge throughout each hour and every character got a chance to shine.
14. WORSE: NO AQUAMAN
We should say an Aquaman-like character. If there was a breakout performance to be had in Justice League, it would be Jason Momoa’s unorthodox take on the classic underwater hero. He injects moments of levity and drive throughout the movie while remaining his carefree self. His TMI speech in front of the team while sitting on Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth is one of the few highlights of the film.
If there’s one problem the Arrowverse has, it’s that sometimes they take themselves a little too seriously. The closest character to Aquaman would be Mick/Heat Wave, but even he fails to be utilized enough to keep things light and brisk. Supergirl and Flash are usually the optimists among the broody Team Arrow and Legends, but given their dire circumstances during the crossover, neither is in a position to be the shiny, happy people they usually are.
13. BETTER: MORE FEMALE HEROES
We hope you’re taking notes, film industry; TV did right by it’s female superheroes during the “Earth-X” crossover and it was so much better for it. There seems to be some unsaid rule in movies that only one or two female superheroes can be on a team at once, while having three times the male counterparts. While Wonder Woman did amazing at the box office, she was the only female hero featured in Justice League (we’re not counting Mera’s five minutes of fame).
During the “Earth-X” crossover, women were not afterthoughts, or reduced to mere love interests, but were integral parts of the storyline and, to be honest, the best parts of the fight scenes. Supergirl’s struggle with fighting her evil doppelganger, having Felicity and Iris work together to outsmart Evil Arrow and Reverse-Flash, and seeing Killer Frost team up with Legends‘ Vixen and Isis are just some of the highlights.
12. WORSE: GRATUITOUS ACTION POSES
We’ll give it to Justice League, if the heroes are about to go into battle, they usually just do it. However, on the Arrowverse, particularly during crossovers for some reason, characters are prone to do these “ready for action” poses — almost like what they did in the Charlie’s Angels movies. It comes off as unnecessarily staged and weird to do in the middle of a fight scene.
Supergirl and White Canary fall prey to this throughout the episodes especially. Maybe it’s so the audience can get a good look at them right before they fight? Most of us already know what they look like and that Supergirl usually rips of her clothes to show her costume underneath, so it’s not anything new. Maybe it’s to build tension? Either way, it’s something that viewers can do without.
11. BETTER: MORE AND HIGHER STAKES
While in Justice League, we see yet another villain plot to destroy our world and replace it with his. A trope that has been used in multiple superhero, and non-superhero, movies time and time again. Fans were hoping for something with a little more originality for the first outing of the Justice League, but instead we ended up with recycled storylines.
With “Earth-X”, we have so many plots going on, at times it’s almost (almost) too much to keep up with. We have the pending invasion of Earth by Earth-X Nazi’s, we have Overgirl dying of radiation poisoning with the only way for her to live being a Supergirl heart-transplant, we have tension between Jefferson and Prof. Stein, we have the euphoric experience of Alex and Sara meeting, a group of heroes being captured and taken to Earth-X, and, of course, we have the interrupted nuptials of Barry and Iris.
10. WORSE: SETTING UP FUTURE PLOT DEVELOPMENTS
One thing about the Arrowverse crossovers, they pretty much keep everything self-contained to the main story. Rarely are the ongoing storylines affected by what happens when the heroes team-up. It’s the same this time around with a few exceptions like Felicity and Oliver getting married along with Barry and Iris, and the tragic death of Prof. Stein.
Justice League, while panned for its storyline, has often been said to be successful in planting the seeds for better things to come. For instance, we know that Aquaman and Flash both have their own solo movies coming up, and Aquaman’s interaction with Mera gave us a glimpse of Atlanteans and their relationship. Diana and Bruce can also be seen purchasing a building that will likely become the Hall of Justice at the end of the film, with Diana hinting at more heroes to come.
9. BETTER: JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF ROMANCE
The event that brings all the heroes together to begin with is the long-awaited wedding of Barry Allen and Iris West, but theirs is not the only relationship that is showcased. Oliver and Felicity are still working out their couple issues, Sara and Alex form an unlikely bond following Alex’s breakup with fiancee Maggie, and Earth-X’s Leonard Snart is gay and in a relationship with fellow superhero The Ray.
The only romance we get out of Justice League is Lois and Superman’s union, which lacks serious chemistry between the actors, and Batman’s proposed “tension” with Wonder Woman (which is both laughable and poorly executed). We suppose Mera and Aquaman were meant to have a moment as bickering Atlanteans, but it’s a blink and miss it scene. Here’s hoping that DC will use Diana and Steve’s relationship for future reference.
8. WORSE: HARDLY ANY BIG NAME CHARACTERS
While Justice League includes some of DC universe’s heavy hitters like Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman, the Arrowverse team-up is composed of lesser-known characters. The average viewer probably wouldn’t know any of these people had they not been previously watching the shows or read the comic books. Justice League delivers live-action versions of DC’s most popular heroes, but it’s the Arrowverse’s heroes-that-could that win us over.
Maybe this is a good thing; without “bigger” heroes overshadowing them, B-list heroes like Vixen, Killer Frost and Alex Danvers get a chance to shine. However, with viewership increasing thanks to the praise the crossover has received, more people will become familiar with the adventures of Team Arrow and Legends. After all, Isis, Vibe and Mad Dog are all destined to become household names, right?
