From The Beginning
With the Marvel universe dominating the cinematic spotlight, a DC superhero collaboration film like Justice League was a welcome announcement for DC fans like myself. After the events in Batman v. Superman, we were in need of a film to tie everything together and make up for some of the areas where it came up short. The stand-alone Wonder Woman movie helped paint the DC universe in a much greater light, reminding us that there is a universe outside of Gotham City and Krypton. It also helped set the stage for what may make or break DC‘s first few steps into a more expansive cinematic realm.
In a somewhat abrupt culmination of events and characters, Justice League manages to bring everyone together under different agendas while setting the tempo for potential future films in the franchise to come. Before we begin, there may be minor spoilers within the review so read at your own discretion.
Getting the Gang Together
I must admit, I was initially a bit concerned with how the trailers for the Justice League film made it seem as though the heroes were well-acquainted and ready to risk life and limb for each other right from the get-go. It was made very apparent in Batman v. Superman that they were not even aware of one another, much less willing to risk their lives for each other. Thankfully this wasn’t actually the case. A decent amount of time was spent actually providing backstories for each character and developing their personality and reason for involvement.
It was necessary to delve into each characters’ backstory for the plot to make sense and it was interesting to get to reconnect with beloved heroes on a more personal level. However, it may have been better to have done so in separate movies prior to this one, as a good three-fourths of the movie was spent on character development alone. And, even then, there were plenty of questions that were left unanswered.
The culminating event was obviously meant to be when the gang finally gets everyone together and teams up to face Steppenwolf, servant of one of the greatest powers in the entire universe. The final encounter was thrilling enough, but it felt so brief in comparison to everything else taking place that it almost seemed like it was over before it began. The most engaging part of the film was, by far, in the reintroduction of Superman, but even that felt a bit rushed.
The Justice League Experience
Despite feeling a bit rushed at points, the film told a good story and even got some well-deserved laughs while maintaining the dark and serious tone that DC is so well-known for. The Justice League itself had all the key parts needed for a successful collaboration movie. It had its fair share of “tough guys” trying to “out-tough” each other, but it also had Cyborg; the brains of the operation, Wonder Woman — who was definitely the light-hearted and matronly member of the group—, and The Flash; the comic relief and most lively. It was these personalities that made Justice League stand out compared to other DC films.
The fight scenes were fewer and slightly more anticlimactic than should be expected for a film about a group of superheroes trying to stop the world from being taken over. Steppenwolf leading an entire army of demons to Earth in an attempt to “cleanse” the planet is supposed to be the end of the world (I feel like I have heard this plot before.) What we got instead were ragtag groups of demons scattered about terrorizing people. Even Steppenwolf didn’t make more than a few appearances through the duration of the film. There were some decent action sequences, but it was nothing near the cataclysm that was expected.
Thankfully, the film was far more than a few disjointed action scenes. There could have been a bit more in the way of emotion, but there were occasions when it went deeper than I anticipated — questioning human ideals and morality, etc. It certainly went beyond a cliche superficial superhero movie.
As what may be considered the first major addition to the DC cinematic universe, Justice League could have been better presented. For such a large event and such a broad spectrum of events that needed to be covered, it felt like they tried to spread the butter a little too thin. There were scenes that had a lack of depth and entire sequences that felt like they had been cut short. It may have been more efficient to do a few more stand-alone films to better flesh out characters like The Flash, Aquaman, or Cyborg beforehand. Perhaps they felt they were too far behind on the bandwagon when compared to Disney and Marvel.
That said, it could have had a much worse presentation as well. The story was relatively deep, but also easy to follow and the subtle hints at things from the comics as well as possible future installments filled me with excitement. There is definitely more that they could do with the franchise and, as a long-time fan, I certainly hope they take advantage of it.