Justice League: Movie Review

Think back about 25 years or so.  As a science fiction fan, what would have been your absolute, orgasmic fantasies for movies you wanted to see on the big screen in the future?

Another Star Wars ranks pretty high on the list.  Lord of the Rings? Surely. Batman and Superman?  Probably pretty high on the list.

But I am willing to be many, many people would have ranked Justice League somewhere high on that list.

For many generations (mine included) this was the superhero team we grew up with.  Far fewer people grew up with Marvel’s The Avengers (as it was a comic book only phenomenon, while Justice League had many cartoon variations that were readily available to the masses).

The concept of seeing Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the rest on the big screen would have been thrilling.

And…so here we are.

And…well. Yeah. Like many things in life, the expectations were far more fun than the reality. Though, you would think we would have learned our lesson, after Star Wars, Superman, etc.

The good news is that this is far better movie than its predecessor, Dawn of Justice: Batman Vs. Superman. In fact, if anything, this is hypercorrection of everything wrong with DOJ.  This is neither good nor bad…it simply is the basis for the entire existence of this movie. DC and eventual Director Joss Whedon (Zack Snyder left mid-production) clearly made it one of their central goals to fix all the mistakes made in the somber, complex, and largely unenthusiastic mess that was Batman Vs. Superman. This movie is far lighter, with a lot more comedy and camaraderie.  And that is ultimately the appeal of Justice League, in general, right? To bring these solo heroes together in a common goal, as they venture off to save the planet in a ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ sort of way.

And in many ways, the first part of the film achieves that. In a world still recovering from the death of Superman, we see Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) trying to put the pieces back together.  How do they defend the world from supernatural threats without the Man of Steel?  Well, you find…new supernatural heroes.

The quest to bring Cyborg (Ray Fisher), the Flash (Ezra Miller), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa) into the fold was the most enjoyable part of the movie for me.

But that is when the problems begin.

The first is the new evil threat they face: Steppenwolf. Every problem that existed in the last X-Men movie with Apocalypse exists here with Steppenwolf. Animators still haven’t quite figured out how to translate the power and potential destructive force of a world destroyer like Steppenwolf onto the big screen. Like most of these evil villains, he comes off mostly as a cartoon character.

For me, the other problem with this movie is…Ben Affleck. I’ve always hated him as Batman. He is so melancholy and joyless in this movie, its almost like Affleck doesn’t even want to be on set with these characters.

Still, the scenes where all the characters are working together, joking, and getting along? Almost worth the price of admission. Those are the moments where you can see the immense potential of Justice League. But just like all of the other DC movies (with the possible exception of Wonder Woman)…it never quite reaches its goal.  DC once again proves it is playing catch up to Marvel.  This is another placeholder for DC in a long series of placeholders, positioning itself to, one day, maybe, actually achieve the greatness for which fan boys continue to wait for. But that wait continues.