Hot off the wildly successful Wonder Woman solo film, Warner Brothers has released their first DC team-up film, Justice League, bringing together the biggest names in the comic giants universe. A once slam dunk project has been plagued with bad press, a sad and unexpected tragedy that forced Zack Snyder to leave the directors chair and lukewarm fan expectation that have stunted the excitement surrounding the film and has left the finished product in a tailspin. Does Justice League have enough to win over audiences and prove once and for all that the DC Cinematic Universe is back on track?
Following the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, our heroes are learning to exist in a post-Superman world. Crime and uncertainty have swept over the world like a tidal wave and Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) is looking towards the coming storm. Fearing something bigger is upon us, Wayne looks to put together a team of extraordinary superheros to defend the Earth from the unknown. Already having fought besides Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) before, the two recruit Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to defend the three ancient mother boxes from falling into the hands of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) who intends to use them to destroy the Earth.
Justice League, on the surface, is a fun film with some enjoyable moments, but beneath the surface lies a total mess with a lot of flaws, amateur editing and a convoluted story that is painful to watch. Let’s first tackle what the film got right. Wonder Woman continues to be a bright spot for the DCCU. Gal Gadot is absolute perfection as the Amazon warrior, portraying the character with strength and charm, and providing the leadership this team so desperately needs. Jason Momoa was not my first choice for Aquaman, but after seeing him in this film, I have a better sense of the overall direction they are taking the character. Momoa‘s Aquaman is morally conflicted, but in tune with the sheer power of his legacy and the child-like nature of his personality which makes for amusing screen time. Henry Cavill continues to shine as Superman. Cavill understands the character and what it takes to don the tights and it’s nice to have him anchoring this franchise, along with Gadot, to hopefully help right this ship in future films.
And now, the bad. Ben Affleck’s Batman takes a huge step back in this film. While they try and lighten up the caped crusaders persona a bit, the entire transformation appears unnatural and painful for Affleck, who appears more awkward around his new super friends. Ezra Miller‘s take on Barry Allen falls short of expectations. The beloved character is relegated to comic relief in the film with the filmmakers electing for an immaturity angle which becomes tiresome not long after the bit begins. Warner Brothers election to rush this film to market instead of completing the origin films of each character beforehand, limits the amount of time the filmmakers can spend on setting up the characters in the film. With a short run time, horrific editing and a sub-par script, Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon (who reshot and rewrote some of the film in Snyder’s absense) left the audience handcuffed to just “buy in” to their explanations of the “why’s” and roll with the finished product. Lastly, the inclusion of Steppenwolf as the films protagonist made sense for his link to what we hope will be the inclusion of Darkseid in the sequel, but the election of a full CG portrayal was a horrendous decision. The character has some qualities that could have transitioned to the big screen, but all of that was lost from scene one when we were introduced to an amateur CG depiction that looked like cutting floor fodder from Warcraft.
Overall, Justice League misses the mark in a big way. We can only hope that Geoff Johns can take creative control over all of the DCCU and give back to fans the films that they rightfully deserve.
2 1/2 out of 5
After Credit Scene?
Yes. One mid-credit and one post credit