The road leading up to Justice League has been a pretty bumpy one. From the start of the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros. has been hit with a barrage of polarizing reactions, bad reviews, and bad press. Man of Steel led the charge being the highest rated film in the DCEU, but even that got mixed reviews. Then came Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the majority of reviews for that were pretty bad too, followed by Suicide Squad which was basically a poorly edited mess. DC’s negative stigma finally changed with this summer’s Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was met with praise due to its masterful direction, story, and cast. Now, DC Films looks to keep its positive momentum going with Justice League.
Justice League has had a pretty bad rap from the get-go. People hated it going in due to disliking the previous DCEU films and Zack Snyder. There were rumors flying around that the film would be canceled after Batman v Superman failed on a critical level until Jason Momoa squashed that with an Instagram post indicating filming had begun. Zack Snyder brought a first look at the movie to San Diego Comic-Con back in 2016 and the crowd went nuts. When the film finished filming in fall of 2016 everyone believed it was smooth sailing until tragedy struck. Snyder left the project due to the loss of his daughter and personally brought Joss Whedon in as a replacement. Whedon would go on to do a few pickup shots to compliment Snyder’s film and fans took that as a hopeful sign the film could be better. Now that I have seen Justice League, I can officially tell you with full authority that the film is amazingly fun and epic. You can read my full thoughts on the film below, but be aware of potential spoilers.
Justice League is a film that satisfies every expectation I had. I had a problem with the main villain, Steppenwolf, but he’s forgettable in the comics and I expected him to be just as forgettable in the film. The film is cut pretty tight to fit a 2-hour time frame and you can tell that a lot of important story bits were snipped in the editing room, which makes the plot less coherent than it could have been if the film was about 30 minutes longer. On the positive side, if Warner Bros. decides to release an extended cut of the film, we’ll have a ton of extra DC goodness to look forward to. The CGI is pretty bad in most of the action sequences, but if you sit back and ignore the flaws you’ll have an amazing time at the theater.
Ben Affleck returns for his third go-round as Bruce Wayne/Batman and he’s sporting some comedic chops and older man angst throughout Justice League. Affleck’s Caped Crusader here is drastically different than the one shown in Batman v Superman. Superman’s death has changed his life. He seems hopeful and ready to save the world again by banding together a team of unlikely allies. Plus, Batman’s action scenes in the film looked like they were ripped straight out of the comics! While there were no scenes as good as the warehouse fight from Batman v Superman, there is one scene in the beginning of Justice League that involves Batman fighting a bad guy on a roof that looks like it was drawn by Jim Lee. Batman’s relationship with Wonder Woman gets complicated in a “will they or won’t they” way in Justice League, so much so that Alfred points it out, but Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot make it work. Justice League shows that Affleck is more comfortable in the role and I am really looking forward to seeing him in Matt Reeves’ The Batman.
Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman and it’s as if she never left. Wonder Woman is struggling with her own legacy and Bruce is trying to push her into leading the team. Her fights with Steppenwolf are definitely the best action pieces in the film. I’m also happy to report that Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry/Aquaman lives up to the hype. The scenes where he’s in Atlantis were incredible. The tension between him and Mera raised my excitement for his solo film and getting the chance to explore Aquaman’s lore on the big screen. His chemistry with the league is a bit comical, especially with Batman. There’s a hilarious scene involving the lasso of truth that will make DC fans go into a fit of laughter.
Ezra Miller makes his debut as Barry Allen/The Flash and he brings a sense of naivety to the team. Miller’s portrayal of Barry is a lot different than what fans are used to. He’s not a CSI — he’s a lot younger than normal, a total rookie at being The Flash and that’s what makes him so much fun to watch. Out of all the Justice League members, I look forward to his solo film the most. Meanwhile, Ray Fisher’s portrayal of Cyborg reminds me so much of the Teen Titans animated series. He’s a kid who just became this robot with all of these powers and he doesn’t know whether to hate them or use them for the greater good. I wanted to save the best for last. Superman (yes, he’s in the movie) finally feels like he’s Superman. Henry Cavill flies in and brings so much charm to the character that was never there before. Superman has a new lease on life and you feel it in Cavill’s performance. His lines and energy will make you feel like you’re watching Superman: The Animated Series. He’s easily my favorite part of Justice League and he especially shines when he faces Steppenwolf.
However, Steppenwolf himself has to be one of the weakest villains in the DC Extended Universe. There was a lot of bad CGI during the final battle. His motivations were laughable and his plan was atrocious. It almost felt as if you didn’t need the full team to defeat him. His army of Parademons were like the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. They don’t really do much but are there for a fear factor, but they do a horrible job at that. The supporting cast was great for what little screen time they were given. Alfred is back as the man behind the computer and with his snarky comments. Martha Kent and Lois Lane are there to remind you that Superman is in fact in the movie. Joe Morton’s Silas Stone is there to remind you that you have a better father than Cyborg and also to become a damsel in distress. J.K. Simmons kills it as Commissioner Gordon (all the Batman pieces in the film get you amped for his solo film). Connie Nielsen returns as Hippolyta and brings the Amazons with her for this insane battle with Steppenwolf. Amber Heard didn’t have much screentime as Mera, but the little scene we got with her and Momoa’s Aquaman really makes me want to see more of her.
Overall thoughts: Justice League is the DC team-up you’ve been waiting for. I had so much fun from beginning to end. The expansion of the DC mythology in this film will make fans go nuts and Superman’s return will make you really happy. The film does have its flaws, but the fun negated most of that for me. The cast was amazing, with my favorite characters being Superman, The Flash and Aquaman. The final post-credits scene will make you scream!