Just don't give us anymore "Martha!!!!" scenes and we'll be fine.
DC’s superhero assembly Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder (kind of), has finally hit theaters this weekend, bringing together DC’s holy pavilion of heroes on to the big screen together for the first time, ever, in a wide release live-action format. This is the movie that comic-book nerds have been yearning for their entire life. Was it worth the wait?
One can’t examine Justice League without first delving into the baggage that surrounds the film. The DC extended universe — which has been trying to catch-up with Marvel since 2012's The Avengers — has had a spotty track thus far. Wonder Woman, which came out this summer, was a huge success and set the bar for all future DC’s films to come. However, as good Patty Jenkins’ blockbuster was, no one film is able to completely wash out the bad taste that Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad left in most fans mouths.
Justice League needs to be a win, or else the entire future of the DCEU is in serious jeopardy. However, the production was also met with certain roadblocks, making it all the more difficult. Zack Snyder was attached to direct and had already finished principal photography when he had to step down from the project due to a family tragedy. Joss Whedon, director of The Avengers, was then brought in to do script re-writes and direct the film through re-shoots and post-production.
The opening credits to the film still give Snyder directing credit, Whedon being mentioned as the screenplay helmer, but we’ll likely never know the full extent to which Whedon was involved nor what Snyder’s original vision for the film would have looked like.
However, this is the version of Justice League that we are presented with, for better or worse.
A new threat has emerged in the world of DC — one calling himself Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). He, more or less, wants to destroy the world (as all villains in the DC universe seem to want to do) and now that Superman isn’t ready to protect Earth anymore, he thinks there’s nothing standing in his way.
He’s wrong. Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) have seen the signs of his invasion, and have begun assembling a team. A team made up of special people with unique skills that can help protect against the incoming threat.
This team, as I’m sure you already know, consists of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). I mean, Superman is in there too, but he's supposed to be dead at this point (even though the trailers kind of already gave away his return).
Together they form the Justice League and fight to stop Steppenwolf and his army of parademons from causing total destruction.
Justice League isn’t great. It’s certainly flawed and when compared to something like Wonder Woman or even The Avengers, it falls flat. However, the film is miles better than Batman vs. Superman was and, at the very least, works hard at moving the DCEU in the right direction.
The highest compliment that I can give Justice League is that the case of multiple directors never feels like an issue. The film doesn’t feel like it was directed by two different people with drastically different visions. Synder and Whedon’s work compliments the others to create one fluent film that doesn’t suffer from tonal imbalances.
The other high praise that I’ll give Justice League is the team dynamic. While this film is heavier on the humor than we’ve previously seen from this group of heroes, they all have a certain amount of compelling chemistry when interacting with each other. The best moments in the movie come from when the team is simply sitting in a room, talking.
This is because all of the characters are well-realized and drawn out. Gal Gadot is once again the best part of the movie, having become the new DC fan-favorite after Wonder Woman. Ben Affleck — despite new rumors appearing every day that he wants to step down from the role — still makes a good Batman and an even better Bruce Wayne. Ezra Miller provides the comedic relief (which can be hit or miss), Jason Momoa is the stoic badass of the group and Henry Cavill’s Superman has never been better.
Cyborg, however, is the weak link in the group. While Ray Fisher turns in a fine performance that shows some range, his character sticks out as being far too monotone and uninteresting. He’s a literal human robot with all kinds of complex issues about his creation going on and he’s relatively stuck on the sidelines, doing little more than hacking into computers and spouting exposition.
He’s not the worst character brought about in Justice League though. That title goes to Steppenwolf. We’ve seen forgettable and boring villains in superhero movies before, but Steppenwolf just might take the cake. He’s essentially a giant CGI figure that looks like he came straight out of a video game, who does nothing more than painfully deliver a bunch of clichéd villainous lines. Nothing about him feels all that ominous or like it would warrant the attention of the entire Justice League, seeing how Diana fought a literal god in Wonder Woman singlehandedly.
The other problem that Justice League can’t escape is the runtime. Warner Bros. new mandate makes all their films come in at no more than two hours. Justice League hits the 120-minute mark, but it’s not enough. Much of the film — especially the first act — feels rushed and unexplained. Had the film been allowed another 15 or 20 minutes of breathing room, it would have been a much more evenly paced ride. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the inevitable extended cut for that.
Justice League lands somewhere in the middle of the DC spectrum. It’s certainly not the best thing they put out, but it’s far from being the worst either. There are noticeable flaws that are impossible to get around, but it’s also a good deal amount of fun. Fluffy, innocent fun perhaps, but fun nonetheless.
Watch the trailer for Justice League here and let us know if you're going to check it out in theaters this weekend. Also, check out where it landed on our list of movies we're still excited for in 2017 and check out our other list of the top ten best live-action DC films.
Super friends unite: 'Justice League' review5