SPOILERS, so many SPOILERS! Read at your own risk.
Why didn’t Justice League do better? The film is fun. It’s everything our five year old selves would have wanted minus the whole Superman being dead and having to be resurrected like a space Frankenstein. However, that does make a nice excuse to have the six heroes battling each other and who doesn’t want to see the one person who can make the Lasso of Truth look like a puppy leash do so? Plus, Lois (Amy Adams) is respected as important to Clark (Henry Cavill) and Martha…you read it in Batman’s voice, didn’t you?…Martha (Diane Lane) spends most of a scene telling Lois all her greatest attributes. Two women building each other up instead of tearing each other down. Why does it have to be so rare?
Batman (Ben Affleck) is allowed more of a personality. Clark’s influence has really spurred him into rejoining the world…just not dating or having friends over for popcorn, let’s not be too hasty, right? Jeremy Irons feels a lot more comfortable as Alfred Pennyworth. Their exchanges are finally making that new solo Batman film seem more desirable.
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) has been changed by Steve Trevor’s death and her seeming seclusion. Some saw her reaction as weakness. However, Diana is a woman who spent hundreds if not thousands of years in seclusion among her people. Then, she’s forced to experience things she’s never seen or felt before. She learned how to make friends very different from her, learned about greed firsthand and felt romantic love that was almost immediately taken away from her. Seclusion would have felt natural.
Ah, yes, Aquaman (Jason Momoa) because every team needs an extremely muscled, bearded dude wielding a farm implement from the 1800s. Being a superhero film, he’s also required to be shirtless at least once, very aesthetically pleasing. Gone is the Aryan poster child from the comics, Momoa is descended from Pacific Islander, Native American and European ancestry. Arthur’s also a reluctant prince which should be further explored in his solo film next year. His role made for a nice tease at things to come.
Ezra Miller had to win over fans used to Grant Gustin as the Flash. He succeeded. There’s more of an innocence to Miller’s Flash that’s either a lack of experience in the world from holding down four jobs and/or being on the Autism spectrum. Barry suffers the most of the three new characters from not having enough screen-time to explain his background. Yes, they do the required bits: struck by lightning story and scenes of his visiting dad in jail but where’s Iris? Who raised him? Still, his enthusiastic inflection is contagious, similar to the newest cinematic Peter Parker.
Cyborg (Ray Fisher) is the third new character. As established in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, he’s already flesh welded with robotics. However, there’s a new Kyptonian element that only seems to exist so that Cyborg can easily upgrade to whatever skill set they need him for. It seems unnecessary considering how often Microsoft and others upgrade. Since he’s still processing his new identity as both human and machine, the audience doesn’t get a real feel for his actual personality.
As always, the villain (Ciarán Hinds) is just about the same with a different body and almost instantly forgettable. Steppenwolf? Are you going to take them on a “Magic Carpet Ride”? His minions look like Geonosians on crack. Naturally, there are boxes that will destroy everything. We get Simba…err, the whole Justice League looking on as he dies.
When it comes down to it, the greatest flaw to Justice League is being released at this point in time. In one of those 53 other worlds in the DC universe, there exists a world where the Justice League was released before The Avengers. Did that change things? The 2012 film is held up as a pinnacle of group superhero films. It would be hard not to be influenced by it even before its director, Joss Whedon, was bought in finish this film after credited director, Zack Snyder, stepped down. However, there are many elements and tropes that precede even The Avengers. Darth Maul was a horned villain in Star wars: The Phantom Menace. Spock was resurrected in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There was another group of those with extraordinary abilities who argued over how to take a ring to Mordor. What about that giant sky tower a.k.a. I/O Tower that connected the digital world with the real one in Tron?
Then, as mentioned before, there are those six connected DC television series on the CW network. About 304 episodes over five years have provided a lot of time and opportunities to introduce characters and give them enough screen-time to make the audience not only understand them but empathize their sadness and root for their successes. Even ten years of Marvel Cinematic Universe can’t add up to that much time for various characters. Audiences are also used to the CW series taking more risks; time-travel, resets and alternate dimensions. On television, you can even have an engaged lesbian couple or a man married to another man…both as credited cast members!
Justice League can’t compete with unfair comparisons but it’s a pretty sweet two hours at the movies.