Justice League: What Went Wrong? (vs. Thanos & Infinity War) – Wisecrack Edition

this video is brought to you by Skillshare hey wisecrack jared here today we're talking about the movie that made Batman V Superman look like an arthouse masterpiece Justice League god I wish it was that one okay technically Superfriends but still better than Justice League yeah that's the one so full disclosure Justice League is not good it's trite AAF I believe in truth I'm also a big fan of Justice and yeah if that line didn't tip you off they also totally botched Superman worst of all the film neutered all the thematic ambitions of its predecessor throwing the Superman as Christ's metaphor into the trash but beneath all these flaws there's one central issue that makes Justice League so forgettable after subjecting ourselves to all 121 minutes of this film over and over again seriously I think I've seen it like five times we think the film's main failure comes from its inability to juggle two things advancing the main conflict with Steppenwolf and introducing us to our new palette of characters while in a better film these two aspects would work in concert with each other in Justice League it's the complete opposite every time we have backstory or character development it seems to come at the expense of the main story to understand how this is even possible though we first need to understand one fundamental lesson in screenwriting dramatic action welcome to this wisecrack edition on the Justice League what went wrong and yeah if you can spoil a turd spoilers for Justice League ahead also Batman V Superman and infinity war but first a quick recap justice league takes place in a world without Superman after the Man of Steel was killed by doomsday Bruce Wayne is wracked by guilt well supposedly but Bruce doesn't have much time to dwell on this because a new world ending threat is knocking on earth store in the form of Steppenwolf the end of worlds he lived only to conquer Steppenwolf wants to turn earth into a hellscape but to do so he'll need to reclaim the mother boxes essentially DC's version of the Infinity stones which were reactivated by Superman's death these boxes have been guarded by the ancient tribes of Amazon's Atlanteans and men for centuries but now that Steppenwolf is back Batman has to rally the old alliance and build a crack team to stop it you got familiar favorites like Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince along with a Sheldon Cooper inspired flash a Dothraki Aquaman and a CGI cyborg so what is dramatic action while the term applies to all dramatic writing playwright David Edgar summed it up best in his book how plays work by defining it as a project followed by a contradiction now I know that sounds like a Russian nesting doll of terms so let's break it down by a project Edgar means more or less a goal usually stated with a subject verb and object so for example when Batman tries to bribe an Icelandic village into helping him find Aquaman I'll give you 25 thousand to talk to this man right now we could state the project as Batman looks for Aquaman subject-verb-object pretty simple right but Batman and Aquaman can't be besties right off the bat otherwise there'd be no conflict in that Rotten Tomatoes score would slide even further that's where Edgar's idea of the contradiction comes in typically our heroes don't get what they want in a scene they run into the contradiction or more simply obstacles as it turns out for Bruce Aquaman doesn't want to play nice with friends if I comes we'll need you don't count on a Batman why not cuz only keep coming here digging into my business getting into my life to Edgar the best way to express the contradiction is a basic butt statement so if we were to put the project and contradiction together for the scene we get something like this Batman looks for Aquaman but Aquaman is a dick now the reason why dramatic action is such a big deal is that it advances conflict characters make certain choices in the pursuit of their goals only for new obstacles to pop up in response to these choices because the contradiction always gets in the way of the project no scene should end on same note it began just look at that man who after being scorned by Aquaman wonders if he lost him forever so you say you have no way of reconnecting with this Aquaman this is what screenwriting guru Robert McKee means when he says that a scene must turn in his book story McKee writes if the value charged condition of the character's life stays unchanged from one end of a scene to the other nothing meaningful happens the scene has activity talking about this doing that but nothing changes in value it is a non-event it's that last point that's relevant without dramatic action conflict or in advance and the scene won't turn and this is where justice league seriously screws up while most of the scenes do have dramatic action and do turn they do so by focusing on our hero's individual arts at the expense of the conflict and even though scenes turn it's done in a way that's hasty and ungratified let's look at Aquaman again