Justice League is a good, if flawed, movie that sets the DCEU on the right path. The movie had me cheering, laughing, and even tearing up a few times. I’ve seen some reviews that are ripping this movie to pieces and calling it an abomination and I just can’t agree with that. The movie could definitely be better (and it isn’t as good as The Avengers) but it’s a good movie and a step in the right direction. I left wanting to see solo movies for the heroes, something I wasn’t sure of before JL.
The premise is that with the death of Superman, Steppenwolf and his hordes of Parademons see Earth as ripe for conquering. Steppenwolf had tried to conquer the Earth thousands of years ago but the Amazons, Atlanteans, various human tribes, and a few surprising cameos banded together to stop him. Those forces stole the three Motherboxes he needs to transform Earth into an Apocalypse-like planet and hid them. Steppenwolf is now searching them out. Batman, feeling guilty about Superman’s death and his role in it, decides to recruit a team to save the planet.
Honestly, the plot and Steppenwolf are the movie’s greatest weaknesses. The plot is paper thin. It’s just Batman recruiting the heroes and then the five of them trying to stop Steppenwolf. Even with the fate of the Earth in the balance the stakes never felt real. Plus, the movie is trying to more or less cram three origin stories for Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg into its running time and that creates some problems. Aquaman goes to Atlantis and it is a big info dump and I was confused as to whether Aquaman regularly stays in Atlantis and whether he even knew Mera, let alone was in love with her.
Steppenwolf, even with Ciaran Hinds voicing him, is a forgettable villain. He looks cool, but he is a CGI villain that wants to destroy the planet. There’s really nothing else to him. He is in exile for failing Darkseid by not conquering Earth the first time but that is barely mentioned. He is really bland.
Wonder Woman is amazing here. She is still living in Paris and we are re-introduced to her as she stops a group of terrorists from blowing up four city blocks. It’s an amazing sequence that showcases all of her abilities.
She has a good arc in the movie. While she is reacting to problems, she isn’t being proactive. Batman calls her out on it. He says she can be a symbol like Superman was but she is still closing herself off because of what happened to Steve Trevor. He says that he expected Wonder Woman to be leading the team and that she needs to step up.
As for Batman, he is feeling guilty for his role in Superman’s death. He realizes that Clark was more human than he ever has been and that the world needs that kind of hope again. Recruiting the League and stopping Steppenwolf is his penance. Affleck is still a great Batman, and I hope he stays in the role for at least a few more movies. He’s less harsh here, though that could be due to the fact that he is mainly fighting Parademons and not humans.
The Flash is probably the stand-out character. In JL, he’s a loner living off the grid working three to four jobs to pay for a college education so he can get his dad out of jail. I don’t like that they’re using the “Barry’s dad has been framed for the murder of his mother” origin but it doesn’t impact the movie that much. Thankfully Barry isn’t dark and brooding. He is essentially a big fanboy and gets a lot of laughs throughout the movie. I hope that they can iron out the kinks of his solo movie because I need a Flash movie ASAP.
This Aquaman is more in line with Peter David’s hook for a hand hero. He has this “I don’t care” punk rocker attitude going on. He rebuffs Bruce’s attempt to recruit him at first because he doesn’t want to get involved with whatever is going on on the surface. That changes when Steppenwolf steals Atlantis’s Motherbox. Even then he remains snarky and has an attitude. We do get to see a different side of him when he sits on Diana’s Lasso of Truth accidentally in a pretty funny scene.
Cyborg got the short end of the stick. I like the character, and the actor does a good job. Part of the problem is that the CGI isn’t that great. The body proportions looked off. Part of the problem is that he just gets overshadowed by the other heroes and we don’t see him do much action wise other than fire off some blasts.
Superman is handled amazing in this movie. Once he is brought back to life (which I will talk about in a minute) he just owns the screen. He’s out of it and confused and Cyborg makes things worse by accidentally firing on the Man of Steel. Superman then attacks the League in an amazing action sequence where he just demolishes the other heroes. My favorite part is where Flash super speeds, thinking he’s going to get the drop on Superman and then you see Superman’s eyes shift to look at the Flash.
He also totally owns Batman, which felt like redemption for how easily Batman beat Superman in Dawn of Justice. I cheered at that.
Moreover, I think this movie will win over fans that have been on the fence about Cavill’s Superman. This is the symbol of hope that Superman should be and Cavill just nails it. There’s no brooding here. He is Superman and he loves every minute of it.
Lois and Martha are great. Lois has been in a depressed state and is sticking to writing fluff pieces. Martha has had to sell the farm house and doesn’t mind because she feels like a ghost in that empty house. Seeing these two women reunited with Clark brought the feels.
His resurrection was rather abrupt, though. The League gets a Motherbox and Cyborg is explaining what it can do and Batman just immediately jumps to “Let’s bring Superman back to life.” It was rather jarring because it literally came from nowhere.
The action’s good, but I was hoping for something like the Battle of New York from The Avengers. The League fights together and there are some amazing moments but it could have been better.
The Amazons have a small appearance as they try to keep their Motherbox away from Steppenwolf. It’s a cool sequence but I can see why some people are upset. They have definitely sexed up the armor the Amazons wear.
The tone of the movie starts out rather bleak. The opening montage is set to Sigrid’s “Everybody Knows” and shows the world mourning Superman and shows instances of violence and hate and hopelessness.
The movie lightens up as it progresses and ends on a hopeful tone. The League has formed and stepped out of the shadows. Wonder Woman has become a symbol to people.
The final image (save for the two post credits scenes) is of Clark walking down a street in Metropolis when he hears a cry for help. He ducks into an alley and rips open his shirt, showing the S symbol. Seconds later we see Superman take to the sky.
I think it does redeem the darkness of Batman V. Superman. The message seems to be that the Justice League makes the world a better place and fills it with hope.
I loved the scenes of the League interacting, whether that was as a group of split off. Barry and Cyborg share a scene where they kind of bond over being the accidents on the team, as in they both received their powers from accidents. Batman and Wonder Woman share a mutual respect but can also point out the flaws in each other. Aquaman is just the grouchy uncle. Superman is the inspiration.
I do want to talk about the post credit scenes but will put them in spoiler tags.
Justice League isn’t the home run it should have been but it’s still a fun movie and one that I think puts the DCEU on a better path. I will definitely go see it again.