Five years after The Avengers came out in cinemas, it is now time for DC’s team of ultimate heroes to get their own live-action movie. But I was excited for The Avengers. I was not excited for Justice League; I was more…curious. This film was preceded by four others making up the DC Extended Universe: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman. Of those, only Wonder Woman received generally positive reviews; the others had a mixed to outright negative reception. Despite agreeing with popular opinion in this regard, and hearing bad things about Justice League, I still wanted to see it in cinemas: it was another big superhero team-up and I wanted to judge for myself.
So what’s the verdict? Well, to be fair, there are definite signs of DC trying to learn from past mistakes. But it seems they’d already gone too far down a particular path to make the drastic changes which could have made this a good movie.
Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman (Ben Affleck) is concerned about indications of an impending alien threat; so, in true Batman style, he prepares in advance by assembling a team of heroes. As well as his existing acquaintance Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), he goes after Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher) and the Flash (Ezra Miller). While some of these candidates are initially reluctant, their hand is forced by the arrival of Steppenwolf, the Ender of Worlds (Ciaran Hinds), who is seeking three “motherboxes” hidden on Earth which will allow him to – surprise surprise – end the world.
While the story does skip around a bit chaotically in the first act, it does at least feel fairly cohesive after that. There are, however, some pretty big holes in the script. A flashback explains about how the armies of Earth took possession with Steppenwolf’s motherboxes – which, if brought together, would perform the single function of destroying the planet – and then hid them far away from each other: my own thought was “Or maybe you could, I don’t know, DESTROY THEM?!” (Maybe it’s explained in a deleted scene, of which there are apparently many.) There’s a gaping continuity error when Cyborg says he was created after the death of Superman, when in Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman found a video of his creation from before that event. And the end of the second act features a moment of painful carelessness from the heroes that had me mentally face-palming.
Some of the characters really aren’t that bad. I was comfortable with Affleck’s Batman and Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and I really enjoyed Ezra Miller’s performance as the Flash: the character’s youthful fanboy-style enthusiasm brings much of the comic relief and is a breath of fresh air. After Superman is resurrected (come on, am I really spoiling anything?), I even got a smile or two from watching him: he’s certainly more “truth, justice and the American way” than in his last two appearances. But Cyborg and Aquaman were more problematic. Since their only previous appearances in the DCEU were cameoes, I didn’t know them, nor did I feel like I really got to know them as the film progressed; subsequently, I didn’t especially care about them. Meanwhile, any scenes involving Lois Lane (Amy Adams) or “Save Martha” Kent (Diane Lane) just made me think of Batman v Superman and left a bad taste in my mouth, like not wanting to eat Chinese food because you were sick after eating it one time.
A Justice League film should really have significance, but instead, the film we got feels terribly generic and not special at all. The villain – whom I had never heard of before – has no real character and just wants to destroy the world. The plot about stopping the villain from collecting all the hidden items he needs to complete his plan is certainly nothing new. And when watching the action scenes, I felt bored more often than not. The film has a running time of 120 minutes, relatively short for a superhero film these days – and I was grateful for that as it meant I could go home sooner.
So no, sadly, Justice League is not a good movie. A good movie makes you care about what’s happening and who it’s happening to – and watching this, I hardly cared at all. Rating: 2/5.