Right up front, here are some things I want to make clear for this review.
- Justice League is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination.
- I personally LOVED it, and will be spending much of this review explaining why it was bad but also why I can’t wait to see it again.
- To get into A LOT of what I liked about it, there is at least one big (and super obvious) spoiler, so I will have a section dedicated to those thoughts at the end of the the review.
Anyway, THE REVIEW!
Let’s talk about all the bad parts.
First of all, the dialogue is cheesy. It’s just… it’s bad. It also doesn’t help that the plot is basically the plot from The Avengers. Now, I get it. Building a superhero team-up movie isn’t the easiest thing, and you’re naturally going to have some similarities between Justice League and The Avengers… but it’s too similar, right down to the magical Earth-destroying boxes they have to find. At least with Marvel, the characters are fleshed out in their own movies, so The Avengers feels way more like a celebration after taking all the time it took to get there. Justice League, on the other hand, is largely rushed and forgettable.
Going their own non-Marvel way, the DCEU went ahead and put all these multi-faceted, interesting characters together without delving into most of them with their own movies. That decision didn’t do Justice League any favors. The backstory to each of the new characters is instead established through off-topic jokes. They try their best to connect with the audience by being almost comically over-the-top in their “personalities,” and the first half hour of the movie with Batman and Wonder Woman trying to get the team together is just the choppiest piece of editing I’ve seen in theaters since Suicide Squad. Literally the minute you get almost kinda connected to one of the recruitment stories, it just jumps without warning, to a whole other character. If there was ANY movie in the DCEU that should have been more than two hours, it’s this one. Instead, they squeezed as much as they could in every scene EVER, and the movie is worse off for it.
There were a lot decisions made in this movie that you could probably gather were a direct result from the outcry of people upset about Batman V Superman. Justice League is shorter than BVS. The writing has a different tone, and there’s cheesy comedy strewn about. The big change that stood out to me, though? The visuals.
This movie has color. The reds are red. The blues are blue. The grass is… radioactive looking? This is a movie that was very clearly designed in pre production to still be all dark and gritty looking, but was lightened up afterwards. As such, some of the colors looks VERY off. This decision to lighten things up is also probably why the special effects look RIDICULOUSLY bad. Like, bad for a cheap indie film-level bad. That is HORRIBLE for how much money went into this.
As you can see in everything from pre production to post production, there are huge amounts of glaring issues all over this movie. Even the acting, which I praised in Batman V Superman, isn’t quite up to par here. Affleck, who I still think is an incredible Batman, just seems a little off at times. Gal Gadot, I’m starting to think, isn’t really a great actress but simply has a lot of interesting weight to her words because of her accent. (You know, kinda like how British people still sound super smart all the time even if they are saying something dumb.) And then the rest of the League, well, are just comically over-the-top in their “personalities.” But the characters are actually where we get into why I love this movie.
These characters ARE the Justice League. Maybe its because the characterization for DC has been so poor in the past that I just have low expectations, but when I sat in the theater I was giddy because THIS IS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE. THESE ARE COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS TO A T! This is a Batman who isn’t killing people left and right, who goes out of his way to be self-sacrificing and smart, rather than the toughest guy in the room. I especially adore how many times he realizes he can’t fight and just runs to some Bat-Vehicle. This is a Wonder Woman that… okay she was perfect in her own movie too. I don’t really have to sing the praises of Gadot’s Wonder Woman. She’s noble and fierce and one of the big guns, as she should be. This Aquaman? I mean, he’s not accurate to the comics at all, but damn he’s a comic book character if I ever saw one. Plus, Aquaman does occasionally have a pretty stubborn streak, so I’ll take it. This Cyborg? Sure, maybe he’s the super loner of the group, but this is early Cyborg. I can accept him having some struggles and learning to get comfortable in his… skin. Cyborg has always had those underlying difficulties, and it was great when Cyborg didn’t think about his differences and had times to shine.
Then we have this Flash. Okay, this is NOT Barry Allen, AT ALL. Barry Allen is nice to a fault, and boring as hell because of it. He’s the type of guy who would wear bow ties to work every day at a place that allows jeans. This is NOT Barry Allen. But God help me, he’s a speedster through and through. Ezra’s performance is much more in line with some other fan favorites like Wally West or Bart Allen. You know, the playful, sometimes distracted, but well meaning Flashes. I think he’s the farthest thing there is to Barry Allen, but Barry is kinda lame so I am totally okay with the movie adopting some of the other Speedsters’ qualities here.
And honestly, at the end of the day, this is why I liked the movie. The characters. This movie felt like a longer episode of the Justice League cartoon. It was largely forgettable, not deep or complex, but the characters were all themselves and it was a lot of fun to watch. Sometimes that’s all you need. By no means am I going to tell you to go watch it. It’s a pointless movie. But if you love DC and their characters as much as I do, you might enjoy it.
Finally, the biggest reason I enjoyed it is in the Spoilers section. Read it at your own risk. Its a huge spoiler, but its nothing that you won’t see coming.
Okay, so Superman historically is a character that I usually write off as boring. To me, if Superman is your favorite character in DC, I always figured you either didn’t know enough about the character, or were a fool.
Lately, much like my similar growing love for Captain America, I’ve learned to appreciate this big blue boy scout and I think I can, in an odd, sick way, thank Batman V Superman for that.
See, Superman IS a symbol for hope in comics. When Superman shows up to help in other character’s stories, there’s usually a feeling that things will be okay. It’s why Superman going evil is such a big thing for DC to do, since it really shatters those hopeful expectations of the character. He is someone who, when he isn’t around or when he’s fallen from grace, it’s a rough experience for everyone. And when he is there, you know that no matter how tough, he’ll always take time for the little guy and be as supportive and kind as he can.
This movie franchise has not had that Superman. This Superman is an angsty, whiny, brooding boy, who abuses his power and portrays himself as a God more than a friend. I’ve enjoyed these movies, but I have hated how Superman was portrayed because it disrespected everything I expect from Superman. Superman is someone who would always find a way and always be able to lighten the mood.
Well, then Superman died.
And then he came back.
And suddenly, after he got done fighting the Justice League, he got himself together and finally became the Superman I’ve been waiting for. (Also real quick, Superman and Flash during that fight? THAT WAS THE COOLEST THING)
Superman spent the entire finale helping the other heroes. He would be the big gun when he needed to be, but he also would just be moral support, or assist Cyborg, or assure Cyborg that everything would be okay, or assist Flash with saving people and giving him work he knew was in his ability. Superman was just a kind, fun guy the entire fight, who never showed an ounce of doubt in his trust that everything would be okay. That fight had stakes, but you didn’t feel them BECAUSE Superman let you know everything would be okay. (Also because of the entire town of people that were in danger we only saw one tiny family… so… yeah)
I just really loved Superman in this movie and I NEVER thought I would say that.
Also that end credits scene where Superman and Flash race for fun??? LIKE COME ON!!! HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE THAT????
I honestly still think we should expect better from DC, because seriously… these characters can do SO MUCH BETTER. But this is a small victory in the right direction, and I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it.