Well, after years and years of anticipation and hype, DC Comics’ flagship team is finally on the big screen and in live-action. And the road has been really bumpy thanks to the DC Extended Universe’s less-than-impressive output as a whole with the exception of Wonder Woman (Man Of Steel is debatable). The majority of people (this guy included) had concerns for this movie from the moment it was announced to when the reviews came out and a good number of them were brutal. Others feel that the DCEU is a half-baked ploy by Warner Bros. to compete with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, rushing right into the big team-up without establishing most of their main players first. Plus, Zack Snyder stepped down as director to be with his family after his daughter tragically committed suicide, so WB hired Joss Whedon to take his place and finish the film. So how does all of this affect the final product? Well, let’s find out. This is Justice League.
After the death of Superman, the whole world is feeling down and depressed (insert comment about the DCEU already being down and depressed). Not making things better is the threat of an alien invasion involving three Mother Boxes. So Batman and Wonder Woman have to assemble a team of metahumans to find the Mother Boxes and prevent the coming invasion. This is the most basic plot for a superhero team-up you could ever come up with. It’s kinda the same plot as The Avengers, a film that Justice League will always be compared to. It becomes even more obvious when Joss Whedon, the guy who directed both Avengers movies, is involved. This brings us to the first big issue of the movie, consistency. Since Snyder and Whedon have two different directing styles, the tone of the movie is inconsistent all around, though it’s more lighthearted than Batman v Superman. Plus, the film feels rushed a lot of times, especially in the first half. Scenes come and go and it feels like you missed something. I blame that on WB’s mandate to keep this movie at 2 hours maximum. People nowadays complain about movies being too long, which is a valid criticism, but in the case of Justice League, it should’ve been 2 and a half hours because there are things that needs further explanation. I’m saying this for the sake of general audiences because most of them don’t read comic books, so they’re not going to understand the references.
The best thing about Justice League is the heroes. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Ben Affleck as Batman are great as usual. These two have great chemistry with one another and it never goes romantic, which I like. They’re co-workers and it should stay like that. Now for the new heroes. Ezra Miller as Barry Allen a.k.a. The Flash stole the show and is my favorite character in this movie. He’s a likable dork who enjoys being part of something bigger and serves as the source to most of the movie’s comic relief. This version of The Flash is much younger than previous versions and appears to be on the autistic spectrum. Before seeing this movie, I was most concerned about Ray Fisher as Victor Stone a.k.a. Cyborg. I thought he was gonna be either dead weight or just a walking plot device with no character, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. He’s a guy who hates what he has become with most of his body being machine and he could never be human again, something he blames his father for. He becomes an important part of the team with his technological knowledge. The hero who got the least development was Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry a.k.a. Aquaman. Don’t get me wrong, he was awesome. He has a cool look to him, which has always been my favorite Aquaman design with the long hair and beard, and he has some funny scenes. But aside from a few scenes, he doesn’t really have a standout moment. Every other hero has a memorable moment that stands out, but Aquaman doesn’t. He’s just a muscular dudebro who doesn’t get much screentime compared to the other heroes. Maybe his solo movie next year will give him more to do. That’s kinda my issue with the new heroes overall is that their backstories aren’t completely fleshed out. It would’ve been better if they had their solo movies before rushing into Justice League. I’m guessing in Flash’s case, the filmmakers assume that most people are familiar with this character thanks to the CW series starring Grant Gustin.
And of course, we got to talk about Superman, played once again by Henry Cavill. This is the Superman we should’ve gotten after Man Of Steel. Gone is the frowning mopey buzzkill and in his place is the cheerful boy scout we all know and love. He’s not on-screen much, but he makes the most out of that time. There are two things I have issue with when it comes to Superman in this movie: the first thing is the way they brought him back. Basically, the League uses one of the Mother Boxes, takes it and Superman’s corpse to the Kryptonian ship that Lex Zuckerberg used to create Doomsday and resurrected him. They have a short moral debate about whether they should bring him back or not, but they went ahead and did it anyways. I felt like there could’ve been a better way to bring him back. It also makes the final shot of Batman v Superman pointless where dirt was rising from his coffin. The hell was that, then? Nonsensical revival aside, Superman’s return was glorious and he kicks the League’s asses with no trouble and this leads into the second issue: his CGI mouth. Oh, the internet could not stop talking about this particular moment. Backstory: during reshoots, Henry Cavill was rocking a mustache because he was working on the next Mission Impossible movie and can’t shave it off for contractual reasons. So the filmmakers at WB decided to remove his mustache digitally. And his mouth looks weird. This shit dove nose-first into uncanny valley territory. It’s that bad that you can’t not notice it when you see it.
