In the comic book-inspired movie world, a film can live or die by its villain. From the god-awful "Fantastic Four's" depiction of the iconic Dr. Doom, Whiplash in "Iron Man 2," Electro in "the Amazing Spider-Man 2," any other DC movie, and so on, many have dealt their respective movies a death blow in being bad at being bad.
Somehow, "Justice League" manages to not only survive the meaningless, unexplained, boring and mysterious in all the wrong ways Steppenwolf, but it comes out being a fun ride that found a way to divert the focus away from its nothing villain. Seriously, Steppenwolf was so bad that I found myself continually forgetting what these characters were coming together to fight.
To me, they were just buying time until finding a way to bring Superman back. That's what Justice League felt like to me, a movie that bought some time to make you care about Superman again. And, you know what, that worked for me. Henry Cavill has been pounded on for his non-emotional, unconnectable depiction of Clark Kent, but there was something much more different this time around for the iconic character.
The crowd in Dearborn, Michigan on opening night literally cheered the first -- and every time -- Superman graced the screen. I swear to God, it was like watching a Goldberg match. It was quick, near the end, but holy shit that left a mark on you.
Now, is "Justice League" a step back from this past summer's "Wonder Woman?" Absolutely it is, but that doesn't mean there aren't great things about Zack Snyder's follow-up to "Batman vs Superman."
The one thing I really wanted to keep my eye on as a reviewer with both fanboy and cinematic interests was the character development in this character-centric movie. A couple of things that really worked for me as an avid DC comics reader and movie-goer was showing us an update on Wonder Woman before diving into the introduction for Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg.
Gal Gadot is the best thing about the DC Cinematic Universe right now, and it was smart to cater to that with some pure fun scenes. Gadot has this character down, and we can talk about all the other team-ups and plans, but I just want to hear about "Wonder Woman 2."
ANYWAYS, getting that out of the way was extremely smart because the second we stepped into the swiftly done character intros, we were able to focus and try to fully grasp what happened to make these people we don't know yet who they are.
It's a fascinating way to introduce characters, and most times is not executed very well. Luckily, Justice League not only was able to deliver the abridged versions for Flash and Cyborg, but there were substantive enough to give us an idea while leaving the door open for so much more.
Ezra Miller, this is an official apology from the Court of Nerds:
You not only deserved the role of Barry Allen, but you were clearly the best person for it. From your Quicksilver-esque slowdown scenes on your own, or with someone else, you clearly had a firm grasp on this character. Allen was portrayed as the young, immature yet mature, smart, hungry for inspiration and fun character that he can be.
It was nice to get to see the fun of Flash with hints of the sad before solely diving deep into the soul-sucking, but important, storyline.
As for Cyborg, I enjoyed the fact that doors were left pretty wide open on the past, present and future of this character. Ray Fisher did a great job at using half of his CGI'd face to deliver a bucket-full of emotion and confusion. Look out for a semi-Tony Stark-Peter Parker MCU type of relationship to develop between Wonder Woman and Cyborg, and a buddy-cop story with fellow "accident" in Flash.
Fisher was put with the right people at the right time, and Snyder, WB and DC did a great job at showcasing the character without playing all of his cards. Also, I didn't have an issue with Cyborg's CGI, FYI.
Good cop take: Justice League just feels loose. There is an interesting aura to this movie that personally made me not give a shit about the villain or the typical world-ending consequences. Flash and Cyborg were welcome additions to the team as one brings fun and light-heartedness while the other brings a lot of brooding.
This movie was so much more fun and enjoyable than BvS, and it also was built on the best use of the Superman character in this modern generation. Cavill delivered his most pure performance, and the character was put in sympathetic positions that made him relatable to the crowd, which thus makes them give a shit.
All right, it can't all be good, right?
I don't understand what this version of Batman is. Ben Affleck is doing a fine job as Bruce Wayne late in retirement, he jokes, he has some optimism and he wants to play with others only if it means saving the world.
But, that still doesn't mean I see a true version of Batman in this character. My only memories of Batman 24 hours removed are the awesome weaponized vehicles, the sexy shoulder dislocation scene with Wonder Woman and his weird one-liners.
He, very oddly, was the one character that felt like they didn't fit in with the rest.
Also, if I didn't read comics, I would have no idea who Aquaman is, what he can do or why he cares. Jason Momoa looks and sounds awesome, but he isn't given much of a backstory besides being a mermaid alcoholic who routinely saves the cast of the "Deadliest Catch."
They owe this man, Amber Heard and Willem DeFoe some screen time.
Fucking Steppenwolf. What the hell was that shit? I would be so much angrier if Ezra Miller didn't make me laugh or smile every time he figured something out like a golden retriever and Gal Gadot didn't make me believe Wonder Woman was actually based on Gal Gadot.
This is a pretty amazingly blank character that gets absolutely zero background or personal development besides being tall, liking cubes and loving mother. I mean, there's absolutely nothing here. If it weren't for a post-credits scene, I would have shit a brick thinking about who I was just supposed to root against.
Bad cop take: This movie represents everything wrong with the DC Cinematic Universe, as it has no clear direction and an absence of a villain that matters. It miraculously features Superman in an appreciated manner while making Batman the annoying old guy who is rich.
There is no emotional attachment to the story or any reason to actually care about anything besides the awesome fights, quirky dialogue and strong cast performances.
All in all, Justice League represents a lot of what people dislike about its other projects while adding enough interesting characters to keep the IV flowing and oxygen tank pumping.