Thursday, February 6, 2014

Avengers vs. Justice League: War

Avengers vs. Justice League: War

Captain America: “We need a plan of attack!”

Iron Man: “I have a plan. Attack!”

So, in my last post, I made the claim that there are aesthetic differences in the movie Justice League: War to make it different from Avengers, but that it was basically the same plot. The main aesthetic difference I argued, was fear as a motivator. From the beginning, it is established that Batman is a fugitive, hunted by Green Lantern.

    The heroes in Avengers, however, start out as heroes, and active members of their respective communities from SHIELD to India, for The Hulk. In Justice League: War, The impetus for banding together was only the invasion; but they didn’t have 3 hours to jibe and develop relationships between the characters. Iron Man/Hulk do a good job joking and teaming up to work on the alien object, even though Cap chastises them for being unfocused.

   So, from the start the heroes are paired together, and play off of each other. I often say of the Avengers movie that it is a good example of a viable theory of group communication called “Forming, storming, and norming.” It is of course, arguable that Hawkeye needed a little more exposure, but as the only one in this group who hadn’t had a movie yet, he couldn’t be in the first two stages. Justice League: War has little time to develop and thus normalize the heroes roles: essentially we have “forming, storming, Batman!” But, what is forming, storming, and norming?

    Forming is when the group forms. Black Widow serves this purpose, as well as SHIELD, as well as pairing off the heroes to form relationships…as when Cap breaks up a fight with Tony Stark. Superman also fought with Batman like this. But, then, Batman has to rescue Batman. Also, it’s telling that Wonder Woman avoids meeting the President. I know that’s comic relief, but she acts as a fugitive as well. Whereas Cap keeps the group focused by remaining in his past role: The soldier.

  In this respect, each Avenger contains something that connects him to the mission….and that they’re opposed to. Storming is when they question the mission. Even Tony Stark’s suspicion of SHIELD plays on Cap’s trust in SHIELD. Hulk’s rampage and defeat by Thor connects him to Thor. So, he ends up paired with him. Justice League: War has a storming stage, but it is short, since the heroes never meet until the invasion, and Batman rescues Superman. Abducting Superman for conflict reasons, I feel is an odd choice, but it served to show Batman as a leader, and he takes charge, but the end result is the group never feels solidified…it’s Batman’s show…but that’s okay! They have forming, storming, Batman.

   In sum,  Avengers had more time to dealt with forming, storming, and norming. The norming is solidified by the teams mutual avenging of the death of Coulson. It feels less dark because there is more humor (Iron Man’s a jerk, sometimes, but he enjoys himself!) and has more time for the group’s conflicts to resolve. But, in Justice League: War, DC wants the tension to be there, to use a phrase, because he’s Batman.

  Batman thrives off of being a fugitive, and why not? Batman is popular, and this gets the team together quicker…at the cost of character development. In a sense, DC must go with the Batman feel at this point, because the audience already knows him. In a similar vein (Although you have to credit the writers!) Marvel’s Avengers follows the aesthetic of it’s most bankable character for much the same reason. And they are both billionaires…ironic since they are the most bankable.

Ultimately, the cultural aesthetic comes down to who was leading the group. Cap leads the Avengers, kicking into full army mode and formulating his plan of attack! Batman serves as a leader, but only after Superman is underplayed. But, the circumstances called for him to step in…Because he’s Batman! And it would save them making more movies.

Even though Justice League: War is a good preview of what a Justice League movie might look like, to me, it’s clearly following an Avengers formula…but that’s okay! It’s a good decision. That just means they’ll have to go with more familiar characters, and resolve less interpersonal conflict. But, Batman thrives on conflict, and just happens to be the most recognizable character in that universe. Yes, the Avengers all had movies, but DC is playing catch-up, and doesn’t have time to build up there characters. So, Batman may be the hero the DC movies deserve…but not the one they need! Only time will tell!

Bonus Question: Who do you think would win? Avengers or Justice League?

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