If you’re anything like myself, and if you’ve ever read a comic in your life, you’ve probably always wanted to see the Justice League on the big screen. It didn’t work so well back in 2008, when George Miller’s project didn’t go anywhere. But now we’re in a time where any source material will see the light.
With a year filled with some of the most memorable superhero movies “Justice League” could probably be the best film to close out this year. And if you’re a true DC Comics fan, it might feel like heaven seeing your favorite heroes together.
Fueled by his restored faith in humanity, and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) enlists newfound ally Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team of metahumans, including Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), to stand against this newly awakened enemy.
It’s clear that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) hasn’t gotten the best start. A couple of the latest films didn’t live up to potential, mostly because these characters were never given the right story to follow through or just a lack of fun. But after the critical and financial success of this past summer’s “Wonder Woman,” maybe “Justice League” might just signal a new direction for the cinematic universe.
My expectations were about as high as they could get. This was my fourth most anticipated movie of the year, and I’d waited a long time for this movie to finally happen. I grew up with the Justice League and I watched the cartoon in my spare time as a kid.
So, after finally coming out now, is this the best DCEU movie? No. Is it the worst? No. But should it have been a lot better, especially with expectations being so high? Absolutely.
For those who don’t know, director Zack Snyder left during post-production, after his daughter committed suicide. So, he hired Joss Whedon (who gets credited as co-writer with Chris Terrio) to come into handle extensive reshoots and rewrites.
You can sometimes tell that the film was directed by two different people. There are times where it’s easy to spot which scene is a Snyder scene and which is a Whedon scene. But this wasn’t a huge problem.
Affleck still shines as Bruce Wayne/Batman, as well he should. He was undoubtedly the best thing about “Batman V. Superman.” In “Justice League,” his character gets the chance to evolve with this team, making him the leader this time around. If he leaves his role before his solo film, as the rumors are saying, I would be very upset.
Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman was once again fantastic in almost every scene she’s in. I absolutely loved her in her solo film, and she was my favorite throughout the entire “Justice League” film. She’s still the strongest out of everybody, and we get to learn even more about her here. Seriously, how awesome is she? The chemistry between Gadot and Affleck was well handled. Some of the conversations they had with each other created those emotional moments that lend to a great film.
Some will be very split on Miller’s portrayal of Barry Allen/The Flash. For me, he was the perfect casting choice. He plays the energetic, nerdy teen very well. He’s also definitely the comic relief, delivering some of the film’s funniest lines. I’ve only seen a couple episodes of the television show, but I really enjoyed the film’s version of Flash. Also, the speed force and the visual effects used whenever he uses his powers was amazing.
For a long time, Arthur Curry/Aquaman used to be a joke for a lot of people, including myself. But when Momoa was announced to play him, I was curious to see his take on someone who’s been associated with talking to fish. But he was totally awesome as this surfer-type Aquaman, with his cocky attitude and trident. Why must we wait until next December to see his movie?
Newcomer Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg was a surprise. Cyborg’s the one who’s still discovering his powers and feels like a freak compared to everyone else. He was the most developed out the newest members, but I wish he was given more to do.
Quite possibly the easiest aspect to screw up with a movie involving the Justice League is the team dynamic. Luckily, that was easily the best part about it. All of them showed the kind of team work out that we’ve come to expect as they worked together. It kept me invested, even when some moments took me out briefly.
The action sequences were pretty cool to watch as we finally get to see these heroes fight alongside each other to stop evil. Some of them weren’t quite amazing, especially the beginning with Batman and some elements of the third act, but other than that, it was impressive.
Everybody knew that Superman (Henry Cavill) was going to appear in this movie, because it’s the movie about the team, plus, he appeared in the first photo with them. Not surprising at all. Without spoiling anything, as I’m thinking about it more and more, this is perhaps the best Superman I’ve seen yet. The way they brought him back felt a bit like a cop-out at first, but as the film goes on, you fully understand the circumstances.
Quick side note: Danny Elfman’s score is a mixed bag on my end. If you listen carefully, you might hear nods to some other classic superhero themes.
The plot does get to be a little bit messy and incoherent; it felt like a story that’s been done before. The first half was starting off rocky, in my opinion, but it becomes steady once it reaches the half hour point. The introductions to the characters went by way too fast and were easily not enough time to really get the chance to know more about them. “Justice League” goes for a much lighter tone than the other DCEU films, which was both a positive and a negative.
There was never a moment where I was really bored. But still, this movie really felt rushed. Warner Bros. mandated for “Justice League” not to be over two hours long, because “Batman V. Superman” was almost three hours. For me, that was a problem. It doesn’t give us enough time to know some of the characters’ backstories and viewpoints. I mean, we were introduced to them very briefly in “Batman V. Superman,” but in the dumbest way possible. This would’ve benefited from being longer; I could tell there were a lot of scenes that were cut to make the runtime shorter. Though I’m not one who cares about extended editions of films, seeing an extended cut of “Justice League” wouldn’t be bad.
By far the biggest problem with “Justice League” is Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds). He is, without a doubt, the definition of a weak villain. There was nothing about him that was menacing or threatening, to the point where there should be a totally different villain for the team to beat. I mean, they have to defeat this guy? C’mon. Hinds is a talented actor, but he’s wasted because he’s just a CGI antagonist that doesn’t bring believable motivation to his ultimate plan to take over the world with the Mother Boxes. There were times where I completely forgot he was in the movie. When is the DCEU going to have a great villain?
Speaking of the CGI, it was pretty terrible. As you’re watching it, it’s very noticeable with the action scenes, Cyborg’s suit, Steppenwolf, etc. and I couldn’t get past it. You can clearly tell that there’s a lot of green screen with some of these scenes, and it’s a little pathetic. Another instance of terrible CGI is that they digitally removed Cavill’s mustache, because they couldn’t shave it off because of his role in “Mission: Impossible 6”.
Some of the humor felt a little forced and didn’t land. Still, the stuff with The Flash and Aquaman was unexpectedly hilarious. But there are times where the jokes just aren’t that funny. Maybe that’s on Whedon’s part.
Something that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done well is having each hero have their own standalone movie, leading into The Avengers, which was brilliant. That’s an issue that the DCEU hasn’t addressed; we haven’t gotten the chance to know more about Aquaman, Cyborg or the Flash in their own movie before “Justice League.” Those who don’t read the comics don’t know each character’s backstories, thus leaving them clueless as to what’s being mentioned in the film. Though we’re getting these standalone films in the future, it would be nice to see some origin story for them now.
In the end, “Justice League” isn’t as bad as people are saying it would be. There are some things I enjoyed about it, and things I found irritating just thinking about it. It probably isn’t going to be in the conversation as one of the best superhero movies of all-time, but as something that needs to be improved on. I think the DCEU is heading in the right direction, even though this wasn’t perfect. At least it was leagues better than “Batman V. Superman” and “Suicide Squad”, respectively. But if you’ve been a fan of all of these heroes for a long time from reading the comics and watching any form of entertainment, it’s worth checking out.
My Current DCEU Rankings: “Wonder Woman” “Man of Steel” “Justice League” “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” “Suicide Squad”
Though it’s definitely flawed with the rushed storyline, “Justice League” is still a fun experience, witnessing DC’s greatest heroes finally fighting together.