For decades, many superhero fans, myself included, have salivated at the thought of a potential film centered around the Justice League. The most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe teaming up to defeat an extremely powerful villain has been in talks for ages, but nothing ever came of it. However, now it has finally happened with this year’s Justice League, the fifth film in the DC Extended Universe. What is unfortunate, however, is how disappointingly mediocre this film truly is.
Set after the events of 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the world is still ridden with criminals and villains, as per usual in every comic book movie. Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben Affleck) and Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) realize that an extremely dangerous villain named Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) that has the potential to wipe out the entire world is looming ever-so closer. Feeling outnumbered against Steppenwolf and his army, Wayne and Prince set out to band together a team of their most trusted allies and powerful heroes they can find. Among these heroes are The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Batman, and Wonder Woman.
All the meanwhile, we occasionally cut to scenes involving Lois Lane (Amy Adams), the girlfriend of the now deceased Superman (Henry Cavill) after his sacrifice in the aforementioned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Lane is obviously still devastated by her boyfriend’s death, and we see how she copes with the loss of her loved one. Not only that, but we often see many civilians of Earth, and how they were affected by Superman’s death in one of the best opening sequences of any film in the DC Extended Universe so far.
To be fair, Justice League is nowhere near as bad as last year’s Suicide Squad, which only had one truly good element; that of Margot Robbie’s performance as Dr. Harleen Quinzel / Harley Quinn. But, that doesn’t mean that Justice League isn’t mediocre to say the least.
I vividly remember back when I was a little kid, me and my friend would always talk about how excited we were for superhero movies to release. We always discussed how cool it would be if there was ever a Justice League movie released, where Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the crew teamed up to fight villains. To superhero film fans all over the world, that was something we all wanted to see on the big screen. So the fact that this Justice League film is even mediocre, honestly makes it one of the most disappointing blockbusters I have ever seen in my life.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few praise-worthy elements of the film, however. Ben Affleck is really great as Bruce Wayne / Batman. To me, he was the best aspect of Batman v Superman, as he had a great portrayal of the iconic caped crusader. Once again, he is great here, and further explores his character in fun ways. But much like her starring role in this year’s Wonder Woman, Gadot is the true standout of Justice League. Everything she had present in Wonder Woman is back, which includes her undeniable charm and likeability, wit, humor, and, her fierceness. Virtually everything about Gadot’s Wonder Woman is absolutely mesmerizing, and she actually brought a glimmer of light and fun to the more dark and boring scenes in Justice League.
Even the previous two installments in the DC Extended Universe had scenes that were mostly entertaining. With Justice League, even the big Hollywood-like fight scenes were not fascinating to me that much. Sure, there were a couple of times where the superhero team throws down villains left and right was fun to watch, but you never once feel like they are in real danger. There is a limited few scenes in which we actually see our heroes in a situation where you feel like they could potentially lose, which is unfortunate, because Wonder Woman was able to craft an abundance of scenes in which you were on edge, because you felt like Wonder Woman could possibly lose a battle. I understand that director Zack Snyder most likely wanted to create a comic book motion picture in which we see nothing but superheroes mowing down villains as it would be entertaining, but doing just that and nothing else, takes almost all the intense elements out of the fight. These scenes actually reminded me of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, when there were thousands of Jedi slicing down enemies left and right. You knew for a fact that the Jedi were going to win, and you know for a fact that the Justice League are going to win certain battles as well.
Beautiful shots are all throughout the film, shot by Fabian Wagner, which added a sense of much needed light in this universe. Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were both films that did not look good at all. Almost every shot in those films was extremely dark, and you almost felt glum watching them. In Justice League, Snyder took these criticisms to heart, and made this film much more colorful with a splash of fun here and there.
Steppenwolf is not all that great a villain, either. It’s painfully obvious that he is CGI, which is unfortunate, because I found the DC Extended Universe’s previous villains to look pretty good for the most part. But with Steppenwolf, it almost looks like a character in a video game such as Injustice 2. On top of this, he isn’t really a believable villain, either. His entire ploy to destroy the world as we all know it is incredibly glossed over in an unfortunately bad exposition scene that also provided unnecessary fan service.
Additionally, we only really see how Steppenwolf’s evil scheme will affect one family, which is strange considering the fact that his ploy involves world destruction. So, shouldn’t we be seeing how many cities are affected by Steppenwolf’s plan, and not just one family that lives in an extremely small town?
Several memes have surfaced online that showcase Cavill’s Superman with his CGI mouth. For those that do not know, at the time of filming Justice League, Cavill was also filming the newest Mission: Impossible film. In that film, he is set to have a moustache. He was not allowed to shave however, so in Justice League, his moustache is completely removed thanks to the usage of CGI. Unfortunately, it is laughably noticeable, and actually made several moviegoers behind me snicker because of it.
There is, however, a good sense of humour the film has which did have me and will probably have many other audience members laughing at these scenes. Most notably, Miller’s iteration of Flash is a fun character to watch on screen, and he often has the most comedic scenes in the film.
Justice League is one of the most disappointing films for comic book film fans. But, that being said, it can be an entertaining film at times with exceptional performances all around with good cinematography and a sense of humor that works. It’s just that its story is undeniably weak, and its villain is extremely bad.
Overall Grade: B-
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running Time: 120 minutes