The Justice League film is a bungled mess of poor choices, big plot holes, and little-to-no payoff for the culmination of some of the most iconic superheroes of all time. It’s best than Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman. It’s not as good as Man of Steel. It’s not even in the same league as Wonder Woman. That’s the TL:DR of it all. Feel free to read below for a more thorough review.
Let me start off by saying that I love Marvel and DC comics equally. Both companies fail in certain aspects and excel in others. Batman and Spider-Man are my favorite comic book characters of all-time. I really do hate to draw too many comparisons between the two companies when it comes to reviewing things, but when the proof is in the pudding; it’s really hard not to. Marvel went with an approach for it’s cinematic universe to introduce the characters in their own separate movies, before having that culmination of a film called The Avengers. The gamble paid off, big time. Avengers still sits as the 5th biggest movie of all-time and deservedly so. It was a film franchise based off of iconic characters, yes, but NONE of them had comics that people read consistently enough to call them great. You match up Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America back in 2007 against anyone in the Justice League and I bet you all the money that Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman would be far more marketable and recognizable than Marvel’s team combined.
Flash forward 10 years and that’s clearly not the case. Marvel’s gamble on it’s B-listers paid off. DC decided to do things differently by introducing it’s ‘Trinity’ in Batman v Superman and then having them all Come Together (right now) with the rest of the League (sans Green Lantern, but more on that later) in Justice League. We’d get all of the characters at once and then have their movies go off separately. It was a gamble all it’s own and the result is…muddled. Did they need to copy Marvel to make it a success? No, I don’t think so. The problem lies in the execution, so let’s get to that.
Justice League by its own right should be BIGGER than The Avengers. If you think about it, DC has been doing things a lot longer and a lot of Marvel characters just rip off DC’s characters. Iron Man and Thor are very similar to Batman and Wonder Woman respectively. There’s tons more examples more but let’s not get bogged down by all that. The real point is that DC has had it’s fans for a long time and they deserved to have their comic characters brought to life with the respect that they all deserve. That was not the case with this film. Let’s get to unpacking this film.
Batman – Ben Affleck pretty much took a nap through this film. There are small glimpses of The Batman that we got in BVS but only a tiny bit. The opening introduction of him taking on a bad guy was good, and then got a little weird when he interacted with him and didn’t string him up for the police. He had a couple of one-liners that made me smirk, did a decent Bruce Wayne; but overall he didn’t have the spirit as he did in BVS. I truly think he’s done after this movie and he’ll get replaced for the Matt Reeves movie.
Wonder Woman – Gal Gadot is quite literally the beacon of Hope for the DCEU. Her Wonder Woman continues to shine throughout the film and she gives a weight and gravitas to the character. It’s a little heavy handed on the whole Steve Trevor situation, (I’m sorry it’s been a literal Century since he passed away and you still haven’t gotten over it?), but other than that she was amazing.
The Flash – I’m an Ezra Miller fan. I’m not an Ezra Miller playing Barry Allen fan. He made me smirk a couple of times with his “humor” but honestly they made him more of a bumbling idiot than a genius crime scene detective who can make his own super suit from spaceship parts. Also, they didn’t use his powers in a way that was even close to The CW’s Flash or Quicksilver from X-Men. It was him fully connected into the Speedforce which was cool but ultimately only led him to pushing a bad guy really hard as his “fighting”. Like, why did you even make a super suit if you’re going to do NOTHING in it. Why was it created before joining The League when you’ll just still use your speed to draw really fast or get milk from convenient store?
Cyborg – I get why he’s in this movie because of the New 52…kinda. He’d be better served as a member of the Titans. Teen or otherwise. Ray Fisher is a fine enough actor, that’s not the problem; but the CGI on the suit was bad and threw me out of the movie several times. He also didn’t really make me connect to him in anyway. My biggest problem with him though was when he used his powers to keep the “Spider-Bat Mobile” running and then it still stalled out. Your power is manipulating and speaking with technology. YOU HAD ONE JOB!
Aquaman – Jason Mamoa is a fine enough actor to be Aquaman and if he’s going to be a literal surfer (seriously, he surfs on a Parademon’s body) bro, dude, so be it. It’s just he wasn’t funny, he had a few one-liners that included: My man and YEA. He also had this weird scene in Atlantis with Meera (Amber Heard) where they spout some exposition that has NOTHING to do with the movie we’re watching. He then asks her for a costume and trident without really spelling it out. I suppose this can be fixed in his solo film, but the scene was weird and though he had a couple of cool action things he did; he was a waste.
