There’s a remarkable scene in the otherwise unremarkable 2012 movie, The Three Stooges, that speaks volumes about Hollywood. The sequence features the story’s villains, played by Kirby Heyborne and Sofia Vergara, together in bed. Can you guess the magazine Vergara’s character is reading?
It’s The Weekly Standard, a reliably conservative publication. That’s a tell that these evil doers are really, really bad.
That moment came to mind when I was watching Justice League, the wannabe blockbuster that features beloved DC Comics superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. They push past their differences to smite a foe eager to destroy civilization. It’s typical superhero stuff. And, for the most part, it delivers on what your inner eight-year-old wants to see.
But if you look closer, you’ll find many smaller moments that will make anyone whose politics aren’t perfectly aligned with Hollywood’s version of progressivism cringe.
Justice League picks up several years after the death of Superman (after Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice). The mood is dark, despondent. Crime is on the rise. We know this because the camera captures a bald white man (read: skinhead) attacking a female shopkeeper who is wearing a hijab.
Next, we watch Wonder Woman thwart a terrorist who is attempting to destroy an entire city block in London. He, too, is white, since it’s politically incorrect to depict terrorists as any other race (even though, in real life, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks in London and Europe have been committed by radicalized Muslims).
Later, Ben Affleck’s Batman complains about global warming and worries about the boiling waters across the globe. Batman even brings up the Doomsday Clock, a tool that allegedly offers guidance about how close we are to nuclear Armageddon, even though it would be more accurate to describe it as another device for measuring liberal hysteria. Humanity “treats the Doomsday Clock like a snooze button,” Batman whines in the movie.
There are even heavy-handed efforts to show that Justice League superheroes are “woke” about race matters. When The Flash (played by Ezra Miller) and Cyborg, a black superhero played by Ray Fisher, attempt to bond, The Flash’s efforts at a friendly fist bump misfire, after which he mutters that the gesture was “racially charged” anyway. It’s meant as a joke (as well as a way to poke fun at millennial men’s habit of using fist bumps instead of handshakes). But given the race hysteria that has overtaken show business in recent years, it falls flat.
None of these sequences derail the movie. The focus is primarily on comic book battles, mediocre CGI and setting up the next few DC Comics movies. Yet they’re typical of a storytelling culture eager to send messages to its audience: and those messages flow decidedly from the left.
Examples of this trend aren’t difficult to find: Consider the 2011 reboot of the beloved Muppets franchise. The film’s villain is called Tex Richman, an oil mogul with the very worst of intentions. The villain from Cars 2, which earned $191 million stateside, was also an oil industry type. Hollywood loves turning capitalists, corporate types and other “one-percenters” into villains—despite the fact that, without their money, many of Hollywood’s movies would never get made. The U.S. military doesn’t escape criticism either; recall the character in the kids’ movie Monsters vs. Aliens named General W.R. Monger?
Only a few movies succeed in throwing shade at people on both sides of the aisle, as The Lego Movie managed to do. There are rare instances where more conservative characters are given their due. The Avengers offered a respectful portrayal of a Christian character, courtesy of Captain America. The film features Cap (Chris Evans) preparing to meet Asgardians Thor and Loki, for example:
“These guys come from legends. They’re basically gods,” Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow warns Cap.
“There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that,” Cap says.
Such moments are the exceptions, however. And that’s too bad. Because if Hollywood wants to continue to get audiences to buy tickets to predictable comic book franchise movies with huge budgets, excessive CGI, and poor storytelling, the least they could do is not actively offend half of their audience by taking swipes at them for their values and political views.
Image: Warner Bros.
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