2.5 out of 5
The wait is finally over. Ever since Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins single handedly gave new life to the DCEU franchise — everyone has been waiting with baited breath to see if Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon could keep things going with “Justice League.” Well, I’m here to answer that question with a…Yeah, sort of.
The film is fun and action packed in several places, and we finally get to see all of the characters DCEU has been touting on screen together, as a team, fighting for justice. But it’s clear those driving the DCEU bus are still finding their way (Thor: Ragnarok, which is still in theaters, is a better movie — so that disparity will still be apparent this go around).
As you would expect, a good amount of time is given to the beginning of the movie catching you up on Bruce Wayne / Batman and Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, as well as introducing you more fully to the new characters in the story: Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash. Though most of the introductions are pretty superficial — the stories are sufficient enough to raise your curiosity levels for their upcoming origin movies. As we get to know the team, we are also introduced to the evil they are facing in Steppenwolf, and the mother boxes he seeks to effectively destroy and then take over the Earth.
As far as villains go, Steppenwolf was the biggest let down of the film. First of all — his own background story is just kind of glossed over in a “Lord of the Rings” type of flashback, as told by Wonder Woman. I even thought for a second she might say, “One mother box to rule them all.” Secondly, he just isn’t that deep or adequately evil. In fact, he gets in the way at times, as his story needs to progress of course, but it feels like it’s interrupting the scenes where the team is figuring things out — which were the best parts of the film. Lastly, the CGI is pretty lacking on Steppenwolf, and it kind of takes you out of the movie a bit. He just doesn’t look like he belongs in such a big budgeted film.
All of the troubles with the movie fall away however when Superman finally returns. I think the writers of the film could have actually gone in a whole different direction — and left Steppenwolf out completely — by just resurrecting Superman and have him struggle with his identity and trying to remember what is going on— while the newly formed team both fights him and tries to save him at the same time. The scenes when he first awakens are simply awesome. I would have liked to have seen more, as well as just more of Superman period.
DC is also figuring out how to shore up the story and not quite make it so convoluted and messy. With a run time of just under two hours, the movie flies along at a quick pace. There aren’t many moments where the story drags, and humor is placed in appropriately all throughout — so that is a minor improvement. Next up for the team will be revealed in time, as the post credit scene seems to indicate a “bad guy” league might be forming, with the help of Lex Luthor (and we never see Steppenwolf actually die on screen — so he could return). Missing though, are the answers to Batman’s vision or dream from Batman v Superman, where Darkseid is introduced, and a seemingly alternate timeline is playing out with the world destroyed and even Superman on the wrong side of things. Maybe that will be answered down the line if this movie is received well.
Just as a side note, look AND listen for a few nice Easter Eggs and nods to the previous Batman and Superman movies — as the soundtracks for Michael Keaton’s “Batman” and the original “Superman” can be heard. And one cameo where I noticed Marc McClure, who played Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve’s Superman movies shows up. Was it perfect? No. Was it better than what I expected? Meh, a bit, but I’m still curious to see what’s next. For now, DC still has a way to go to catch their competition.