A heroic, yet often messy effort to combine DC’s finest heroes.
While Marvel’s well-oiled plans have unfolded to see a methodical phased system of movies, many have fired plentiful criticism at the DC/Warner Bros collaboration in bringing to life the likes of Batman, Superman and others in the past. Fast forward to present day and renewed hope has formed in the wake of Patty Jenkins’ smash Wonder Woman and now we finally have a Justice League movie on the horizon. With Superman buried (allegedly), the famed DC super-team is ready to form as Batman (Ben Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) don their suits to take on evil minion Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). But can DC continue this newfound success that their female hero has ignited, or are we back to square one with the DC movie universe?
The world still mourns the death of Superman and none more so than Bruce Wayne. Convinced that the Man of Steel was the one true human hero the people needed, Wayne soon looks to recruit a new age of heroes as the threat of the god-like Steppenwolf emerges. Having previously failed in an attempt to recover three ‘Mother Boxes’ that together unleash immense power, Steppenwolf is back to claim them and Wayne looks to band once more with Diana Prince, as well as new heroes in Atlantean Arthur Curry, half-man, half-robot Victor Stone and the immensely fast Barry Allen.
After years of waiting and grimacing through the immense success of Marvel’s Avengers team-up, DC fans have finally got their wish with the Justice League banding together for the first time on the big screen. But while it may be a pleasing sight to witness Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg on screen, it isn’t without its issues. While many will predict that those issues may arise from the last-minute reshoots and exit of Zack Snyder from the project (to be finished by Joss Whedon), Justice League surprisingly feels like a cleanly edited movie and a far cry from Suicide Squad’s choppy experience.
Where the film essentially loses its edge is in a rather elongated plot and a villain whose bite is just as weak as his CGI. Steppenwolf falls under the category of many Marvel villains; forgettable and rarely a threat. Once again we have a villain who feels like a pawn used as sequel bait and one whose appearance is usurped by even the most frantic of action sequences littered with CGI left, right and centre.
Amazingly so, the first half an hour of the strictly timed two hour runtime almost feels like a recap episode of your favourite DC show, tracking back on the infamous email of Batman vs Superman and instead replaced by visits to the new heroic subjects. It should feel much more exciting to meet these individuals but it feels too much like treading ground we’ve already touched upon. Enter plenty of exposition and standalone movie setups and then you finally hit the good stuff.
Justice League thrives when Batman, Wonder Woman and the team are handed together and tackling the threat head-on, whether in battle or within the confines of Wayne’s Batcave. There’s some great interactions between the characters – Diana and Bruce especially – and each have their time in the spotlight to make an impact. Momoa’s Aquaman has a swagger and attitude that shuns the idea of throwing ridicule his character’s way, while Fisher’s Cyborg is the most intriguing of the bunch. Affleck breezes and Gadot continues to bolster the support for her casting as Wonder Woman, but it is Ezra Miller who steals the show.
With The Flash epitomised these days by television’s Grant Gustin, Miller perhaps had the toughest task of any of the feature heroes and he really puts his own spin on Barry Allen and his newfound use of his powers. In awe of his peers around him, Miller’s Barry is excitable and in the early stages of his powers, making for the core laughs of the film and the desire for that Flash movie more than ever.
Justice League also bolsters its appeal with some fantastic set pieces almost ripped straight from the comic book pages. Adding a new level of colour and some respite from constant darkness, there are moments that will have fans punching the air, whether a team-up moment or the various Easter eggs littered around for those beady eyes.
Although far from a perfect film, Justice League does a good job of combining DC’s flagship heroes and providing an experience that is strong enough to warrant a return visit to the team’s next venture. Miller is the standout, Gadot again the ultimate hero, and Danny Elfman’s score will have you reminiscing and enthralled in one dynamic ball of excitement. A heroic effort lacking that villain of epic proportions, but still packing plenty of fun.