Steppenwolf – An all-CGI character in 2017 when we have mo-cap? It just didn’t need to happen. His motivations were to get all three MotherBoxes to…join them up. He mentions Darkseid one time, so it’s cloudy as to that’s what he’s going to use the MotherBoxes to bring him to Earth. He’s certainly a horrible villain that’s boring and useless. People wanna say that “What about the Marvel villains?” Hey, they’re not good either. Both DC and Marvel need to figure this out.
Superman – Zack Snyder, why do you hate Superman? Why do you CGI his mustache and make him brooding and boring and sad and mean? Have you read a Superman comic before? I know he said his chest symbol means Hope, but where is it? Do you believe that it even exists? His treatment is again, horrible. This Superman has been around one year AT MOST and yet the World weeps for him? An alien who used his powers to kill countless innocents and then mopes about and then dies. You care about this guy? No, you don’t and clearly neither does Snyder. I feel bad for Henry Cavill.
The Plot: Steppenwolf needs to find 3 MotherBoxes to turn the Earth into Apokolips-lite. Batman needs to form a League to stop him. The movie introduces so many things in it’s very brisk 2 hour timeframe that I wouldn’t be surprised if a good movie is in an extended edition somewhere. DC fanboys are blaming Joss Whedon for coming on and messing with Snyders film after he stepped away due to family issues. I don’t think so. I don’t know where Whedon even touched this movie, other than it had slightly less slow-mo shots than a typical Snyder film. It also wasn’t as beautiful. The dialogue wasn’t witty or inspiring so scratch all that. There’s lines in here that are downright repugnant. Superman grabs Batman by the throat and says “I gotta ask you, do YOU bleed?” Come on man. Also, after bringing a dead Superman back to life he’s with Lois and she says “you smell nice” What!? He’s a zombie! He smells undead! After they defeat the big bad who doesn’t die, but simply goes away in a boom tube, the area that was affected blooms into Pandora. Um, what? They focus on this Eastern European family for far too long, no one cares about them, just stop. Why is there hieroglyphics/drawings of the Aqua Man and MotherBoxes in that town when he’s maybe 30 years old? There’s more than this of course, but I went over a lot of it already in the character descriptions but there are a ton of “WHY!?” and hands being thrown up in air moments. Oh, the Green Lantern and Shazam-esque Easter Eggs were cool, sorry I don’t want to completely end on a low note.
The Score: I loved the music overall but I swear that Danny Elfman stole the music from The Flash tv show. Look at my comparison HERE. The use of the Batman ’89 score was welcome but also a little said it wasn’t used in more triumphant moments. Nothing Batman does comes close to that warehouse scene in BVS. Wonder Woman’s score is epic of course so that didn’t change. Using the John Williams Superman theme is used ever-so slightly that you can hardly hear it. It’s good as I love Elfman but there’s some issues.
After Credits: Okay we got two scenes here. The first one was The Fastest Man Alive race between The Flash and Superman. After making a stupid joke that Barry doesn’t know where the Pacific Ocean is, they start to race and it fades out. Since we don’t know The Flash all that well and even really Superman, it’s just a waste. It’s not fun or cute, it’s just like “well that happened.”
The second credit sequence features Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke meeting an escaped Lex Luthor played again by Jesse Eisenberg. Not going to lie, I did get goosebumps during the scene. What’s sad though is that it’s very doubtful that they will “form a league of their own.” With nothing on the slate that alludes to a Justice League 2, we have no idea when we will see these characters again. Now, if they show up in the subsequent movies here and there. Maybe pull Orm from Aquaman in and Deathstroke shows up in The Batman, etc…it could work and it could be cool; but right now I’m not hopeful.
Final Words: The movie is a mess. It tries too hard to be great but feels forced and ultimately boring. The pace is fine but it’s a slow one. You never want to shout at the screen when they do something awesome because it just doesn’t happen. The movie hits the beats it needs to and goes along being what it is, mediocre. It’s by no means a horrible movie, but it sure as heck isn’t a fun one. You WANT to shout at the heroes doing rad comic book stuff, instead you have cheesy one-liners and the occasional glimpse at what could be great. I HOPE that after this movie brings in ho-hum numbers at the Box Office the execs will finally let Geoff Johns do what he’s supposed to do and steer these movies in a good direction. I WANT them to be great. I really do; but Wonder Woman is their shining beacon and she can’t be in every movie they do, nor should she be. Give us the heroes we want and deserve.