Before Justice League, the DCEU took a number of films to finally find its feet with Wonder Woman, and when it finally did, there was hope that the future was bright for this cinematic universe. With Justice League, I can’t help but feel they’ve taken a huge step backwards in terms of quality because this film is an utter mess.
After the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Earth is seen as a defenceless and fearful target for Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds). With an attack imminent and a restored faith in humanity, Batman (Ben Affleck) enlists the help of other, more powerful beings; Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher), to fight to save the world.
Justice League very much feels like a film made by two directors with differing visions for the final product. Extensive reshoots and additional scenes were written and directed by Joss Whedon after Zack Snyder’s departure from the project due to personal reasons. You can really tell which scenes have been added late on, making for a film that ultimately shifts away from the tone established by Snyder in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. I don’t want to bring up studio interference again when talking about a superhero film but this really does stink of it unfortunately.
This should feel like an event film but it just doesn’t at all, which is really disappointing for me. The DCEU have blatantly rushed into Justice League and with a mere two hour runtime, they’ve crammed way too much into the plot. I get trying to streamline the film however, this is a case where the extra minutes are needed to allow the film to breathe.
It’s an unusual beast though this film as it feels like way too much going on in such a short space of time but it does certainly have it’s entertaining moments, mainly when the team are together. There’s a few decent action sequences, the finale sadly being just an overblown mess of CGI, and some of the characters really get their chance to shine but it’s nowhere near as epic as it probably should and could have been.
Coming to the performances, Justice League features a dynamic between the team that mostly works but also feels incredibly forced at times. The best thing about the film is easily Ezra Miller’s performance as Barry Allen/Flash, Miller nailing the giddiness and unheroic nervousness perfectly, and he steals the whole film from all the other heroes. Look out for a hilarious first meeting between Flash and Superman which had the audience in stitches.
Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot don’t perform as well as they have in these roles before, which I felt might be down to the jarring shift in tone that doesn’t serve them so well. Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher are served better by the film’s tone however, Fisher falls into the background even when it feels like they’re really trying to give him something to do.
I had such high hopes for Superman in Justice League, particularly the moment of his return, but I can’t help but feel let down by the result. Henry Cavill certainly deserves better than this, his lines being so awful and the CGI cover-up of his moustache being one of the most distracting things I’ve ever seen in a film.
Unfortunately, weak villains are a bit too common in superhero films these days and Steppenwolf, played by Ciaran Hinds, is arguably one of the worst of all time. Not only a giant CGI atrocity, Steppenwolf doesn’t really feel like much of a threat at all, which is bizarre seeing as he’s supposed to challenge the team.
Justice League is thankfully better than Suicide Squad however, when you stand it up against something like Wonder Woman, it goes down like a lead balloon. It’s almost as if there’s a lack of respect from the studio towards one of the great superhero teams of comic-book history.