Upon leaving the theater after viewing “Justice League,” it can be misleading to judge the film based on excitement for its characters or the introduction of humor into the DC universe. However, DC’s first attempt at a large-scale team-up movie fails to bounce back from “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” the universally panned previous installment in the franchise.
After the events of 2016’s “Batman v Superman” mankind is in mourning (SPOILER) after the selfless sacrifice and death of Superman (Henry Cavill). In his absence, an apocalyptic menace known as Steppenwolf is able to return to Earth in order to destroy and claim ownership of our world. Upon this discovery, Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) must gather a team of unlikely heroes to save mankind from its destruction. Together, the two are quickly able to recruit newcomers Cyborg (Ray Fisher), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) in hopes of overcoming Steppenwolf’s army and saving the world they have sworn to protect.
The troublesome issue with the film is that Joss Whedon and Chris Terrio’s script lacks complexity. In an attempt to appeal to a wider and more family-friendly audience, the creative team chose to tell an uninspiring and elementary story. Director Zack Snyder completely eliminates any elements of ethical dilemmas or character developments presented in his previous DC films. Instead, the film’s heroes become stereotypical jocks that deliver the occasional joke in an attempt to appear relatable. The script is also unable to utilize the unique abilities of each of its heroes and ultimately creates inconsistent action sequences. The best element of any superhero team-up movie is the excitement of watching action sequences that are tailored to present each hero as essential to success. Unfortunately, fans of Aquaman, Batman and the Flash should not expect “Justice League” to provide any solid evidence as to why their favorite hero needed to be invited to the party at all.
The dark and digital effects-heavy visuals of Snyder films have been met with mixed reception for years and unfortunately, “Justice League” is his laziest endeavor. Audiences have become accustomed to brooding digital villains and armies throughout the superhero genre; however, this film becomes unique with its dependence on green screen for even the simplest of locations. Although the story doesn’t necessarily suffer from this creative choice, it displays a laziness on behalf of Snyder’s team and gets distracting when trying to become invested in the characters. On a more comedic, behind-the-scenes note, pay close attention to Henry Cavill’s face, because the digital effects team behind “Justice League” had to digitally remove a full-grown mustache from his face during reshoots. Cavill was busy filming Paramount’s “Mission Impossible 6” during the reshoots of this film, thus contractual obligations hindered Superman himself from shaving it off.
Fortunately for the DC universe, simply watching the iconic characters that have dominated pop-culture for decades compensates for the film’s otherwise dull execution. Wonder Woman is unquestionably the best character that this film franchise has in its arsenal, and after the success of her solo film this past summer, we can expect her to take the lead in the future. Aquaman and Cyborg are both given fairly decent introductions, but they are not given nearly enough time to present full, fleshed-out characters. While Miller’s Flash provides a majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to the comedic aspects of the film, the jokes don’t quite fit with the tone that DC has chosen for their film universe, making his character feel out of place. The only performance in the film that appears to have reached its end is Affleck’s Batman. The actor does not seem to enjoy portraying the character any longer after the harsh backlash towards “Batman v Superman” last year, and unfortunately, it has hindered the quality of the character. If the DC universe wants to expand any further on their Batman mythology, it might need to be with a new actor. That being said, the opportunity to watch these emblematic characters share the screen together is what will keep the fans and most audiences entertained.
A simple narrative and distracting visuals impede “Justice League” from being the success that audiences and the DC creative team needed. Excitement towards these iconic characters can only carry this franchise so far and it is becoming frustrating to see how this studio doesn’t quite know how to utilize them.