It’s difficult for me to talk about the DC cinematic universe without bringing up the Marvel cinematic universe. As we are all aware of by now, “DC” has tried their best to take what Marvel has done and put their own spin on it. Unlike the Marvel films, the DC ones have had minimal critical success. “Wonder Woman” is the one out of five films so far that critics and moviegoers have universally loved. Having said that, each film has been a global blockbuster and I have no doubt that “Justice League” will be a holiday season juggernaut at the box office. Now, is the movie any good? It’s a huge improvement over “Batman v. Superman” and “Suicide Squad”, but its’ many flaws make it simply, OK.
A new threat has arrived on Earth, a powerful alien being named Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). His plan is to conquer the planet with the help of his army of flying creatures. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) knows that he needs to put a team together of people with abilities in order to stop Steppenwolf. Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) needs no convincing to join the fight. Neither does the ultra hyper Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), who just wants to make some friends and is happy to be part of a group. With a little extra convincing effort going to Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Justice League is officially formed. Together the team sets out to stop the evil alien before he gets his hands on the three mother boxes that he needs to take over the planet.
“Justice League” is a direct follow-up to “Batman v. Superman”, both films directed by Zack Snyder. However, when Snyder left the production for family reasons, Joss Whedon stepped in and completed the film. Being familiar with the work of both filmmakers, it is easy to see where Whedon’s influence was injected. There is quite a bit of humor, which was seriously lacking in both “Man of Steel” and “Batman v. Superman”. Because we haven’t seen Snyder’s cut of the film, which was rumored to be nearly three hours long, it is hard to tell what was removed from the final cut. We learn very little about Aquaman, Flash, and Cyborg in “Justice League”. We are introduced to them with a brief explanation but knowing next to nothing about them makes it more difficult for us to connect with them. I am not saying this movie needs to be three hours, but an extra twenty minutes or so to flesh out the new characters might have been a better decision.
Although Cyborg didn’t stand out to me, The Flash and Aquaman did and are definitely the two most entertaining heroes in the league so far. Miller absolutely kills is as Barry Allen and steals every scene he is in. He can do more with simple facial expressions and his eyes than anyone else on the team. We already love Wonder Woman and she is just as great here as she was earlier this year in her solo film. Momoa is also having some great fun as Aquaman, I just wish we got to learn more about his home of Atlantis. I am sure that will come next year with his solo film.
Much like the previous DC films (and even many of the Marvel films), we are given another forgettable CGI villain. Steppenwolf just didn’t stand out to me. For those of you wondering, yes Henry Cavill once again returns as Superman, risen’ from the dead. I won’t tell you any more than that, but he is actually in the film and gives his best performance of the character to date. However, the CGI used to digitally remove the actor’s beard during reshoots was quite distracting at times.
DC still hasn’t nailed this comic book formula, but if you look at the trend, the wise thing to do is bring new directors into the universe. Snyder can make a film look amazing, but telling a story is not his strong suit. “Justice League” is less of a mess than its’ predecessor, even if it’s very flawed. I do believe things are starting to look a little more hopeful for the DC Universe.
By: Marc Ferman