Hope Springs Eternal for DC Movies with Justice League (Review)

by | Nov 16, 2017

The road to Justice League, which brings together some of DC Comics’ most iconic superheroes, has not been without its share of debate or controversy. Up until this summer’s crowd-pleasing Wonder Woman, the three previous entries in the DC Extended Universe (which include Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Suicide Squad) were hotly debated amongst both fans and critics for their movie’s storytelling decisions and character developments that showed DC Comics’ characters in different lights. While each of them was a box office success, it was apparent that it wasn’t enough to win over audiences. Fast forward to today and Justice League is viewed as a course correction for Warner Brothers’ DCEU going forward. While Justice League certainly has its issues and isn’t exactly coherent at times, each of the movie’s superhero characters are more than satisfying and help make the superhero team up an enjoyable action romp.

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists newfound ally Diana Prince to face an even greater threat. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to recruit a team to stand against this newly awakened enemy. Despite the formation of an unprecedented league of heroes — Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cybor, and the Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

The plot of Justice League is about as standard as they get for comic book movies. However, the unevenness of the movie’s narrative structure hinders the buildup of the superhero team, as the movie spends a good portion of its runtime bringing each superhero into the fold one by one. For a movie that spends more than enough time building up to what we all want to see, Justice League could have benefited from an additional 20 minutes to help the movie breathe instead of feeling like it’s in such a hurry to get through everything in less than two hours before the credits roll. The movie’s overlong assembling of the league is the result of bringing everyone together to take down Steppenwolf, a shallow CGI villain that is given little backstory for his motives, other than him wielding an axe and shouting that he wants to destroy the world.

After seeing the movie in its entirety, I can only imagine how much of a nightmare editing and cutting the movie together were, given how reshoots were done this summer. It’s certainly not bad, but there were a few instances in the movie where going from one scene to the next felt a little off. But then again, what we see in the finished product is probably for the best given what was there. Director Zack Snyder’s original vision is meshed with Joss Whedon’s, who polished the script and directed the reshoots over the summer when Snyder had to step down due to the death of his daughter. And given the movie’s extensive reshoots that make up a fifth of the finished product, it certainly explains the movie’s hit-or-miss CGI.

Sure, Justice League has its shortcomings, but they are outweighed by the movie’s jubilating moments from the movie’s superb cast of superhero characters. Ben Affleck continues to look and act bad-ass as Batman. Gal Gadot shows us yet again why she’ll remain the star of the DCEU as Wonder Woman for years to come. To no one’s shock, Henry Cavill returns as Superman, yet is better than ever (and for good reason) as the Man of Steel. Jason Mamoa comes off cool as a cucumber as Aquaman, whose rock-star attitude bodes excitement for his character’s solo movie due out next December. Despite his character’s clunky CGI, Ray Stone brings a sense of levity to the character of Cyborg. And finally, Ezra Miller’s socially awkward jitteriness as The Flash steals the entire show. While his character will certainly make you laugh more than any other character, he also has the best scene in the entire movie, and when you see it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Justice League shines brightest when the movie sees its superheroes on-screen together, where we see the team in either exhilarating action, or all together planning their next move, where the chemistry on display never fails to make you laugh or smile. Despite being given little backstory before boarding the team that Batman and Wonder Woman are putting together, each new character (Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg) is a solid addition and all are given their own great character moments in the movie; on top of that, to an extent, they all are funny thanks to Whedon’s infused humor and whit that were added during the movie’s reshoots. Oh, and the return of Superman? Sure, he’s been purposely omitted from the movie’s marketing for months, but we all knew he would be in Justice League, and the movie does a fine job of serving justice to his character when he returns. Also, let’s not forget about Danny Elfman’s splendid score, which infuses classic music from his work on Tim Burton’s Batman, John Williams’ Superman score, and Hans Zimmer’s guitar-shredding song for Wonder Woman.

For years, people have been waiting to see the Justice League assemble on the big screen. Was it worth the wait? I don’t think so. As someone who grew up reading and watching Justice League, I was a little disappointed with the movie’s rushed execution; heck, I could tell from the movie’s opening scene that I was going to have a few problems with the movie. However, the purpose of Justice League is to serve as a palette cleanser for the future of the DCEU, where their superhero movies will be more conventional as opposed to dark and edgy like their predecessors. But is conventional exactly what we need? Absolutely. One scene in Justice League that features Wonder Woman is sure to draw plenty of applause from the audience because it shows off how both empowering and caring her lasso-wielding character is. It’s moments like this, or whenever the movie shows off its heroes doing heroic things, that have us rooting for them because they instill hope in us. And with the world having seen more dark days in recent months than seemingly ever before, we could use more superhero movies that inspire hope.

Rating: [star rating=”3″]

Side Note: There are TWO post credits scenes, so be sure you stay through the entire credits.