following the mother box being stolen from Atlantis we see him shrug it off the project of this scene would be Aquaman wants to abandon Atlantis and that makes sense based on the character we saw earlier a man whose only allegiance is to himself strong man and strong as alone never heard that that's not a saying that's the opposite of what they're saying at but then comes the contradiction and tell me if you see a problem here your mother left you to save your life cannot imagine how he hurt her what it cost her but you're not a defenseless child now it would have been her responsibility to follow that monster to the surface and stop it now it's yours yeah so that character we have no idea who she is and that backstory yeah never hinted at so while sure there is a contradiction we could express it as but some Rando convinces Aquaman to stay it feels cheap like a purely artificial and convenient plot device almost as cheap as another poor DCE you turn a deus ex Martha if you will as it turns out this isn't the only time Justice League seems to cheat when it comes to dramatic action and our character seems to prove our point let's look at one of the most frustrating moments in the movie the discussion to bring Superman back to life well we could talk about how the project of this scene Bruce argues to bring back Superman defies the logic of its predecessor he has the power to wipe out the entire human race and if we believe there's even a 1% chance that he is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty by concocting some weird Pet Sematary debate we mean bring him back in like a yeah he's back away not in like a like a pet sematary scenario it's actually the contradiction that really gets us while Bruce advocates for Superman's revival he encounters his first obstacle in the form of Diana who's worried about what happens if the plan fails you're risking lives there's a me because this more we don't have time for a control group is it a risk yes but it's necessary right because of your guilt now if this had you scratching your head you're not alone because nowhere in the preceding hour did the film show a Bruce Wayne tormented by guilt no flashbacks no dreams no coping mechanisms and if you think we're being unduly harsh then know that all of these were employed in Batman V Superman to explain Bruce's extreme distrust for the Man of Steel just like with Aquaman the scene has dramatic action and yes it turns but only through artificially inserted confident unsurprisingly there are some pretty big consequences for making so much of the dramatic action focus on our heroes very thin personal and interpersonal arcs in fact the film is so preoccupied with rushing to set up our characters and their own foibles like Flash's social awkwardness Aquaman's lone cop persona cyborg self-hatred and Diana's isolation from the world that it seemingly forgets Steppenwolf all together case in point consider the mother boxes you know these carries from planet to planet the mother boxes combine to form the unity an apocalyptic power that not only destroys world but transforms them into the primordial hellscape of Steppenwolf birth world well it might surprise you to learn that Batman arguably the protagonist of the film only learns at the box's importance at the 30 minute mark but surely the rest of the film and our heroes are focused on keeping the boxes from Steppenwolf's poorly CGI'd hands right ya know the first box is stolen from the Amazons without any of our heroes present the second one features a measly thirty second fight scene with Aquaman and just to rub it in how little our heroes care about the actual plot the third and final mother box is basically stolen off screen while our team is recovering from a Superman beatdown the mother box he has the last one now I know what you guys are thinking Jared by assembling the team the Justice League is stopping Steppenwolf and while there's definitely some merit to that idea this shouldn't be an either/or scenario to prove my point let's look at another film with a very similar premise infinity war in the film fan osis hell-bent on destroying half of all life by gathering the Infinity stones after Bruce Banner escapes Thanos is grasped in the opening scene The Hulk enlists the help of Doctor Strange and Tony Stark if he gets his hands on all six stars Tony you could destroy life on a scale hitherto on dreamt on importantly you'll notice three things in this scene one our heroes get together and learn of the initial threat in under 15 minutes to our heroes specifically strange and vision possess Infinity stones that puts them on a crash course with the plot and most importantly three our heroes personal problems are intermixed with the conversation to stop Thanos who just saved your magical ass me I seriously don't know how you fit your head into that helm admit it you should have ducked out when I told you to if it wasn't already obvious stark and strange aren't exactly fond of each other and the dramatic action of any given scene is as much about to stopping fan o's as it is about learning to work together