Finally, the moment DC fans have anticipated (or feared, as many of them have seemed to) has arrived. The very first live-action Justice League film is upon us. Unfortunately, the film had rough time from the start with director Zack Snyder’s tragic loss of his daughter causing Joss Whedon (famous for making one hell of a Marvel’s Avengers film) having to take over editing and re-shoots. While many in the DC fandom rejoiced this turn of events (insensitive much?) due to their…grievances with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, many were still worried that the two entirely different directors could not create a cohesive film. In the end, was Justice League able to succeed despite the odd’s being stacked against it?
With the passing of Superman and a new impending alien threat, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) must put together a team of heroes if Earth has any chance of stopping them. This includes Amazonian demi-goddess Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), King of Atlantis and master of the waters Aquaman (Jason Momoa), blindingly fast The Flash (Ezra Miller), and powerhouse cybernetic genius Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Unfortunately, just convincing them to all join a team and work together may be just as difficult a feat to accomplish as saving the world.
With the troubled production and negative early reviews of this film, I was really prepared for the worst. I am happy to say, how pleasantly surprised I am with this film. With just a few minor complaints, I actually really had a lot of fun watching this. I don’t care what people say Ben Affleck makes an excellent Bruce Wayne/Batman, choosing to play him with a bit more inner strength that Christian Bale lacked. Ezra Miller was so hilarious as Barry Allen/The Flash, adding a huge breath of fresh air and comedy to a cinematic universe that has been a bit gloomy so far. As a Game of Thrones fan, I will always have a biased love for Jason Momoa, but I’m certain that even if I wasn’t a GOT fan, I would still have enjoyed him as Aquaman. Ray Fisher may have had some of the more tough acting to pull off as the recently created Cyborg, having to show genius, fear, vulnerability, and confidence all at once (and he nailed all of it). And as far as Gal Gadot goes…I have the biggest girl crush on her since seeing her in Wonder Woman. Is it too late in life to want to be Wonder Woman when I grow up? But seriously, she is my absolute favorite part of the DCEU, providing beauty, strength, and warmth to the legendary female superhero.
What made this film more of a success than Man of Steel or Batman V Superman was that it told a much better paced, easier to understand plot line. But even more so, this film had much more heart and soul in the writing and dialogue. As mentioned in many of my previous reviews, I love Zack Snyder, even if it’s no longer cool to do so. But while he excelled in selling Clark Kent’s weaknesses, he never focused enough on his strengths nor his human side. (Christopher Nolan’s Bruce Wayne seemed to suffer from this as well.) In this film, probably because of the Joss Whedon magic influence, the heroes seemed both stronger and more human than before. I will never ask for a lighthearted comedy superhero film like Thor: Ragnarok, but it is nice to have a DCEU film that isn’t entirely doom and gloom. I also want to give a special mention to the Danny Elfman’s score for actually bringing back the old 1989 Batman theme! My childhood can now die happy.
Unfortunately, the film did not come out entirely perfect. Like many films of its genre, Justice League relies a bit to heavily on CGI effects. While some are completely necessary, others could have been done a bit more practical. For example, the main villain, Steppenwolf (Cirian Hinds) was completely CGI, and may have been a lot more intimidating if they incorporated some of the actual actor into the character. Another problem was a bit more unavoidable. So, (kinda big but not really spoiler) Henry Cavill does return to reprise his role as Clark Kent. Unfortunately, because re-shoots where a thing that had to happen and he had prior commitments to another film, Henry Cavill had a mustache he contractually could not shave off. As Superman does not have a mustache, it had to be digitally removed in editing. The result is a bit weird as in many scenes, Clark’s mouth looks a bit unreal. Finally, I would have liked to see just a bit more build up to Justice League before this film came out. Perhaps a Batman and/or Aquaman stand alone film just to give this universe just a little bit more dimension before the big team-up. Really, this is once again the studio’s fault for trying to keep up with Marvel.
Despite its many difficulties and some flaws, I see Justice League as a small step in the right direction. While I’m sure much of it will still upset hardcore DC fans, it’s still an entertaining superhero film for casual fans and newcomers to the universe, (I’ll admit, I’m somewhere in-between). If its goal was to get me hyped about future films such as Aquaman or Batman, then it definitely succeeded.