Why We Wanted Justice League To Be Bad
Justice League is an entire movie dedicated to the moment where the Mary Sue is in distress.
Justice League was made to give comic book fans something to fantasize about. The ultimate crossover where everyone a part of the fandom had a good time and everyone else didn’t. More to the point, Justice League is bad so we can fantasize about fixing it. If the character had any more personality than a Mary Sue, the film would have been completely unenjoyable.
If you don’t already know what a Mary Sue is, the term usually refers to female characters. Easier to pick on when the female-centered fantasy is so focused on romance and sex. A Mary Sue is a character that is described as ideal, often by every other character in the story rather than Mary herself.
Wish fulfillment, normally of the audience, is another requirement for a Mary Sue. In a romance, wish fulfillment is often exemplified by seducing an otherwise unattainable man. She often does this by either doing nothing or possessing some kind of innate skill or talent that only she can do and does it especially well. This is often regardless of any previous experience.
Such power or talent often makes Mary Sue the center of the story. The world of her fiction spins only for her and her desires. Female examples include Bella from the Twilight series and Rey from Force Awakens. Male examples are perhaps made less obvious because it is far more empowering for a man to have his Mary Sues as superheroes than it is for a woman to have her Mary Sues as paper bag princesses.
Luckily, Justice League is chock-full of male Mary Sues.
Justice League is an entire movie dedicated to the usually brief moment where the Mary Sue (Superman) is in distress. In a typical Mary Sue narrative, this distress is purely to create a sense of tension and drama, especially for the secondary characters. That is exactly what Justice League does.
Throughout the film, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lois Lane, and the entire world are shown mourning the death of Superman. Contrary to the creator’s belief, the entire world does not mourn one person, no matter how apparently good. Princess Diana, for example, was mourned largely by England and a smattering in the rest of Europe. There were no enormous monuments to her name across the world, even if politics required an acknowledgment at minimum.
Superman checks all of the Mary Sue shaped boxes from ideal and perfect to wish fulfillment and innate talent/power. Superman is perfect, it is in his name, he fulfills the wish of every boy and man of being badass, getting the pretty girl, and powerful.
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Justice and a rather unrealistic sense of morality is inherent in all Mary Sue genders. Though Mary Sue is often restricted to the binary female or male, most of us want to be the ideal good paragon that saves the world — forcing the entire world to care about Mary; see the entire world mourning Superman.
Superman even superheroes better than all the others, an innate talent he possesses without experience or training. And lo, not only is the entire movie about saving Superman from death (distress), he is the only one that can deal with Steppenwolf. Easily, there is literally no struggle for Superman.
Superman the Mary Sue isn’t enough for this movie, the entire Justice League needed to be comprised of Mary Sues as well. Batman is a rich playboy with a mild lack of morals. He is an ideal rich man, fulfilling the wishes of men and fathers alike; Batman cleanses the world of bad people and often play the role of mentor younger boys, like Robin or in this movie, The Flash. Despite his humanness, Batman has the innate talent of being able to keep up with all the other superheroes.
Wonder Woman is a woman powerful enough to be treated as an equal among men – a woman powerful enough to be listened to without being a lover to someone. She isn’t a Mary Sue in the genre of romance, rather than of superheroes.
Much like City of Bones, though Clary is the dialed down version. Not that romance isn’t a factor in Wonder Woman’s life, no one could miss the hints that Batman and Wonder Woman might become an item. Such an extremely disheartening observation.
Flash, much like his Marvel counterpart, is the teenage bow Mary Sue – witty and young, but also with superpowers. Not like those adults that take everything way too seriously. Aquaman barely has a character. I can only say that Jason Momoa was clearly having fun. Cyborg, unfortunately, didn’t have enough time and detail to be anything but a glorified can-opener.
As such, Justice League is about a team of Mary Sues off to rescue the main Mary Sue so he can save the world. The film is the perfect brew of wish fulfillment and ideal characters that are just this side of blank; all the better to insert ourselves and our own fantasies into the narrative.
Justice League is just badly done enough to keep comic book fans thirsting for more. They can spiral into fantasies where they can fix the movie with their version of the characters, or their very own Mary Sue.