The DC Universe has had a very rocky start. Man of Steel, the first film of the franchise had a mixed reception. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice faired even worse, and Suicide Squad was laughable. After a few bumps, things started to take a turn. Wonder Woman was a huge success both critically and financially; breathing new life into the franchise. It was a step in the right direction, and we hope it continues in future films. That brings us here. The first-ever live action Justice League film. Does it keep this winning streak Wonder Woman started or does it fall flat on its face? Well, let’s discuss.
Justice League is exactly what you’d expect. There’s an alien threat coming to take over the world. Batman assembles creates a team of heroes to try and stop them. It’s simple and straight to the point. In fact, it’s a little too straightforward in its presentation. The first act of the movie is all over the place. It was jumping from scene to scene at a rapid pace. It was kind of hard to keep up. Thankfully it settles down near the second act. One of the reasons this was a problem was because they had to introduce the new characters. We don’t know Aquaman, The Flash, and Cyborg. We need to know what a mother box is and where they are. We get rushed introductions, and it messes with the flow of the story. Once you get past some of these hiccups, the film hits its stride. When you’re watching a Zack Snyder film you know, it’s going to look gorgeous. The action scenes were stunning, my personal favorite is the one on Themyscira. The Amazons are always the best. The tone of the film is a solid mix of Joss Whedon’s humor and Snyder’s visuals. There are moments when it doesn’t quite work, but it gets the job done. I’m amazed that this film turned out as well as it did. There’s no reason it should’ve been this entertaining.
The best part hands down was the Justice League (shocker, I know). Every single one of them had their moments. Ben Affleck continues to be a fantastic Batman, Ezra Miller is fun as The Flash, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) might’ve been my favorite character, Ray Fisher was surprisingly great as Cyborg, and Gal Gadot continues to be the best part of this DC universe. Likable protagonists are what drives these cinematic universes, and its something these DC films have been lacking. You need to care about these heroes otherwise there’s no reason for you to continue watching. I loved all of the characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing them all again. DC found the hope and optimism that was missing in the previous films, and it makes this movie work.
The team carries the film, and if it weren’t for them, it probably wouldn’t be worth your time. The villain, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is one of the weakest antagonists you’ll ever see. He has no personality; he just wants to destroy the planet because? I honestly don’t even remember what his motives were. Thankfully, we’re not watching the movie for him, we’re watching for the Justice League. Sadly, it left the film with almost zero stakes. It reminds me of Guardians of the Galaxy. The villain hardly gets any focus because we’re watching the team. I never once felt like the world was in peril or that the League couldn’t beat Steppenwolf.
One thing I really liked was what they did with Superman (Henry Cavill). His presence looms large over the entire film. I didn’t expect him to be as vital as he was. The world needs Superman. It’s a fitting conclusion to this three-film arc that he’s had. I want to see more of him. I want to see him work with Batman and Wonder Woman. That’s a complete 180 from how I was feeling going into the film. The way the character is brought back is kind of bizarre, but hey, can’t win them all.
All in all Justice League is a fun time. The characters are great, and the story is passable. The film has flaws, but you can quickly look past them and enjoy it. I want to see more of this world. I want to see more of these characters. That’s something I couldn’t say this time last year. How quickly things change.
Justice League hits theaters November 17th.