“Justice League” tries to save the day for DC

Today is the day for DC and Warner Brothers. At long last, all of their superheroes are sharing the screen. A few hours from now, the first public screenings of Justice League will begin, giving fans a chance to not just see Batman, Superman (yes, he’s in it…duh), and Wonder Woman on screen, but also Aquaman, Flash, and more. This has been the goal since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was first given the thumbs up. So, what about the quality? Well, it’s better than Suicide Squad, I’ll give it that. Where it stands elsewhere, well, that’s something we’ll get to below…

The film continues the story began in Man of Steel and continued in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Taking place after the events of the latter, the world now lives with the death of Clark Kent/Superman (Henry Cavill). His sacrifice has spurred on Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) to take his heroism on a global level, especially when it seems parademons are scouting Earth for a takeover. He brings this to the attention of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), who explains that they’re serving Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds), a baddie who wants to take over. To combat him, they recruit Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Victor Stone/Cyborg (Ray Fisher). This team goes to war, but will all be lost without Superman? You’ll see. Zack Snyder co-writes with Chris Terrio and directs, while Joss Whedon has a writing credit after notably taking over and finishing the film once Snyder had to step away after a family tragedy. The large cast also includes Amy Adams, Billy Crudup, Jesse Eisenberg, Amber Heard, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Joe Morton, J.K. Simmons, Robin Wright, and more. Danny Elfman contributes the score, while cinematography is by Fabian Wagner.

Honestly, a lot of this movie is a mess. The first act is terrible, and it isn’t until Superman finally makes his grand entrance that things really soar, no pun intended. Plus, it’s a Frankenmovie, as it were. Parts of it feel very much like Snyder’s dark vision, while others are Whedon’s, clearly. The comedic elements never work, while the tone can change even within individual scenes. The strength is in the character interactions, as Affleck, Cavill, and Gadot are reliably good, with Fisher, Miller, and Momoa being memorable new additions. It’s an odd situation where the film itself is a mixed bag, but there’s reason to heavily anticipate a sequel.

Here is how I would rank the current DC superhero universe, quality wise:

5. Suicide Squad
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
3. Justice League
2. Man of Steel
1. Wonder Woman

Going forward, the DC universe of comic book films will probably lean heavily on Wonder Woman, but I think a sequel to Justice League is deserved. Obviously, we’re already getting a Wonder Woman sequel (and likely more after that), a solo Batman outing to potentially begin his own sub franchise (with or without Affleck), Suicide Squad 2 (for better or worse), and hopefully a Man of Steel 2 at some point (seriously, the Superman we ultimately end up with here is perfect for another outing), but Justice League 2 could be a lot of fun. Where they leave the characters is actually in a really good place. DC and Warner Brothers might finally have their house in order. There’s reason to be hopeful for the future.

This week, some fans will be rejoicing that this team up has finally happened. Over the next few days, audiences will pass judgment on Justice League, in probably a more important way than critics will. Pundits like myself are mixed on it, but if fans approve, the future of the franchise is set. Time will tell there, but it’s something interesting to keep an eye on. If you’ve been into what DC has cranked out the last half decade or so, this will be up your alley. Especially if you keep your expectations somewhat in check, the good might outweigh the bad. See for yourself and unite the league…

Be sure to check out Justice League, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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