Justice League is fun. It has humor, but not too much. It has heart, but it doesn’t break yours. It has stars, but not one that overpowers the rest. And most of all, it accomplishes two great things simultaneously: Justice League successfully ends the Snyder trilogy (started with Man of Steel and continued in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice) and finally establishes a possible wider cinematic universe.
Every member of the team is interesting. Ezra Miller steals every scene he is in with his portrayal of a slightly-more-Wally-West-than-Barry-Allen version of the Flash, giving well-placed one-liners and for the first time in the character’s history, he actually talks too fast to catch sometimes, which is a fun character trait addition that I hope they incorporate into both the show and the comics. Ray Fisher is one to watch with his heartfelt introduction to what I’ve always considered a throwaway character, giving proof that Cyborg is more Victor Stone than unfeeling robot. Gal Gadot continues to earn the title of best superhero on the big screen showing both vulnerability and inspiration for now the third time in a row as Diana Prince, Wonder Woman. Jason Momoa makes Arthur Curry interesting, makes Aquaman significantly less of a joke, and makes just about every woman in the theater very, very uncomfortable when he takes his shirt off. Then there are the movies two stars: Ben Affleck as the ultimate Batman and Henry Cavill as the ultimate Superman, period.
The movie is not without its flaws, but they are mostly things that only hardcore comic fans will even notice or care about. Steppenwolf is forgettable, even though he’s a lot cooler than he’s ever been in any comic. Not exactly a great choice for a big bad villain, but he looks cool, commands a pretty decent army, and actually does pose a significant threat, so I was cool with him by the end of the film. I felt this was an argument that was also dismissed for similar reasons stated above when I saw Suicide Squad. Then there’s the infamous mustache of steel, which is a bit distracting and just reeks of rushed production and studio pressure. Again, not a big deal, but it kept Cavill’s scenes from being perfect. And that’s not a typo… I don’t mean great. I mean perfect. Because come on. The guy simply is Superman.
Those flaws completely disappear because of some solid additional actors. Amy Adams returns as a significantly-improved Lois Lane (I hated her in the first one, she grew on me in the second one, and I actually liked her this go-around). Jeremy Irons is at it again as a sassy-but-capable Alfred (he was underused in the last movie and had a few shining moments in this one). And the incomparable Diane Lane closes out the Snyder trilogy with the grace and dignity that only such a classy actress of her calibre can deliver. You are either an unfeeling monster or a flat-out liar if you didn’t feel something when Clark called her “Ma” when they were reunited. New arrivals such as Amber Heard as Mera, J. K. Simmons as Gordon, and a certain someone who shows up after the credits make for a fun preview of movies to come. And speaking of the post-credits scene… Without giving too much away, let me just say that I have never been so excited to see a cameo appearance in my entire life. When I stay until the end of a Marvel film, I feel like I’m getting a stupid cut scene that neither advances nor improves my movie-going experience. The music, the imagery, and the sheer stage presence of my favorite villain of all time played by one of the most polarizing actors in Hollywood today makes this scene a modern masterpiece.
So what went wrong?
Well, I have a theory. And here it is. Stay with me: Those who can’t write become critics. And those who can’t read collect Marvel. So what do you get when Disney essentially owns the media? You do the math. All fake news jokes aside, the unnecessary harsh criticism of every single DC movie is not only unfortunate, but wildly inaccurate. If you ask people who actually gave these movies a chance, they not only enjoyed them, but enjoyed them significantly more than the movies from the other side of the Big Two. After a fair (and mostly positive) reception of Wonder Woman, it seemed like Justice League actually had a chance. Then the first “review” came in. And the next one. And the next one. And then Rotten Tomatoes, an elite league of trolls in their mom’s basements, had their say and poof! the world made its decision. And, by the world, I mean the internet. But I digress.
Every member is actually interesting. Zack Snyder has a certain style and no matter if you love him or hate him, you have to admit, that style just looks cool. And then there’s Joss Whedon, the man who somehow made the Avengers, and by extension, Marvel, a household name. And now that we have Wonder Woman, who is essentially every single superpower and personality trait of the Avengers in one character on a team full of other just-as-interesting characters, with a hint toward the strongest part of the DC Universe (their villains) making their way to future projects on the big screen, the big question remaining is one that critics are either too dumb or too scared to ask: How much longer does Marvel have left? Name a good Marvel villain? Not an entertaining or a funny or a good-looking one, but an actually scary, threatening, or believable one? You probably can’t. And if you can, they probably haven’t been done well in a movie. DC has cornered the market on villains and their heroes, now assembled, have proven more interesting, albeit flawed, than Marvel’s world. Marvel is owned by Disney, which is no secret. And Disney is a company completely driven by the need to appeal to family audiences. Perhaps the DC movies can just keep doing what they’re doing and the Marvel movies can keep doing what they’re doing and everyone will win. If you want to turn your brain off or if you are seven years old, Robert Downey Jr. and his buddies can entertain you. But when you get into high school or college and still want to connect with superheroes, you can talk to your parents about real movies. Which also happen to contain superheroes.
But what do I know. I’m just a super fan. And an unapologetic DC enthusiast. Go see it. And if you like it, go tell someone.
MY SCORE: 5/5