This rewatch review will be a little different. Instead of my likes and dislikes, I figured that I would address the issues that several people are having with Justice League. If you would like to see my more traditional review, see below.
First off, my thoughts on the negativity are that many people want to hate it because of the pedigree. Man of Steel was not the best movie and it may have taken the realistic / gritty approach a little too far. Superman is supposed to symbolize everything that is best with humanity and that was almost missed. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is a tough movie to find many positives, but we did get Ben Affleck as Batman and he is amazing in that role. Suicide Squad was a movie … an Oscar winning movie. It did have a really great trailer and promised some great characters / actors. Wonder Woman is without a doubt DCEU’s biggest success thus far. Sure there were some issues, but no more than most MCU movies. So here we are today with Justice League … another movie that is preceded by low rating drama and behind the camera problems. I went in wanting it to be decent and had an feeling that it couldn’t live up to those standards, but was very surprised with how much I liked it. The second time seeing it was different, as is to be expected since the shine has worn off and little things (good or bad) are a little more noticeable.
With all of that said, the most common issues I am seeing are:
My biggest complaint is the horrible special effects. For the amount of time and money that was spent on this movie, it is borderline inexcusable. The Russian backdrop at the end, Cyborg’s body, Superman’s upper lip during certain scenes, and Steppenwolf all looked unfinished. The parademons looked decent, but they also didn’t focus on them for extended amounts of time.
One of the biggest issues that people seem to have with the movie is Steppenwolf. He might not have been the most compelling villain, but he was exponentially better than most Marvel villains. His goal was to take every motherbox and unite them, which he was as close to completing that as any other movie villain. The first time he attempted this task it took all of the old gods, man (led by King Arthur if you didn’t catch that), Amazonians, Atlantians, a Green Lantern, and several other heroes to stop him. He was captured, but then somehow escaped before being exiled for 5000 years even though that was skipped. So his second attempt he didn’t try to conquer the Earth before uniting the motherboxes.
My only issue is that he was able to stand up to some of the strongest heroes (mentioned previously) and only lost due to sheer numbers from the best I could tell. Then he is absolutely trounced by Superman with minimal assistance from Aquaman and Wonder Woman. He is then overmatched by a handful of parademons before getting taken away by a boom tube.
Some complaints about the plot are based on the lack of subplots while others are the storylines that were dropped. As a whole, the main plot was no different than several MCU movies and most other superhero movies in general.
The only plots that seemed to be dropped were the rising dirt from Clark’s casket at the end of BvS and the exploding parademons that left marks resembling the three motherboxes. Since Clark had to be resurrected using the motherbox in the Genesis ship, the scene a lot of people surprisingly missed was pointless. The other scene was intro to Batman using a scared thief to lure a parademons to him. Did he just look for a bad guy in that area? How did he track the parademon? Was the criminal really putting off that much more fear than anyone else in that area?Why did no one else notice that the noise attracting or driving parademons crazy was a car alarm? Why did they only explode one time and leave a shape of three motherboxes? Why did he just leave the criminal and the stolen goods behind?
For the no subplot issue, sure there could have been some stronger subplots but that would have lengthened the movie and would have been another issue for the people who wanted to hate it. The only substantial subplot was the loss of Superman and then the quest to revive him. Once they did revive him and he went crazy, the “Lois is the key” warning from future Flash in BvS came to fruition.
When DC came out with their original plan to basically start with a Justice League movie and work backwards, it was highly suspect. Superman and Wonder Woman got their own movie with a backstory, Batman got introduced in BvS, and Aquaman / Flash / Cyborg got a had minute blurb at best in BvS. With that said Justice League had no origin stories, which seems to be an issue most everyone has with superhero movies.
The only character who ended up in a different headspace by the end of the movie was Aquaman. He went from loner to a reliable teammate. Not to mention that he was portrayed as a bro yelling every line in the trailers to being an intelligible orphan on par with Wonder Woman power-wise.
That is not to say the other characters were not enjoyable. Flash is the standout with his quips and growth as a hero. Wonder Woman continued on her progression from the prior movies becoming a more public hero. Cyborg had the struggle of being mostly alien tech that was constantly evolving and also blaming his father for putting him in that predicament. Batman had shades of who he should be (team leader, strategist, detective, and formidable in comparison to metahumans) followed by scenes of smiles and jokes … which shouldn’t happen. Then there is Superman, who might be the best iteration yet. He went through his amnesiac stage fighting everyone, reminded of his love / hope for humanity via Lois Lane, and overall good guy with godlike powers by the end.
The only character who would have benefited from more time is Cyborg. It could have fleshed out his character or powers slightly more, but the movie showed the gist of it with the screen time he received. Sure the fight between Amazons and Atlantians could have been talked about more in passing, but that might be plot for later movies.
So everyone complained that the DCEU was too dark and grim. The steps they took in making it slightly more light hearted definitely faltered in Suicide Squad; but I feel they course corrected on Justice League. It was a much lighter and more hope-filled movie than all prior DC offerings including Wonder Woman. Not all jokes landed, but a very high percentage of them did. Flash was almost a non-stop quipping machine, Aquaman had a few good laughs, and even Martha (WHY’D YOU SAY THAT NAME?) Lane had a good line. I had a smile on my face most of the movie and laughed at most of the jokes both times, and so did the friends I watched it with.
I am sticking with my 8 “brunch jokes” out of 10. I wholeheartedly believe the majority of the negativity is stemming from a hive mind, similar to the hate on the Ghostbusters reboot from before it was released. Justice League isn’t the greatest superhero movie ever, but it is much closer to the best than the worst. It revitalized my hopes in DCEU’s future, assuming they can get away from Zack Snyder and the studio interference. I am not sure how certain their future is due to many behind the scenes issues with Ben Affleck / Batman, Flash scripts, and Brett Ratner’s involvement with Warner Brothers.
I would say that you should give Justice League a chance and go in as judgement free as you can. It is a fun blockbuster that was everything Thor: Ragnarok tried to be a few weeks earlier.