I really enjoyed Justice League. I, unfortunately, could not avoid all of the negative reaction to the film online which tempered my expectations but I walked into this movie with High hopes. Based off of where we last saw our heroes there literally was no other place to go but UP! and with all of the wonderful things that were being leaked from production of the movie there was a lot to be excited about! A more tempered Lex Luthor! Black suit Superman! Atlantis! Mera! The forces of Apocalypse challenging our heroes like no other foe before. Let’s dive in and have a deep discussion about the things I liked and the things I didn’t.
The inspiration – Snyder loves to make an amalgam of different interpretations of characters and stories. this movie clearly was inspired by the Bruce Timm helmed animated series (specifically the Justice League season finale). If you were a fan of that show and the relationships/interactions between the heroes and their approach to justice then you will love this movie. The movie also took inspiration from the DC New 52 reboot of the league and borrowed elements of the mother box and invading parademons popping up sporadically around the world. The new 52 had good stories and bad stories but one that few fans complain about is how Jim Lee and Geoff Johns kick started the new 52 and how they banded the league together. I really enjoyed that not every hero walked into this movie experienced and sure of themselves. It would have taken a lot away if they didn’t have that bit of trepidation from The Flash and Cyborg to round them out as the younger members of the group and forging a camaraderie within the league itself. Mixing those 2 aspects into one great big beautiful mold for the DC universe moving forward.
The story – the story of the mother boxes is an amazing one. They are godly powerful devices that have a history of being crucial story elements whenever Apokolips and the New Gods are involved. The New Gods are a creation of Jack Kirby that initially began as a self-contained corner in the DC comics for quite some time. Mixing them with the traditional superheroes was a really great move by the guys behind the books and it’s awesome to see that kick-start our look into the DCEU.
Superman – His presence in this movie is all too brief. The oddest part to me is that I can’t think of any other film with Caville in the role in which he smiled. That alone had me staring at the screen in confusion as it was a completely unfamiliar look on his interpretation of the character. Talking with children and being… hopeful. I have no idea where they hid this Superman for all these years and why they thought it would be a good idea to save these characterisations for his third cinematic appearance rather than the first but it is a WELCOME ADDITION! Smiling Superman saves lives, talks to kids, puts a whooping on villains, and takes time out of his busy schedule to keep an eye out on the little guys. If there is any complaint to be had about Superman it’s that we didn’t get enough of him in this movie. I really wanted a lot more of his character in this movie but every moment that he was on screen made me realize that this was the Superman I’ve been waiting to see on screen since Man of Steel.
The Flash – This is NOT Barry Allen flash. This is, in everything but name, Wally West flash. I, personally, never understood why they chose to name Ezra Miller’s character Barry in the first place but aside from the misnaming gripe everything about Wally is spot on. I grew up with Wally West flash in the Justice League cartoon so seeing his goofy, uncertain self being awestruck with the rest of the Justice League is right in line with Wally’s character and is amazing to watch. My one gripe with Wally is his awkward running. I don’t mean his rampant slip and falls, rather i’m referring to his form. He always swings his arms out and forward almost in a swimming motion when most runners keep their arms at a 90 degree angle palms open. It’s a bit awkward seeing this but overall his character was spot on and is in contention, along X-men’s version of Quicksilver, for the best slo-mo-speed moment in cinema.
Cyborg – This one had me nervous. I get nervous whenever a black superhero is going to portrayed in any capacity because, by large and far, minority super heroes are under represented. In comics, film, and television you’ll find the same situation of little to no non-white representation in the world of super heroics. With Cyborg slated to receive his own movie (for some reason 🤔). I have to say that I really felt they took great care and showed respect to the character with his inclusion in this movie. Cyborg was more than just a background hero but wasn’t pushed hard enough to outright steal any scenes (except for the fist bump!). Cyborg’s story in this film is a tragic one and although we didn’t get a deep dive into his origin I felt that the moments we saw of the character helped him shine among gods.
Aquaman – I had a strong feeling that we would get Kal-Drogo-Curry in this movie and we did. And it was AWESOME. Khal Drogo BROUGHT IT in his portrayal of Aquaman and made the sea king stand out as the brawler in the group. Zack Snyder, and the DCEU as a whole, have taken great liberties with their portrayal of classic characters on screen. Throwing out the book and starting from scratch worked the best for Aquaman and has created an interpretation that the comics will be hard pressed to replicate. There’s a ferocity to Kal’s portrayal of Aquaman that was hasn’t typically been associated with the character that BEGS you as a viewer to learn more. Atlantis is gorgeous. Mera is gorgeous. Aquaman is… gorgeous.
Steppenwolf – FINALLY. A COMIC BOOK VILLAIN I CAN GET BEHIND. There are few good comic book villains in film. Justin Hammer was okay, Zod was squandered, Red Skull was the absolute best, and now we have Steppenwolf as a close runner up. Sure, he’s not the evil lord of Apocalypse that most of use hoped to see face off against the league but in comparison to the typical comic book villain he ranks up there with Hela and the rest of the best. If you look at Steppenwolf just as a villain in this movie he absolutely nails it. He’s brutal, ferocious, and is overwhelming to handle for any single hero (… well, almost). There are a lot of battles in this film but one flashback battle highlighted the threat that Steppenwolf represents. He’s a very 1 dimensional character in comparison to some of the more famous Justice League baddies but he satisfied the need for a traditional villain perfectly.