7. BETTER: THE PLOT
With Justice League having a tired plot of heroes trying to stop the end of the world, “Earth-X” deals with our world’s past and the possible consequences. Earth-X spawned from Hitler becoming successful in taking over the world and influencing people so much that heroes like Green Arrow and Supergirl join him. There are internment camps on Earth-X created to keep “rebels” from causing too much trouble. There’s even a line from Felicity at one point where she states her Jewish grandparents survived the Nazi’s and so will she.
“Crisis on Earth-X” also hits on the current status of our country, with its alternate earth leaders willing to sacrifice the needs of the few in order to further their agenda. This causes the oppressed to rise up, be louder and fight more for their rightful place in the world. Justice League doesn’t come close to creating that much resonance.
6. WORSE: BACKSTORIES FOR EACH CHARACTER
In the first half of Justice League, we get a little bit of a backstory on what each hero has been up to right before they come together to fight Steppenwolf. Particularly, we see Bruce interact with local villagers in regards to Aquaman’s history with the town and how Flash has never actually fought anyone, just pushed them then run real fast. We see that Wonder Woman is busy kicking ass and taking names, saving bank hostages in London.
Unfortunately, unless you’ve been watching these shows (at some times from day one), you may be a little lost on who each character is and the background they have with others. Arrow viewers probably didn’t know that Supergirl had a sister, much less that she was gay, unless they also watch Supergirl. The Flash viewers don’t know the details of White Canary losing her sister, unless they also watch Arrow.
5. BETTER: HEROES WITH HUMANITY
In Justice League, we’ve got a group of heroes who, for the most part, view themselves as above humans. Batman has killed people, as has Superman. Cyborg seems to be out of touch with his human side. Flash is just an awkward teen trying to find his place in the world. Wonder Woman sees herself as a protector of humans. However, none of them embrace what it is to be human, as well as be a superhero.
In the Arrowverse, half of the cast of characters have no superpowers at all. They rely on weapons, instinct, intelligence, bravery and hand-to-hand combat to fight evil. In addition to their significant others and children, they also become a chosen family of heroes who work together on a daily basis. The duality of living that kind of life is expertly explored on each show, and is especially apparent during the crossover.
4. WORSE: LACK OF STAR POWER
Despite how you may feel about Justice League, you cant deny most of the casting is A-list. Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Amy Adams as Lois Lane. Even Ben Affleck has a long career before putting on Batman’s cowl. You probably never heard of Gal Gadot before 2017, unless you were into the Fast and Furious franchise, but everyone knew who she was before Justice League.
On the flip side, most of the actors who play heroes in the Arrowverse are best known for that part. Caity Lotz was relatively unknown before she was cast in the recurring role of Sara Lance. No one had heard of Melissa Benoist, unless you were a Gleek before Supergirl, and the same can be said for Grant Gustin. With the exception of Legends‘ Victor Garber, The Flash‘s Jesse L. Martin and Supergirl‘s Calista Flockhart, the rest of the actors are fresh faces.
3. BETTER: REAL CONSEQUENCES AND SACRIFICE
While Superman died in Batman v. Superman, most of us knew he would be coming back, in some way, for Justice League. He seemingly sacrificed himself to save Metropolis from Doomsday’s destruction but that sacrifice was cheapened by a convenient resurrection in the very next film. They could’ve at least waited until the credits scene to bring him back.
In “Earth-X”, our heroes are met with real life consequences. In order for Earth’s heroes to get back after being captured and transported to Earth-X, they have to get through a gateway that rebel fighters want to destroy to save their own world. Prof. Stein sacrifices himself to help get them back, and then asks Jefferson to help in die in order for Jefferson to live. On Earth-X, we also see what would become of their world if Overgirl and Reverse-Flash succeed.
2. WORSE: FLASH FIGHT SCENES
One thing about The Flash‘s fight scenes is that they’re usually pretty fast, then they slow down long enough to land a punch, and then speeds back up again. It’s also typically done with CGI, which brings kind of a video game feel to the show. They’ve gotten better this past season, but Barry’s “faces” with Zoom and Reverse-Flash were a headache for viewers to keep up with.
Conversely, Justice League used the same tactic for Flash that X-Men used for Quicksilver, in that they slow down their surroundings and focus on what he is doing. Everyone else appears to be in slow motion, while he’s catching a batarang or trying to dodge Superman’s line of sight. The lightning is used sparingly and there’s hardly any red blur going on.
1. BETTER: NO INFIGHTING
While a large part of Justice League shows the characters bickering about how to do things (copied from Avengers), the Arrowverse heroes not only work together, but feel like a big, extended family. They put any differences aside to work together against the enemy and to save as many lives as possible. Even with characters who have never met each other, like Mr. Terrific, the new Black Canary, Vixen and Isis, they’re able to work together as if they’ve been on the same team for years.
The various Arrowverse “leaders” each take charge at a different time throughout the crossover. Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and White Canary are all given a chance to execute a plan, with the support of the others. In the final battle, we see every single hero work together, sometimes saving each other, to defeat Overgirl and her forces.
Do you think Crisis on Earth-X was better than Justice League? Let us know in the comments!
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