Justice League opens with Sigrid‘s haunting remake of Leonard Cohen‘s 1988 song, “Everybody Knows”. “Everybody knows the good guys lost/Everybody knows the fight was fixed”. These lyrics are painted on a Zack Snyder-esque slow motion opening through a broken Metropolis. After the aftermath of 2015’s Batman v. Superman, the DCEU universe felt dreary. There’s joy missing in the aftermath of Superman’s death. One could consider this to be a metaphor for most of the DCEU. The world is very much in mourning over the “savior” that they resented and took for granted.
There’s a stark division on how to take the tone of Batman v. Superman. Justice League, the fifth entry into the DCEU, is an active engagement to try to learn from its mistakes. The movie strives to create a more relatable and joyful entry that was absent in Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad. What makes the movie enjoyable are the heroes and their relationships. You feel like there is a familiarity with the team even though this is our first time seeing them together.
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is as triumphant as ever from her solo entry earlier in the year. Batman (Ben Affleck) is still looking to atone for his sins in BvS and is more toned down from his brooding nature in the previous movie. A strength is the continuity of their relationship from Batman v. Superman. Wonder Woman is still dealing with her past that’s touched on in her movie. Batman is dealing with guilt and his sense of morality with a choice that’s made later in the movie.
Our newest entries all make their marks in their own way. Ezra Miller‘s portrayal of The Flash is the star of the show. In many ways, Barry Allen is the audience. He’s in awe of being around these super heroes while providing some comedic relief in his naivety. Aquaman (Jason Momoa) adds the cool factor in the ensemble of heroes. His inclusion will make you even more interested to learn more about Atlantis in his upcoming standalone in 2018. Cyborg (Ray Fisher), is part human, part computer, trying to figure out his place in the world, while coming to terms being previously deceased.
The villain of the film, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) serves more of a plot device to bring the heroes together. Comprised of complete CGI, even as the officer of Apokolips came to Earth on a conquest for the three mother boxes, you never get the feeling that he will be successful. Steppenwolf and his minions of Parademons wreak havoc towards the early part of the movie and become almost secondary. There are moments where you see the Justice League in their infancy have a tall task, but you never felt like they were going to fail. Speaking of CGI, in Justice League being such a tent pole movie, some of the special effects are lacking. In some of the reshot scenes with Superman, the cover up of Henry Cavill’s mustache sticks out like a sore thumb.
A lot of people had questions of the news of extensive reshoots going into the film. For the most part, it seems like Zack Snyder’s vision was intact. Much of the cinematography and style is still present within the film. The action sequences are beautifully shot with the touch that you would be familiar with in movies such as 300. Each hero gets to display their skill set in ways that should satisfy even the most hardcore comic book fans. However, there are a couple conversational pieces and lightheartedness interjected that are Joss Whedon‘s trademark. With the run time of two hours, it does feel like some parts of the film do not get their proper time to stand out to feel the proper emotion. You only get parts of Cyborg’s back story, but much of those Victor Stone scenes that were hinted at in the trailer have been cut.
The return of Superman (Henry Cavill). Yes. Let’s talk about that briefly. It is almost guaranteed that there will be a divide on how this happened. How we get to his return was a bit of a disappointment. With “The Death of Superman” story line, there was so much you could have drawn from. However, those who have been seeking the triumphant Superman will be happy with this movie. We just hope that Cavill gets a full movie to finally be the “beacon of hope, confident” Superman that we’ve all wanted to see.
At most, Justice League is showing that Warner Brothers is trying to learn from its mistakes. They are actively looking for ways to make their extended universe better. There are still some bumps in the road. The DCEU has a road map in where it can go and be unique, but it has to stay the course. Zack Snyder’s vision of super hero movies are very different. Beginning with 2013’s Man of Steel, it showed these heroes in a very adversity-driven light.
Superman had trouble integrating his gifts on a world that was not ready to receive them. Batman/Bruce Wayne had become tainted by the many years in battle under the cowl. You have to give credit for Warner Brothers going in a different direction. Marvel had a huge head start in setting the stage in how to build a universe. At the end of the day, people want to see their heroes be abundant. It’s a bumpy road getting there, but Justice League gives a break of sunshine in the clouds.
Main Photo Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures