Seen 16th November (Opening Day)
Directed by Zach Snyder
Written by Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon
Produced by Atlas Entertainment, Cruel & Unusual Films, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC, Lensbern Productions & Warner Bros.
Starring Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa & Ray Fisher
In 2012 the long awaited movie The Avengers was released to rave reviews. It was a movie that took years to set up, build an entire universe, introduce a ton of superheroes to this new cinematic entity that was created and was one of the highlights of the 2012 film scene. Marvel proved that you could create an amazing superhero team up movie and, in the process, cemented their place as a company that would define how superhero movies were going to look for the next decade… DC would like to do that, but it sounds hard!
Justice League takes place shortly after the death of Superman that was at the end of Batman Vs Superman (Before you yell ‘Spoiler’, they literally make the opening credits a confirmation that Superman is dead to begin with so don’t bother). Without the earth’s greatest defender, Batman and Wonderwoman aren’t really talking until one day Batman learns of a coming invasion, one that Wonderwoman also notices. They learn that the god Steppenwolf, who was not born to be wild, is coming to turn Earth into his own personal hellscape and so they need to assemble a team. They find The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg and with their little ragtag group they take on the god, but can they save the earth on their own?
So let’s just say what everyone’s thinking here, it’s way too soon for this movie to exist. This movie isn’t ready, this universe isn’t ready, DC is not ready to make this work. Let’s first examine how this works when it’s done right.
Marvel were smart as hell when they were building up to The Avengers, they literally called it “Phase One: Avengers Assembled” and it took them 5 movies before they got up to doing their epic finale. In those 5 movies they introduced Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America & Black Widow so that by the time The Avengers came around all they had to do was go “So, we don’t have Ed Norton anymore… deal with it” and introduce the character of Hawkeye, and that was it. We then got to spend the next 2 hours enjoying these characters we’ve spent 5 films with teaming up and kicking ass and it was awesome. It also helped that the films made before The Avengers were well made and well thought out just to make sure we would like the big team up.
Now the DC universe has also had 4 movies… but in those movies, they’ve only introduced Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman. That’s it, the other’s popped up in Batman V Superman but they weren’t any actual focus, they were glorified cameos. They pop up in one sequence where Wonder Woman is looking at videos on a computer, videos that appear in some form in Justice League by the way. They tell us nothing of their personalities, nothing about their abilities, nothing of substance that we need to actually care. It’s like claiming that Hawkeyes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in Thor counts at an introduction when you’re making a cinematic universe.
We don’t know these three characters and so Justice League needs to take precious time to introduce them to us. We need sequences where we learn their attitudes, their backstories, their character traits and that takes more time than they have. They have to do in about 20 minutes what Marvel took hours to get right… make me give a rats ass about the main heroes of the movie. They’re lucky as hell that they got good actors who barely pulled it off because DC couldn’t be bothered to take the time to get this right.
The main cast is genuinely good. Gal Gadot, as expected, steals the entire damn movie. There’s a reason that Wonder Woman is the most loved out of the DC movies and it’s because Gal knows the character and plays her perfectly. Ezra Miller at The Flash is a lot of fun, I honestly look forward to Flashpoint when it comes out because he seems to have taken the character and enjoys it. Jason Momoa as Aquaman just has fun with the part and makes sure that he kills the old image that we all had of Aquaman from the cheesy cartoons that everyone laughed at and I’m looking forward to his movie when it comes out. Ray Fisher as Cyborg has possibly the hardest job out of anyone because he has to give full backstory, show character growth, show us this character’s past that most film fans will not know. Let’s be honest here, if you are not a comic book fan then the name “Cyborg” means nothing to you because he’s only been introduced in this film and to Fisher’s credit, he does it well and I’m looking forward to his movie when it comes out… the fact I have to look forward to movies by characters who should’ve been introduced already is not a good thing. Affleck’s Batman is pretty much OK, I mean he’s no Michael Keaton by any standard but he’s OK, does the job we require and they do make use of the backstory they gave him for Batman V Superman… which should also not exist yet.
Plotwise the film is fine, but it has to spend a long long time catching the audience up, introducing major characters and addressing major issues from previous films so that we don’t get enough time with the Justice League together. We really only get about 2 scenes with the full roster that this film has to offer. When this film works you see the potential it could’ve had if it didn’t have to work so hard to get to the team-up aspect. In scenes where Cyborg and The Flash have been well introduced and it’s just the two of them talking, it’s a pure delight to see them together. When Aquaman is giving Batman endless amounts of crap, now that we know this version of Aquaman, it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun when we know the characters, but it takes too damn long to get to know the characters.
In general Justice League is average at best, and it should be more. It should be an epic film that brings together an entire cinematic universe and pushes the genre forward… but it’s not ready yet. If this film had not been made until after Flashpoint, Cyborg and Aquaman were released THEN they would have something because the scenes where everyone’s fully realised and everyone’s just bouncing off each other are the high points in this film, it just takes far too long to get there and I just don’t have the time or patience to deal with that.
P.S. There are 2 post credit scenes. The first is a joke scene that is honestly just adorable and I love it, the second is set up for a future film and it was really just jumbled, needing a lot more work to make it make sense.
Oh, and don’t give someone top billing in the credits if you want their appearance to be a surprise… just saying.