After a successful Man of Steel, followed by a tepid Batman vs Superman—a generally dark and negative turn on the comic book alliance between the two giants—and then, most recently Suicide Squad and the successful Wonder Woman movie, Justice League was intended to cement the future of the DC superhero movies.
Upcoming stand-alone films include Aquaman, Flash, Suicide Squad 2, and The Batman (rumored to be sans Affleck), as well as Man of Steel 2 and Wonder Woman 2 (as soon as they can find a director not accused of sexual harassment).
With all the hype and mix of super-powers, the promise of a resurrected Kal-El, and a massive villain, how could this movie possibly be anything but a huge success. Right?
Without spoiling the plot, Batman, after realizing the loss of Superman (Henry Cavill), decides to gather other superheroes of the world to form an alliance against an impending super villain. The completed roster includes, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Mamoa) and Bats himself (Ben Affleck). Why Green Lantern wasn’t on the team, I don’t know.
League maintains the dark, murky, world of BvS, although enough humor has been added to “lighten” the mood, despite the mourning for Superman, and the chaos caused by Steppenwolf and his army, a blaze of CGI infested distractions.
More of an introduction to the new group rather than anything of major character depth, too much time is spent assembling the band, than how they develop as a group.
The young Flash steals most of the good scenes, good jokes and Ezra Miller’s portrayal is boyishly charming along with his phobias and angst at his power. Lois Lane’s (Amy Adams) mourning seems irrelevant to the latent knowledge of movie-goers that Supes will be back, especially given Henry Cavill’s name cropping up first in the opening credits. This is not a spoiler—seriously, did anyone have a doubt? At the end of BvS we saw the dirt on his grave levitate, after all. And what’s a Justice League movie without Superman?
Steppenwolf challenges the group’s combined powers in a thrilling sequence of attacks that momentarily revives the film with a confusion that is not easy to follow, and masks the overuse of the abundant CGI. It’s too long-winded to explain without telling you the entire storyline—if you recognize the name Steppenwolf from the comics you pretty much know what it is all about.
But in the end, the solution to victory shows a lack of imagination, more of an “oops, it’s time to end the film now” solution that leaves the film flat and void of a solid audience emotional reaction. If it was that easy to stop, why did it take almost two hours to get there? And where are the people of the world? Aside from the main characters, there are almost no other people around. There is a cameo character from the original 1980 Superman The Movie. You’ll know him. And if you thought Henry Cavill’s face seemed odd, you’re not alone; they had to CGI out his real-life mustache for his upcoming Mission Impossible 5 role. The result was…odd.
As a Justice League fan in my youth, this film disappointed me by its commercial focus on action above all else. With so much potential to develop an interesting movie based on character development, both BvS and JL dropped the ball. What the Avengers hold in the strength of their characters seems lacking in the Justice League, something the CGI cannot make up for. Perhaps it’s time to hang up the costumes and focus on the characters behind the facade.