Director: Zack Snyder
Runtime: 120 minutes
I had no idea this film was coming out. I mean, I saw the trailers online, saw a few posters at the cinema, and knew it was sometime this year. When I finally saw a review of the film on my Facebook feed, I realised, “Oh, it’s opening weekend. Better go see that,” which is most definitely not the reaction I should be having to the Justice League. Now, I have reviewed a few Marvel flicks on this site, so I feel like I need to have full transparency on this one (lest I get backlash for being a ‘Marvel fangirl’ or bought by Disney… but let’s be honest, if I was important enough, I would definitely like it if Disney did buy me). I have seen all Marvel films, and have liked about 80% of them. I have seen all Marvel TV shows, and have liked about 60% of them. I have seen most DC shows, and have liked perhaps 40% of them (not to say they are objectively terrible, they are just a little too poppy for me). I have seen all the latest DC films and have liked… well, Wonder Woman. I do, however, read comics, and while I have read a fair few Marvel jaunts, I would say that, on the whole, I have probably read more DC. While it’s ridiculous that I need to provide my background on this, I feel it necessary before spouting out my review. I do love DC comics; I love the characters, the world, and the mythos behind them. So, how did seeing these characters that I grew up with come together on screen?
….Meh? This is the first weekend of release, and the cinema that I was in was barely half-full. For a tentpole film such as this, this definitely should not happen. To be honest, I was extremely dubious of this film from the get-go, and seeing that many empty seats just helped to heighten that feeling. The plot? After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) assembles a team of superheroes to defeat the evil Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds). Together, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Flash (Ezra Miller), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and Aquaman (Jason Momoa), join forces with the bat to save the world. Was this plot any good? Well, it depends on how you look at it. It was simple enough to understand, which is a plus (Batman V Superman, I’m looking at you), and was a decent enough vehicle for the characters to get to know each other and to interact. The villain was just a big CGI baddy, with no real personality or palpable motivation. To be honest, Marvel has only recently begun to get their villains right so I can give Justice League a little leeway on this one. However, the CGI on the villain wasn’t great and really made it difficult to suspend my disbelief there. In essence, the plot, while an improvement on previous DC instalments, was a little thin—and after seeing something as inventive as Thor: Ragnarok last week, it fell a little flat.
Unfortunately, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is this film’s biggest downfall. While I try to see them as two separate worlds and try to judge them on their own merits, it is extremely difficult when they are trying to achieve the exact same thing. The characters really did work in Justice League—Wonder Woman was as beautifully perfect as ever, Batman was believable and never stepped into the too-broody territory, Aquaman was just damn cool, and Flash was adorable. Cyborg was fine but acted more like the straight character, and I didn’t really mind that. Even characters that were insufferable for me in previous instalments of the franchise became better in this outing. There were jokes—some got a laugh, some did not. At the end of the day, this was an overall decent film. However, after we got the feels-fest of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the enjoyable Spider-man: Homecoming, and the side-splitting awesome-fest Thor: Ragnarok, it really felt like a let-down.
I would put this film on the same level of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Good and enjoyable, but not great. The sad fact is that if this film came out five years ago, it would have broken through as something truly groundbreaking. Unfortunately, we have spent more time with Marvel characters, we been through more with the Avengers, and have come to like them. Superhero films are no longer just superhero films—they are comedies, fantasies, heist films, spy films, hybrids of genres that work to keep the audience invested in a box-office flooded with men in capes. Justice League is just a superhero film… and sticking to the single genre has, unfortunately, made it a victim of audience fatigue. Would I believe the onslaught of reviews calling it a travesty of cinema? Definitely not. Would I recommend seeing it? Yes, if you have already seen Thor: Ragnarok and want to go and see something entertaining.