If anyone even mentioned the prospects of a live-action Justice League movie before 2013, almost everyone would be excited to a certain degree. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg (no Green Lantern though, since people needed a break from the 2011 nightmare) would all be on screen at the same time. Even when Marvel got all their B-list comic book characters together for “The Avengers,” it was a true spectacle. Nobody expected that come 2017, people would only be “cautiously optimistic” for a Justice League film. However, in the past few years, things have changed. Zack Snyder took over the helm trying to set up the DC Extended Universe, (DCEU) and most fans were skeptical, with good reason. Snyder tried to take a new and interesting dark turn on the hopeful and bright character that is Superman and, as suspected, most fans weren’t happy about it. That’s how the DCEU’s rocky road was set.
When “Man of Steel” was followed by disappointing outings like “BvS” and “Suicide Squad,” everyone began expecting lacklustre content from DC. However, after successive critical disasters, DC took a turn with Patty Jenkins’s hopeful “Wonder Woman”, which made Gal Gadot an inspirational household name for girls everywhere.
Now, with a big title like “Justice League,” and a slight course correction after “Wonder Woman,” everyone seemed to be at least slightly interested in where the DCEU was headed. After reshoots and Joss Whedon being called in to take over for Snyder, what the fans finally got is an entertaining movie, but one that still isn’t entirely a satisfying watch.
Batman and Wonder Woman are trying to recruit a team of heroes with special abilities (The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman) to fight the threat of Steppenwolf, (another giant CGI monster but this time, unlike Doomsday, he at least speaks and has a menacing presence on screen) who is trying to unite three “motherboxes” and use them to cleanse the Earth. In this quest for justice, our heroes have a fair few battles to fight amongst each other as well, being seven powerful individuals who aren’t used to working in a team. It’s these very moments where the movie shines the most. When there aren’t big CGI battles going on, the characters resolve conflicts amongst themselves and interact with each other on an intimate level. All of these little moments got me particularly excited to get a better insight about these characters in their upcoming solo outings.
Although all fun and interesting in their own right, amongst Jason Momoa’s brawny almost jock-like Aquaman, Ray Fisher’s rehabilitating Cyborg, Ben Affleck’s brooding Batman, Gal Gadot’s inspiring Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill’s hopeful Superman (whose CGI moustache removal is exceptionally conspicuous), the one that truly stands out is Ezra Miller’s quippy Flash. Miller plays a hilariously awkward Barry Allen, a deviation from the source material but one this universe needed. He brings a deadpan humor to the table that really livens up every scene he’s in. Another unexpected treat was Gal Gadot’s and Ben Affleck’s chemistry on screen. Their budding relationship brings a good amount of heart to the storyline.
However, even this great cast couldn’t entirely save the generic plot with its prosaic dialogue and underwhelming stakes. The audience can clearly see the millions of dollars spent on this blockbuster, but that also means that they can notice the little fixes that would’ve made this movie far superior than it turned out to be. Just letting the camera run for a second longer to see the actors react to the bizarre world around them or not wasting time on dim-witted and very much avoidable slapstick comedy would just simply make the movie a lot more enjoyable. It’s not all bad though as DC has finally accepted the colorful world of the comics and the campiness of grown men and women wearing colorful tights and capes while trying to save the world.
“Justice League” was a fast paced (sometimes too fast) and fun movie that is worth the watch just to see all these larger than life characters on the screen together. It just isn’t the great leap that Warner Bros. would’ve hoped for, but it’s still one of the better outings in DCEU’s catalogue and will leave most fans with hope for their upcoming films.