The DC cinematic universe has been on a bumpy ride since Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Wonder Woman (2017) started to right the ship’s course, but there was fear it was too little, too late. Justice League (2017) is still very flawed, but it has one thing that the other films definitely were lacking: hope. This entry begins to alleviate some of the major complaints about the sheer lack of joy in the prior films and begins restoring character traits previously missing from these beloved heroes. Unfortunately, it does so in a weak plot driven by a generic villain chasing another MacGuffin to destroy the world.
Review of Justice League (2017) by Jonathan Berk
Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), as Batman, teams up with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) after she learns of Steppenwolf’s (Ciarán Hinds) return. Together, they reach out to Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen (Ezra Miller), and Victor Stone (Ray Fisher) to form a team of heroes to combat the CGI monster from gathering the boxes of doom (that may not be their name, but…does it really matter?).
Barry Allen, The Flash, is the missing piece the DC universe was in need of. He is generally happy and extremely expressive. He manages to bring quick humor to even the direst scenes. He is an audience surrogate who feels as excited to see what’s transpiring as we do, despite having super speed. Aquaman is the second element that’s been missing. He is confident and brooding in a way that seems more characteristic of a tough guy rather than an orphan angry at the world. Even Cyborg, whose backstory initially feels like he will be another unhappy character placed in the joyless landscape of Snyder’s comic book world, manages to embrace his powers and hint at the fan-favorite character from the Teen Titans comics and shows.
The DC Trinity finally resembles their comic counterparts
There is a relative joy to be found in Affleck’s Batman and more of what audiences loved of Gadot’s Wonder Woman. Technically a spoiler here (warning!), but Cavill’s Superman finally begins to resemble the boy scout persona that was missing in Man of Steel (2013) and Batman V. Superman. The highlight of this film is definitely the characters, and the assembled team moments do hit the comic book loving kid inside us all; it’s the film lover who is left questioning why they can’t make a solid story.
Here we have another DC movie with another villain with plans to destroy the world for no apparent reason…the stakes are never intimate or personal enough in these films. Even Wonder Woman’s movie suffered from too much CG and a villain whose motives were never truly clear. Steppenwolf rambles on about mother boxes and the Unity managing to namedrop a comic book easter egg that probably falls on deaf ears for most fans. He is more of a nuisance than the true threat, and he operates simply as the catalyst to push Batman to give up his lonely crusade and seek the assistance of others.
Despite the problems with the plot and the script, I left the theater happy. There is enough here to make DC comics fans rejoice that maybe the next film will get it all together. The characters from the comics were finally on the screen. If only the writers wrote a story worth telling to go with them. Justice League earns the Decent Watch rating.