Justice League (2017)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Written by: Chris Terrio, Joss Whedon
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Amy Adams, and J.K Simmons
It’s finally here. Whether you are excited by it or even if you are dreading it, in many ways Justice League may well be the most highly anticipated movie of 2017! The surrounding controversy and behind-the-scenes drama have certainly created a huge amount of buzz for this film with the news of multiple reshoots, the passing of the baton from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon for directorial duties, etc. After seeing it last night and going in with low expectations after the severe disappointment of Batman vs Superman and Suicide Squad but still cautiously optimistic in the wake of how incredible ‘Wonder Woman’ was, I’d have to say that Warner Bros & D.C. Comics have a bonafide hit on their hands and that the DCEU is finally on solid ground moving forward. If Wonder Woman was the movie that helped the franchise find it’s footing, then ‘Justice League’ is the film that sets them running full-speed ahead.
As the world mourns the loss of Superman, Batman (played supremely well by Ben Affleck) continues to investigate a mysterious alien threat and, after an exciting and comic book worthy battle against a Parademon high above the rooftops of Gotham City, decides that his plan to assemble a team of people with powers must move ahead at once. While Batman goes to recruit The Flash (played with great comedic timing by Ezra Miller), Wonder Woman (portrayed confidently & brilliantly by Gal Gadot) sets off to bring Cyborg (wonderfully performed by Ray Fisher) into the fold. The goal? Prevent Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) from uniting three Mother Boxes left behind during his previous attempt to conquer Earth and, thereby, turning the world into a new version of his home planet of Apokolips. Soon, Aquaman (brought to us in pitch(fork) perfect form by Jason Momoa) joins the fight but even he may not be enough to turn the tide (sorry, I’ll stop) in our heroes’ favor. Luckily, Batman has a plan: Use the remaining Mother Box currently in their possession in conjunction with the Kryptonian birthing chamber (used by Luthor to create Doomsday) to resurrect Superman! Will their plan work? Will Superman come back normal or “Pet Cemetery” style?!? (LOL! Ezra Miller…)
Now… as for what worked and what didn’t: I will say that, overall, I think the movie was as close to comic book perfection as Warner Bros has given to us thus far. Considering all of the rewrites and reshoots, it is very hard to say which parts of this can be attributed to Zack Snyder and which parts are the responsibility of Joss Whedon and which parts are because of Geoff Johns being installed in a ‘Kevin Feige’ style position with the DCEU. For my money, the greatest area was the notable change in tone for Superman (a sparkling performance by Henry Cavill). He was brightly colored, smiling (even laughing) and full of light and hope in a way we’ve yet to see him in the previous two outings (aka: ‘Man Of Steel‘ & ‘Dawn Of Justice‘). The interaction between the lead characters was also very well done! Affleck’s portrayal of Batman is my favorite since Michael Keaton and the chemistry between him, Gadot, Momoa, Fisher & Miller was palpable! This goes double for the scenes shared by Ezra Miller’s Flash & Ray Fisher’s Cyborg. I would pay money to see a “The Brave & The Bold” style film with just the two of them. That being said, one of the negatives for me was the way The Flash’s character was written. Given his demeanor and style, he seemed more suited for a Wally West or, better yet, a Bart Allen style Flash than he did for a Barry Allen type. This is one glaringly obvious place where the writing stumbled over its own feet as far as characterization is concerned.
Ray Fisher nails the role of Cyborg right out of the gate and the characterization here is a great mix of the original straight out of George Perez‘s & Marv Wolfman‘s “New Teen Titans” comic combined seamlessly with the “New 52” upgrades that we’ve come to accept and appreciate in the character. For the brief time, they were in it, both J.K. Simmons‘ Commissioner Gordon & Amber Heard‘s Mera were also completely on-point!! I’m certainly looking forward to seeing more of them both in the upcoming solo films for Batman & Aquaman respectively! Some have complained about the story being a little flat, but I found it to be very solid. It perfectly incorporated aspects from all of the previous films into the narrative of this movie in a way that effectively made us feel that the build-up to Justice League was all worth it. Where ‘Dawn Of Justice‘ felt overstuffed with too many storylines being furiously cobbled together, this film felt well-paced, slick and exceptionally well-balanced. I could have also stood to see a little more of Aquaman, but aside from that, I think the once-troubled DCEU franchise is now firmly established. I am looking forward with great anticipation and excitement to see where we go from here!! (BTW: There are TWO post-credit scenes and BOTH are very, very well worth sticking around for, I promise!)