Unite the League

If you are a fan of superhero movies, choosing between the DC Universe and the Marvel Universe is a tough act. But then if you are like me, don’t choose but have twice the fun. It’s not either-or, it’s both. Remember when fans were divided between the Star Wars franchise and the Star Trek series? Well, why can’t you be a fan of both? (like Sheldon so beautifully embodies in The Big Bang Theory). Anyways, Hollywood seems to have found yet another recipe for box office success.

The Justice League is not primarily about fighting the bad guy, but about coming together as a team. This is a greater challenge than getting rid of the evil one (in this case, Steppenwolf) and a large portion of the film is dedicated in bringing the team together. Superheroes usually have super egos and its downright difficult to accept that you can’t do it all by yourself. Bruce Wayne has matured since Batman v/s Superman and he realises that it doesn’t take anything away from him by conceding that they need Superman to win this battle. Right from the start, he takes the initiative in putting a team together, even looking for new people with special talents (like the Flash and Cyborg). While Aquaman is a huge egoist who doesn’t want anything to do with it (till his own home Atlantis is attacked), the Flash says ‘YES’ immediately because, honestly, he doesn’t have any friends!

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The film has biblical undertones in that our earthly superheroes realise that inspite of their special abilities, they cannot defeat their nemesis alone. They will need a superhero who is not from this planet. Only a resurrected Superman will be able to guarantee victory over the evil one. Couple this with Superman’s origin story about a boy from another planet who is raised by earthly parents and then dies in the process of saving mankind, and I’m sure we can all guess who we are talking about here.

Interestingly, it is the two women in the film Wonder Woman and Lois Lane who personify the voice of conscience and urge the others to do the ‘right thing’. Wonder Woman acts as the glue to keep the team together and also directs the others during battle to go save Batman (which is not the initial plan), who is about to sacrifice himself. She even refers to the other team members as ‘always behaving like children‘ which demonstrates her own mature and motherly control over the situation and the Justice League.

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When the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) is faced with his first-ever battle, he goes into panic mode and tells Batman “I’ve never done this before; all I’ve done is push a few people around and run away.” Batman calms him down by saying “Just save one person.” And then what? “You’ll know”, he says. Ezra brilliantly portrays young people who are today facing mountainous challenges in their lives. Life itself can seem scary and intimidating. Am I going to succeed? Will I make the cut? The answer is to start with the first little step, to break down the huge challenge of life into little attainable goals. And then take it from there. In the age of multi-tasking, focusing on one task has become a bad word. But multi-tasking isn’t always good. It sacrifices quality for quantity. I remember a professor telling us always, “Do one thing at a time.” Words I hold very dear.

It seems that even in the Superhero Universe (both DC and Marvel), women have it tough in making it into the big league. While Wonder Woman is the only female superhero in the Justice League, Black Widow makes the cut in the Avengers. Considering that many female superheroes were conceived as rip-offs from their male counterparts (think Superwoman/girl, Catwoman, etc.), Hollywood still has a long way to go in bringing parity to their respective teams. Gal Gadot has shown us that she doesn’t need any male co-stars to prop her up as Wonder Woman. In the Justice League as well, she steals the scene whenever the camera is focusing on her, and more importantly is a crucial factor in bringing the team together and then helping them truly work together as a team.    

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So there are many good take-aways from the Justice League. I’ve always loved superhero movies not primarily for the special effect action sequences but for their personal human stories. There is a little superhero in each one of us, fighting to make life better for the people around us. We too have super-powers of our own which we can use to fight evil. But as every superhero movie shows, we must first conquer the demons within us, before we can do things for others. And secondly, we need to work together. We each have been given a piece of the power which we can harness and multiply by working together. I like to think sometimes that there are no super villains; the superheroes have just not discovered themselves.

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