It’s here. After all the behind-the-scenes drama, Justice League has finally been released to the public. This movie seems to have been hounded by bad news ever since it was announced. From first being planned as two movies telling one story, to having the second one cancelled to make room for the first solo Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Hollywoodland) Batman movie, to the studio being blindsided by the reaction to what it believed to be its new crown jewel in Batman V Superman, to changing the direction of the movie mid-production as a result of the aforementioned reaction, to the first director, Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) leaving mid-production as a result of a family tragedy, to being replaced by Joss Whedon (Firefly, Atlantis: The Lost Empire), a director whose style is practically the polar opposite of the previous director, to reportedly having its runtime cut much shorter than originally intended. Now that all’s said and done, the final product is here, and this trouble clearly shows. Though surprising myself, in spite of the obvious troubles, I actually quite enjoyed this movie.
The movie’s plot is quite simplistic, perhaps a side-effect of Warner Brothers’ blindsiding to the polarizing reactions to BvS. the thinking seems to be that it’s better to release a dud of a story than risk another disaster. The villain, Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) is also kind of weak as a character, though I went in half-expecting that considering the main focus would be on the new heroes. Steppenwolf was alright for what he was, an excuse for action scenes.
Not that it matters much as this allows for more interaction between the heroes we know, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), and the new guys: Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa). Having never seen the previous three in a movie or tv show before, this for me was also an introduction to the actors. Miller’s Barry Allen is fun, energetic, and essentially functions in the same manner here as Fox’s Quicksilver (Evan Peters), with less confidence in battle and a little more awkwardness, notwithstanding my wish that he had his own movie first. Fisher’s Cyborg is almost a re-introduction to the character if you’ve ever seen the 2–3-2006 Teen Titans show, and it makes sense to introduce him here, considering his origin story revolves around the maguffins of this movie, the Mother Boxes. Introducing Aquaman here is probably for the best. How else are you going to get people to care about him when his reputation is such a joke? Besides, there’s no way the traditional Aquaman would be on-screen, not in this world that Zack Snyder’s created. Momoa has presence, and his character is quite a force to be reckoned with, having essentially been abandoned by his own Atlantean people. Commissioner James Gordon (JK Simmons) is also here for two cameos, but I liked what I saw. Besides, it’s JK Simmons. He’s just that cool.
All in all, I enjoyed the new characters. You’ll notice I did not go into much detail regarding the new heroes. That may partially be because of the limitations of the movie itself perhaps as a result of its runtime. Something you’ll notice is that Justice League functions in much the same manner as a television pilot, where aside from perhaps two of the main characters, we don’t really explore the characters much. Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg are given the tv pilot treatment, as in, “We get the basic gist of this character, we’ll explore them more later in a future episode, keep it moving”. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be distracting.
Superman’s (Henry Cavill) return of course is here, happening much earlier than I anticipated. I won’t spoil the exact nature, but it does utilize one of the things I especially hated from BvS, though it’s pretty much discarded almost immediately when it’s usage is done. The CGI in the movie did not bother me much either, aside from on Cavill’s face. An unfortunate necessity as his character has a mustache in the upcoming Mission Impossible 6.
Justice League, while far from perfect, is an enjoyable, admittedly messy, movie with promising signs for the future of the DCEU. JL is better than Man of Steel, CERTAINLY better than BvS and Suicide Squad, but not as good as Wonder Woman. And do stick around for both the end-credits scenes! One is just for fun, the second such a great tease! Especially for the character that is in it! I haven’t felt drowned in such fanboy excitement since Hulk’s “puny god” scene from The Avengers! JL is a flawed but promising sign of things to come.