The Avengers: Justice Style
Justice League is directed by Zack Snyder and stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J.K. Simmons. It is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe.
Before I proceed with the review part of the review, it should be mentioned that although the film says it is directed by Zack Snyder, Snyder stepped away from the production after his daughter committed suicide back in March 2017. Joss Whedon took over directing duties and managed the filming of additional scenes that needed to be in the final cut. Warner Brothers stated that Whedon was to write and direct in the manner as Zack Snyder would so as to avoid any noticeable shifts in tone or style changes.
The DCEU stepped away from the danger zone following the massive success of Wonder Woman earlier this year, so while it'd be preferable for the DC franchise to score big again with Justice League, it was not going to be the be all end all. In the ongoing superhero arms race between Marvel and DC, a team up among DC's heavyweights would seem like the natural thing for the DCEU to do after setting the foundation with their modern day renditions of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. If people loved seeing all of the MCU's superheroes team up, how could they not love seeing all of DC's superheroes team up? We live in a time where superheroes are box office gargantuans, and pretty much every superhero that has ever existed has gotten or will soon get a 21st century upgrade. The Justice League was inevitable.
It's incredibly difficult to not bring up the first Avengers movie when trying to talk about Justice League, because that's really what it's trying to be to the DCEU. As we've seen so far, the DCEU is going down a much different path than the MCU, which has largely contributed to why a lot of folks don't believe the DCEU is in the same league as the MCU. The MCU has gone through similar patterns or phases as they like to call it in building up their extended universe; they introduce their heroes to us by giving each of them one or two solo films so that we can devlop an understanding of who they are and what these heroes are likes. Once that's done, all of the heroes come together for the big Avengers assemblage, while introducing new heroes along the way who will later join the Avengers get-togethers. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk all got solo films before the first Avengers, and then they all got another solo film (well, not Hulk for some reason) before Age of Ultron. And as the MCU was getting its characters ready for Age of Ultron, they introduced us to the Guardians of the Galaxy, who will be in Avengers: Infinity War. This has been a process that is still going on for the MCU, and since it's been working for almost a decade now, why would they have any reason to stop?
As for the DCEU, it began with introducing us to the new Superman with Man of Steel, and then the next installment was Batman v Superman. Hold it right there. Only two films in and we're already seeing Batman fight Superman? I have spoken before of how I believed that Batman v Superman was released prematurely, because it tried to do so many things without first establishing all of its relevant characters. BvS was the first time we were ever seeing Ben Affleck's version of Batman, as well as our first look at Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. Had Wonder Woman and a solo Ben Affleck Batman movie come out before BvS, I would think it would've gotten a warmer reception.
This leads me to what's going on with Justice League. It's the first mash-up of DC's most famous superheroes, but it's our first look at more than half of them. At this point, we're only used to seeing Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Aquaman? Flash? Cyborg? Good luck telling me what kind of characters they are heading into this film.
I've rambled a little too much at this point, so let's get on with the plot. Following the events of BvS, the world is mourning the death of Superman. Sensing fear in the human race is Steppenwolf, an other-wordly being who, along with his army of Parademons, wishes to conquer and remake planet Earth. To do this, Steppenwolf seeks out three devices known as the Mother Boxes which are scattered around the world. Bruce Wayne encounters and fights a Parademon in the film's opening scene, leading him to believe that an invasion is coming. Bruce, along with Diana Prince, begin a recruitment effort for the world's other metahumans in hopes of creating a team that could counteract the incoming invasion. Bruce finds Arthur Curry/Aquaman and Barry Allen/Flash, being able to convince the latter to join. Diana Prince finds Victor Stone/Cyborg, but is unable to convince him to join. Aquaman and Cyborg do eventually join, but Bruce Wayne realizes that they still don't have enough to defeat Steppenwolf. This leads Bruce Wayne to consider the possibility of bringing Superman back to life.
The marketing for Justice League was...strange. The hype for this movie wasn't anywhere near what it should have been, coming along like just another fun, come and go superhero movie as opposed to the next big thing in the superhero genre. Releasing the film just two weeks after Marvel's highly successful Thor: Ragnarok might not have been the wisest decision either. I keep coming back to the fact that half of the Justice League is getting their DCEU debut in this film, and that is what's keeping the film from being right up there with the first Avengers. That doesn't mean the film is bad. It's far from bad. Justice League is serviceable more than anything.
- Any and all questions about Ben Affleck making a good Batman should by now be extinct. Affleck once again shines as a hardened, aging version of the Caped Crusader, successfully giving him the vibe as the Justice League's self-proclaimed leader. And if people were upset by Batman resembling a ruthless killer in BvS, there's basically none of that on display here.
- If there is one thing that Justice League will be remembered for, it's that it has lots and lots and lots of action. So much that it gives the Fast & Furious movies a run for their money. Every Justice League member gets an opportunity to effectively show off their abilities, and the movie wastes absolutely no time in getting from action set piece to action set piece. It's exciting, coherent, and above all else, fun.
- The quality of the villains has been one of the DCEU's strengths over the MCU thus far. This is the first time, however, in which the DCEU has given us a weak, forgettable villain. Steppenwolf is little more than a power hungry baddie who wants world domination, about as stock of a villain character as you can find. It's difficult to sympathize with him in any way, as he lacks any kind of human touch.
- The basic outline of the plot that I described above is really all there is to it. There are no surprises of any kind, and the movie just follows a straight line with its plot and characters, going from Point A to Point B and so on without concerning itself with building up its character motivations or have them undergo any notable changes. The Justice League heroes all come together to fight a bad guy who wants world domination. Simple stuff.
This is a rare occurrence in which I was hoping for a film to be longer than it actually was. Justice League clocks out right at the two hour mark, but I can't help but feel that the movie could have done so much more and be so much more if it had an extra 30-45 minutes to work with. From what I've heard, Warner Bros. gave the film a ceiling running time of two hours, so Zack Snyder and co. had to do the best they could with a restricted run time.
Overall, there are plenty of flaws to address, but Justice League ultimately shows that DC is taking the right steps in its effort to bolster the DCEU and make it a true competitor with the MCU. It's more light-hearted than the DCEU's previous efforts and makes sure you get your money's worth with its boatloads of action sequences. There's a great superhero movie stuck inside of Justice League somewhere, though what we do get in reality is operative. I eagerly await an extended cut if one does exist.
Recommend? Yes. It's fun and worth your time.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: