Justice League promised greatness but failed to deliver. It is a product of rushed timing, and a studio wanting a picture that was different from the original they commissioned. It’s a monumental picture for a lot of people. The Justice League is a group of heroes many have been waiting their entire lives to see brought to live-action. The crucial factor here was to get the characters right. And that’s something Warner Bros. failed to see when bringing this production to life. Zack Snyder’s vision for DC was promising, and clearly successful based on the future release of his version of Justice League. It’s a shame the first live-action film with my favorite team had to fail in order to accomplish having a DC Universe of creativity.
One thing that Warner Bros. – and I say Warner Bros. because while it credits Snyder as the director, it is clear he was not of the 2017 theatrically released Justice League – tried to hide behind is nostalgia. The film reeks of it. Amazons, Wonder Woman action, an older Batman, a resurrection of Superman, and a witty Flash. All elements of promise, but ones that past a surface glance hide script, cinematography, and immense CGI mustache problems. Yes, there’s great love for these heroes, and you can capitalize on nostalgia and love to an extent. But Warner Bros. should have realized to avoid detrimental fan reaction, it needed more time in the refactor of Justice League after Snyder left. Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg were all owed a great deal more love and care than was shown.
The film does have some positives for me though. There’s a promise of a Batman-Wonder Woman relationship (which I loved in the animated Justice League show), and it is of course the first live-action film starring my favorite group of heroes. But there’s not much else I can say that’s positive. Wonder Woman and Lois Lane are two powerful women that the film depicts as the butt of several jokes. You can see some scenes in which their personality visibly shifts, and there’s a lot that could be at play there. We’ve seen Gal Gadot rock as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman, and in Wonder Woman. We know she’s vibrant. But the Wonder Woman of Justice League pales in comparison to the Wonder Woman of the previous movies. When this and Wonder Woman are only months apart in release, that’s not a good thing.
A team focused film should never be a film introducing you to a character’s personality for the first time. The focus needs to be team driven. Justice League introduces us to three new characters for the first time, and expects us to understand them. Even a character like Batman who was introduced in Batman v Superman has some unknown quirks presented in this film. It can be a struggle to comprehend what they’re all trying to accomplish, and why it fully matters to them. The best building blocks to a superhero are who they are and where they come from. And why the characters decided to become a superhero. It’s something Warner Bros. ultimately fails to comprehend with the release of this film.
That’s slightly where the plot suffers. In the midst of being a team driven film, we are rushed through a plot encompassing Steppenwolf and his goals of terraforming the Earth in preparation for Darkseid, as well as the introduction of the six characters. The development of Steppenwolf and his overall goals suffers immensely because of having to balance character introductions, and a plot that should focus inherently in building the team, and the villain. Act 1 is a balance of introduction and build the villain, and not enough time is spent on either. Act 2 is the team builder, where the group rescues Superman, and ultimately, I think this is where the bulk of Snyder content lies in the current cut of Justice league. It’s the best part of the film.
Act 3 is the most overdone, the most reshot, as evidenced by Henry Cavill’s misshapen mouth most of the time. It’s a strange world, that fails to seem the result of the beginning portion of the film. There’s weird filters, and a family left behind that hope to portray the idea that the world is ending. Instead it’s a centralized version of an exercise, not a potential world ending battle. The plot as a whole, is filled with holes. Some are easy to overlook, others not so much. Where Snyder’s previous DCEU films were filled with minor complexities, this plot is dumbed down, with a few jokes tossed in.
Justice League is a fun romp, that tries world building with nostalgia and a few jokes. The team, the DC comics property offer a lot to behold as capitalization project for Warner Bros. This film suffers from a plot filled with holes, not enough time in production, and an imbalance in continuing the characters built previously. While they didn’t knock it out of the park with this film, they didn’t strike out. The Snyder Cut of Justice League is coming. The DC films brought out after Justice League have shown promise of director driven content. Hopefully Warner Bros. continues to let that shine through, with the Snyder Cut, and beyond. –Katie Gilstrap