Review: Justice League (2017)

I liked the idea of Danny Elfman’s return to DC, but how does bringing back the 1980s Superman theme  in this Cinematic Universe make any sense?

Well, it’s here. The film Warner Bros would like to think is as big a deal as The Avengers has arrived, and frankly, it’s largely what you would expect. Well, it is if what you were expecting was an unexciting, visually overdosed movie with pathetic excuses for a story. If you were expecting anything that might fall under the simple definition of ‘entertaining,’ then no; Justice League is not what you were expecting. But let’s be honest, after the travesty that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the only people expecting this to be good were either lucky enough to have not seen Batman v Superman, or are more optimistic than any human being should be about anything. Or they liked Batman v Superman, in which case, you should stop going to movies with them right now.

Justice League kicks off following the events of Batman v Superman. Superman is dead, crime is on the rise in Metropolis and around the world, and bald men in leather jackets have resorted to kicking crates of fruit in slow motion. Batman and Wonder Woman are working hard to maintain peace, but it’s a struggle. An evil being named Steppenwolf arrives on the earth, and steals a cubic artifact (no, not the one from Transformers) from the Amazons. Two more cubes remain: one in the possession of the Atlanteans, and the other hidden by humans. Once Steppenwolf collects all three cubes, he will have the power to destroy the world. Why? idk, he just wants to. Batman and Wonder Woman know they are not enough to stop Steppenwolf, so they recruit the Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman, thus forming the Justice League.

Flash had a couple funny moments, but not a single creative one

It’s becoming an increasingly lamented thing, especially among movie lovers: Hollywood just doesn’t produce anything original anymore. On a broader scale, this is evidenced by the fact that a majority of what we see in theaters anymore is either a sequel, remake, or based off some primary source. Justice League is probably one of the most unoriginal films I’ve ever seen, but not because it’s both a sequel and based off comic books. I might even argue against the “sequel” argument because it’s still very possible to be original in a sequel: just look at Thor: Ragnarok. That rock guy, Korg, was a completely original conception by Taika Waititi, and was one of the best parts of the film. Instead, Justice League is completely unoriginal because there isn’t a single creative idea in it.

Since Marvel beat DC to the punch, there was no way this film was going to escape the shadow of The Avengers. The problem, though, was that it didn’t even try. From the very start of the film, with the different character introductions, we meet Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash, and everyone else in the exact same manner that we were introduced to Black Widow, Hulk, Hawkeye, etc. I get that there’s a certain way things are done, but there wasn’t even a slight variation here. I suppose Justice League did differentiate from the structure of The Avengers later on in the film, but only because it just didn’t have a story.

Steppenwolf is the single-most forgettable villain of all time

The most fatal thing that was missing is that the villain, Steppenwolf, lacked any sort of character whatsoever. His entire motivation in the film is to destroy the earth, but we are never given any insight as to why. If this was intended to be irrelevant, and his only purpose was to serve as an adversary for the Justice League, then we needed to be given some sort of scope as to how powerful he was. He’s super tall, he’s got a big, glowy axe, he can do some sort of teleport thing, but are never told what he can do with the axe or what the teleporty thing is. Frankly, we’re never given any sort of insight into how powerful he is at all. He’s easily the laziest villain I’ve ever seen, and when the film Justice League will inevitably be compared to is The Avengers (whose villain has become one of the most popular of all time,) there is serious issue in the fact that we have absolutely no idea who this guy is or what he’s capable of.

Maybe the most insulting thing about this movie, however, also has to do with Steppenwolf. Any Zack Snyder film, which this is, is largely focused around visual appearance. In the DCEU, this has come to rely heavily on visual effects. Amazingly, hilariously, and lamentably, the visual effects in this movie are atrocious. The single definition for bad visual effects is that they are noticeable, and in Justice League, they stand out like Michael Cera at a bodybuilding competition. Whether it’s Steppenwolf’s face, Superman fighting, or Alfred watching as the Justice League flies away, you can’t help but notice the artificiality in this movie. I think my favorite visual effects flub was Superman’s face. It already made news that a lot of money was spent digitally removing Henry Cavill’s mustache during reshoots. I never would have guessed you’d be able to notice it in the movie, but sure enough, there are several scenes in the film where Superman talks and his cheeks just aren’t moving.

Also, was that supposed to be sexual tension between Batman and Wonder Woman?

There are many, many more lamentable elements of this movie. I’ve written and deleted paragraphs on how uncreative Flash was, particularly being the film’s only comic relief. I had a paragraph on how the climax’s structure and appearance couldn’t have been more video-gamey. I also had a paragraph on how great Wonder Woman was represented in her movie, but then took an offensive and objectified step back with this film, so that she’s treated the same as she was in Batman v Superman. I even had to delete my favorite paragraph about how painful the dialogue was, as highlighted by Lois Lane referring to how good Superman smelled after being in the grave for a year.

All of those I deleted to add the only positive thing I can about this movie: it’s not as bad as I assumed it would be. In fact, there are certain elements that verge on entertaining. The thing is, Justice League is as uncreative as a movie as you can get and there are certainly parts where I was astounded by how a $300,000,000 budget couldn’t do something better. As an overall film, though, this strict adherence to formula makes Justice League bad, but not terrible. It’s not impossible to have fun while watching like Batman v Superman was, and I think there might even be some people who legitimately like this film. Batman v Superman was awful enough where I would honestly recommend people not watch the film; Justice League, however, is still, arguably, worth the watch.

I give Justice League a 5.0/10.

rating-system