After years of buildup, and a criminally underwhelming introduction to the members of the League via an onscreen computer screen, the team is finally, officially, united. And the result is decent, but half-hearted.
Frankly, it’s not actually DC’s fault that they’re so late to the game, and that the entire “I’m putting a team together” trope veered into parody years ago. The first act is certainly the worst of the film, as Batman gathers the team and tells them the world is ending, and all that. You’re dying for it to just happen, to just be thrown right into the action and then learn the details later, since you’ve seen it all before. But when the League is assembled, things quickly improve.
Justice League is fairly funny, at times, and many of the action scenes are impressive, but the villain is ridiculously boring. Like, Marvel boring. Worldender, I mean, Steppenwolf, appears like a God of War cut-scene jacked into a blockbuster. He looks amazing and all, but he doesn’t show any sense of threat. He talks vaguely about “ultimate power,” but really, the guy doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose; he’s a human tank built to plow through the League and make them look useless.
And they are weirdly useless, and mismatched. Wonder Woman and Batman always show good chemistry when they’re together, but Batman certainly looks out of his depth battling alien demons. He swings away from them a lot, and hides in his gun-toting machine. But it’s ok since he’s Batman and we adore him, even if he’s made for the gritty streets of Gotham and not a disastrous brawl.
Cyborg is perfectly likable, but dull. He moans way too much because he feels like a monster, but we don’t really have time to dwell on that, and let’s be real, nobody cares. Just enjoy the ride kid, because you’re a superhero now. His coating of CGI was a little disconcerting, as we only have half a human face to look at, so it’s tricky to really connect with him.
Flash got all the laughs which he definitely deserved. As the teenage fanboy who’s not really a hero at all, he’s the most interesting person there, and a kind of onscreen representation of the audience. He’s literally a starstruck kid who got dragged into a battlefield, and provides a much-needed human touch, as well as a stark opposition to Batman’s middle-aged world-weariness.
Aquaman was enjoyable, but trying way too hard to be “cool.” I understand the character has been a running joke in pop culture for decades, but they really overcompensate here. His introduction, when he steals the bottle of whiskey and swaggers along the shoreline chugging the thing down his throat, was as cool as an aging dad driving a hoodless Lamborghini, dressed in an oversized leather jacket and blasting tunes from the 70s.
That being said, it’s hard not to fall in love with Jason Momoa, and I actually want to see him in his solo movie, as it’s clear he has absolutely nothing to add to the Justice League whatsoever. All those jokes about talking to fish, and being useless on dry land, are still relevant, because his finest hour is when he rescues the team from a giant water spillage. As Liam Neeson might say, the man has a very specific set of skills.
Wonder Woman has already established herself as kicking-butt awesome, so there’s really not a lot to say about our heroine. Her Lasso of Truth is certainly put to good use, but mostly she stands around smiling at the boy’s mischievous exploits. She’s better solo, really.
In fact, I got the feeling that they’d all be better on their own, and that this film only exists because Marvel did it, and now they had to do it too, but it’s too late to distinguish themselves properly. But DC does have a visual edge over Marvel; Zack Snyder really understands how to translate a lurid comic book onscreen and retain the visual splendor, without looking in the least bit silly.
All-in-all, Justice League is definitely not a bad effort, but isn’t particularly remarkable either. It serves as a preparation for spin-offs, and a potential sequel. The audience reaction in my theater was interestingly mixed, as the fans largely argued amongst themselves to whether or not the movie was actually good, as we all anticipated for the after-credits scenes.
There were plenty of disappointed fans, and just as many incredulous fans defending the movie’s awesomeness. I think the real answer lies in the middle, and that the film was a major step-up from DC’s previous efforts, but not worth going out of your way to see.
Spoilers of Justice League incoming!
For those of you who have watched the movie, let’s talk about Superman. Weirdly enough, of all people, the movie is saved by him. Just to clarify, I really really hate Superman. I think he’s one of the most bland, uninteresting characters ever conceived. But here, among friends, he actually works. I particularly loved his fury at being resurrected, which led to the greatest highlight in the movie.
Flash speeding past Superman, only for Superman to actually notice him and react at the same speed, was brilliant, and horrifying. I truly felt frightened of him – Superman actually felt like a threat, a god amongst demi-gods, and as he swings at the poor kid, it’s clear every punch could really kill him, and Superman doesn’t care.
The Flash scene was followed by Batman vs. Superman, in a scene that managed to top the entirety of Batman V. Superman. This is really how the battle between the two should have been – Batman, helpless as a child, is nothing if he doesn’t have his glowing green cheat codes. But being Batman, there’s always a plan B, and he effectively disarms his opponent by appealing to his humanity. It wasn’t really a fight, but rather a plea to stop.
Not to mention, the League spent the entire film ineffectively fighting Steppenwolf, only for Superman to destroy him in seconds. Superman has always been overpowered, but the fact that he’s standing alongside his supposed fellows and is still unstoppable, really elevates the character as a living god. I’ve never really seen him depicted in this way before, and I thought it was interesting. Watching Justice League made me long for a sequel where Superman turns dark, because I’m tired of evil alien invaders trying to take over the planet. Let’s see the Messiah turn twisted; it’s a more frightening idea than a villain who is evil by nature.
Anyway, Henry Cavill finally had some more to work with, and turns out, he’s quite fit for the role. I was never fond of him in his two previous appearances, but League actually made me crave more. Giving how much I distaste the character, redefining Superman as interesting redeemed an otherwise average movie, at least, in my eyes.
I’m not sure what DC plans for the future, especially as their plans seem to fluctuate day-by-day, but they appear to be on the right track for future success.