Justice League is a superhero film directed by Zack Snyder (yeah, sure it was) and it is the fifth instalment in the DC Expanded Universe (DCEU). The film features an ensemble cast that includes Ray Fisher, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons, J. K. Simmons, Connie Nielsen, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Amy Adams, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck.
Justice League takes place after the events of Batman vs. Superman. We see a world devoid of hope after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill). Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) seek to continue the legacy of Superman by forming a team of superheroes, i.e. the Justice League. This team have to combat the apocalyptic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.
My Knowledge and Expectation of Justice League
To say that I was buzzing for Justice League is a lie. Despite how much I liked Wonder Woman, everything I was seeing and hearing about Justice League did not fill me with confidence. Truly, the DCEU has been divisive and this has caused a reactionary nature at Warner Bros. to fester. Consequently, the production for Justice League was tumultuous.
Zack Snyder had to step down from the film after a tragic family loss. Joss Whedon then stepped in to finish the film. From that point, all we heard was how the film went through massive re-shoots. Clear evidence of this is apparent when we see the trailers for the film. To me, the trailers for Justice League were inconsistent when it came to showcasing the tone and look of the film.
Then, when the reviews came out, Justice League seemed as though it was another divisive film in the DCEU. Going into the film, my expectations were low. Very low. Still, despite its mixed critical reception, the consensus I was seeing about the film is that it was fun. So, at the very least, I hoped that I would be entertained by Justice League.
My Thoughts on Justice League
Do people have a different definition of fun to me? Seriously, this is the worst cinema experience I have had in years. Justice League is awful. Sure, it is lighter in tone (the darker tone in the DCEU was never an issue for me) but it is not fun to watch. By far, it is the worst DCEU film I have seen (I have not seen Suicide Squad). This film is a gigantic mess. It is quite clear that Zack Snyder’s influence on Justice League is not mixed well with Joss Whedon’s. It is a massive step backwards for the DCEU, so much so that I see no other option but to reboot this clusterfuck.
Clearly, despite the love towards Wonder Woman, the audience is not responding well to the DCEU. We need to look no further than the fact that Justice League had the lowest box office opening for a DCEU film yet. Moreover, it is not going to make $700 million at the worldwide box office. This is staggering. Justice League was supposed to be DC’s The Avengers and it is not even going to make $1 billion worldwide.
After seeing Justice League, it is easy to understand why the audience is abandoning the DCEU because the film sucks. For one, the story is awful. The plot of Justice League is thin, generic and completely lacking any reason to get emotionally invested. I did not care about what happened to any of the superheroes in the film.
The main reason why I did not care about the fate of the protagonists was because of Steppenwolf. For me, most great superhero films have compelling villains. Just look at The Dark Knight. It has a villain in Heath Ledger’s The Joker that, for me, is second to Darth Vader as the greatest villain of all time. Steppenwolf is one of the worst villains I have ever seen. Aside from the awful CGI that was used for him, the reason why I detested Steppenwolf in Justice League is because he is just another villain who wants to destroy the world.
We have seen this time and time again and it is really boring to keep seeing this type of villain. They have no depth or interesting qualities about them. I will say that the voice-work for Steppenwolf by Ciarán Hinds was good. Still, we get no meaningful, interesting reason as to why Steppenwolf has the aims that he has. When the superheroes are fighting a villain that you do not get invested in then you have no reason to care about the story and what unfolds in a film. Sadly, Justice League suffers that fate.
The introduction for Steppenwolf was also quite rushed and the same goes for the protagonists in Justice League. Honestly, a lot of the film just felt like cut-scenes put together with no connecting tissue. The formation of the Justice League was very rushed and it was not executed well. No time was given to delve into the characters and no character in the film really had any development.
In fact, I would argue that someone like Batman regressed as a character. Undoubtedly, Ben Affleck’s Batman was the best thing about Batman vs. Superman. I loved how Batman was portrayed as though Bruce Wayne was the mask and Batman was his real identity. For me, Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne in Batman vs. Superman had a lot of depth.
All of that great work was completely undone in Justice League. In this film, the character was portrayed as though Batman was the mask and Bruce Wayne was the true man. I hated this and it made Batman one of the worst parts of this film. Additionally, it does not help when you clearly notice how bored and disinterested Ben Affleck looks throughout Justice League. It is no secret that Affleck wants out of the DCEU. After seeing Justice League, I think it is the best thing for all parties that this happens.
Additionally, they tried to give Batman some comedic moments in an effort to make Justice League more fun. Some of the comedy in the film does work but it is not with Batman. It is when Flash (Ezra Miller) and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) were involved that the film had some laughs. Still, even then, it was mixed. For instance, Flash’s line about blood sugar made me chuckle but his whole brunch thing felt very forced.
Seeing Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth influence Aquaman to spill his deepest thoughts was also funny. Yet, the whole surfer dude shtick started to grain on me. Still, despite some funny moments with Flash and Aquaman, the comedy in Justice League does not work for Batman. One scene in particular where he is with Superman has an attempt at humour which is awful.
The Worst Things About Justice League
That leads me into what I believe is one of the worst elements of Justice League. We knew that Superman would come back from the dead in Justice League. Even though the marketing for the film left Henry Cavill out completely, we knew it was coming. It was something I was actually interested to see in Justice League.
The execution of Superman’s resurrection is terrible. It is the definition of anti-climactic. While I have never had much affinity for the character, Superman is an icon to many DC fans. Moreover, he is essentially a God within the universe he lives in. His return should have been an epic, unforgettable moment that is the emotional crux of the film. It was none of those things. I was very unsatisfied with the way he came back to life in Justice League.
Another element of Justice League that was be terrible were the visual effects. I already mentioned how bad the CGI was for Steppenwolf. However, the general visual effects that are on show in the final act of the film look like something out of a PlayStation 2 game. Additionally, the CGI used to digitally remove Henry Cavill’s moustache is very noticeable. All of this just cemented my belief that Justice League was rushed to make its November release date.
My Final Thoughts on Justice League
For me, apart from some humour working, the only thing that I did not think was awful was Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot embodies that character very well. If the DCEU is rebooted, then it is unfortunate that it will probably mean the end of that incarnation of the character.
Still, Warner Bros. are just setting themselves up for more failure if they do not radically change something with the DCEU. I truly believe that Justice League is the final nail in the coffin for this franchise, at least in its current form. If you want to waste two hours of your life, then go ahead and watch Justice League. I never want to even think about it again.