Justice League, the culmination of Warner Bros’ accelerated attempt at building a connected film universe, is finally in theaters. If you’re someone who enjoys superhero movies, then go see this. Don’t allow yourself to be dissuaded by critics, and fellow fans, who came into the movie predisposed to hate it. Here’s my take on the film.
I felt compelled to review this movie because as a friend said Marvel needs no defenders, but the DC Entertainment Universe does. Somewhere along the way, despite the fact that Man of Steel made a boat load of money, critics ripped it apart. #NotOurSuperman became a thing and henceforth everything DCEU gets hated. That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate criticisms to dish out. Suicide Squad is a mess. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is an entirely different film when you watch the Ultimate Edition as opposed to the Theatrical Cut and that’s a problem. When I rewatch BvS, which I do often because yes, I like that film, it’s always the ultimate edition. That means it’s a 3-hour undertaking but it’s worth it. If you haven’t given it a watch, you should. Treat it like the old days when a VHS movie was 3 hours long and you needed two different VHS tapes just to watch it. Break it up, it’s worth it. There’s a story there on both sides between Batman and Superman and you understand exactly why everything goes down the way does.
But I’m not here to convince you to watch BvS. I’m here to tell you why you should give Justice League a chance. The first thing I’m going to tell you is going to be a bit ironic and that’s not lost on me as what it is I’m going to tell you is to not read reviews in which I understand that this is a review and so I’m asking you to read this, but, well yeah.
There are people out, professional and amateur reviewers alike, who have gotten it into their mind that these movies are terrible, and they walk into them deciding that they’re going to be terrible, and so they come out and the review is as such is terrible – nitpicking every single possible thing that you could find wrong with the movie. Here’s a nifty tidbit, you can find something wrong with ANY movie, with EVERY movie.
Perhaps you took note that I referred to Man of Steel and BvS as a film and I’ve been referring to Justice League as a movie. That’s because they are two different things. There are films and there are movies; sometimes they’re the same thing and sometimes they’re not. Justice League is a great movie. It does exactly what it sets out to do and it’s successful at that. I don’t want to spoil anything but honestly there’s not much to spoil. What you assume happens, happens. Batman and Wonder Woman assemble a team, Superman gets brought back from the dead (no that is not a spoiler); they come together, defeat the bad guy, and the Justice League is formed. All of that can be ascertained from the trailer. It’s executed well, the music is great, it doesn’t spend a large amount of time “setting up” the plot. The villain backstory is done via a quick flashback and onward they go.
There’s a fair amount of time spent with The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman as there should be seeing as we know the other 3 quite well at this point. Even they don’t receive a huge amount of exposition and that’s fine because all 3 of them have standalone movies coming and you can spend all the time in the world with them then.
Ezra Miller is a stand out as The Flash/Barry Allen and when I say stand out, you will love him or hate him, I doubt there will be an in between. I loved him. His performance is different enough from Grant Gustin (CW’s The Flash) that I never felt like he was encroaching on my Barry that’s existed on tv for 4 years now.
Ray Fisher as Cyborg/Victor Stone was another surprise for me. Going into this I thought I would be least impressed by this character and he proved me wrong. Where I wasn’t the least bit interested in a Cyborg stand alone, now I’m all in.
One big surprise came in the vein of Jason Momoa as Aquaman/Arthur Curry. While yes he’s quite easy on the eyes and his dude-bro approach to the role was great, he didn’t end up being the stand out I expected. I was most excited to see this character and while he does a great job, he wasn’t what I walked away gushing about.
Anyone who knows me or listens to my podcast knows Batman is my favorite. Ever. I love Batman. Christian Bale is my favorite Batman. When Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, I led the #NoBatfleck brigade. Ben has, how do I put this nicely, never been my favorite actor. I go out of my way to not watch his movies. His casting is why I never saw BvS in theaters and then one day, after hearing my friend Russ (@russburlingame) discuss how much he loved that movie and respecting his opinion, I decided to watch it. I walked away from that film blown away by the fact that Ben Affleck was my favorite thing about it. After watching Justice League, I had a mini-twitter meltdown over how much I love him as Batman. It’s left me questioning every opinion I’ve ever had about film and actors and the best way to describe it is “shook”. I can wholeheartedly say he my 2nd favorite Batman. Ever.
I’ve had a weird relationship with Superman most of my life. I loved him as a kid and somewhere along the way became disenchanted by him. To the point where I almost didn’t watch the CW’s Supergirl because I found Superman “dumb”. I didn’t love Man of Steel the first time I watched it because it was so “not my Superman”. That film ages beautifully and I like it more each time I watch it. Henry Cavill has completely won me over. When Superman shows up in Justice League, it’s like Christmas. He has 2 big entrances, the 2nd even better than the first and I was crying actual tears. Hope literally radiates off the screen when he shows up and maybe it’s just the way I feel about the world in general at this moment, but he makes me feel like we can have nice things.
Gal Gadot is just as precious, badass, and perfect as ever as Wonder Woman. If you haven’t seen her film, go watch it. Now. No like stop reading this and go watch it, then come back…. done? Ok. She’s everything she was in her stand alone and more. She’s front and center right alongside Batman and she is literally every woman who has ever had a group of guy friends. “I work with children”. Yup. We feel ya Diana.
What wasn’t so great about this movie? Steppenwolf. Ciarán Hinds does a fine job in his CGI role as the big bad, he’s menacing when he needs to be proclaiming world domination and all. Is he a focal point of greatness? No. Is his CGI weird and off? Yes. Do I give any f**** about that? No. He serves his purpose. He creates a threat that the team needs to expunge. There’s a tie in with him, his mother boxes and another team member that’s interesting. He has history with the Amazons and the Atlanteans. And yeah, he’s just there for being there’s sake. He’s not overtly impressive.
This movie exists solely to get the band together so at the end of the day, the villain is a bit lacking, but it doesn’t ruin the entertainment value of the rest of the movie. I could make this villain argument about several superhero movies, DCEU and Marvel combined, so I’m not sure this is the hill to die on in the “this movie sucks” group think for those of you who hate it.
My final thought to you is, if you enjoy these characters, if you like fun and entertaining movies, go see this. Don’t read negative reviews, don’t read Rotten Tomatoes scores, just go make your own opinion. If you’re a comic book lover, Justice League lover, there’s a ton of Easter eggs in this movie. There’s a lot of fan service. I enjoyed it immensely, I’ve seen it twice already. I hope you do too.