Ever since “Man of Steel” premiered back in 2013, the DC cinematic universe hasn’t been shy about the idea that one day a “Justice League” movie would be released after being stuck in development hell for almost two decades.
Now, four years after Superman made his return to the big screen and four months after audiences watched Wonder Woman carry her own movie, the Justice League have made their big screen debut. Not surprisingly (but certainly still disappointing), what we’re given is nothing more than a sloppy, unorganized and messy narrative that proves the DC extended universe will never be able to capture the magic that Marvel has been able to cast for the last 10 years. But hey! If anything, at least this movie is a TON of fun to watch!
Picking up after the events of “Batman v Superman,” Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck still killing it) is hunting down a mysterious alien race that has made its way to earth. After discovering what their arrival means, he sets off on a journey to bring together a team made up of four individuals with special abilities to save the earth from complete extinction.
As I said, this movie is a mess. Looking at just the plot of this movie, it’s obvious Zack Snyder and his team had no idea what kind of movie they wanted to make. It feels like they bit off more than they could chew as they chose to introduce us to three new characters who should have been given their own individual movie before this one. Because they’re just thrown in, what we’re watching is essentially the filmmakers trying to cram three origin stories and two sequels all into one movie. The result is complete and utter chaos.
We’re given practically zero character development to any of the new characters. It felt like the studio was banking on the audience’s love for these characters’ comic counterparts to fill in the gaps and rely on the excitement of seeing them on the big screen to get them to care about them. We get glimpses of these characters lives that are supposed to make us care for them, but they’re rushed over so quickly that audiences not familiar with the character’s history might be confused as to why these subplots are even relevant.
Because the script is focusing on trying to cram in these half-written origin stories, the filmmakers gave little thought to the villain. As a result, we’re given someone who is probably the lamest villain we’ve seen yet in the DC universe, which is strange considering he’s supposed to be the giant force that brings the heroes together. His motive for wanting to take over the world is an exact copy of what we’ve been seeing Thonos try to accomplish in the Marvel world, but instead of seeing it played out over 10 years of movies, we’re seeing it in less than two hours.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why DC can’t seem to get their act together and write an actually good superhero movie. It’s possible. We’ve seen them do it before. “The Dark Knight” trilogy and “Wonder Woman” were fantastic films and I have no shame in admitting that I actually liked “Man of Steel.” For whatever reason, DC is struggling to find a groove and it’s very apparent on screen. They’re still trying to do what Marvel did with the Avengers films, only they want to do it in less than five movies instead of 13+, which would be fine if the scripts were actually decent.
The movie isn’t all bad, though. Despite what it sounds like, I had a lot of fun watching this movie. If we were to simply rank this movie based off how fun it is to watch, it gets a 15/10. Overlooking the disaster of a plot, I had a smile on my face the entire time I was watching it.
The fight scenes are totally badass. The first time the Justice League comes together for their first battle as a team is epic and a thrilling moment to see on screen. The fight scenes are all beautifully choreographed and seeing the characters interact together in battle was great to watch. In the horses and arrows battle scene that takes place on Wonder Woman’s homeland, we see probably one of the greatest fight scenes in DC history. The final fight of the movie is nothing but explosions, slow motion montages, witty one-liners and spiraling camera shots. It’s an absolute blast.
These scenes work so well because the characters are fun and exciting on their own. Affleck is comfortable as Batman, and Jason Mamoa as Aquaman is easily the movie’s biggest scene-stealer. Aquaman has always been made fun of as the sort of lame superhero, but in this movie he’s nothing but pure awesomeness and 100% man. Mamoa’s performance made me really excited for his solo movie that is currently in production. Even if that movie sucks, Jason Mamoa is going to crush it and save the entire thing.
As Cyborg, Ray Fisher is highly underdeveloped and sort of gets pushed to the back of the line. As for the material he’s given, he plays the part well and is given a couple of moments to shine. Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman and is the best thing about this movie. Once again, she proves she’s carrying the entire DC universe on her shoulders and is the only reason this franchise hasn’t completely burned out.
If there has to be a weak link it’d be found in Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, or the Flash. The performance is fine and he plays the part perfectly, but it’s the way they chose to write Barry that is the problem. They over-exaggerated his awkwardness to a point where it starts to become annoying and his jokes fall extremely flat. Again, I’m not blaming Miller for this problem, I’m blaming the people who wrote the part. As hard as I tried not to compare him to Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen on the CW show “Flash,” Miller fails in comparison and winds up being just another let down.
“Justice League” is far from perfect and is nowhere near being the Avengers movie DC wants it to be so badly. But it’s a hell of a lot better than “Batman v Superman.” Through the mess of it all, it is perhaps a step in the right direction.
The bottom line: Despite having an underdeveloped plot with a messy narrative, “Justice League” is still some of the most fun you’ll have at the movies all year. It will probably even get the fanboy inside you jumping around for joy, and just might have you walking out of the theater punching the air and jumping off walls.