It’s not groundbreaking, but it’s not bad either. In fact during the final battle my face lit up and it felt like the Christmas season had already begun. If you are a fan of the Justice League and have been waiting for this day for decades then you will not be disappointed. Let’s get the negatives out of the way. The story is fast paced, and only very few scenes serve as fillers. Some will be bothered by this for the fact that some characters are severely underutilized (Alfred and Lois Lane) while others are serve more like cameos and don’t contribute to the story in any way (Commissioner Gordon, and Martha Kent). Certain scenes may seem like throwaways such as the group of not your everyday terrorists that Wonder Woman takes down in the bank, or Cyborg’s conflict with his father over the experimentation that turned him into a cybernetic recluse. These may turn into something bigger in both their solo adventures at a later time. The CGI is extraordinarily bad. Half the time the backdrops that characters stand against look like they were shot against green screen, and a few key scenes featuring our Kryptonian hero and our Amazonian in battle make them look like they never made it out of the previs stage. This is unfortunate considering the geniuses behind the Planet of the Apes series were behind this. Frankly the DCEU has never had clean CGI work, so it can’t only be blamed on what appears to be a short amount of time to turnaround the final film after reshoots.
Many wondered if Joss Whedon would receive at the very least a co-directing credit after DCEU helmer Zack Snyder had to step away from the film after the tragic death of his daughter. The answer is, he did not, instead he received a co-writing credit. You can see many Whedonisms in Justice League, from the dialogue (specifically from Barry Allen) to the red, gold, and yellowish palette that he tends to use in a couple of his television properties; Steve Rogers’ intro in Avengers, Buffy and Firefly come to mind. A little levity is what this franchise needed, but sometimes the it comes as too try hard like Barry’s; “It’s like a cave! A bat cave!”. Despite the circumstances that prompted Joss to step in, the partnership paid off for the most part.
Yes, there is a plot, and yes there is yet another forgettable villain in the entire superhero cinematic universe. The film opens up to the Caped Crusader, played by Ben Affleck – who can’t batarang his way out of this franchise fast enough – using a criminal as bait for one of Steppenwolf’s Parademons. His only clue that he’s getting into something that’s way over his head is the marking of three boxes that a deceased Parademon leaves behind. Blah blah blah, it’s all very blah. It’s in the name of Darkseid, rawr, we know our heroes will win. Stakes are low. Blah. Basically, the three motherboxes were separated in a battle against Steppenwolf long ago by our Green Lantern friends, the Atlantians, the Amazonians, and man. The latter three armies took one box each to protect on their own land. This is all delivered via exposition by Wonder Woman after she is warned of the theft of one box by her mother. I’m telling you we need more battle scenes with the Amazons. They are so bad ass.
Amber Heard makes her debut appearance as Queen Mera of Atlantis and leaves quite the impression in her fight against Steppenwolf before he takes the second motherbox. Her relationship with Arthur Curry is frosty at best, but she ultimately compels him to join in on the fight against Steppenwolf after he shot down Bruce Wayne in an earlier scene. As you’ve witnessed in the trailers Jason Mamoa chews the scenery and plays Aquaman with the spirit of a rock n roll cowboy. Unfortunately, his performance didn’t make me yearn for his solo film which is set to premiere next year, but hopefully James Wan can turn the character’s dial back down to a 7. It’s just a little too hokey for my taste and his best scenes are of his simple interactions with the other players. The wonderful Ezra Miller, the forever bae, plays Barry Allen as more of a fanboy who is along for the ride and who needs friends that can keep up with him. As he puts it; “people are slow”, and he doesn’t, “understand brunch”. There has been significant backlash in The Flash’s casting since day one. Those who are die hard fans of the CW television series couldn’t understand why the star actor (Grant Gustin) who works on the tv show 7-8 months out of the year wasn’t cast in the film version. Then once the trailers and tv spots were released they didn’t like how The Flash was more Fox’s Quicksilver (played by Evan Peters) rather than the Barry Allen they know. However, Ezra is easily one of the highlights of the film, who gets some of the best lines, some of the cringiest, but commits to the role 100%. His powers are one of the better SFX the film has to offer, and he plays a key role in Superman’s resurrection.
Lastly, our newest member Cyborg, who I am surprised to like more than I thought I would. He plays several key parts in the storyline as his powers are directly linked to the motherbox. Ray Fisher plays the character with resentment and heaviness in the beginning, but by the film’s conclusion has opened himself up more to integrate back into the world and accept who he now is. Wonder Woman and Batman give you more of the same that you either saw back in her own solo adventure earlier this year, or in Batman v. Superman. They both still carry heavy guilt which doesn’t carry much weight when you think about it. No matter how many scenes they have Affleck brooding in his guilt about Superman’s death, it just feels inauthentic. Wonder Woman’s guilt has to do with the fact that she stepped away from trying to save mankind after Steve Trevor’s death (and boy does Bruce touch that nerve) which again was the total opposite reaction that Steve was ultimately trying to get.
As I’ve mentioned before in this article, Superman, played by Henry Cavill, does make his third DCEU appearance. This is not a spoiler since not only did the one sheets give you a clue to his return, but the dozen of articles talking about his photoshopped mustache should have clued you in as well. Another surprise is that he plays the character to near perfection. He is extremely dangerous in one major scene, but then does a 180 and is wholesome Clark the next. It was a bit jarring, but that one is on the directing. I thought he would bog down the film, but he actually completes the dynamic very nicely. The one negative I have is that his return downplays Diana’s strength in a way, but I will let that one pass.
Justice League thankfully kept its runtime under 2 hours as they are not the only property to bloat their runtimes with unnecessary filler. The chemistry between the six actors is fluid, and it has me craving for a Justice League 2 sooner rather than later. It’s a shame that the sequel was pushed out in favor for Matt Reeves’ The Batman which is looking more and more like a pipe dream rather than something that is coming to fruition anytime soon. Go into this movie looking for something fun to watch. This isn’t Silver Linings Playbook. Let’s chill on being so overly critical of these films, and go back to living our childhood dream of seeing these heroes come to life on the big screen. In the meantime, can we just get to Flashpoint already??
END CREDITS!!!!! That’s all I have to say, because I will ruin it. But stay for the very end credits!