“World Without Hope” screams the Daily Planet front-page headline. “The world remains in mourning after the death of Superman,” explains a broadcaster. Absent its savior, is humanity destined for extinction?
“You can’t save the world alone,” reason Batman and Wonder Woman as they seek superhero compatriots. Warner Bros. brings Justice League to six continents.
Stars include Oscar winners Ben Affleck (Batman), Jeremy Irons (Alfred the butler), and J.K. Simmons (Commissioner Gordon); Oscar nominees Amy Adams (Lois Lane) and Diane Lane (Martha Kent); plus Henry Cavill (Superman) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman). Zach Snyder directed.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) ended with Superman sacrificing himself to save humanity, and Wonder Woman connecting with Batman. Wonder Woman (2017) reminded us of this superheroine’s origins and prowess. Now Justice League shows them assembling an A-Team to try to save humankind in Superman’s absence.
Perhaps as I was, you’re unfamiliar with some JL players. Maybe these spoiler-free character capsules will help you follow the JL plot, too.
Superman: “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful that a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound!” Kal-El’s father sent him from Krypton to earth as a baby. He became Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent and the Man of Steel, humanity’s hope in a red cape. Superpowers galore include flight, X-ray vision, and a wicked punch. Likes Lois Lane lots. Loathes Lex Luthor.
Batman: Caped Crusader, Dark Knight, super sleuth. Accessories include the Batmobile, Batrope, Batarang, and lots of money. Alfred the butler helps keep Batman focused.
Wonder Woman: Amazonian princess Diana wants to end war, wields a golden lasso that compels truth telling, deflects bullets with her bracelets, displays spectacular sword-and-shield combat moves, and is gorgeous. Seems to live forever. Tough as nails; heart of gold.
The Flash: Usain Bolt has nothing on this guy. A lightning strike gave forensic scientist Barry Allen super speed and agility. But his experience has limits. “I’ve never done battle,” he explains anxiously to Batman in the film. “I’ve just pushed some people and run away.”
Aquaman: “King of the Seven Seas,” ruler of Atlantis, known as Arthur Curry from his youth on land. Advantages: underwater breathing, swimming really fast, thick skin, telepathic communication with sea creatures.
Cyborg: The Six Million Dollar Man on steroids. Star athlete Victor Stone became half human, half machine when his scientist dad repaired his son’s seriously injured body with computer sensitive mechanical parts. He’s super strong, intelligent, fast and durable. Computer hacking skills make Russian hackers look amateurish.
Steppenwolf: Not the 1960s rock band that could take you on a Magic Carpet Ride. Not Hermann Hesse’s 1927 novel of despair and healing that became a 1960s counterculture fave. The JL Steppenwolf is an eight-foot-tall supervillain.
Why superhero fascination?
Markets feature Justice League action figures, even a JL Barbie. KISS rocker Gene Simmons is a longtime Superman fan. During her childhood, activist Gloria Steinem felt Wonder Woman was “irresistible … the only hero that made you feel good about yourself.” My own childhood heroes included Superman, the Lone Ranger and Zorro. I had costumes for each and was a devoted radio/TV follower.
Superheroes can provide both inspiration and escape as we navigate a frightening world. Imagining yourself vanquishing foes – or applauding fictional heroes who do – can provide respite (albeit temporary) from worries about overdue bills, failing marriages or terrorist attacks.
JL‘s Bruce Wayne notes, “Superman was a beacon to the world He didn’t just save people. He made them see the best parts of themselves.” Many desire a beacon of goodness to inspire and empower them.
Superman died in his 2016 film. Yet he’s cast in this one. Batman v Superman showed tremors at Superman’s grave. Could it be that…?
I won’t spoil JL‘s plot for you, but rather encourage you to think about some fascinating parallels. A father sends his only son to earth. The son becomes a savior, providing hope to millions. Opposition arises, and the son dies, sacrificing his life to save humans, but rising from the dead to serve again.
Superman? Sure. (DC comics even portrayed his resurrection.)
But does it remind you of anyone else? Maybe someone who said: “I am the light of the world… [who] came…to give his life as a ransom for many.” And “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
As a former skeptic, I’ve written extensively elsewhere about unmistakable Jesus parallels in the Superman saga. It’s hard to miss them in Justice League.
So, as you enjoy this film’s action and inspiration, I encourage you to ponder your own reasons for admiring superheroes. Perhaps you’ll want to consider One who really rose from the dead, and who could help satisfy the hope and courage desires we all have.
Rated PG-13 (USA) “for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.”
www.JusticeLeagueTheMovie.com Opens November 17.
— by Rusty Wright
Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com