The story – a simple story. I find myself critiquing some films because the stories they try to tell are convoluted. One only has to look at something liek Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and you can see how things can get out of hand. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy 2 as much as the next guy but I can’t tell you what the movie was about. Justice League is simple and elequent in that regard that it’s an easy tale to follow which is a huge accomplishment considering all the goals set. The film unites the Justice League, introduces a ton of new characters and personalities, sets the stage for future storylines and all while maintaining the actual issue at hand of overcoming Steppenwolf. A Herculean effort for all involved to reign things in and to simply tell a Justice League story without much added.
The Pacing – the story lends itself to the pacing. the movie doesn’t dwell too long on setup and instead thrusts us into what we all want to see. This isn’t a over bloated movie and delivers in giving me a lot of what I want from a Justice League movie. I got to see heroes be heroes, villains do villainous things, and I saw the Justice League unite. Things sometimes move a bit too fast to be fully appreciated or fully flesh out an idea that’s trying to be conveyed but I don’t have any major issues with the quick pace of Justice League.
The visuals – Zack snyder has few peers in the world of visuals. Save for maybe Michael Bay himself there are few directors that quite deliver the ‘splosions like this guy. There are moments in this movie in which you will see the signature Zack Snyder slow mo and color pallete and your brain will turn off and just watch. One of the more popular scenes involves The Flash helping Wonder Woman regain her weapon in mid free-fall. The whole thing is 100% ridiculous and also 100% cool to watch.
The action – The action in Justice League is among the best in comic book film. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed super hero combat this much outside of a Captain America movie. One of the best examples of the action in this movie and how Snyder and company got it right is with a war between Atlanteans, Amazons, and Man vs Steppenwolf and the hordes of Apocalypse.
Another cool scene involves the Amazons playing Cat & Mouse with Steppenwolf attempting to keep him from getting his hands on a Motherbox:
The music. I really wanted some kick-ass hard rock Kid Rock, mosh pit, break furniture and dishes music playing when the fights were occurring. That didn’t happen. the music wasnt at all distracting it just felt. Tepid. It’s not often that I noticed the music was disappointing which indicates to me that it wasn’t all bad. There are more than a few scenes where the music just doesn’t quite match the visuals which is a nit-pick but noticeable.
Show up to the club and your wingman has a gut…
Batman – Batman’s adoration and need for the return of Superman was jarring. It was weird knowing that just 1 movie ago Batman wanted Superman DEAD and it was gratifying to see Kal-El return to life with a grudge against the Dark Knight. I geeked out seeing Kal ask Bruce “Do you bleed?”. Batman was just BAD in this movie. Gone is the Bruce Wayne with conviction and instead we get one that seems to simply be going through the motions with an occasional quip. Also, did Bruce wayne get a gut? I could swear in a few instances that Bruce Wayne had a beer gut! The scenes where Batman is disguised as Bruce Wayne stand out with something portruding under Batman’s 3 piece suit.
Something was also missing from Batman’s character. There’s a lack of confidence in what the character is doign that rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, this is a man among Gods so I kinda understand Bruce being a bit out of his element and somewhat apprehensive. This is a change to the character that I didn’t like in Batman V Superman and I still don’t like in this movie. I wanted to see a pretentious Bruce who is sure of his every action and instead we got a Dark Knight who begs for help and whimpers away when help is declined. It’s odd since Batman was my favorite part of Batman V Superman but it’s a trait
Stronger villain needed – Steppenwolf was good but not great. I feel his character would have benefitted as an ensemble. In a world where fans regularly complain about studios bloating films with villains this is certainly one film that had the opposite issue. would have been more effective if he had Kalibak or Granny Goodness and her furies along with her. There’s so much lore and history with the New Gods that could have been introduced in this movie and instead Justice League barely scratches the fiery surface. Even just a cameo of the other baddies of Apocalypse would have been welcome.
No Orion? No new gods?
The design – I love everything about the visuals except costume design. I swear everyone in the Justice League, especially Batman and Superman, look like a Gears of War characters cosplaying as the Justice League. They’re obnoxiously bulky and look incredibly stiff at all times. I’m 99% sure neither Affleck or Caville have full motion of their arms which sort of disrupted the experience for me.
The ending – The final battle with Steppenwolf was actually really anticlimactic. I got the sense that the goal of the film wasn’t for the heroes to defeat the villain but rather move the characters around like chess pieces so they’re in better positions to launch their solo endeavors. Not just set up the movies, DC has been doing that for quite some time, but also instill hope and optimism into Superman, redeem Batman, and further introduce those characters teased on Diana’s computer in Batman v Superman. If the purpose of the movie was to just refresh characters then it was a rounding success but the movie pretty much uses the actual plot as nothing more than window dressing.
The post credits – very disappointed with both post credit scenes. Most people know what they are and if you don’t then I won’t spoil. I just wanted to point out that they sucked.
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, Cyborg and the Flash — it may be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.
Release date: November 17, 2017 (USA)
Director: Zack Snyder
Music composed by: Danny Elfman, Junkie XL
Producers: Geoff Johns, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, Jon Berg
Screenplay: Joss Whedon, Chris Terrio
[Justice League The Movie | Warner Bros]