Justice League: A Review
Justice League, the second blockbuster comic book movie this month, has finally premiered after years of anticipation.
While it may not be quite the masterpiece of Wonder Woman, Justice League is a huge improvement over all the other DCEU films. And this writer is one who thinks the DCEU movies are much better than given credit for by other critics.
There was no doubt something exciting about a live-action Justice League movie being done for the first time. Seeing all (well, most) of the team on screen shouldn’t have taken this long. They couldn’t mess it up, right?
No, and I don’t believe they did. This was an action-packed adventure of DC Comics’ finest heroes. They didn’t spend a lot of time on character development, which at times is a huge negative. But in this case, they gave you just enough so as not to take away from the action that people wanted to see. There was always a fist flying in this one.
I find the casting very well done. Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman continues to steal every scene she’s in (sign her for every movie, Warnes Bros). Jason Momoa has the proper brashness of Aquaman. Ezra Miller provides the necessary comic relief as the Flash and is very similar to the comic version of Barry Allen. For everything people say about him, I find Ben Affleck to be the best of many versions of Bruce Wayne we’ve seen on screen. He’s brooding but not over the top, arrogant but still relatable. And Ray Fisher, whose casting I was most skeptical of, proved me wrong. He’s a good fit for Cyborg.
Unlike some of these ensemble movies and shows, they avoided the trap of trying to plug in too many cameos from supporting characters that are unnecessary to the plot. Many of them were removed from the final cut and that was a good decision. These movies sometimes get bogged down trying to cram in everyone who’s ever appeared previously. Justice League kept it simple in that regard.
Comic book movies tend to have problems with their villains. It’s just difficult to create a menacing villain that’s true to the source material. Sometimes the wonderment of CGI gets in the way. While I was critical of the iteration of Doomsday we saw in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I found Steppenwolf to be much more convincing. And unlike Ares in Wonder Woman, who looked corny in his God of War costume with a human face peeking through the helmet (come on, he just looked weird) Steppenwolf was an alien that actually looked like an alien, not just some dude in an alien outfit. Costume and makeup was much better here.
I do wish Superman had shown up earlier considering he founded the Justice League in the comics. My biggest criticism of the DCEU has been their handling of the Man of Steel. I just wanted more of him in this first team-up, though I give them credit for cutting down the time he was actually evil than originally intended; to go any longer would have been a mistake. He was there for the final battle, but we’ll have to wait however many years it takes to make a sequel until we get to see him interacting with the rest of the team for an entire movie. At least it gives us something to look forward to.
An unfortunate consequence of Marvel getting a head start on their universe is that they also got a head start on their concept of objects that can destroy the world when joined together. As soon as you hear the explanation of Justice League’s mother boxes and the worldly destruction possible when they’re united, and the battle to keep them out of the big bad guy’s hands, you can’t help but think of Marvel’s infinity stones. The timing is just unfortunate in that this is playing out in the midst of the buildup to Avengers: Infinity War.
One knock on Justice League is that the final cut did indeed remove a lot of material, including some highly anticipated scenes from the trailers. This is a fair point and it’s one that I’ll address in a different piece. But don’t let that keep you from seeing the film. It doesn’t detract from it at all.
I could go on about some of the surprises (and lack thereof) in this movie, but we’d be reaching spoiler territory, so I’ll save that for a different article. Though I will say that the end credits are worth staying for.
My assessment of Justice League is this; it was infinitely better than the Rotten Tomatoes score. Why does anyone look at that anyway?
I understand there were problems in production and this prevented them from putting out the film they really wanted. But for having to make so many adjustments late in the game, this movie was great. The characters are well cast. The villain wasn’t too easily vanquished. And there was no shortage of action. To top it off, we got plenty of hints of what’s to come in the DCEU to satisfy the fanboy inside each of us.
Regardless of what the overall box office numbers say, Justice League builds on the cinematic momentum started in Wonder Woman. Go see it with an open mind and you won’t be disappointed.