For years now the DC Extended Universe has been riddled with problems, from it’s shallow villains, to it’s mediocre solo films, to it’s attempt to match that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While Justice League doesn’t totally fix all of these issues it is by far the best DC movie in a long time and a huge step in the right direction for the franchise.
This review will attempt to avoid spoilers but just in case, you’ve been warned… Potential minor spoilers might follow.
Coming off the heels of Batman vs. Superman and Wonder Woman, it could be argued that Justice League was going to be the make or break film for the DC Cinematic Universe. For the most part it delivered. Justice League is fun and fast, but still stumbles with it’s plot and villain. That being said, the issues it does have are minor and by no means make this movie unbearable to sit through. What this film gets right, and does remarkably well is the League itself. The dynamic between our heroes (and Heroine) is fantastic. Their chemistry is mostly what makes this movie great. However, it is safe to say that Aquaman and the Flash steal the show, but that’s not to say that each character doesn’t have their own shining moments.
Another welcome change is the amount of action. The pacing is so well done that it has very little down time in between it’s major scenes. You have your down times where things are being fleshed out or planned and then you’re thrown right back into the fight, which is a 180 degree difference from BvS. I think it’s safe to say they learned their lesson from that one. Coming in at just over two hours, Justice League runs smoothly for probably 90% of the film.
The story in Justice League is where we get tripped up a bit. A recurring issue with a majority of super hero films (Marvel included) are the villains. For some reason it’s rare when a super hero movie gets this shit right. In regards to Justice League, Stepenwolf is kind of just thrown at us. There is no build up, unless you watched the extended version of BvS and saw him talking to Lex Luthor in a hologram, he kind of just pops in a we are expected to just go with it.
The biggest issue with the DC movies is the fact that (and this may just be a personal feeling) it feels like they’re playing catch up with Marvel, when they really don’t need to. There is SO much content crammed into every film to get all these characters involved and it’s not fair to the ones that don’t have any knowledge outside of the films. If you aren’t familiar with DC comics, odds are you have no clue who Stepenwolf is, hell some that have read a few DC comics probably don’t either. He is an interesting choice for a villain this early in the franchise. He isn’t a bad choice, just not a familiar face for most.
This carries over to the unfamiliar characters in Justice League as well. Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman have yet to receive their solo films yet, so it would have been nice if some back story was given so we knew who and what these guys were about. The thing is, doing that would drastically increase the run time of the film so we are, again, expected to just go with it. If you’re not paying attention you can very easily miss the subtle backstory thats given through the dialogue.
“So, you were struck by lightning?”
“Yea that’s the abridged version.. You were in an explosion right?”
And thats pretty much the majority of the backstory we get for Cyborg and Flash. Aquaman is asked about Atlantis a couple times and if he can talk to fish and thats about it for him as well. Thats all good and well for people familiar with who these characters are, but I can imagine to those without the comic lore knowledge, understanding who these characters are will be difficult.
With Justice League I get the allure of delivering an awesome, high octane team movie that is supposed to rival the Avengers, but when the characters are more 2 dimensional, that makes it harder for them to stick with some viewers. That being said, the actors do a great job of portraying their characters, it shows that they have done the research and that helps this movie immensely. That is what will help movie goers return for future films because regardless of how little we know about them, they’re fun, likable characters I can’t wait to see again on the big screen.
The story is fine, Stepenwolf wants to assemble the three mother boxes and destroy life on earth as we know it. It is up to our Justice seeking friends to form a League and take care of business. They face hardships along the way and it takes awhile for them to work as a cohesive unit, but when they finally do they realize nothing can hold them back. Sounds familiar right?
The story doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it doesn’t necessarily need to. Justice League is a super hero movie after all, after over a decade of these we have an idea of what to expect. This is hands down the best DC movie we have received to date and hopefully they keep this momentum going, slow things down a bit and start delivering some truly iconic films!