but as the two continue to fight alongside each other their dysfunction goes from tony reluctantly rescuing strange i gotta tell you he's not really my friend saving his life is more of a professional courtesy – strange bartering the time stone away to save Tony's life spare his life and I will give you the stone in this last instance the dramatic action of the scene is equally about plot stopping Panos and character Tony and strangest relationship the project is Stannis wants to kill Tony and the contradiction is but strange stops him by giving away the time stone and to be honest this moment resonated now we'd be wrong to say that this kind of interplay between our heroes personal conflict and the actual plot is absent in Justice League but we'd also be wrong to say that it's similar in terms of quality or scale let's look at the flash for example while the film makes a point of showing his desperate need for friends I need this conflict doesn't really manifest itself anywhere else in the film let alone in a confrontation with Steppenwolf the closest we have to it is this it's really cool you guys seem ready to do battle and stuff but full transparency I've never done battle yes the dramatic action of the sequence could be stated as flashes scared to enter the fray gand Steppenwolf but Batman convinces him but we have to ask at what part of the movie did flash indicate to us that he had combat stage fright ultimately this scene feels like a tenuous tie-in between Barry's personal struggles and stopping the world ending threat and the film treats it as such after the flash rescues the hostages the film conveniently forgets any of his stage fright gross as a result these scenes often fail to evoke the hallmark of good writing Aristotle's idea of catharsis or the purification or projection of emotions primarily through art because Justice League fails to properly tether our characters personal journeys to the action of the plot we don't feel the proper emotions anxiety fear relief triumph none of it washes over us sure we see Diana and cyborg finally coming out of hiding we hear Aquaman talk about friendship or regrets or something I don't want to die I'm young there's what I want to do I just feel like I never really embraced sea or the land but because these aren't developed and tied to the action of the plot there's no catharsis we as the audience just can't muster up the energy to care and we really can't emphasize this enough this is exactly what infinity war excels at consider the relationship between Tony Stark and Peter Parker which is developed hand-in-hand with the main plot more often than not our duo finds themselves bickering like father and son in the face of enemies after all Tony wants Peter safe know what unity you should not be here I was gonna go home when he hit me such a long way down and I just thought about you and now I gotta hear this ship and this suit is ridiculously intuitive by the way so if anything it's kind of your fault that I'm what are you saying I take that back and this relationship affects the action like when Tony plays hardball for Peters life when they're both mistaken for Thanos his henchmen tell me where the girl is or I swear to you I'm gonna french fry this little fries let's do it you shoot my guy and I'll blast him let's go more importantly because we see Tony and Peters dynamic grow and change over the course of the film we're invested in them which makes moments like this legitimately cathartic in contrast all the resolution scenes of the Justice League characters feel obligatory and phoned in it's the difference between feeling genuine emotion in the theater and leaving saying well I I guess that was a movie in the end Justice League stands as a case study of a film that fails to balance two very important things character and plot which I suppose makes sense when you consider how they had to establish all these new franchises for movies to come but what do you guys think is dramatic action the best lens to focus this problem or are there bigger issues lurking in the Justice League let us know what you think and hey if you guys are keen on learning more about screenwriting or anything else for that matter I highly recommend this video sponsor Skillshare Skillshare is an online learning community with over 20,000 classes in design business technology and more so if your storyteller looking to hone your craft you can take screenwriting 101 workshop writing for film and television where they talk about some of the same concepts we mentioned in our videos or if you're looking to learn the fundamentals and get motivated you can take screenwriting for beginners how to write a movie script if you're looking to improve your skills unlock new opportunities and do the work you love head over to skl sh / wisecrack 16 the first 500 wisecrack bands to use that link in the description can get 2 months of premium membership with unlimited access to classes for free again it's skl sh / wisecrack 16 or click the link in the description to get started learning today and as always thanks for watching guys peace