So, critics were pretty much divided on whether they liked DC Expanded Universe’s Justice League. While some loved it, some have savaged it to say that it was a horrible piece of the franchise, chalking up the miss to Avengers director Joss Whedon’s rewrite and reshoot of major parts of the film after original director Zac Snyder dropped out due to a family loss. I will choose not to delve into the specifics but judge the film based on its final output.
Synopsis: Centuries ago, mankind fought alongside Atlantians, Amazons and even the gods themselves to stop Steppenwolf and his army of parademons from conquering the universe. To do so, they divided the three Mother Boxes, the sources of the villain’s infinite power and guarded each one vigilantly in the generations that followed. However, after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), the world has fallen into disarray and Steppenwolf is once again revived. Batman (Ben Affleck), tries to form a team with the earth’s superheroes – Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), the Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fischer) to keep the threat at bay.
Overall, I would say that Justice League was a pretty solid film. True, it had its flaws. For one, I would not have chosen Steppenwolf as the main villain of the piece when there are too many, more recognizable arch nemesis that the JLA had in the DC Universe. The character felt clunky and out of place in a film like his one, yet, he was presented as a major threat. Personally, I have never heard of Steppenwolf until yesterday and for a film that is already struggling to manage six major characters, to saddle it with the task of explaining who this guy is kinda makes it worse.
On the plus side, I liked that the characters were given their highlight moments, but it was pretty challenging given that there were six members of the JLA and only three have released their standalone movies. This means that Justice League had to take the slack of establishing the backstories of Aquaman, the Flash and Cyborg on top of telling the story of how they formed the team. The film did this passably, but not enough for people to totally get behind the new members of the JLA, in my opinion.
Case in point, all of the heroes were given real moments to showcase their skills except for Aquaman, who went into the final battle without using the water element at all. It would have been cool if there had been an underground water source that he could have tapped to drown the parademons, or something. He just didn’t feel like he was the prince of Atlantis in the film because he never fully unleashed his power. I think Aquaman took the back seat so that the film could highlight Superman’s heroic entrance, which was kind of unfair. In the same way, I was just weirded out by DC’s depiction of the Flash’s super speed. Each time he used it, he went slowmo to show his perspective so there was really no contrast to show how he appeared from another point of view.
In terms of tone, I liked that the addition of Aquaman and the Flash seemed to lighten the mood a bit. Admit it, brooding Superman and Batman was kind of depressing and these were my chief complaints about the previous DC movies. This issue was addressed by Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and I loved the consistency of her character throughout the franchise. As soon as she came on screen, there was no question that WW was a badass. Even Batman knew this and basically gave her free rein. But while the mood had lifted somewhat, I think it still stuck to the core of the franchise, which is a more serious approach to the superhero genre.
I really felt for Batman in this movie. To try to lead a team of superheroes to fight a supervillain when your main forte is fighting crime really took him out of his element. Good thing he had Diana on his side from the beginning. And of course, what’s an ensemble superhero piece without at least a hint of a budding romance? Marvel did it with the Hulk and Black Widow and hinted at it with Black Widow and the Cap so, why not?
In terms of CGI and cinematography, the film delivered flawlessly. In terms of scoring, I would have liked it if they had used The Beatles’ “Come Together” at some point within the movie and not just during the end credits. It would have given the film the epic moment it direly needed.
I must admit that I was expecting something different from the trailer but at the end of the day, I felt that it was a good (if not great) first outing for the Justice League. There were conflicts among the characters with strong personalities clashing, as much as there were hits and misses throughout the film. But for a movie that endured as much as it did within the production and development schedule, to come up with a solid addition to the franchise was enough of an achievement.
All in all, I think Justice League’s worst enemy was hype and expectation, and the fact that it didn’t deliver on the epic ensemble that DCEU promised. I have high hopes for the sequel though, so if you’re watching, make sure not to miss the SECOND POST CREDIT scene (all caps for emphasis).