The main villain of Justice League is Steppenwolf, played by Ciaran Hinds, and he’s one of the most generic bad guys on film. He’s a boring CGI monster with an uninteresting design with vague motivations. I didn’t feel any threat or menace from this guy. He sucks, plain and simple. Aside from Alfred (Jeremy Irons) and Lois Lane (Amy Adams), all of the other side characters like Commissioner Gordon (J.K. Simmons) and Mera (Amber Heard) don’t do much and were wasted. Those characters deserve better.
Sweet mother of Mary, this movie is a mess. Like most blockbusters, Justice League utilizes a lot of CGI and it’s a mixed bag all around. Some of it looks good like Cyborg, while others look like something from an early 2000’s CGI cartoon. I swear to God, I thought I was looking at a cutscene from Injustice 2 during the climax. When a video game has more realistic effects than a movie that costs $300 million, you done fucked up. All of the time they spent on this film and this is the best they could do? This leaves us to the action, which is serviceable even when they’re CG-heavy. The best action scenes were when Wonder Woman stopped a terrorist plot at the beginning, the Amazons trying (and failing) to keep a Mother Box from Steppenwolf, the tunnel scene, and Superman vs the League when they revived him. The climax is every climax you’ve seen: the heroes having to stop the CGI monster from accomplishing his plans against a green screen. There was this one funny moment when Flash and Superman were rushing out to save civilians and while Flash saved this one Russian family that the film strangely focused a lot of time on, Superman lifts an entire building full of people away to safety. It was played up for laughs, but that’s something Superman would do. And this leads us to humor. After seeing people complain about the grimdark-ness of Batman v Superman, the filmmakers decided to brighten things up and add more humor and like the effects, it’s also a mixed bag. 55% of the jokes work while the other 45% doesn’t. You can tell where Whedon added his touch. Hey, it’s better than Suicide Squad where only 30% of the jokes work and the rest falls flat. If you’re going to watch this movie, don’t leave when the credits start. Taking another page out of the Marvel book, there’s a mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene.
The mid-credits scene is Superman and The Flash having a race to see who’s the fastest. This is an iconic scene in the comics and it’s been done in TV shows as well, so it was dope to see this recreated, even if it was brief. And then there’s the post-credits scene. Basically, Lex Zuckerberg escapes from jail with the help of…
Yep. Deathstroke has arrived. He boards a yacht owned by Lex Zuckerberg, who plans to form a league of his own to combat the Justice League. What does this means for the future (if there is one)? Obviously, this means the League will face off against either the Injustice League or the Legion of Doom or the Secret Society in a future sequel. This also means that WB’s original plan to turn Justice League into a two-part movie series has been scrapped.
I give Justice League a light 5/10. The pros: great characters, cool interactions, Easter eggs for DC fans all around. The cons: an average-at-best script, choppy editing, messy effects, inconsistent tone and pacing, etc. I did enjoy what I watched and it’s great to see these heroes on-screen together, but I wish I could’ve gotten more. I would be more forgiving of this movie if it wasn’t the Justice League, who are the premier superhero team ever. It doesn’t bring anything new to the superhero genre, it’s your standard popcorn flick and a movie about the Justice League should be a lot more than that. Watching Justice League should have been like watching The Avengers for the first time. It should have been awesome and epic and I didn’t get that feeling from this movie. It was just okay. That’s disappointing. Even worse is that the film is underperforming at the box office, making $96 million on its first week. That is the lowest opening for any DCEU movie. When a movie starring a talking raccoon and tree makes more money than DC’s flagship team, that is embarrassing. While Marvel once again dominates the box office, the future does not look bright for the DCEU. They need to do something to get them out of their funk.