Since 2013, DC has been playing catchup with the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe with its DC Extended Universe. While Marvel’s formula included origin stories for each of their individual superheroes as a lead up to the eventual Avengers film, DC took a different route. While 2013 included the release of Man of Steel, DC decided to put aside their origin stories and introduce the Justice League in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. A film that felt like nothing more than a rushed attempt to catch up to Marvel by introducing the characters in small snippets of “footage” held by Lex Luthor. 2016 did not get any better with the release of Suicide Squad, which cemented DC as the laughing stock of the comic book film universe.
As we entered the summer of 2017, a sense of hope was put into the DCEU with Wonder Woman not only being a box office hit but a massive success. The film brought some optimism to the troubled Justice League film. As Justice League entered theaters two weeks back, the film, while struggling at the box office, is not the disaster I fully anticipated walking out of after viewing it.
Is Justice League great?
Absolutely not. When Justice League is bad, boy is it bad. Starting from the film’s opening, where Superman first appears on the screen, the CGI that removes Henry Cavil’s mustache is glaringly obvious and while only having a few months to perfect the CGI removal, DC and Warner’s could have done a much better job.
Superman’s return also comes off as rushed. When Batman v Superman pulled the trigger on killing the Man of Steel, I felt there would be a better build to his return. A year ago, Henry Cavill released a photo on Instagram which showed off Superman’s black suit, which teased fans that that would be a central focal point of his return. However, thanks to reshoots and budgets, that seems to be a victim of cuts from the film.
Outside of Wonder Woman, the other saving grace in Batman v Superman was the caped crusader himself. However, in Justice League, the comic book mark in me couldn’t help but notice that Batman/Bruce Wayne was awfully trusting. The Dark Knight that I’ve read for years upon years was never trusting of anyone outside his inner circle and in Justice League, he comes off as naive. That, along with Ben Affleck, phoning it in this time around as the Bat did not make it one of Batman’s best outings on screen.
Finally, we get to the film’s main baddie, Steppenwolf. This is quite possibly one of the worst villains of the comic book universe. Not once throughout the film did he feel like an actual threat. He came off more as a Batman 66 villain of the week, rather than a threatening villain actually causing havoc that would bring an end to the League or the world.
While this review is mostly bringing up the negatives, the film did entertain me and provide moments in the film that was worth cracking a smile over. The chemistry between the members of the Justice League despite Ben phoning it in was tremendous. You felt that they were a unit on screen and as usual, was lead by Gal Gadot’s take as Diana Prince. At this point, it should be expected that Gal will steal the show in these films. If Justice League did anything, it added anticipation to the Wonder Woman sequel coming November 1, 2019.
One of the biggest surprises of the film was Ezra Miller’s take as The Flash. While a huge fan of the CW show, I was bummed to see that Grant Gustin was recast and despite being a fan of Miller’s, I was unsure as to how this performance would come off. While different, Miller’s Flash is not only entertaining but extremely funny in the film. While still preferring Gustin, Miller cemented his place as the big screen Flash.
If there is one thing to take away from Justice League, is how wrong DC has been running their universe since 2013. The film added anticipation to the characters stand alone films and confirmed how much better this film would have been if all these characters had been properly introduced in their own stand-alone films. While entertaining, Justice League leaves fans with a feeling of “What If?”
Reel Talk gives Justice League 2.5 reels