So Wonder Woman left some big shoes to fill, not helped by the financial splash of Thor Ragnarok. And let’s not forget Zack Snyder leaving production due to family tragedy followed by Joss Whedon stepping in for the finishing touch. Did I also mention the 300 million dollar budget? No pressure Warner Brothers. Before beginning let’s be honest with each other: I’m not getting paid by Disney and I don’t hate DC. They make just as many memorable characters and story lines that have kept Marvel from taking the comic book crown. But that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to making bad decisions like their competitors. Case in point, Justice League.
With Superman gone, outside forces like Steppen Wolf (Ciaran Hinds) are searching the far corners of Earth for the Mother Boxes to gain ultimate power. But Batman (Ben Affleck) Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) aren’t standing for any of it after losing their friend and assemble to bring Steppen Wolf down.
The main cast, old and new, haven’t lost any likability. Aquaman’s backfiring sarcastic mood, Wonder Woman’s desire to mentor new recruits, Batman’s over determination in everything and especially Barry Allen’s Wally West persona that steals the comedic spotlight. Although Cyborg gets pushed to the side too much apart from his technology savy gift. But a team’s combined forces are only as good as their villain and Steppen Wolf is, in my opinion, the worst villain in modern comic book movie history, not even coming close to Loki. His design is boring, his motivation is boring, his personality is boring, his lackeys are boring, he is just one big walking snore fest. I hate having to constantly bring up The Avengers because DC should be able to stand on their own. But when they keep making these generic mistakes as they go along, it’s an unfortunate consequence. Sure they’re building up to something bigger to come, but how many times do cinematic universe movies have to be build up instead of their own chapter? The inconsistent tone isn’t much of an issue compared to the pacing that leaves key moments a mystery in how they’re resolved. After waiting four movies, it’s really disappointing that the adversary pales in comparison to the heroes when they should be on equal grounds.
At this point, all comic book movies rely on computer animation to make the impossible real. And it’s hit and miss in the rendering but not in the creativity. When the Flash ignites with light blue lightning, it’s hypnotizing. And most of the fights like the opening Amazon chase is a wild ride. In the long run, Justice League isn’t the worst, it’s just okay. The team is enough to warrant one matinee with all their combined powers and likable chemistry. I can’t say the same for the villain who’s every cliché rolled into one unfortunate melting pot.
Spoiler Corner (If you haven’t seen Justice League, stop here)
From here on out, nothing is sacred and everything will be brought to the forefront. It’s no secret that Superman comes back from the dead. The moment he comes back, there’s raw tension, but the fight is a little pointless. But this Superman is better written than in Man of Steel. He smiles, he’s got a brighter suit and he actually saves people rather than endangering them. As for the digitally erased mustache, it’s not too noticeable to dent the experience. Was it worth killing him off and botching the Death of Superman story? Not really. The emotional impact of him dying after the Justice League came together would’ve been more impactful if we got to know him for more than two movies.
And why does Batman still use guns? At least have him state that they’re rubber bullets instead of lead to keep in current character. Yes he used guns in the past, but at a certain point it became part of his character to never use guns as evident in the pilot to Batman Beyond. Barry Allen could’ve easily been a Quicksilver clone, but he has his own identity behind his family tragedy and subtly hinted isolation. But the cameos from other DC lore is exciting. The Green Lanterns ten second cameo healed the wounds of the Ryan Reynolds disaster from long ago. Then there’s the one family that for some reason gets a lot of focus. Why do we need to focus on one family instead of the entire population in the final act? They add nothing to the bigger picture.
And big shock, there’s an after credits scene. Too bad it’s a painful reminder that Jessie Eisneberg is still Lex Luthor and not Lex Junior anymore. He’s not as awkward , but If they can replace Ben Affleck with Jake Gyllenhaal down the line, surely they can do the same with Eisenberg and Bryan Cranston. He’s already proved to be a hot headed bald menace in the past. That said, having a grown Flash Thompson from the Raimi Spider-Man saga cameo as the titular Deathstroke really gets me hyped with what they’ll do with him next. Sure the entire, but there’s still many bright spots and this shines the brightest.
Justice League maintains the right direction to a certain point, but there’s a lot of missed opportunities underneath the charismatic team. If you’re willing to look over the flaws, this team effort in front and behind the camera has more investment than Batman vs Superman. But if you want the grand scope and epic payoff after four movies of build-up seek out the early 2000’s animated series. Either way, there’s still some hope lingering for whatever comes next.
Choose your team!
Note: The 3D feel likes the aftermath of the glasses taking a mud bath.
Pros: Entire cast, team comradery, majority action, Death stroke cameo,
Cons: Hit and miss rendering, Embarrassing villain, weak finale, disjointed pacing, Jessie Eisneberg Luthor, missed opportunities