[Spoiler Warning] The following review contains spoilers for Justice League.
DC and Warner Brother’s went all in for Justice League. The stakes have never been higher. This film needs to continue and expand a cinematic universe, debut the Justice League and be a success across the board with critics and fans. While entertaining, Justice League is inundated with issues.
Without wasting a moment, the movie introduces our League. Gal Gadot reprises her role as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and continues to be the brightest part of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). Ben Affleck returns as Bruce Wayne/Batman and shows a much-needed progression from his character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. This Batman has learned from his fatal flaws and is carrying on the mantle that was left behind after the death of Superman.
Zack Snyder helms Justice League, but after experiencing a family tragedy, Joss Whedon stepped in to complete directing duties and production. The overall tone of the film feels like one feature, but overall the tone and color scheme has been brightened. It echoes what was on display throughout Wonder Woman, a more colorful, hopeful take on this comic book universe. Whedon’s presence is felt in the direction, but it’s cohesive with Snyder’s style not distracting.
The storytelling and editing style is fast-paced; introductions are quick, and the plot moves at an accelerated rate. The newest members of the League bring in new energy, allowing for more comedic moments and different individual perspectives. Ezra Miller delivers a comedic take on Barry Allen/The Flash, while Jason Momoa proves that he is the king of the ocean. The standout is Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. Fisher brings depth to this role, with limited screen time, and brings a sense of humanity to what could’ve been a flat CGI-hero. This technologically driven character is surprisingly the most grounded and realistic in the film.
Justice League will leave you wanting more from these characters but because of a studio-mandated run-time, smaller character development moments likely ended up on the cutting room floor.
SPOILER ALERT. Superman Lives. 99.9% of audiences knew that Superman was coming back and Henry Cavill delivers a performance that many fans have been dreaming of for years. This Superman is brighter, stronger and eliminates the relentless brooding that plagued Batman v Superman.
The chemistry between the members of the Justice League forms the entire foundation that grounds this CGI-filled action movie. Without these authentic relationships between Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, Flash and Batman, Justice League could’ve become a complete misfire.
Despite the on-going success of comic book films, studios continue to face a villain problem. In The Avengers (2012) our heroes battle an entire CGI-Chitauri army, the cast of Suicide Squad (2016) goes up against a “swirling ring of trash in the sky” and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) repeats the tropes of the Chitauri despite adding in actor James Spader. These villains are sacrificial pawns that serve only to advance our heroes.
Justice League introduces Steppenwolf, a completely CGI character, who has a one-track mindset of obliterating worlds. Steppenwolf is voiced by Ciaran Hinds, and his vocal performance is robust but is held back by because of distracting effects. In this instance, Hinds in practical effects could’ve substantiated these battles and made his character relevant instead of being a disposable pawn.
When it comes to the DCEU, Justice League shows that these characters can and should work, if given the right story and character development. This film does help with the course correction that was jump-started with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman but falls short of being a total success.
For Warner Bros. and DC, it shouldn’t be about “beating” Marvel, it must be about allowing these iconic characters to be developed while saving the world against a legitimate threat.
…Stay through the post-credit scenes.
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