DISCLAIMER – This is a long review.
For a 90’s kid growing up among several heroic cartoons, Justice League was the Holy Grail. Brilliant characters with diverse backstories leading to intriguing personalities for both the heroes and villains made for compelling television. Most importantly, it elevated the core concept of superheroes -it is the heart and not the powers that maketh the hero. Now, throw in the values of teamwork, sacrifice and friendship, that Justice League could move a mountain.
However, barring a Batman trilogy, courtesy Christopher Nolan, DC Comics failed to capture the silver screen. The situation was further compounded by Marvel kick-starting a juggernaut in 2008 which is showing no signs of slowing down. Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers, in 2012 showed how to portray a superhero team on screen.
This led to DC rushing in to develop an extended universe of their own and to say there were hiccups in the past few years would be an understatement. Either way, the much-awaited Justice League is finally here and to put it in a single statement – they are getting there.
Yes, the movie does not have the elaborate build of Avengers with individual films for most of the characters, that were well-received and this could hurt the casual moviegoers a bit. Yet, the Justice League characters are hands-down more popular than any other. Thus, with a tweak in the film’s tone and improved writing, the movie comfortably escapes the problems of yore (except for critics, of course) and delivers a satisfying team-up.
The prime antagonist, Steppenwolf, suffers from not having an actual human face and a backstory. However, given the heroes’ situation in terms of previous films (barring Wonder Woman, which was well-received), DC can be forgiven for not fleshing out Steppenwolf and he ends up doing nothing more than being the bad guy. This expectantly leads to a low-key climax.
The film’s crispier timing of just about two hours is a big plus and the banter between the heroes (including Batman) lifts the spirits to great success. Further, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg are shown just enough to have an idea about their origins and powers while saving the rest for the upcoming individual films. Danny Elfman provides the right background score for every character and composes a fine theme song to cap it off.
All doubts on whether Ezra Miller will be accepted, given Grant Gustin’s excellent portrayal on the CW Network are put to bed, as Barry Allen (The Flash) is a dork, geek and witty as one would expect. Cyborg’s ‘half-man, half-machine’ trope gets his moments but will take another film to get the audience to understand his character (and powers). To that extent, the writers Chris Terrio and Zack Snyder do well to weave him into the film’s main plot, which is a pretty straightforward one.
Jason Momoa looks and feels the part of Aquaman as he brings in more muscle, mysterious aquatic powers and a swagger of his own to the team. Ben Affleck’s Batman is now at a different place after Superman’s death and he takes the initiative to get the team together apart from getting a few cool new toys. The real show-stealer is undoubtedly Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who carries right where she left off in Wonder Woman. No wonder, she looks the most-developed character among the lot, with Gadot depicting the pain and strength within at every step.
Unless you were living under a stone since Batman vs Superman, this is not much of a spoiler as Superman comes back from the dead. The movie can be considered a success in itself for FINALLY getting the Son of Krypton right. The seriousness is now intertwined with a dash of humour, which is how he is in the comics. Further, the film does a good amount of work (Bruce Wayne in particular) to re-establish the character before his rebirth, bringing in what he stands for and why he is the leader of the team (despite being a Batman fan, I got sold).
Finally, there are a couple of scenes in the midst of action in the film that show how these DC heroes can connect and impress without even uttering a word and both of them involve the Flash. For once or twice, in this case, Zack Snyder’s love for slow-motion shots enhances the scenes tenfold.
Justice League is finally a step in the right direction for DC as it rectifies the plaguing issues while showcasing the immense potential. The second end-credit scene is the perfect proof of the same (wait for it!) while the first end-credit scene is for comic geeks and looks like a Joss Whedon touch.
THE LEAGUE HAS UNITED!
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