‘Justice League’ is the DC movie we need, but not the one we deserved
After a rocky road of polarizing films, the DC Extended Universe’s much anticipated “Justice League” is finally here to give DC Comics’ most iconic team their cinematic debut. Following the events of “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” we pick up with Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) who has discovered an imminent threat in the form of the powerful Steppenwolf and his Parademon army. Now he, along with Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), must track down some of the world’s most powerful heroes to help them in their quest to stop the impending threat while honoring the death of Superman.
So after a bumpy collection of films thus far in the DCEU, fans wondered if this was the entry that could help change the direction of this franchise. In many ways, it was. Easily, the greatest element to compliment this film on are the ways these heroes are portrayed as individuals. Each one feels like they have a reason to be there and they all contribute something to the overall team. At the same time, each and everyone here is beyond likable, each exhibiting moments of somewhat grounded emotion but also moments of being more light that never feel too out of place.
This is in no small part due to the fantastic cast. Affleck continues to prove himself as a worthy Batman as well as Gadot who brings in her maternal warmth and passion that has made her a fan favorite. Similarly, the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman all have times to shine and no one feels too underutilized. Superman, without giving anything too major away, is easily the best he has been in the DCEU so far and Henry Cavill can finally be put up there amongst one of the best to portray the character.
Overall, the tone and general direction is also a major improvement for the franchise. The film still contains the glamorized, gladiator feel that has been present in some of Zack Snyder’s previous films, yet is not as laughably overdone in other films. “Justice League” knows how to keep things colorful, energetic and lively enough to capture more of the superhero essence that much of the DCEU has been missing. Likewise, the comedy is actually integrated rather well. Even though not all the jokes hit home, it’s hard to say if there was a moment when the humor felt out of place or ruined the experience as the story also knew how to let certain emotional moments carry more weight.
While not as flawed as previous DCEU installments, “Justice League” may actually be the most disappointing. Overall, the biggest problem with this movie is that it feels rushed. The just-under two hours runtime may help create a quicker-paced experience, but this is at the cost of losing a lot of smoothness within the narrative. The first act especially is incredibly rushed, introducing characters in the DCEU’s trademark choppily-edited ways and only giving the bare minimum to their motivation or backstory. Even though this film is not meant to act as a backstory for any of these characters, with so many introduced, another 20 or 30 minutes could’ve been added to fill up the gaps.
Additionally, the villain is incredibly underwhelming. His powers, motivations, design and character all feel very generic and create an overall lack of presence from him. This weak villain, along with certain elements the film choose to focus on during the final act, ultimately make much of the danger of the story feel rather dull. Added to the light-hearted tone, the entire film lacks any sense of epicness or scale that a movie called “Justice League” should really contain.
At the end, while “Justice League” is certainly a step in the right direction for the DCEU, it is far from what a film about this iconic team should have been. Thanks to its rushed narrative, weak sense of danger and lack of scale, this film ends up feeling like just another comic book movie that creates little more than a fun, yet disposable experience. While this film will leave audiences and fans entertained, it’s not likely to leave the super impact that it could have.