This is a film that comic book fans have been endlessly waiting for. We have already gotten two Avengers films, so now it was time for DC to assemble their band of superheroes. Thus far the DC cinematic universe has not had the best track record. To varying degrees, I quite like Man of Steel, Wonder Woman, and even Batman V Superman. However, Suicide Squad is a film which greatly disappointed me when it was released, and since then I have only grown to dislike it even more. It seems as though all these films have been building up to Justice League, so how is it?
I’m building an alliance to defend us.
I will not mince words, Justice League is not a very good film and the most frustrating part is that it had some great moments. Some people say the film is good because it is more fun, others say it does not work because it tries so hard to be lighter. I respectfully disagree with both parties. This is not a good film because at the end of it I was asking myself: “What was the takeaway from this?”. There really is no message that the film conveys. It may seem like the film is about unity but honestly it is not about that. You never feel like the team comes together because there is no natural progression. They reluctantly unite, bicker, and out of nowhere they decide to work together. There needs to be something in-between their bickering and working together, but that is missing from the film. Along with the film lacking a message, the characters are severely underdeveloped. I will be honest, not once did I actually care about anyone.
Sure, I like the characters because I know who they are, but the film never gave me a reason to care for them. However, it tried to. Nearly halfway through the film Bruce (Batman) has a conversation with Alfred about how the team needs Clark, and how Clark is more human than he is. I love this scene because it felt like a natural progression from Batman V Superman. Not only that, but later in the film it is clear that Bruce is way out of his element fighting these parademons. These two threads were not developed at all, and by the end of the film there was no payoff either. Diana (Wonder Woman) is struggling with moving on from Trevor’s death, along with inhabiting more of a leadership position. There are small scenes that deal with this, but again there is not enough of it and there is no payoff at the end. Barry (The Flash) does not know what to do with his powers and is struggling to figure out how to be a hero. He gets close to an arc, but there needed to be more of a progression with him. He is a character ripe with dramatic heft but the film loved using him primarily as the goofy comic relief. Arthur (Aquaman) is a loner who does not work well with others, and the film even started causing some tension between him and Victor (Cyborg). The focal point of this tension is that Arthur believe Victor may be programmed to fight alongside Steppenwolf. This was great material for both characters which was promptly swept under the rug. One minute they are bickering, and the next Victor catches Arthur and they are quipping. The filmmakers seem to have had an arc in place for each of these characters, but they were never fully realized.
A strong man is strongest alone, ever heard that?
So the plot is bad and our protagonists are bad. How is the villain? Bad. Steppenwolf not only is an uninteresting villain, but the effects used for him are about 5 years old. I am okay with a villain who is a bit underdeveloped, but they have to do a better job than this. At least I knew what Lex Luthor’s motivation was. I knew what Zod’s motivation was. Why was Steppenwolf trying to conquer Earth? The film does mention how he is trying to terraform Earth for Darkseid, but we need to know exactly who that is so there is more of an impact. The effects in this film were pretty bad in general. I knew every single time they used a green screen, which is disappointing because I was constantly trying to immerse myself back in the film. The editing of the film also contributes to my lukewarm reception.
The film starts off with almost no build up, then is starts to build up the team while taking far too many stops along the way. It would have worked a lot better if the film spent about 15 minutes fleshing out the characters before introducing the need to build a team. It also would have made a lot more sense if Diana and Bruce worked together from the start instead of Bruce seeking out Aquaman. Also, how did Bruce know he was there? The film goes from Batman doing what he does best on rooftops, then it goes to Wonder Woman, and finally it cuts to Bruce finding Aquaman. The pacing of this film is so uneven, but it does start to find its groove when Superman is brought back. Yes, the Man of Steel himself is back from the dead. It is clear that Warner Bros. did not like him being killed off because they played it off like he never died after a while. While I liked the scene where Superman fights the rest of the league, the way they brought him back felt rushed. However, now he feels a lot more like Superman from the comics so that should keep fans happy.
This entire review may feel like a rant, and it kind of is. There are some nice scenes here and there, but the film fails because it tries too hard to be a “simple and digestible” film. I truly do not know if I am excited for the upcoming DC films. Warner Bros. keeps meddling with their productions, and I think that is a detriment to the quality of their films.