A FUN BUT AWKWARDLY EXECUTED INSTALLMENT OF THE DC EXTENDED UNIVERSE THAT DOESN’T QUITE DO THE FRANCHISE “JUSTICE”!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
(From left to right) The Flash, Superman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Batman, and Aquaman in DC’s Justice League
After a series of blunders and the unexpected critical success of Wonder Woman earlier on this year, we finally reach the movie the DC Extended Universe was building up to, Justice League. Marvel has already proved that superhero team-ups can be done well with their Avengers movies so it makes sense for DC to try and do the same since they own some of the most beloved and iconic superhero characters of all time.
Now I really, REALLY wanted to give this movie a chance because I love most of these characters. I may not have read all their comics but through other movies, cartoons, and even live-action TV shows every member of the Justice League have their own special places in my heart.
Wonder Woman gave me a glimmer of hope that the DC Extended Universe was starting to get on the right track and I was open to see the Justice League movie despite Cyborg, Aquaman, and Flash movies not yet existing. Unfortunately, director, Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead (2004), 300, Watchmen) didn’t take notes while watching Wonder Woman and we have yet another disjointed and awkward installment of the franchise.
I understand Snyder was having rough times with this film due to family issues that interfered and hopefully this doesn’t stop him from making movies. Fortunately, this movie is better than most of the other DC films in the franchise, has a much lighter tone compared to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, and there are attempts at being silly and funny which makes sense because they brought in Avengers director, Joss Whedon to finish the movie while Snyder was out (What a friend?) but because they both have different directing styles it feels cluttered in its execution.
After the “Death of Superman” we find Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck-The Town, Argo, Gone Girl) enlisting the help of his new friend and ally, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot-Fast & Furious franchise, Date Night, Triple 9) to face an even greater enemy. An alien military officer known as Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds-Excalibur, Road to Perdition, There Will Be Blood) has been unleashed and plots to conquer and rebuild the world with the combined powers of the Mother Boxes (Think of them as 3 Tesseracts or Allsparks) for his lord and master, Darkseid.
Bruce and Diana recruit a team of heroes consisting of Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller-Royal Pains, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa-Baywatch: Hawaii, Game of Thrones, Wolves), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher-The Astronaut Wives Club) to combat Steppenwolf’s wrath, however they might need to resurrect their fallen hero, Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill-The Tudors, Stardust, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) to even stand a chance in this battle (PS that’s not a spoiler because they already ruined it in the marketing and in Batman v. Superman).
The film also stars Amy Adams (Enchanted, The Fighter, American Hustle) as Lois Lane, Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Margin Call) as Alfred Pennywise, Diane Lane (Chaplin, Inside Out, Trumbo) as Martha Kent, Connie Nielsen (Rushmore, Gladiator, The Good Wife) as Hippolyta, and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man trilogy, Whiplash, Zootopia) as Commissioner James Gordon.
Overall, Justice League is a mixed-bag of a superhero movie, while it has plenty of good things in it like the cast, a good chunk of the humor, much more color compared to Snyder’s other work, and plenty of chaotic action, the pacing and different directing styles of Snyder and Whedon really make the film go downhill. Don’t worry this isn’t even close to being one of the worst comic book films of all time, trust me this is Christopher Nolan Dark Knight compared to Batman & Robin or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace.
However as much as I enjoyed a good chunk of this film there was a lot that left me disappointed. For starters, the character development sucks hard with the exceptions of Batman and Wonder Woman because they already had a movie that established their characters (or in Wonder Woman’s case two) and since we haven’t seen a Flash, Aquaman, or Cyborg movie yet, that leaves two hurdles the film needs to jump over, establish the new characters so the audience can grow attached to them and give all the heroes screen-time, and because of the awkward set-up of the DC Extended Universe and mediocre directing, I don’t think Justice League does that very well.
Also, the villain is extremely forgettable which adds more to the problems with the DC Extended Universe timeline, Steppenwolf has never appeared in an earlier DC film and it feels like he just got shoehorned into the movie with very little explanation outside of a backstory told by Wonder Woman at the beginning of the film. The villain in the first Avengers movie was Loki who was already established in the Marvel franchise and unlike DC’s franchise they gave the characters and worlds time to develop before their big team-up film, I’ll remember Loki far more than Steppenwolf, Hell, I’ll go on record and say I’ll probably forget about Steppenwolf in a few days he left so little impact, never thought I’d say this but Jesse Eisenberg Lex Luthor actually would have been an improvement here because at least he was already established in the universe.
Do I regret seeing it? No, I’m glad I saw it, Justice League isn’t a terrible movie or even that bad of a movie but there is something about it that gets on my nerves. This was supposed to be DC’s big Avengers-like team-up movie which should have been amazing and if you can’t get it right the first time and the finished product comes off as “Meh!” then clearly something is wrong.